May6

Could Instagram Be Your Secret Business Weapon?

Posted by Madeleine Bruce

With so many social networks available, deciding which suit your brand is hard. Instagram is becoming a major social media network which companies should certainly consider joining, but the photo sharing site may not be the right fit for every business.   

Should your company be on Instagram? Looking at the number of users the photo sharing network has, the answer looks like it should probably be yes. According to the company, there are now over 300 million Instagrammers sharing 70 million photos per day and that’s after taking into account that Instagrams cracks down on spam accounts.

This means Instagram now has more or less the same number of users as Twitter, unless you also take into account nearly 500 million people visit Twitter every month without logging in; classed as ghost users. In any case, Instagram is growing very rapidly, having added those last 100 million users in less than a year – a major accomplishment for a relatively mature app. So it figures: companies should at least take a moment to consider adding Instagram to their social media portfolio.

But maybe Instagram isn’t for every company? Being on Twitter is pretty much mandatory for companies because of its customer service role; even if a business does nothing else with Twitter, being available to answer questions is something that should be covered. Instagram is a different kettle of fish, though: people share photos with little text, and it’s a very friendly space with surprisingly little of the hostility that can be found on other social media sites. So if a company is to embark on Instagram, bear in mind this isn’t like having a Twitter account for taking questions or a Facebook page for sharing company news. Instead, Instagram is more about a commitment to creating a space to share the company’s spirit.

On that note, Instagram is more similar to visual discovery site Pinterest than it is to Twitter. And as businesses are starting to turn to Pinterest for a fresh way to interact with customers, Instagram offers plenty of opportunities to do something similar. Instagram is all about visual expression, aspiration and creativity. It’s not a place where companies have to be particularly funny or even all that informative, as is often the case on Twitter. Instead, Instagram is a space that encourages a focus on things that are beautiful, maybe simple, sometimes cool, and often quite romanticised.

A study by Instagram found that users see the platform as aspirational: 53% of Instagrammers credit the platform with “helping them define who they are”. The research also showed that Instagram inspires visual storytelling with 63% of users saying they use Instagram to “document their lives”, often curating moments to display life at its best. This is different than the unfiltered approach of Twitter and Facebook, where people often complain about their lives and voice political opinions. Lastly, the study found that over 50% of Instagrammers said the platform makes them feel “more connected to the people they know”, and “gives them a sense of community”.

Does that sound vague and a bit fluffy? Well, yes. Instagram is the kind of place where people post photos of flowers, clouds, babies, and latte art – it’s all about things that are beautiful and the nice side of life.

“What makes Instagram great – a simple and clean platform – is what also makes it challenging as a marketer. There are limitations to easily creating call-to-action campaigns which allows fans to purchase things like tickets, merch and music,” Ryan Chisholm, manager of American singer-songwriter Christina Perri, told ‘TheNextWeb’.

Having said that, it’s certainly not impossible for brands to have an impact on Instagram. Ice cream makers Ben & Jerry’s reached 9.8 million users with its Instagram campaign for the launch of its Scotchy Scotch Scotch flavour, and 17% of them became aware of the new flavour after seeing pretty photos of it. Denim brand Levi’s successfully used Instagram to promote its lifestyle brand, while car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz USA launched a combined Facebook-Instagram campaign for the launch of GLA, its first compact SUV. The Instagram branch of the campaign consisted of some very good, very clever photos. That’s really the main trick to Instagram right there: posting great pictures.

If you think Instagram is the right platform for your company, this post has more tips as to how to go about it. Brands who want to know more about who their Instagram followers are will be happy to hear that SocialRanks has just launched an Instagram analytics tool. This means brands can work out who their followers are, as well as filtering them according to location, keywords, who’s most engaged, who’s most valued, and so on.

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