Instagram has gone from a simple photo album app to a dominant marketing force in social media. The app, bought by Facebook in 2012, has evolved into a seamless experience that can shares photos, videos and live streaming produced by users to share with their digital followers.
TechCrunch said the app eclipsed its closest competitor, Snapchat, in total number of users in just one year after the introduction of Instagram Stories, a feature that allows users to temporarily post select photos and video for 24 hours. Instagram lists on its business site that the app now has more than 500 million daily users and a total audience of more than 800 million. And at least 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow at least one business.
For digital marketers, these numbers represent a sea of opportunity, and Instagram’s advertising options can potentially engage all of them with your brand. Instagram provides four different advertising methods: photo, video, carousel and Stories. Each of these options includes, at minimum, a call-to-action link for users to learn more information about your brand or to shop immediately online.
Also, there’s an increased level of engagement opportunity with each option. For example, you can upload high-definition videos and, with carousel and Stories, include multiple photos and videos to engage users.
With Instagram ads, marketers are given the tools they need to maximize their reach on the platform. They can select basic targeting categories from location, age and gender to clicked interests and behaviors based on Instagram and Facebook activity. They can also refine targeting a step further through custom audiences, using email addresses and phone numbers, and lookalike audiences, which share traits of existing customers.
And marketers realize goals by observing data rooted in awareness (reach, frequency, brand awareness), considerations (website clicks, video views) and conversions (website visits, mobile app engagement).
The most significant difference between Instagram and other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is that its niche is simplistic mobile-first design and function. The desktop browser version of Instagram doesn’t come with all the advanced bells and whistles that its iPhone/Android counterpart includes such as hashtags and global search. Just like users can find on Twitter and Facebook, Instagram users can search for specific brands by name or hashtags, resulting in a collection of connection posts that feature posts and discussions about a brand and its products or services.
Today, even the most passive browsing experiences can lead to engagement and new customers with Instagram. Making it incredibly easy for users to shop while on the go steers users away from the desktop version, thus further pushing digital marketers to always be thinking mobile first advertising.