In the 19 years since Instagram has launched, it’s garnered more than 1 billion users and 50 billion posts. It has become a social media staple in its own rite by creating a place where unashamed selfies and destination vacation humblebrags are accepted and celebrated.
With its unique premise, easy-to-use interface, and quick access to photo manipulation tools, it’s bred a whole new generation of amateur photographers and small business marketers who understand that a picture is worth a thousand words.
And for those people, there’s no shortage of an audience to enjoy their posts.
Omnicore reports that 32% of all Internet users use Instagram, with most of those hailing from the United States. In total, a massive 63% of Americans say that they use the photo sharing app on a daily basis.
It’s also perfect for targeting one of the most hard-to-market demographics: Gen Z. Seventy-two percent of teens report having an account, with 35% stating that it is their preferred social media platform.
Statistics also say that Instagram is useful for business marketing, with 71% of businesses using the site and 69% of marketers reporting that they plan to spend most of their “influencer” budget on Instagram.
Still not persuaded? Maybe this will change your mind: 130 million users tap on brand-specific posts to learn more about a product every month.
Alas, like any social media platform, Insta isn’t for everyone. It has a very specific demographic, with very specific tastes, and the expectation that your photography skills are top notch.
Read on to find out if Instagram is the right marketing platform for your business.
You Have Time to Market Everyday
Instagram marketing is all about being “in the moment.” Followers are going to scroll right past contrived photos or overworked advertising.
Instead of focusing on selling, try creating a story for your brand. If it helps, visualize your brand as a human entity that hangs out in the office with you. You could even try creating a buyer persona for “them” that defines what their marketing struggles and successes are, along with the elements of their “personality” that make it unique and relevant to your service or product.
Once you understand your brand’s personality, you want to ask yourself a few questions. What would this pseudo-colleague take pictures of? What are they interested in? What is going to make them feel like what they’re doing matters? Then, snap away. If you sell sports equipment, post artsy pictures of athletes with their most inspiring quotes. If you do landscaping, share your favorite species of shrubs and flowers or garden inspiration from famous literature.
Whatever it is you do, you have to post regularly. Followers that are interested in what you have to say want to see what you have to offer. If you’re planning to post sporadically or only on special occasions, focus your marketing efforts on other platforms.
Hashtagging Comes Naturally
The search function on Instagram functions in much the same way that it does on Twitter. Hashtags are added to posts to help users searching for their favorite topics find accounts that fit their needs. If you’re not willing to research hashtags that are relevant to your demographic, industry, and brand, you’re going to be very limited in the number of people who see your posts.
According to metricool, a social media analyses and planning site, the 10 most popular Instagram hashtags of this year include:
- #love, (1.6B)
- #Instagood, (1B)
- #Photooftheday, (490M)
- #TBT (489M)
- #fashion, (475M)
- #beautiful (465M)
- #happy (422M)
- #Like4Like (410M)
- #Picoftheday (373M)
- #Art (334M)
But, don’t let those big numbers fool you into thinking those hashtags will snag you tons of followers. That many posts will most likely leave your pics in the dust. While they are generic enough that many could be added to your posts, it’s much more efficient and effective to focus on the tags that make your brand appealing to the people you’re trying to sell to.
Like marketing on niche search engines, more specific hashtags are going to help you find the followers you really, really want.
Visual Elements Are a Big Part of Your Brand
It’s no secret that the platform of Instagram is based in photography. Text plays second banana to stunning visual elements and compelling video. So, if you’re going to pursue Instagram marketing, be prepared to either come to work with a GoPro on your head or have your phone ready to whip out at a moment’s notice.
You should also get trained in photo editing, PhotoShop, and filters. Part of the appeal of Instagram is that it jives with the modern average attention span of 8 seconds. That means that if you want to be noticed, there has to be something more interesting about your photo than the one above and below you. Whether it’s a vintage-y snap of your storefront or a moment-in-time action shot of your receptionist laughing so hard that she snorted, everything you post has to pop. Putting the time into learning some neat techniques is going to help you stand out and give your brand more perceived exposure.
Your Audience is 18-29 Years Old
Instagram demographics leave little room for interpretation when it comes to who’s using the app.
You probably won’t find much success marketing dentures and wrinkle creams on this social media platform. Majority rules when it comes to tweens, teens, and young adults.
In terms of gender, women make up 58% of all active users. This statistic holds true for many sites and apps where visual media is the focus.
One theory says that Instagram is the perfect platform for showcasing traditionally feminine interests, like fashion and cosmetics, because they are inherently visual products. Better yet, easy-t0-use filters make everything look flattering, appealing to the market of women who enjoy looking their best.
Rachel Simmons, a gender researcher, spoke with The Atlantic about this phenomenon:
“Girls… grow up being told that they will be valued for appearance and that appearance is competition. Everyone wants to be the most beautiful girl in the room. Instagram provides a platform where you can enter that competition every day.
The Internet has been called a great democratizer, and perhaps what Instagram has done is let anyone enter the beauty pageant.”
No matter what the reason is, brands that appeal to women, especially those between the ages of 18-29, are going to have a. much easier time finding their audience than those that market to men or older generations.
Instagram marketing is one of the easiest places to start if you are toying with the idea of digital marketing. In a time when everyone has a camera in their pocket, a wealth of knowledge about photography skills at their fingertips, and the rapt attention of more than 1 billion people, it doesn’t take Annie Leibovitz or Andy Warhol to become famous for their pictures.
It’s also low pressure when it comes to budget. Brands don’t have to pay a dime to be seen if they spend the time researching hashtags, promoting their work, and taking compelling pictures.
So, dig out your cell phone hip holster and do your thumb exercises… You need to be ready to take a snapshot at a moment’s notice.