Instagram markets itself as marketing platform

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Instagram markets itself as marketing platform


Jim Squires, head of business at Instagram, talks about the company’s plan to function as a platform that connects brands with consumers. [YONHAP]

Over the past several years, Instagram has become an important platform for marketing. It is increasingly emphasizing its usefulness as a channel for reaching customers, and Korea is “really important” in this effort, according to Jim Squires, head of business at Instagram.

“Koreans are increasingly using Instagram to express themselves, explore their interests and shop for their favorite brands,” said Squires at a press event held at Sevit Islets in southern Seoul on Tuesday. Squires explained Instagram brings users closer to people and to the things they love, including brands.

The photo-sharing company, which is owned by Facebook, expects its story-sharing functions to bolster its role in connecting brands with consumers.

“[The] story [function] has emerged as a new medium for businesses to reach new audiences,” said Squires. “Interactivity in stories allows businesses to have [a] richer touch point with customers inside stories.”

Instagram has evolved to offer a shopping experience that allows users to discover new brands, to search for product details through and to ultimately make a purchase on a single platform, according to Squires.

More than 60 percent of Korean Instagram users see Instagram as a platform for interacting with brands and have a positive perception on branded content, according to a consumer survey of 2,000 Korean users aged between 13 and 64 conducted by Facebook.

Korean users are important for Instagram’s new ambition because of their purchasing patterns on the platform. The survey showed that 92 percent of Korean users took action after they saw a new product or service on Instagram - whether it was further research on the product or an actual purchase of the item on or off Instagram.

Instagram is vague on how it will handle complaints from customers who purchase faulty products via the service.

Consumer complaints about low-quality items became a prominent issue in Korea after shopping mall operator Imvely last month was found to have sold pumpkin juice that contained mold. People became furious when Imvely blocked a consumer who publicly complained about the quality of the pumpkin juice.

Squires explained Instagram has a team of 30,000 people handling safety and security. “If they break policies, they will be taken down by the service,” he said.

Instagram has no control over the reporting of the income earned by influencers or brands selling goods via Instagram. Only the sellers will be aware of the income.

Income “is a personal thing that must be monitored by individual that receives the income,” said Squires. “That is for them to report.”

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