Instagram today is not the Instagram of yore. Compare the app to itself at launch, and you might find an almost entirely separate product. Long gone are the days of bleached filters, square borders, and the polaroid revival. In their place?
- Branded content
- Live broadcasts
- Shoppable posts
- And about a million other features for brands to take advantage of
A Quick History of Instagram
With over 1 billion monthly active users and more than 500 million daily active users, Instagram has come a long way since it’s 2010 inception. What began as a novelty app for sharing photos between friends and friends-of-friends has sprouted into one of the most (if not the most) influential social networks for marketers.
It’s tough to picture today (pun very intended), but when Facebook made the decision to purchase Facebook way back in 2012 for an astonishing $1 billion, Instagram wasn’t even generating revenue. It was still, for the most part, a borderline niche social network for those with an artful touch behind the lens.
Little by little, Instagram-via-Facebook began to implement brand-friendly features that would turn feeds, photos and the soon-to-launch stories some of the most fertile ground for marketers. And now? Brands can even see behind their own curtains, tracking stats, targeting user bases and developing intimate relationships with customers they never could have dreamed of through traditional ad mediums.
So without further ado, here are seven of the biggest benefits (and seven of the most pressing reasons) you need to get your brand on Instagram today — if it’s not already.
1. Access to Valuable User Metrics
Instagram lends itself to powerful analytic reports that let you know exactly how your posts and stories are performing, monitoring your followers’ habits in engaging with your content.
Instagram for Business allows you to target select audiences and collect insights with every one your front-facing touchpoints. That could be anything from how long a certain user type spends viewing your content to how your posts perform at certain hours of the day.
We can’t tell you which insights are most important for your marketing strategy, but we can tell you they’re all there. There are plenty of powerful analytical tools out there that’ll even help you take it a step further, helping you log posts in advance, track comment sentiment, and evaluate the effectiveness of your hashtags.
2. Shoppable Posts
Once approved, your Instagram account can tap into a whole new market of paying customers willing to make their purchase right from the app. In fact, over ⅓ of Instagram users have used Instagram to purchase a product online, making them 70% more likely to do so than non-Instagram users.
Instagram’s shoppable posts make the buying process as seamless as it gets — no clunky cart experiences or laborious payment processing. Plus, even if your potential customers aren’t willing to buy at the first click, catching them anywhere in the funnel means you’ve got the ability to serve retargeting ads. 83% of users say that they discover new products or services on Instagram, many of whom can be driven to action with a few reminders.
3. Subtle and Unexpected Features
Outside of Instagram’s purely transactional capabilities, it also gives you the chance to collect warm leads with simple-yet-effective measures like adding URLs to the final frame of a story, or dropping links inside your brand’s bio to encourage easy inbound traffic.
For the more ambitious, mega-features like IGTV allow you to create television-grade content up to an hour long.
4. Relationship Building
All of the reasons above and below total to perhaps the most important brand-building item of the day: Being on Instagram, period. Your presence on the photo-swapping app provides your business with a relatable credence, an ability to speak to directly to your customers and a humanizing effect that doesn’t necessarily pan out in any analytics report, but is virtually guaranteed to score you some brownie points.
It goes for building relationships beyond your audience base, too. Think:
- Brands connecting with other brands for giveaways and collaborations
- Brands connecting with influencers to help signal-boost their products and services
- Brands reconnecting with lapsed fans and former users, offering them a reason to rejoin the fold
Anytime someone follows you on Instagram, they’re making a considered choice. So make it worth their while.
5. Advanced Ad Targeting
In 2019, it’s reported that Instagram generated $20 billion in ad revenue alone. Much in part due to the fact that businesses recognize the effectiveness of advertising in a hyper-focused environment.
Instagram’s ad targeting capabilities allow businesses to partition their ad buys according to age, interests, behavior, location and more. Borrowing Facebook’s already powerful ad targeting framework, businesses on Instagram can create custom audiences that only receive select messaging, imagery and video content applicable to them.
It’s also possible to make quick swaps and performance-based edits in real-time, so you’re not putting a single extra dollar toward users that simply aren’t responding.
Placements like carousel ads, collection ads, and ads served within Instagram’s Explore page all serve separate purposes, allowing you to hit your custom audiences at different stages of their consideration process — and even different emotional states.
Tracking sales, leads and levels of interest via Instagram can give you a good idea not just of how you’re performing on social media, but how you’re performing with your audience in general.
ROI is typically clear as day, with fewer conflating factors as opposed to brick-and-mortar sales or even web store sales. Just about anyone, anytime, anywhere can browse through Instagram at their leisure. The same can’t be said for most other platforms.
Knowing the types of customers you’re making the strongest connection with can help you extract those inferences to other portions of your marketing strategy, potentially informing how you brand yourself en masse.
Simple things, like what region of the country your views are coming from, can tell you a lot more about how to market your product or service than just the shipping addresses or area codes from incoming callers. There’s a whole world, pre-purchase, that Instagram can access.
7. Cross-promoting Channels & Marketing
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve already got a social footprint in some place or another. Linking your company’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or even TikTok accounts to Instagram can create an entourage effect that pumps up readership across all platforms.
You never know where a potentially new demographic is hiding, and if, say, you’ve already gained a steady following elsewhere, it’s worth using your Instagram page to direct them to it.
Taking it all into account, there’s essentially no reason to miss the boat on Instagram. One of the best things we haven’t even mentioned until now? So many of these features are free. Setting up a profile? Free. Building a rapport with fans? Free. Branding your own hashtag? Creating your own video content? Free and free.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for placements and some of the more advanced analytical tools come with monthly fees, but it’s hardly what you’d expect to pay just about anywhere else.
No matter what you’re selling, it’s high time you put it on Instagram.We can take it from there.