With visual content becoming a necessity in marketing strategies, including Instagram in brand’s social media strategy should be a no-brainer. More than a quarter of adults use Instagram in their daily lives. So why do so few brands have an account?
Many don’t think they don’t know what to do. Fortunately, Instagram is a fun, simple way to express your personality to the world and much simpler to get involved in than brands think.
We recently spoke with renowned social media consultant Jenn Herman before her free Cision webinar and asked her why a brand should get involved and how Instagram’s growth will continue to influence social media strategies in the future.
Q: Instagram has been rapidly growing, but brands have been slow to adopt it as a marketing tool. Why haven’t more brands made use of Instagram?
A: A lot of brands, I feel, don’t really “know” how to use Instagram for marketing so they have shied away from it. Because you can’t share links or post other content, they struggle with how to represent their brand and market their products or services on Instagram. This is especially true for B2B or service-based businesses. But with a little creative direction, it’s amazing how much you can actually convey via photos and videos!
Q: What are the reasons for Instagram’s rapid growth? Do you think it will continue?
A: My number one reason for why Instagram is growing so fast is because it’s just plain FUN! It’s a no-pressure social site and it’s so easy to navigate that almost anyone can get the hang of it in a matter of minutes. This makes it ideal for enticing new users. But beyond all this, it gives into our instant gratification mentality online these days. We can instantly digest the photo content, scroll rapidly through content and barely miss a thing, and a simple double-tap to like keeps us moving quickly through the feed. There’s no getting hung up in the black hole we find ourselves in on other social media sites.
Q: What benefits does Instagram offer brands?
A: It offers so many great benefits! First of all, it is THE place to be right now. So being active on Instagram ensures you’re a part of this big party. But also, so many brands are struggling with how to use or aren’t using it at all, so for those of us on there, we can build our communities, grow our presence, and establish a foundation before everyone else catches on and are left playing catch-up. Instagram is a hyper-rich site for engagement too. With engagement rates 15X greater than Facebook and significantly higher than the other major social media sites, there is real opportunity to connect with and build a devoted audience on Instagram. Something a lot of people and brands don’t realize is that Instagram also drives some of the BEST traffic you can find online. Bounce rates for traffic directed from Instagram is almost ZERO! You can’t get that kind of quality traffic from any other social media site.
Q: Instagram users are generally young, with the majority of its users between the ages of 18-34. How does this affect brands’ strategies?
A: While we can, and often do, say that Instagram is a younger audience, the reality is that the users in the 30-64 age range are almost exactly the same as the number of users in this age range on Twitter. So, yes, more younger users will use Instagram, but it’s more important to know who YOUR target audience is on Instagram in order to craft your marketing strategies. Don’t assume that your audience is all under the age of 35 just because it’s Instagram and risk alienating those who are actually there and following you from an older demographic. In general, your branding and messaging on Instagram should be consistent with what you do elsewhere on social media. Yes, Instagram tends to be less formal and more “fun” based, but if that’s not your brand, don’t try to shoe horn yourself into this idea. Being true to your voice and style will always win out in the long run.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes brands are making on Instagram?
A: There are two big mistakes brands make on Instagram. One is being irrelevant to their brand because they don’t understand how to “market” through images. So they post only content that they know performs well in engagement. For example, they post quotes or inspirational messages, or they post cute animal photos, or food photos, or flowers, or sunsets, or whatever. But these have nothing to do with their company. So they get 200 likes but it’s completely irrelevant when they want to sell a new online program. The second big mistake is only posting graphics and marketing content. Again, usually because they don’t know what else to do, they post image after image of marketing content – usually in a graphic format. This just reads like a billboard or megaphone screaming “look at me!” or “buy me” but have no message or value for the customer.
Q: With the increasing popularity of Instagram and other visual social networks, should the way brands engage its audiences become more visual?
A: Yes! Absolutely. We are visual creatures. And, don’t get me wrong, I’d rather read a blog post than watch a video, so we still need “traditional” marketing messages. But, in a highly saturated online world where you’re competing for literally a second of your audience’s time, you need to be able to pull them in immediately. And good visual content is the fastest and most effective way to do this.
Q: What do you think the future of Instagram looks like? How will it affect the future of marketing?
A: I always hate making predictions about the future of social media because it can all change so fast and without expectation. But I honestly believe that Instagram is in this for the long haul. They have the financial and powerful backing of Facebook to ensure they don’t just disappear one day. And as more and more people around the world connect through Instagram, I think it will only continue to gain relevance as a modern communication tool, therefore making it an almost necessity for most businesses.