Instagram is making it easier for customers to talk to businesses and book appointments

Key Points
  • Instagram is adding more messaging options and booking integrations to help companies conduct business on its platform.
  • The tools are free, which could attract more companies to Instagram. They could turn into advertising clients.
Instagram Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom speaks onstage at the inaugural Girlboss Rally on March 4, 2017 in Los Angeles.
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Instagram is unveiling new features to help enterprises run their businesses on the platform.

"We're taking steps to turn Instagram from not just a place of business discovery but really a place where business can get done," Instagram director of product Vishal Shah told CNBC.

The tools, which include messaging options and booking integrations, aim to make it easier to run a company on Instagram. It's all free, which may attract more businesses to the platform and create future advertising clients for Instagram and parent company Facebook.

It also makes it more of a threat to Snapchat as both companies try to appeal to marketers. Snapchat now allows shopping, app installations and other actions through sponsored photo filters, called lenses.

Instagram hosts 25 million business profiles on its platform, half of which don't have a website listed, according to Shah.

One new tool will let companies filter messages in their inboxes between read, nonread and starred conversations. It will also let businesses prioritize pending messages from individuals they don't know so they can address potential customers, as well as prewrite response templates.

Another feature will let companies integrate certain "actions" from partner businesses into Instagram — like booking an appointment or reserving a table at a restaurant. These functions will be available in most of the U.S. at first, but will roll out to additional countries eventually.

Instagram will also allow users to store payment information for use with these services, like when a credit card is needed to hold a reservation or to purchase tickets.

"We're trying to make it easier for consumers to interact with businesses," Shah said.

Ad buyers prefer Facebook, Instagram to Snap: Cowen
Ad buyers prefer Facebook, Instagram to Snap: Cowen