If Facebook is the cult hit of the social media world, Instagram is the blockbuster for businesses.
Companies more and more are discovering that users engage more often on Instagram than Facebook or Twitter. L2 Inc last year analyzed Instagram’s effect on business in their Intelligence Report, finding that “Instagram continues to be the destination for editorialized, curated content…” and “Instagram’s value to brands is apparent.”
Olapic, the visual marketing platform, says Instagram is set to become the most powerful social media network – with brands who had an Instagram account experiencing nearly 300 per cent more followers.
According to Statista, as of April 2017, there were 700 million active Instagram users, a tripling in three years.
Several reasons have been cited for the increased Instagram usage, including Facebook’s changes to the News Feed algorithm, which means much fewer eyes on the page, as well as corporate paywalls, says Olapic.
Moreover, according to KOMarketing Associates, many noteworthy companies — Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Hootsuite, and Oracle, among others — have garnered enormous successes engaging customers through with Instagram because of its image-based format.
Media analysis company Social Bakers notes that Instagram “embodies a unique element: storytelling… without making the user feel like they are actually being sold to…”
Marketing Manager Andi Narvaez, concurred, when she wrote on LinkedIn that companies can make an impact in a mere 15 seconds. She explains it’s the rich multimedia, with editing tools that are built into the medium that grabs people’s attention.
Meagan Nordmann, digital marketing specialist for atpay.com, an email payments technology based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, says that in terms of brand engagement, Instagram is the top choice, due to its emphasis on photos and videos.
This shift to visuals gives brand managers the opportunity to focus on the story they want to tell.
“When marketers are no longer concerned about website traffic, it gives them a moment to really be creative on how they want to portray their company and start a genuine conversation. And, even if they’re not engaging on a particular post, at least you know that many of them actually saw it in their Instagram newsfeed that day, unlike Facebook, who chose not to show it to ninety percent of your fans.”
Visuals also give brand managers the opportunity to quickly assess the alignment of their stories with their desired messaging.
The focus, she adds, should be on “creating a personality for your brand and starting a conversation that leaves a great, lasting impression.” Instagram’s visual emphasis can do that more quickly and effectively than other social media platforms.
The results, for business owners, surface in increased business opportunities.
Stephen Hall, owner of Tinker Coffee Co., in Indianapolis, Indiana, explains that Instagram has brought in new customers each week.
“We’ve found that Instagram can help build a community and drive interaction better than most social media channels, with Twitter coming in a close second… I’ve never seen such a direct response in any other social channel we manage,” says Hall.
The one caveat he adds: a good photo is as good for business, as a bad photo is bad for business.
Daniel E. Lofaso of Digital Elevator, the marketing agency in West Palm Beach, Florida, says that he has had more success with Instagram than Facebook, and has already converted a ‘follower’ to an advertising client.
“One of my clients whose Instagram account I oversee, drives a large percentage of his website traffic from Instagram and we can attribute it to over 30 per cent of the conversions of the products he sells.”
Sarah Zeldman, developing a specialty in corporate social media, says that companies are flocking to Instagram because engagement is higher – “so long as it’s not too salesy,” users come with a shopping mindset, and content can be pushed into other networks.