If you’re still wondering if Instagram is a serious platform for marketing your businesses, a new announcement from Instagram this week could provide the answer.

In a post on the Instagram blog, the Facebook-owned company announced a number of new features including account insights for brands, as well as new tools for running and tracking paid advertisements.

Read about this top story and find out how other marketers are planning to improve their results in the next year, in this week’s marketing news roundup.

1. Instagram announces account insights and other features for advertisers

The new account insights will work similarly to the insights brands are already familiar with on Facebook. Instagram will be providing new details like impressions, reach, and engagement.

The new features for advertisers include:

  • Ad insights: Advertisers will be able to track the performance of paid campaigns with brand analytics (impressions, reach, and frequency) for each individual ad delivered.
  • Ad staging: Advertisers will be able to preview, save, and collaborate on ad creative before launching an ad.

Currently, only paid advertisers have access to the new features but Instagram explains that account insights will be rolling out to a wider audience in the coming months.

Bottom Line: The addition of account insights is just another example of how Instagram continues to evolve from a photo-sharing app to a powerful social network for businesses and organizations to connect with their audience online.

It’s also a first step in helping brands understand how their content is being received, and what type of content works best for their audience. Insights will also provide a better indication of the best time to post on Instagram, so users can make sure they are reaching the right people at the right time.

If you’re new to Instagram or have been on the fence about getting started, we have the resources to help. Check out our Instagram resource page.

2. Report: Marketers cite improved targeting as a top priority in the next year

A new report from the CMO Council provides insight into how marketers across the globe are planning to maximize their marketing results in the next year.

According to the report, better targeting is a top priority for a majority of marketers.

When asked, “What steps are you taking to maximize the impact and value of your marketing in the next 12 months?” 63 percent said improving customer segmentation and targeting.

Other top responses include:

  • Localizing strategies and content to increase relevance and response (38 percent)
  • Investing in digital and demand generation and online relationship building (33 percent)
  • Testing or piloting campaigns to validate potential impact (31 percent)

Read the full report here.

Bottom Line: Small businesses have a real advantage when it comes to targeting customers and potential customers on a local level. This starts with the personalized service you can offer at your store, restaurant, or office, and can also be extended across your marketing efforts.

This is especially true for small businesses using email marketing to communicate with their audiences online. With a growing email list, it’s important to look for opportunities to segment your list and send targeted messages to contacts based on their needs or interests.

This will not only ensure that you’re creating marketing messages that are relevant to the people you’re trying to reach, but will also improve the chances of people actually acting on the offers and content you send out.

Targeting can also be applied to your strategy on social media. If you’re using a tool like Facebook Ads for example, you have the option to target your content based on location. This will allow you to reach the right people, and ensure that you’re getting the most from your marketing investment.

3. LinkedIn makes Slideshare’s Pro features available to all users

SlideShare — the LinkedIn-owned platform for sharing presentations, documents, and infographics online — is now free for all users.

Previously, SlideShare had offered a number of Pro features just for Premium users, including analytics, profile customization, and private uploads.

Now, SlideShare will be removing paid premium accounts and making these features available to all users in the coming months.

Bottom Line: SlideShare is a powerful platform for sharing and discovering content online. It is especially valuable for brands and professionals looking for a new way to share their expertise or offer training.

SlideShare presentations can easily be added to your LinkedIn account, and can also be embedded on your website or blog. Here at Constant Contact, we use SlideShare to share the results of our small business surveys and to offer social media and email marketing tips and tricks.

If you’ve been looking for a new way to share your expertise online, now could be the perfect time to give SlideShare a shot.

What top stories caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comments below.