Although Instagram has been here for a while now, the social network is still growing by huge numbers, with the mobile app reaching an average 66% increase in users year over year. Since the network’s users spend 98% of their time on the app (instead of the website), this is a great indicator of Instagram’s ever increasing popularity.
Unsurprisingly, the new marketing opportunities brought by the network aren’t ignored by most of the world’s top businesses. For instance, 25% of the US Fortune 500 companies used Instagram at the end of last year, so we can expect that the number has grown even more since then. What is more, 43% of Top 100 brands in the US post to Instagram every single day.
So what do they all find on the network? Well, let’s start with a quick overview of the network’s demographics.
The Instagram Crowd
Instagram started off as a hip social network with heavily filtered photos of fixie bikes and Starbucks cups, but it has evolved into a significant part of the modern pop culture – you’ll hardly find a mainstream celebrity without an Instagram account.
These changes make the social network a perfect medium to reach all kinds of audiences, especially younger ones. While 34% of under 35s have an Instagram account, the app and the website gets even more popular among adolescents, since more than 51% of high school Class of 2014 use Instagram daily.
So Instagram might not be the right choice for your business if you’re selling senior insurance plans, but it’s excellent at meeting the needs and expectations of younger people of pretty much all backgrounds and incomes.
Visual vs. Textual Information
So why is Instagram so powerful?
Well, a lot of us will respond much better to visual information than plain text. 4 out of 10 people are visual learners, meaning they pay more attention to photos, infographics, and videos than simple articles or “About Us” sections in websites.
Since Instagram is all about visual information, it might be better to compare engagement rates in other networks which provide a possibility to share all kinds of content. Let’s take Facebook for example: according to KISSmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs than text and link posts.
Consequently, the engagement rates on Instagram are much higher than those in other traditional networks. According to a study by Forrester Research, Instagram receives 58 and 120 times more interactions per follower than Facebook and Twitter respectively.
Reasons to Use Instagram for Your Business
Let’s clear one thing up: plenty of business owners consider Instagram to be an option only if you have some products to show. The truth is you probably won’t be too successful on the network if you upload one product photo after another – let’s face it, it’s just not that interesting.
So what are the reasons to market your business on Instagram?
Well, it’s a great place to create and show a unique personality for your brand or business. All companies have a story behind them – you might think the day-to-day might not be very appealing to your followers, but if you manage to present it in an attractive way, the photos and videos will certainly enhance your branding beyond the traditional content such as blog posts and ads.
While Instagram is not the best network at directing traffic to your website (since it doesn’t allow active hyperlinks in photo descriptions or comments), you can still use it to increase awareness and grow genuine interest in what you do and why you do it. It’s also a great place to organize contests and use user-generated content to build a strong community.
All of the things above can be described by a single word – culture. Whether you build and showcase it to grow sales or appeal to potential employees, Instagram still provides an excellent way to show the world what you’re really all about.
Ways to Showcase Your Culture
So the only question we have left is how exactly you can use Instagram to showcase and promote your corporate culture. Well, it should depend on what you’re trying to achieve – behind the scenes photos will appeal more to potential employees, while photos of local events will certainly be interesting to the community you’re based in.
Either way, a nice mix of different kinds of content will usually perform very well. Here are a few ideas to begin with:
- Photos and videos of your staff in the workplace;
- Photos and videos of your products or services in action;
- Photos and videos of any events you organize or participate in;
- Photos and videos of the business giving something back to the community.
Content aside, timing is also a very important issue. Most businesses choose to post new photos on Thursdays, while weekends are a much calmer time. Interestingly, weekend posts seem to be much more effective than those uploaded on weekdays. In fact, a photo uploaded on a Sunday is 50% more likely to attract an interaction than one posted on a Wednesday. Regarding the time of day, off hours on weekdays seem to be the most effective, while a photo uploaded during working hours might not be seen (and interacted with) by as many followers. All in all, you can certainly post a photo or even a few a day – but they all have to be interesting and relevant to your followers.
If you’re looking to attract interactions (and increase your brand awareness) outside of the circle of your existing followers, you will certainly need to add hashtags to each post you make. Debbie Hemley from Social Media Examiner says that finding trending hashtags or using relevant industry-related ones can certainly increase the effectiveness of your Instagram marketing. In addition to that, being modest and adding only a few hashtags to a post might not work very well. The more hashtags there are in an upload, the more likely it is to receive any likes and comments. So even 11 of them is okay as long as they have a logical and easily readable structure and are directly related to the content of the post.
Overall, the most important question which you have to answer before uploading a photo on your Instagram business account is whether it’ll be somehow appealing to your potential customers. It’s pretty much impossible to know that at first, but you should have a clear view of what your followers like after a few months. Then, Instagram can become not only another social network used to increase the brand awareness of your business and reach your customers in a more personal way, but a great tool for generating leads and sales as well.
Whatever you do, don’t try to present your business in a way which would be completely different from reality. Sure, life on the Internet is usually much more beautiful than it really is, but if you have profiles on a few social networks and there’s a huge variance between your representations on all of them, the true identity of your business will be highly questionable for anyone researching your company before actually doing business with you.
On the other hand, if the corporate culture you showcase on the social network is close to the real thing, a successful Instagram account can do wonders in building a community both inside and outside your company.
As always, you have to set up specific objectives and have a clear strategy before starting, since “showcasing your business culture” is not a goal in itself. If you need any help in this particular process, be sure to drop us a line and book a free consultation for your business.