Muscat – With an ever-increasing number of users, Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing platform into one of the world’s biggest social media sites, boasting over 1.074bn users.
As the platform celebrated its 11th anniversary on Wednesday, it is interesting to see how it has impacted entrepreneurs and creators who are growing their businesses using Instagram.
The easy-to-access and low-cost promotional tools offered by Instagram help small businesses reach a wider audience and grow.
Today, items ranging from homemade cupcakes to household items, jewellery and clothes, all depend on Instagram algorithms to promote their products.
In Oman, countless small businesses – especially those operated by homemakers – have started using Instagram to promote their offerings. “To gain popularity among audiences, I have personally DM-ed (sent direct messages) about my small business, asking them to test my products and used hashtags and the Insights feature,” said Ayesha Syed, a small business owner.
Divya Mridhula, a YouTube creator, has shifted to Instagram to better promote her channel. She uses reels, stories and feed posts to promote and post clips of her content. “Instagram has given me the confidence to explore my creativity through various non-conventional ways and also helped me connect with diverse creators and audiences.”
Afrah al Musallami, another small home business owner, said Instagram’s promotional tools have helped her grow her business. She sells cookies, cupcakes and other baked goods, and Instagram tools help her see how many people have shared, commented and liked her posts. Users like Afrah feature their best selling items, working with filters provided by Instagram to make attractive feeds to entice customers. Instagram’s layout makes a user want to scroll more, and small businesses benefit from the urge to constantly scroll.
But despite the advantages, users must be careful when using the platform. Kaspersky, the cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, reminds users that it is a platform for pleasure, and that they should avoid all risks to their private information being compromised. Among its safety tips, the company urges attention to users’ account privacy level.
‘A good option is to make your Instagram account private so your posts are visible only to approved followers. You can also remove information about payment methods from your Instagram account, or your phone number, to prevent strangers from contacting you by this method.’
To secure personal data, users are advised to remove synchronised contacts. Instagram uses these to suggest people or accounts and show targeted ads. It’s also a good idea to keep information about one’s whereabouts private.
(Contributed by Rianna Lobo)