Are you putting much thought into WHY you are posting to certain social media platforms? Are you posting to the right platforms to find your target audience?
This blog series is here to help you answer those questions! We’re continuing to dive into the major social media platforms to help you make better decisions about which ones to use and why you should use them. We’ll even talk about why you might not want to use them.
This week, we’re exploring Instagram.
The Basics About Instagram
Instagram got its start as a photo sharing app in October 2010. Within two months, it had 1 million users. It had 10 million users in its first year.
It’s rapid growth quickly caught the attention of Facebook, who purchased the app in 2012 for $1 billion dollars. Since that time, Instagram has maintained steady growth, hitting 2 billion users in 2021.
Over the years it has faced competition from Snapchat and TikTok, with each of those platforms often copying each other on a variety of features.
Instagram’s Platform Features
For marketers, these are the main terms that you should familiarize yourself with for Instagram:
- Stories: add text, emojis, stickers, tags, mentions and much more to images or video to tell your “story” for the day. Each story segment lasts for 24 hours and can be more than 15 seconds long.
- Highlights: a prominent feature on your profile where you can save Stories so they don’t disappear. This is a great way to showcase evergreen material that you want followers to have access to beyond 24 hours.
- Reels: Short-form video – no more than 60 seconds – which allows users to show off creativity. They are filmed in portrait mode for mobile friendless.
- Videos: Not to be confused with Reels, videos are longer-form video posts. Videos can be up to 60 seconds long, although the platform has tested even longer options, which was previously featured in IGTV. IGTV was phased out in 2021 with all the content moving to “Videos.”
- Live Video: Live broadcasts from users that are displayed at the top of users’ feeds where you browse Stories. Followers who haven’t turned off notifications will receive a message alerting them that you are going live.
- Hashtags: While hashtags have been around since Twitter started, hashtags are used on this platform to help users discover additional content and as ways to add branding to your posts.
Why You Should Consider Instagram
Like most social media platforms, Instagram is FREE to create a business profile and start posting branded content. It’s a great place to showcase more things happening behind the scenes. It can also help people get to know more about your business and the personalities behind it.
Since Instagram has been around for more than a decade, having a presence on the platform helps build trust with your customers. If someone is searching for your business and can’t find it there, they may very well head to your competition instead.
“Word of mouth” marketing is valuable on Instagram. If someone purchases your products and shows them off on Instagram, they are more likely to tag you and/or use your branded hashtag on their own posts. Think of it as finding influencers without having to put much effort into it.
Shopping Takes Centerstage
In the past couple of years, Instagram has now become a major player for e-commerce. Instagram says 72% of its users purchased a product they saw on the platform after it launched “shoppable” posts in 2017..
The platform has a devoted site to guide users through Instagram Shopping, which includes creating a storefront on the platform. You can add collections of products, pages with more details of your items, and completing the purchase within the platform.
You can also tag your products directly in your images and videos, as well as placing ads with a tag.
Shopping has become so big on the platform since the pandemic, that it now has a shopping icon in a prominent tab for all users to access.
Advertising on Instagram is handled through Facebook’s Business Suite, so you can drill down in your target audience with a variety of demographics to make sure you’re reaching your core audience.
Instagram is also making it easier to partner with influencers. While the casual tag from a user is nice, someone who is well-known with tens of thousands (or millions) of followers can publicize your company with just a few posts.
It’s Truly a “Legacy” Platform
One major thing to consider about Instagram: It’s not going anywhere. As we mentioned, the platform was founded in 2010. It continues to evolve and grow. While the company continues to focus more on Reels and other video products, it’s still a place to show creativity with photos and graphics. There’s always an audience for that content.
Some of the Pitfalls
- Like any other social media platform, you have to dedicate the time to it. How much time is a decision you need to figure out. An occasional post once or twice a week likely will not help you gain an audience.
- Getting good authentic followers is a bit of a challenge. You want to make sure to explore hashtags that fit your business and customers, engage with others, and follow back. Encourage your customers to tag your business as well when a purchase is made.
- Instagram continues to stress the entertainment side of the app. You can’t just show up on the platform and focus on selling your products or business. Posts should focus on things behind the scenes or a funny quote every so often.
- You need a bank of videos to build posts. As you can tell, the platform isn’t shying away from how much it will stress videos in the coming year. Be prepared to get in front of the camera more often.
More From this Series
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