If you’re dedicating all your social media marketing dollars—and efforts—to a single platform (you know the one), then it’s time to think outside the ’book. Born in 2010 as a mobile and desktop destination for sharing photos and videos, Instagram currently boasts about 800 million users, a far cry from Facebook’s 2+ billion. But according to the New York Times, it’s fast becoming, well, Facebook’s next Facebook.
Ironically now owned by Facebook, Instagram operates via a simpler, more image-driven approach—a strategy that’s quietly starting to outpace its big brother when it comes to reach, appeal and overall cool factor. In fact, Facebook itself admits to not being the easy-going, fun-filled interface it once was. So, to ensure your social media marketing is truly firing on all cylinders, you should definitely add Instagram to your social media efforts.
First up: Is it right for you?
Instagram features a few core differences to consider, especially when it comes to users:
1. The audience skews young—the majority are 30 and under.
2. That audience is brand conscious, brand loyal and brand engaged; over half its users closely follow brands they love, and share an average of 95 million posts each day.
3. They’re also more global. As of last year, more than 80% were outside the U.S.
If your product or service is strictly localized to a certain region or older demographic, perhaps Instagram isn’t the best platform for a significant campaign. But if your brand could skyrocket with worldwide exposure or millennial attention, then a shift might be smart. Falling somewhere in between? Be conservative with your Instagram investment, but not entirely absent.
How does it serve up your message?
Instagram takes cues from both Facebook and Snapchat, but delivers a cleaner, clutter-free experience:
1. Feeds are ranked and served via a personalized algorithm, rather than a chronological stream.
2. While ideal for a single “hero” photo, it also offers live streaming and gallery posting capabilities.
3. It also features a video slideshow option, Stories, which is a daily disappearing montage of users’ photos and videos – easily trackable to see who watched and for how long.
Overall, Instagram’s structure means advertisers have both maximum flexibility and more fine-grained control over what users see. Even an informal poll among SGG team members revealed that ads served to them via Instagram actually work—with a few freely admitting interest in and/or purchase of a number of products experienced there. But sponsored ads from FB feeds? Not as much. The conclusion: As consumers, we felt Instagram is better dialed in to things we actually want.
Let’s get engaged.
Experts argue that while Facebook might offer better visibility, Instagram delivers a higher level of engagement. In fact, Forbes considers Instagram the best social media platform for engagement. But what does that mean?
Put simply, engagement covers how much users actually interact with the content you’ve served them: Do they look but do nothing? Or are they active and invested? Liking it. Commenting on it. Sharing it. A 2017 study found some brands had gained up to three times the rate of engagement on Instagram over Facebook. Why is that? Partly because Instagram’s more visual platform makes even branded content feel more natural and less intrusive. To quote Forbes again, “Gorgeous visuals, after all, are gorgeous visuals—whether they come from your best friend or from Nike.”
And the drawbacks?
Frankly, there aren’t many. Instagram is grounded in visuals, meaning powerful, potent images are a must. There’s less room for post copy (but then again, most Instagram posts are more effective with very minimal copy). Hashtags are prevalent. Have a link you need to add? There’s no easy hyperlink embed option, leaving you to instruct users to “find the link in bio,” which takes them to your profile where a targeted link can be added.
But in the past year alone, the number of Instagram advertisers has more than doubled, notably among small and midsize businesses. Best of all, it’s affordable and easy—and as a member of the Facebook family, comes complete with clear guidelines, multiple advertising options and easy-to-implement strategies for businesses of any kind.
With Instagram now emerging as a platform as robust and persuasive as Facebook (and perhaps more so), it may be time to rethink and retool your social media marketing—so you’re working both to the fullest.