Hashtags, and filters increase likes leading to Instamodels becoming Instafmous. Okay, let me explain in English. Ever heard a picture is worth 1000 words? A beautiful and simplistic concept, Instagram is a social media platform with a difference. Having previously touched on it in the blog post ‘Anti-Social media Marketing’ (Feel free to check it out, it basically outlines the different platforms and issues surrounding them) this post aims to delve into a little more detail about the picture orientated platform.
And the rest they say is history…
In 2010 Kevin Systron and Mike Krieger founded the platform and within a year it had over 1 million views (Geoff, 2013), which of course got a certain entities attention. Rather cleverly, Social media giants Facebook in 2012 snapped up this tool for $1bn … Yeah, not cheap. Or was it? With around 400 million users currently according to Statista (2016) Instagram ranks among the top 10 most popular social media platforms out there right now.
Additionally from a business perspective, it perfectly fits into Facebook’s ecosystem (Johnson et al. 2014) ultimately, providing both another avenue that companies can market to consumers on but additionally, it aids towards Facebook’s main aim of increasing audience engagement and keeping the consumer on their phone, as they unknowingly peruse content.
How can Instagram be used most effectively by a business hoping to utilise it? Surely it is not just marketing magic?
Before you start snapping away, a goal must be set, and of course Instagram (like all other social media entities) should be used as a platform to reach that goal. Are you solely looking for a flood of followers or are you looking for engagement and retainment? This brings us on to the ‘churn rate’ (the rate at which followers or users unfollow your brand).
A guide by Foundr (2013) shared how they themselves reached Instagram following of 30,000 plus people in just over 4 months. Impressive right?
They stated there are numerous steps that can be taken to increase following, as of course with more followers comes more power.
Who, What, When, Where?
Understand your brand’s audience is key to success. Mercedes and Oreo followers will expect something different than Starbucks or Red Bull, despite all these mentioned having had successful campaigns. Moreover by creating a theme that reflects the brand or purpose for your content, will aid towards brand recognition, while displaying a professional image. Samsung, L’Oreal and Guerlain, all had very interesting and successful campaigns, check these images out with the latter reaching nearly 1 million women, as well as increasing ad recall 23 points and campaign awareness 15 points.
Consistency is Key
Milbrath (2013) stated that as easy and tempting Constant product placement is not a theme. A surge of posts from one account breaks that natural feel and gives a vibe of advertisement. Instagram users generally regard this type of behaviour as spam and more than likely Unfollow. Instead, use what you have learned about your audience to create a posting schedule that puts content into their hands at just the right moments. Foundr (2013) recommended posting two to three times per day, to optimize awareness. Think of this like planting seeds, all spaced out in a row. According to Simply measured (2014) the more posts, the higher level of engagement.
Tell an interesting brand story through your images and captions. The beauty of Instagram is that it is a level playing field; everyone essentially has the same tools. It is about using those tools to stand out from the generic posts, giving people a reason to follow, in essence view your content. An example is that of ASAP Rocky, who in himself tries to portray a different image other than another celebrity rapper. Rocky dramatically changed the format of his Instagram in 2014 with posts to promote a new album released, attracting an additional 1m followers, based on the unique design.
Return the favor!
Engage with your followers by Commenting, following back and sharing likes.
Creating good content is just the first step to being successful on social media. Once you have your content, and the schedule sorted, make sure that you begin to engage with the people who show interest in your posts! Simply liking their comments, or replying to questions is a certified way to increase your relationship with your audience and to just generally appear as a brand that cares. Companies such as Sony and Ubisoft are really good at this, often replying quickly to customer queries or issues. Additionally photos receive higher engagement on average according to Hitz (2015).
Do not underestimate the power of these little icons. LePage (2015) found posts with a hashtag received 12.6% more engagement. Morover, Cheetah Analytics (2014) displayed just how influential those little are when comparing Likes to Follows.
An influencer campaign is an effective way to promote your business and generate leads by leveraging the audience of another Instagram account. (It is not cheating, although it sounds like it).
Mongardi (2015) shared a few tips when selecting an influencer however;
- Identify the target: Who would the message come from best or support it.
Do not simply look at the number of followers, look at the posts’ engagement (the number of likes and comments) and make sure there’s a good balance. There is always the possibility some followers were bought.
- Decide on Content: How is that person going to be used? Genric product placement? (Anymore Tea and I think I’ll delete my account).
- Negotiate the price: Depending on how many followers the person has, it may cost a small Fortune to get them to advocate or support your brand.
- Create a short, sharp, and easy to remember username – something that truly represents your brand and it easy for potential followers to identify.
- Add a suitable profile photo
Which adequately reflects your brand’s image.
- Link your accounts.
As mentioned Facebook can host Instagram posts as can twitter you may share your photos across all platforms in order to take advantage of cross platform marketing.
- Showcase your products, including the correct use of the #hashtag in order to increase engagement.
- Co-ordinate promotions by promoting exclusive previews of new products or allowing followers to purchase it before the general public (Mangold & Faulds, 2009).
As an integral element in the new age social media phenomenon, Instagram is an effective platform for nurturing customer relationships (Huang & Benyoucef, 2013). Despite many users being of a young demographic, more and more users are signing up, no longer limited to generation X and Millennials (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
In essence it places emphasis on the business or brands creativity. It enables the opportunity to gain real time feedback, offering promotions, and heightening awareness about a particular brand or product. As account creation is free, and there are no tools that can be used to automate posts (yet) the only major cost to the business is that of time, which of course is the most valuable resource of all.
Cheetah Analytics (2014) Graph displaying Like to Follow ratio. [ONLINE] Available at: http://cheetahanalytics.com Last Accessed 3rd May 2016
Geoff (2013)History of Instagram [ONLINE] Available at: http://wersm.com/the-complete-history-of-instagram/ Last Accessed 3rd May 2016
Granum, M (2013) – Power of the Hashtag MarianneGranum [ONLINE] Available at:
https://mariannegranum.wordpress.com/tag/hashtag/ Last Accessed 3rd May 2016
Hsu , T (2015) Top 10 Instagram Campaigns in 2015 – [ONLINE] Available at:
Last Accessed 3rd May 2016
Huang Z & Benyoucef, M (2013) From e-commerce to social commerce: A close look at design features. Electronic Commerce Research and Applications,12(4), 246-259.
Johnson, G (2014). Exploring Strategy: Text & Cases. 10th Revised ed. Edition. Not Available.
Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons, 53, 59 – 68.
Mongardi, S (2015) How to Run an Instagram Influencer Programme – Social Media Examiner – [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-run-an-instagram-influencer-campaign/ Last Accessed 3rd May 2016
Simply Measured (2014) [ONLINE] Available at: http://bit.ly/1HsiZem Last Accessed 3rd May 2016
Statista (2015) [ONLINE] Available at:
http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/ Last Accessed 3rd May 2016