Instagram for Communicators
Facebook is still very much the biggest social media platform; there’s no doubt about that. But, hot on its heels is Instagram, the rising star which amassed over 1 billion global users in less than a decade.
Today, Instagram is known as the channel of choice for companies who want to generate engagement and brands are increasingly putting more of their content marketing and advertising budgets into Instagram. More specifically, influencer marketing on Instagram is estimated to generate a whopping $1.7 billion in revenue in 2019 and there’s no denying that Instagram is now a major force to be reckoned with.
In this first blog post in our Instagram series, we take a look at how Instagram weighs up against the other social media platforms out there and discuss the opportunities and risks of Instagram for communicators.
Instagram: the social network of choice?
In terms of absolute numbers, Facebook definitely has an edge over Instagram: 2 billion people are on Facebook and it’s popular amongst users from across the globe. Interestingly enough, though, 10x more people engage with brands on Instagram than on Facebook and while Instagram’s monthly active users are growing, Facebook lost 2.8 million users under the age of 25 in 2017, in the US alone.
Then there’s Pinterest, which is another popular social media site that consumers use to discover visual content and products, possibly driving purchases and a connection for brands. In terms of both user base and engagement, Pinterest doesn’t hold a candle to Instagram – it has just over 250 million users worldwide and 54x fewer people engage with brands on Pinterest than on Instagram.Does this mean that Instagram should always be the social media platform of choice for brands and communicators? Not necessarily. Because Instagram is primarily visuals-driven, brands that aren’t in retail, beauty, lifestyle, fashion or related industries might find it hard to draw the attention of consumers on the platform. Case in point? Eight of the top 15 most followed brands on Instagram are in the business of retail.
Instagram trends for 2019
In this section, we explore three Instagram trends that marketers and communicators can tap on. Read on to find out more:
1. Purchase links
Some time back, Instagram introduced a feature that allowed influencers and brands to add shoppable links to their Stories and brands are increasingly making use of this feature to promote products on their Stories.
Now that Instagram offers users the option to save their Stories as highlights, this makes it even easier for brands to capitalise on the links to drive purchases. It’s now common for brands to save their Stories under different collections and allow Instagram users to shop curated items through these collections.
On top of this, Instagram has recently started allowing in-app purchases. Here’s an example from Zara:
In this day and age, the way to a consumer’s heart is to demonstrate brand authenticity and IGTV makes it easy for companies to deliver on that count. Using IGTV, communicators can post behind-the-scenes footage and other long-form content that really showcase what their brand is about.
Generally, IGTV is essentially a video app that can be accessed within Instagram or using a standalone app. If you’re wondering what the difference between IGTV and Stories is, IGTV allows you to create videos that are up to an hour long.
3. Polls and contests
As mentioned, Instagram innately generates more engagement than other social media platforms. Now, brands and communicators who want to capitalise on this can run a poll or contest via their brand’s Stories to engage audiences even further.
For instance, a brand might run a poll to:
- Ask fans to guess when an upcoming product is being launched
- Ask fans to vote on their favourite colour for a certain product
- Ask fans to vote on the best way to style a certain product
Using Instagram: opportunities for communicators
According to statistics from Ogilvy, 80% of Instagram users voluntarily connect with a brand on Instagram and 72% of Instagram users have made a purchase after seeing an item featured on the platform. So, Instagram is indeed an excellent platform for marketing and promoting a brand.
Apart from using Instagram to promote products, communicators can also make use of Instagram to achieve other objectives, for example, employer branding and recruitment, including:
- Sharing about their team and team culture
- Showcasing achievements and awards
- Showcasing brand events and pop-ups
At the end of the day, posting and engaging with consumers on Instagram is a great way to generate more buzz about your brand and achieve that highly coveted top-of-mind awareness (TOMA).
Communication risks of using Instagram
While Instagram does bring about plenty of benefits for communicators, it also comes with its fair share of risks and challenges.
Some of the major risks associated with using Instagram are brandjacking, dis- and misinformation and fake influencers which we discuss in this section and also in separate blog posts.
First and foremost, brandjacking refers to when a company or individual assumes the identity of another brand in order to exploit or undermine them.
Brandjacking is typically carried out by competitors who want to take advantage of the traffic that a certain brand is generating. That said, customers sometimes engage in brandjacking as well. For instance, people might create a fake social media account to draw attention to a brand’s corporate practices, or simply to troll the brand.
Brandjacking aside, brands on Instagram also need to grapple with the problem of misinformation and disinformation (ie: the spread of fake news) on Instagram and other social media channels.
Now, it might not seem as though fake news would directly hurt a company or influence the way they promote their products. That said, if fake news grows to the point where consumers start distrusting Instagram and abandoning the platform altogether, then all the time and effort that a brand has invested in building up their Instagram following will go into smoke.
Last but not least, brands also have to deal with fake influencers on Instagram. While fame-hungry Instagrammers used to simply buy likes, comments and followers, they’re now utilising a wide array of more sophisticated techniques.
Here are some examples:
- Posting fake sponsored content in a bid to appear more sought after
- Relying on comment pods to boost engagement
- Purchasing likes from accounts with 50,000+ followers (when you generate engagement from a big account, this might get you on Instagram’s Explorer page.)
A final word on Instagram for communicators
As any communicator or PR professional will now, PR is all about generating a two-way conversation; it’s not a one-way street. Bearing this in mind, the fact that Instagram drives significantly more engagement than other social media platform definitely bodes well for brands and these would be wise to consider adding Instagram to their PR or marketing strategy. Stay tuned to the rest of our upcoming blog posts to find out exactly how!