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Instagram's new tools help you reach out to stores (updated)

They'll unfortunately lead to more ads, too.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 15, 2016
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Plenty of businesses operate on Instagram, but wouldn't it be nice if you could reach out to them on Instagram beyond posting a comment and hoping they'll notice? You'll get to do that soon. Instagram has reportedly started rolling out promised business tools that will help you get in touch. Shops that set up a business profile will have a "contact" button that helps you call, email or text a business without having to find the details on the company's website (or hope that the company includes some in its bio). If you see a tantalizing dessert photo and want to know whether or not the restaurant's still open, it'll be trivially easy to get an answer.

The feature appears to be deploying in Europe at first, with Australia, New Zealand and the US due in the "coming months." Everyone else will see them by the end of the year. We've asked Instagram for details and will let you know if it can say more.

Whenever the toolset is available in your corner of the world, it'll also carry some features you might not appreciate. Analytics (to help companies see which posts are working) are good, but the features also let companies promote posts as ads. Like it or not, you may see more local stores hawking their wares in between friends' food photos and the usual celebrity endorsements.

Update: Instagram tells us that Business Tools quietly went live in Australia, New Zealand and the US in July, and they reach other countries within the "coming weeks."

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