The demographics of social media sites are starting to shift as new platforms begin to emerge and old ones lose prominence. And as Facebook and Twitter continue to tweak their algorithms to reward paid advertising, businesses are having a more difficult time getting organic exposure on these sites. All of this is leading many businesses to wonder if they should start casting their digital marketing nets a little wider. (Spoiler alert: most of them should.)
“In Sept. 2015 #Instagram surpassed #Twitter in number of users, and has nearly 3x as many users today. #SMM” – The Content Factory
In September 2015, Instagram surpassed Twitter in number of users, and has nearly three times as many users to this day. Those kinds of numbers are hard to ignore and this stunning growth is part of the reason that people are starting to eye Instagram as the next great place to market their business. So how do you know if it’s right for you?
Instagram Marketing: Why It’s Awesome
While we’re firm believers that there’s no one-size-fits all answer when it comes to social media marketing, there are a few general rules of thumb that you can use to decide if Instagram is a good fit for your business. But first, let’s take look at a quick rundown of what makes Instagram marketing so great.
1. The Internet is officially mobile — and so is Instagram.
For years now the growing importance of mobile has been at the top of the list for every forecast of marketing trends — and we’ve finally reached the tipping point. As of 2018, the time spent on mobile media (57%) is significantly higher than that of desktop (43%). Mobile has long since ceased to be a mere trend. It has become the primary way that Internet users are accessing online content.
This gives Instagram marketing a huge advantage over competitors like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Unlike the other major social media platforms, Instagram (and Snapchat, to its credit) was originally conceived as an app. Although the other social media heavyweights have invested heavily in their mobile apps, it’s difficult (if not impossible) for a platform that was originally created for desktop to have an app that functions as seamlessly and intuitively as a platform that is native to mobile.
Just a quick side-by-side comparison of any of the major social media apps compared to the Instagram app makes this point abundantly clear. While other apps struggle with endless updates to integrate multiple pages and menus more elegantly, Instagram’s simple, stripped-down interface makes it easy and intuitive for mobile users.
Now that mobile is the primary digital medium being used by consumers, it’s likely that more emerging social media platforms will be mobile natives as well. While Instagram is perfectly positioned to take on new competition, the platforms that were originally conceived for desktops are going to feel increasing pressure. In short, if you’re looking to invest in a social media strategy that will continue to have an impact over the long-term, Instagram should be a part of that strategy.
2. Your posts are more likely to be seen.
Ensuring that your posts are being seen has become particularly difficult on Facebook. Not only does Facebook allow users to have a high degree of control over the content that appears in their News Feed, but the Facebook algorithm automatically curates each profile’s News Feed based on their connections and interactions. This means that if your followers don’t immediately and consistently engage with your content, chances are they will stop seeing it.
To make things more difficult for marketers and business owners, as Facebook increasingly invests in its advertising services, business pages are finding it more and more difficult to reach their followers organically (i.e., for free). While Instagram has introduced ads on the platform, thus far there has been no indication that they intend to treat the content posted by business profiles any differently than they have in the past, making Instagram marketing still your best bet for getting your content in front of your audience.
3. Instagram leads the pack for engagement.
It’s not enough to just be sharing your content — it needs to make an impact. Shares, likes, RTs, and +1’s are all indicators of how engaged your audience is with your content. The more you have your follower’s attention, the more opportunities there are to get your message out, build brand awareness, and engage in some killer PR. If leveraged correctly, these social signals can even pack a serious SEO punch. That’s why engagement is the Holy Grail of social media marketing.
Instagram’s clean, streamlined interface, judicious incorporation of ads and focus on visual content creates an intimate atmosphere that is optimal for social sharing. So it’s no wonder why, when it comes to engagement, Instagram is the industry leader.
While the exact numbers can be hard to quantify, estimates suggest that Instagram users are four times more likely to like, comment, or share a brand’s post than Facebook users and 30 times more likely than Twitter users.
“Instagram users are 4 times more likely to like, comment, or share a brand’s post than Facebook users.” – The Content Factory
4. Businesses can brand themselves through visual storytelling.
Have you ever heard of an elevator pitch?
The general idea is this: you’re the CEO of a startup or a salesperson trying to drum up new business, and all of sudden you find yourself in an elevator with exactly the investor or the contact that you’d like to do business with.
Basically, you have 30 – 90 seconds to tell this person what your company does and why they should want to work with you and you have to do it in a way that is interesting and compelling enough that the elevator ride ends with you getting a meeting and not an uncomfortable brush off. It’s as tricky as it sounds.
It’s also a great analogy for building your audience online, only instead of an investor, you’re pitching Internet users, and instead of 90 seconds, you have two — maybe. This is where the visual storytelling aspects of Instagram marketing become a huge advantage. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and they’re right. You could probably sum up why the company you work for is so cool in 1,000 words, but no one would stick around to read it. Or you could post a picture of your latest rooftop office party or your “workation” in Mexico and tell the same story in an instant.
How to Know If Your Business Should Be On Instagram
So you get that Instagram is awesome, but you’re still not sold on the idea that it’s right for your business. The truth is that despite the many advantages of Instagram marketing, it still doesn’t necessarily make sense for every business. Here’s a few rules of thumb that can help you know if it’s time for your business to take the plunge:
“Approximately 71% of Instagram’s 400 million users are under the age of 35. #SMM” – The Content Factory
Your target audience is young. Approximately 71% of Instagram’s one billion users are under the age of 35. Compare this to Twitter (where 56% of users are over 30) and Facebook (where 64% of users are under 35). The truth is that it doesn’t matter how great your product and your message are if you aren’t using the right channels to reach your audience.
Your product is visually compelling. Instagram marketing is all about visuals. Maybe you’re a travel agency that books luxury vacations or maybe you’re a company that builds sweet custom bikes. Whoever you are, if you are selling something that people are going to want to see, you need to be on Instagram.
Your competitors are on Instagram. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely check to see if your competitors are doing Instagram marketing. Even if you still think at this point that Instagram isn’t right for your business, if your competitors are already there and developing a following, chances are that they know something you don’t. Poke around in their profiles and try to figure out what it is, then get to work building a better version in your own profile.
If you think you can tell a visual story about your business — or you are trying to target a younger audience — Instagram needs to be part of your social media marketing strategy.
Are you ready to take the plunge with Instagram market, but looking to outsource social media? We’ve got a couple of pricing guides you might be interested in, both for professional social media marketing tools and small business social media marketing.
What do you think about Instagram marketing? Have any success stories to tell? Let us know in the comments section, or tweet us @Contentfac.