Instagram – The Rapid Rise of an Underdog

May 15, 2017

Instagram is growing at a rapid speed and is a great platform for the right brands to engage with customers. A continual stream of new features offers opportunities for businesses to leverage what this flourishing community network has to offer. Narrative Creative Director, Christelle Grobler, explains.

Instagram is on the rise, catching up with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube at a rapid rate. For brands, it’s ripe for the picking with a young, vibrant audience that’s keen and willing to engage with brands. 80 percent of Instagrammers follow a business on Instagram according to Instagram Internal Data from March 2017.

It’s not long ago that we could only post static, square images on Instagram with a fun filter of our choice. This is where the initial appeal caught on and it has since bloomed into a multimedia platform with a variety of possibilities and new added features. In the last year it has become possible to post video clips to a maximum length of one minute and Instagram has launched new features such as Instagram Stories and the most recent, multi-image posts. Soon brands will also have access to a new, exciting feature: Instagram Shopping – shoppable posts.

A South African Social Media Landscape 2016 study conducted by World Wide Worx and Fuseware revealed that in the last year Instagram had an astonishing growth of 133 percent, from 1,1 million users to 2,68 million. According to Instagram, users worldwide share 95 million images and videos per day on average and spend roughly 21 minutes a day on the app. That’s a lot of visual content being consumed globally, considering the simplicity of Instagram’s layout and content.

Instagram facts and stats

There are so many reasons for businesses to have a presence on Instagram and to utilise the new features to gain the best results. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all platform. A service delivery business would have a much harder time marketing itself effectively than a retail business. These are some new Instagram features that brands can benefit from:

Instagram Stories
The content you create as an Instagram story will stay on top of your followers’ newsfeeds for 24 hours – that’s a nice opportunity to nab some extra visibility and top-of-mind time. By contrast, regular posts move down in your followers’ newsfeeds as fast as new posts are added.

It is crucial for businesses to consider this feature carefully. Simply posting an Instagram story for the sake of being visible in a follower’s newsfeed is not the way to go. The content should be informative, engaging and fun, and it should deliver a valuable message or provide useful, inspiring insight that your target consumers would want to receive.

You can make Instagram Stories work through the creative showcase of special offers or products, giving a glimpse into your business such as a behind-the-scenes story or showing the creative process of generating content. Another option is to utilise blog content and show how-tos on recipes or easy, quick steps to a DIY. Useful information that is quick and easy to absorb is the key to success.

Multi-image Posts
In the past, Instagram only allowed for single-image or video posts. Now it’s possible to combine up to 10 photos and videos into a single post, which your customers and potential customers can swipe through like a gallery. Multi-image posts are great for posting an event, step-by-step, multiple products, and so on.

Instagram Shopping
In March 2017, Instagram Business posted an article giving new insights to the Instagram Shopping feature which they are in the process of testing. The shopping feature will soon be rolled out to thousands of businesses in the US and Instagrammers will be able to shop for products from their post feed. Brands will be able to add product information to photographs, but video or the multi-image post feature won’t allow for this functionality… yet.

Instagrammers will be able to tap on products that catch their attention to see more details on the product and be able to click to the brand’s website to continue the purchasing journey. “We’re also giving businesses the power to create and tag a post with products directly from their iOS mobile phone. Once a business has a product catalogue connected to their account, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post,” says the Instagram business team.

6 Instagram Dos and Don’ts:

1. DO find a unique look/style for your content. To be successful on Instagram, you need to be noticed. Find a way to stand out from the crowd and be different to your competitors. Images that usually have the most likes have one or more of these characteristics: faces; a dominant colour; lots of negative space. Being different and creatively unique is what will get you noticed.

2. DO post frequently and consistently – try to maintain an average rate and keep up with it.

3. DO use hashtags. A post with hashtags increases your visibility on Instagram. Simply Measured posted a statistic saying that 70 percent of the most-used hashtags on Instagram are branded. Clever and well-researched hashtags are essential for content discovery and marketing campaigns. Pair your hashtags up with a social media listening or management tool to track the usage and engagement with your brand to measure the success and also track which hashtags your followers are using with yours.

4. DO engage cleverly. Instagram only allows one link in your bio, so use it wisely. Use it to promote specific content and take the audience to an appropriate landing page. Engage with others on your platform by asking questions in your posts. Employ appropriate, well-researched hashtags that are used often, this will increase your chances of being noticed.

5. DON’T post irrelevant content. Keep your posts around the brand and post content for the same reasons you have followers in the first place. Always remember to tie the content back to your brand in a soft-sell fashion rather than a hard sales push. Instagram is a leisure and pleasure platform, remember.

6. DON’T overpost. Don’t post too much and annoy your audience. Instagram is a bit of a numbers game and you need to find what the happy medium is. Some companies do really well with more than 10 posts a day, where others don’t and the same counts for lower amounts of posts. You need to discover your own sweet spot through constant monitoring.

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