New social media sites come and go. In some cases, they break into the scene as the next best thing – like Snapchat. But contrary to what anyone would have guessed, they make very little difference on similar social mediums, like Instagram. If you’re not on Instagram, that probably still means you’re primarily using Facebook. And guess what? That’s old news. There are literally more people graduated to “Facebook stalking” (aka “I have a profile because I want to see your profile but I don’t post anything) than there are people still utilizing the platform. And form follows function; business follows the users. Businesses today that take the time to really perfect their Instagram game are sure to stay on top with their customers.
In the business world, Instagram isn’t all about selfies and what you’re eating for breakfast. It is about engagement and new leads and amplifying your storyteller content with actual Instagram Stories! So, say goodbye to your Instagram doubts, because I’m about to show you why Instagram is a major international player in the marketing world.
What Instagram Does Great
Instagram is so popular with businesses and individuals because it does a few things really, really well. The main things are: user generated content, brand influencers, and visuals.
User Generated Content
What is user-generated content? It can be defined as “any type of content that has been created and put out there by unpaid contributors or, using a better term, fans. It can refer to pictures, videos, testimonials, tweets, blog posts, and everything in between and is the act of users promoting a brand rather than the brand itself.” (source)
For example, did you watch the Superbowl?
Personally, I mostly watch the Superbowl for the commercials and the halftime show. (Call me basic, but it is what it is.)
Every year we get a great series of creative, funny, innovative car commercials from the biggest brands. These companies drop millions on their TV spots and commercial production.
But this year, Volvo took marketing for a spin and full-advantage of the power of user generated content through what we have been calling “The Volvo Interception.” Volvo opted out of running any commercials at all, and instead took a giveaway approach challenging viewers to tweet during and car competitors’ ads using #VolvoContest to nominate someone that inspires them for a brand new XC60.
In 4 hours, Volvo received 50,000 tweets with the contest hashtag, and began trending nationally and globally. Overall they received nearly 200MM media impressions, basically without lifting a finger.
Brands like Starbucks have also done this as they challenge fans to post pictures of their Starbucks cup doodle design in contests like the White Cup Contest. In 2014, this contest led to nearly 4,000 customers submitting entries in just three weeks.
User-generated content works great not only because it is cost-effective, but because consumers are much more likely to take a recommendation from a friend than they are a brand. In fact, people 16 times more likely to read a friend’s post about a brand than from the brand itself.
This is the point where businesses everywhere should be on their knees thanking Instagram for making this so possible.
Piggy-backing off user-generated content, let’s talk about brand influencers.
A social media influencer is someone with a large social following who has established credibility in a certain industry. This could be someone famous, or it could be the neighbor down the street who’s great at what they do.
So, if an Instagrammer has a large following for their workout routines and healthy lifestyle, a gym or a company selling healthy snacks might benefit from establishing a relationship with this influencer. Of course, you’ll have to pay, but every picture they post featuring your brand or product will lead to their followers interacting with your brand.
In a recent blog post we found that: “marketers who implemented an influencer marketing campaign earned an average of $6.85 in media value for every $1 they spent on paid media.” (For more on how social media influencers can boost your brand, read the entire post here.)
Even if you aren’t a marketer, you know how visual content works. Because you are, at some point of every day, a consumer.
You may have recognized how you are more likely to watch a video of someone trying out a new recipe than you are to actually read through that recipe.
You may have noticed how brands that use compelling images on billboards, social media sites, and even in print catch your eye quicker than the ones that rely on pure text.
Your experience is not unique (sorry if that bursts your bubble).
According to webdam.com, online posts including images produce 650% higher engagement than posts without images. That’s a big ‘ole number. And what is Instagram made up of? B-I-N-G-O. Pictures and videos.
If you want some examples of how brands have used visual content on Instagram to tell their company story, look here and be amazed.
Where Instagram beats other social media sites
With an increasing number of social sites out there and, of course, the constant big players like Facebook and Twitter, I’m sure you want to know about the specific advantages of Instagram. Well, Instagram is advantageous regarding their: International audience, successful company model, and measurable platform.
Instagram has officially bypassed Twitter, Snapchat, and even Pinterest as far as global social reach. Instagram has 800,000,000 active monthly users. And 80% of users live outside of the United States. Which means for businesses hoping to scale globally, Instagram is a great tool.
This is something I can personally attest to! As a bit of a nomad and a U.S. born expat currently residing in Australia, I can tell you that Instagram has made expat life easy! And it wasn’t because of my use of Instagram! I wasn’t going out ot try to find others on Instagram. On the contrary, Instagram has been such a rockstar for International traveling that when I travel, businesses find me! As soon as I post something about the area and especially when I am obviously a traveler, local cafes tend to add me as a friend or comment on my photo. Naturally, I am going to look at this delicious new friend and see what they’re all about! I have found numerous favorite cafes, restaurants, gyms, pilates studios, nutritionists and more through the direct engagement these businesses have with me!
Successful company model
Instagram has staying power. Even among competitive new mediums like Snapchat, they have stayed in the ring and come out on top. They have done this by introducing the right things at the right time. They consistently bring out new features to help marketing for businesses be even more effective.
Not a dark social platform
Instagram is a measurable and public platform. Whereas dark social platforms make it difficult to track who is engaging with your brand, Instagram actively avoids this. You’ll be able to look at metrics like where your traffic is coming from, which of your hashtags are most popular, and your referrals. Which means you’ll constantly be able to improve your strategy.