Instagram has announced two updates designed to engage shoppers on Instagram. After testing Shopping in Stories for a few months, the company expanded it globally. “With one third of the most-viewed stories coming from businesses, we’re excited to see how Shopping in Stories [will] enable brands to tell an even deeper story about what’s behind their products,” the announcement stated. According to the company, a recent survey found that Instagrammers often watch stories to stay in the know about brands they’re interested in, get an insider view of products they like and learn about relevant new products.
The most successful stories, according to the survey, shared the following:
• They ranked high on relevance, grabbing attention and fitting the brand.
• They were shorter and contained branding earlier.
• If there were multiple scenes, shorter ones did better.
• Stories showing a product in use performed better. (Think demos of technique tools or video clips of new fashion leos just arriving in-store.)
• They were mobile-optimized.
Shopping in Stories lets brands add a sticker with a shopping bag icon to a story. When an Instagrammer taps on it, they see product details and can shop.
The other update is a new shopping channel in Explore. Topic channels allow Instagrammers to browse topics that interest them. The shopping channel aggregates shopping posts for people who want to shop for fun, exposing them to brands they follow but also others they might like.
Instagram continues to expand its shopping functions. TheVerge.com reported that the company is even developing a stand-alone shopping app, although Instagram has not confirmed this. Stay tuned for further developments.
If Your Business Needs a Loan
U.S. Bank now offers digital lending option for working capital.
In recent years, online lenders like OnDeck (which has a partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co.) and Kabbage have grown steadily. In fact, by 2017, 24 percent of lending to small businesses was through online lenders, according to the Federal Reserve, up from 21 percent just the year before. This September, U.S. Bank joined them, introducing its own digital lending option: Businesses can apply for a loan (Quick Loan) or line of credit (Cash Flow Manager) and then review loan details and sign closing documents—all online. Single-owner businesses within the 25 states where U.S. Bank operates can qualify for up to $250,000 under this all-digital process, which can be completed in a day or less, compared to roughly 11 days for business loan applications through a branch, a U.S. Bank executive told Bloomberg News.
Small-business owners like online lending for its speed—it helps them respond quickly to take advantage of market opportunities, for instance—but when U.S. Bank surveyed its small-business customers, the ease and simplicity of applying for a loan were even more important.
You’ll find U.S. Bank’s portal for online loan applications at: usbank.com/fundmybusiness. Not sure what kind of financing would work best for your business right now? Go to usbank.com/business-banking/business-lending.html, where you can answer a few questions (anonymously), and you’ll be guided to the financing solution best suited to your business’ current needs.
IRS helps business owners keep track of changes.
The Internal Revenue Service has established a web page at irs.gov/newsroom/businesses, where businesses can keep track of how the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) may affect them. As the IRS works on implementing the complex new law, which was passed in December 2017, it will post updates on the page about specific changes. For instance, many sole proprietors, partnerships and S-Corporations may be eligible for a new deduction, which will allow them to deduct up to 20 percent of their qualified business income. Other changes may affect business owners who are employers. For instance, the law “disallows deductions for expenses associated with transportation fringe benefits or expenses incurred providing transportation for commuting (except as necessary for employee safety),” states the IRS. But there’s a new deduction for employers who grant family or medical leave to their staff. Consult your accountant or financial advisor about any possible actions you should be taking to stay current.
Courtesy of Instagram; Getty Images; courtesy of IRS