We have all heard the expression “A picture paints a thousand words”. With Instagram being part of the phenomenon that is social media, is this platform a helpful marketing tool for companies to use?
Instagram was originally formed in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger as a mobile picture app. Its distinct feature being that it restricts photos to a square shape similar to that of Kodak and Polaroid images. In 2011, Instagram added hashtags to help users to discover both photos and each other. By doing so it encapsulated the brands slogan – “capturing and sharing the world’s moments”. It allowed people from all over world to display their work and images they liked for others to enjoy and like too and the option of creating followers. Instagram also has the function where the user can record a 15 second video and instantly put it up. Factors like these have helped contribute to the social media platform’s success.
In March of this year, a report from research firm L2 and the social media marketing technology firm Olapic highlighted that brands now post more content on Instagram than Facebook. The survey focused on 250 of the world’s top brands. Even though Facebook is still a social media juggernaut, Instagram recently topped 300 million monthly users. One of the reasons for the boom is that the mobile app is attracting a younger demographic in comparison to Facebook. The report from survey also highlighted some other interesting results:
- Brands post 9.3 times a week to Instagram which has increased from 7.5 posts last year
- Facebook posts have decreased from 11.1 to 8.8 per week
- Whilst on Instagram, Brand fans bases increase an average of 26% over the last year.
As you can see, social media is for the people by the people. From the statistics shown, Instagram can be a useful marketing tool. However, it can be used in different ways to add business value. Although Instagram is fundamentally a photo app, it doesn’t mean it must be solely used to take pictures….
In the beginning of my article I mentioned the expression “A picture paints a thousand words” and it does indeed do that. Using photo editing apps like Aviary for your pictures to share or the editing functions in Instagram such as Inkwell and Early Bird can make your images more visually pleasing and appealing. However using words can also paint a thousand pictures….By using snippets of descriptive text in a blog for example, it can entice a person to want to know more and generate traffic towards a company’s website. To explain more clearly, the words used can be like a blurb in a book which gives a brief summary of a story or it can be a promotional piece accompanying creative work.
Instagram for businesses can be seen like a trailer in a film where people see a snippet and if its interests them they will want to see more and go on the company’s website to see what they have to offer; read their blogs, etc. The promotion of this ‘trailer’ is helped with hashtags so users can find others similar to them. By using the search function in Instagram you can search for users by typing in their name or search a hashtag to see how commonly it is used and connect with those similar to you or use a few of those hashtags to generate traffic towards your page. With all the pictures or even words loaded, how can you monitor your Instagram activity?
Instagram has free service called Iconosquare that connects with a user’s Instagram account and provides useful metric s to monitor the growth and engagement of your followers. Iconosquare has 8.5 million members and 200,000 brands use this service.
As people can comment on the content uploaded, if the comments are quite a few and hard to monitor, Iconosquare has The Comment Tracker Tool. This tool displays all the most recent comments and allows the user to interact with their fans and followers. This can also be done on a computer instead of using the mobile app. To like a user’s content, you click on a heart icon and this can be monitored by the number of ‘Love Rate’ likes they receive.
Iconosquare provides numerous metrics to monitor engagement such as Talk Rate which measures how many times people have commented on a user’s media they uploaded. The Spread Rate looks beyond a user’s followers and at how many likes they have received from people who don’t follow them. All these metrics and several others can all act as market research for businesses to see how their content is being viewed on the mobile picture sharing app and what strategies can be put in place for them to get their desired outcome and further increase brand awareness.
It is also important to note that a company’s landing page is important on Instagram. By having a few strong sentences, a strong visual on your Instagram page and a link to your website this will also entice viewers and followers to learn more about your brand.
Depending on the type of business you are, Instagram can be useful and strong marketing tool. It can provide an insight into a company’s culture and in a sense their life all through a lense.