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Looking Out for the Little Guys: A Small Business Suggestion for Instagram

Small businesses have the chance to make a big impact on social media. However, navigating these global platforms with literal billions of users can sometimes leave small business owners feeling, well, pretty small. A recent experience on Instagram had us thinking of ways that the platform could be a bit more user-friendly for the little (business) guy on the totem pole. Hence, we have this small business suggestion for Instagram.

Behind the music

Instagram introduced the ability to add music to its Instagram stories feature in June of 2018. According to Instagram when the featured launched: “Now you can add a soundtrack to your story that fits any moment and helps you express how you’re feeling.” Keep in mind, due to the nature of stories, each selection is about 10-15 seconds of a song—not the entire track. (You can adjust which portion of the song you would like to use, however.)

Recently, we were posting an Instagram story series to the McNutt & Partners business account with the theme of “What we’re listening to in the office.” After gathering up everyone’s song of choice, making graphics to reflect and heading to the platform to post, we hit a roadblock.

For business accounts, Instagram offers a random selection of songs to choose from in its library, but you can’t just select any specific song or artist. This differs from when we have used the feature on our personal accounts, when we didn’t seem to have any issues finding a particular artist or song.

We get it. Royalties are a thing, and Instagram is not a music platform. It’s just an “extra” feature. But this got us thinking.

A small business suggestion for Instagram

Small businesses don’t have the budget of Coca-Cola to pay royalties on songs for a major TV ad campaign, for example. But what if there was a way to support a wider variety of artists on the platform (beyond Instagram’s current limited music list)?

Similar to how bars and music venues are required to have various licenses to play music, Instagram could offer the option for business accounts to pay to access a more diverse selection of music options. To scale the concept for different-sized businesses, the fee could be based on follower count. The higher the follower account, the more you pay for music access. That way, big brands (with higher follower counts) that can afford to pay more for music will, while smaller businesses still get the benefit.

High follow count features already in place

This tiered approach suggestion in terms of music reminds us of a feature that is already in place. On Instagram, brands with high follow counts already get access to a feature that accounts with smaller follow counts do not. Once an Instagram account has 10,000 followers, the platform unlocks a feature that allows users to “swipe up” on a page’s story post to directly access the business’ website (or whatever link the business wants to send people to).

It makes sense that Instagram is incentivizing businesses to attract higher numbers of users. We just think that small businesses should get some love too—especially with social media algorithms presenting barriers to users seeing business content in general.


We love the ability to use music on Instagram stories, but wish the selections weren’t as limited. A small business suggestion for Instagram: allow business pages to pay (the dollar amount based on follower count) to support a wider selection of artists.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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