Instagram® is an online, photo and video sharing service that allows users to upload their visual images to a variety of social media web sites like Facebook® and Twitter® using an iPhone®, iPad®, iPod Touch®, or AndroidTM smart phone. With over 100 million active Instagram users, businesses have started using Instagram as a new marketing outlet. Should you? 

Ever since Instagram introduced “Ads on Instagram” in November 2013, businesses have been using the service to reach wider audiences. Even global enterprises use images to present their brands to buyers.

The Numbers on Instagram Brand Advertising

Instagram recently released an effectiveness analysis of brand advertising campaigns on its website.*

  • Levi’s® reached 7.4 million people aged 18-34 in just nine days.
  • Ben & Jerry’s® made 9.8 million impressions on the bull’s-eye of their target demographic in just eight days.
  •  Across four Instagram campaigns, there was a 32% increase in ad recall, meaning the Instagram ad made a memorable impression on millions of buyers.
  • Marketers “achieved high impact with a low average frequency of ad impressions per user,” or in plain English, viewers didn’t have to see the Instagram marketing campaign six times to remember it.

If you aren’t using Instagram to market products and services, you may be missing an opportunity to reach a wider audience. Of course, this depends on what you sell, and to whom.

Instagram Recommends

Instagram recommends that your marketing campaigns follow five simple guidelines:*

  • Be true to your brand. In other words, your Instagram marketing campaign should clearly define your company’s personality and voice.
  • Share experiences. Instagram is a visual medium. Use pictures and videos to take viewers to new places, or to experience new adventures. Using rights-free clip art won’t keep visitors visiting your Instagram pages.
  • Turn business into beauty. There’s beauty in every business and Instagram delivers that beauty in visual form – if you create the right imagery.
  • Encourage an action. Nike® promotes a #runfree campaign. Yogurt maker, Chobani®, introduces yogurt dishes using #creationaday as its hashtag label.
  • Know your demographics’ motivations. Through customer surveys and market research, learn what customers and clients like about doing business with your business. Then, design Instagram pages that highlight what consumers like.

Is Instagram For Everyone?

Instagram may not be for every small business owner. Here’s why:

  • Right now, Instagram is free, but over time, that’s likely to change as Instagram seeks to monetize its app. If you spend a great deal of time building an Instagram presence, you may have to pay for it in the future.
  • Learning to use Instagram may take time for some business owners who are less tech-savvy. Instagram requires you to format the pictures you post – something that may not be worth your time.
  •  Instagram has limited image manipulation tools. Professional photographers complain that the editing features available on Instagram are limited, stifling marketing creativity.
  • Instagram ads are still fairly new. It might be better to wait a few months or years to see how other companies use this photo app. Over time, Instagram may attract more followers, but at the moment, you may not find the sweet spot of your demographic.
  • Instagram is used mostly by young people.  If you’re marketing products to seniors, you probably won’t see much visitor traffic through Instagram.
  • It may cost money to hire an Instagram designer. You want your business to look good, and if you don’t have the skillset to upload and manipulate images, you may have to hire a professional Instagram designer to set up your visual display.

Instagram is starting to gain traction as a marketing tool, but it may not be the best outlet to market your business. There may be other social media outlets that deliver more web site visitors, and visitors to your store or restaurant.

* https://business.instagram.com/blog/


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The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.