By: Andie-Jane Phinney & Thomas Washington
Instagram is a social media platform, founded by Kevin System and Mike Krieger, which was launched on October 6, 2010. Instagram holds the record as the quickest social media platform to reach 1 million downloads. Within the first 24 hours of its launch, it became the number one app in the app store. As of today, it has records of 400 million monthly active users, 80 billion photos shared each day, and even 2.5 billion likes every day. These numbers show how popular and beneficial Instagram just is! It was bought out by Facebook in April of 2012 for $1 Billion dollars, and has been on the rise ever since.
Instagram has unique features that allow users to post and share pictures and videos, as well as edit them to their liking. You can see what other people share, their interests and even hashtags to narrow down commonalities. This allows users to customize their photos and share them with friends and family around the world.
Instagram is used not only to share photos and videos with friends or family, but many companies also use Instagram to advertise themselves. With the popularity of digital marketing continuing to rise, Instagram is the easiest and one of the most effective ways to market a company or a brand, don’t you think so?
Instagram is a platform that can help build awareness, boost engagement, and drive foot traffic to your business. It allows companies to showcase their products which allows for growth of followers and attracts leads. Not only do they gain attraction from current followers, they also gain free publicity when followers tag their friends to share their products.
By companies posting photos of products, promotions, or services, they allow viewers to see what they offer and put the products or services in front of the specific audience they want to reach.
Instagram pictures provide the audience with a better vision of the company and allows it to connect with fans, visually. Customers want to see what they are interested in and the pictures allow companies to tell a story and invite customers to see it.
Companies post pictures that they feel are the most attentive to the viewer. Their goal is to gain the viewer’s attraction to their brand and company. The pictures they post are designed to be simple, but effective. The famous quote we all know, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” has been put to use through Instagram advertising.
Not only does Instagram provide the audience with just photos, they now provide video content as well. When Instagram first launched, there was not an option for video. It was all about sharing photo content. With video content marketing becoming so popular, it has allowed companies to flourish through Instagram.
According to studies, 71% of marketers say video conversion rates outperform other types of marketing content that is used. Using videos to advertise on Instagram allows for a quick connection between viewers and the company. A video can explain products or services, provide detail, and catch a viewer’s eye all in the matter of fifteen second video. The companies who succeed at marketing through instragram, provide efficient, quick and loyal content.
Marketers use Instagram to showcase much more visually compelling and content-rich videos to create useful advertisements for viewers. For example, some companies provide how-to videos, which can be useful for answering consumer questions before they need to contact customer service. Other companies will provide soundless videos to allow the viewer to retell the brand’s story in their own eyes and to propel their own thoughts and ideas of what the company and video brings to them.
Both photo and video content marketing is something that has changed the way companies can advertise and market their business. It has opened up endless opportunities to promote services and products that companies are trying to get into the public eye. Instagram marketers have become so successful with visual content as well as adding hashtags into their marketing ideas.
One of the most effective ways to market on Instagram is by using hashtags. First you have to understand what a hashtag is: a hashtag is a unspaced phrase prefixed with the # sign. They also have unwritten rules to them: they generally cannot have capital letters in between the words or in the phrase at all, nor special characters, but numbers are allowed.
If you are trying to find more followers than what you currently have hashtags can be the way, and if you want to share your photos with a larger audience this is the best way to reach them. A hashtag is placed in the comments section under a photo before it is officially posted on Instagram.
One of the most important steps in using the hashtag is being specific in what you say. For example with a picture of a Volkswagen van, instead of posting a broad hashtag like #van, it would be a lot better to use #vwvan. After posting a specific hashtag like that, the photo will better reach people who are Volkswagen lovers. The specific hashtag of the #vwvan helps the Volkswagen lovers not get caught up swiping through the Fords, Toyotas, Hondas, etc. The hashtags have to be relevant as well; for example, if we used #photo there may be 1,000,000 photos tagged that way, so using #vwvan is better.
Then we can also add the #volkswagen to that same post and it targets the photo more efficiently. The third and final step is to be observant. You have to look at the hastags that are applied to other photos that are related to yours. People use #vw twice as much as #volkswagen in order to describe their Volkswagen, so you have to be observant of trends like this and repeat it with whatever type of photo you are posting.
Another perk of using Instagram as a marketing tool is that you can use it for marketing research. The 400 million monthly active users is the market, but the hashtags helps segment the photos, and makes target marketing easier. A hashtag like #sneakers may a couple million of tags, but #nikesneakers on the other hand may only have tens of thousands of tags. If you are Nike and you are looking for how much market share you potentially have on Instagram you can search different hashtags with your name in it, but in order to penetrate competition and see what people are liking from your competitors you can hashtag their names or broad posts related to the market.
Instagram has an advertising system called Sponsored posts in which large companies can pay Instagram to post their own pictures of whatever they want, to a specific target market. Users cannot get away from sponsored posts. They show up in their feed no matter what. Sponsored posts come across as being more organic and relevant on Instagram than they do on other social media sites; users don’t even realize, most of the time, that it is a large company advertising. A study shows that Instagram marketing actually drives more orders (sales) than Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest; even though Facebook has over 600 million more active users than Instagram.
Cross-marketing on Instagram is easy to do, as in the Instagram settings there are options for social sharing. In this way, marketers can make posts and transfer them over to fuel other marketing channels, like Twitter and Facebook. Instagram Direct, which was established in 2013, was an effort to compete with Snapchat; this may one day become a key in the engagement people have on Instagram. The feature called Instagram direct, which users refer to as Direct Messaging, was also supposed to play a key role in company advertising, but that has not been the case thus far. Facebook, the parent, company hopes to one day have companies convert the Instagram direct feature into a sales machine.
Hotels, restaurants, and bars are amongst some of the best types of businesses to market on Instagram, because many of those customers love to take pictures and post them of where they have been, and what they have eaten or drank. People go to restaurants and snap away with their smartphones to show off their food. Even if they do not hashtag the company or put the location, it will generate engagement most of the time. The engagement leads to telling someone in the comments under the photo about where they got the food from. The same practice occurs with drinks from bars – videos are included if there is a dance floor. Hotel photos frequently have the location in them because they are a part of a big trip or vacation.
In regards to what we found about Instagram, the key to successfully marketing on Instagram is finding new and interesting ways to connect through visuals. Posting creative use of imagery by using pictures and videos is what the public enjoys seeing. This said, Instagram truly is one of the most effective ways to market a company or a brand.
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