You really should be on Instagram

By Tim Glister on Wednesday, 2 August 2017

In the world of social media and online marketing it seems that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

But right now, according to market analysts, influencers, and brands, some are worth even more.

In July, Facebook’s stock rose 11%, while SNAP, the owners of Snapchat – a direct competitor to Facebook’s Instagram platform - was down 15%. In fact, Facebook’s stock is now up 20% since SNAP’s IPO in March, while SNAP’s is down 40%.

Post-IPO stock falls aren’t that unusual. Facebook’s value fell immediately after it went public, but is now performing extremely well. And this is largely thanks to Instagram.

Stock market analysts have doubled down on their ‘buy’ rating for Facebook stock following faster than expected revenue growth at Instragram, powered by the success of Instagram stories.

Instagram stories, which replicate many of Snapchat’s original features, launched in August 2016, and the effect on Snapchat was instant. Its user growth dropped 82% almost immediately, and just eight months after launch Instragram overtook it in terms of daily users.

Instagram 2

Influencing the influencers

Crucially for the future of both platforms, a key part of this growth was the result of influencers shifting their focus from Snapchat to Instagram.

A study by Mediakix showed that over the course of a month twelve top Snapchat influencers actually posted more regularly and uploaded more content to Instagram.

There are many factors that may be causing this migration. Instagram exists within a larger, more established ecosystem. It’s easier to integrate external URLs into Instagram stories to push users into onward journeys. Also, Instagram’s discovery tools are more intuitive than Snapchat’s. And, where Snapchat’s USP is the ephemeral nature of the images shared on the platform, Instagram lets you combine direct messaging, 24-hour visuals and a permanent profile.

Instragram has also started integrating ecommerce functions, effectively removing transaction friction – which Snapchat is struggling with. All this combined means that Instagram isn’t just attracting users and influencers. It’s hoovering up brands and advertisers too.

Social selling is becoming big business. Pinterest’s buyable pins have been around for a while, and even Amazon has launched a new social platform, Spark, geared towards product discovery and purchase. But neither of these comes close to the variety of options offered by Instagram for engaging with customers.

Instagram’s world is your oyster

So, what can advertisers and brands do to take advantage of everything Instagram has to offer?

As the oft-repeated planner phrase goes, ‘millennials love experiences.’ But so, really, does everyone. And Instragram is the perfect place to plug into, piggy back on, or simply promote experiences – whether for millennials or any other target audience you might want to reach.

Instagram lets you go beyond just repurposing MPUs to create a stronger, deeper relationship with consumers based on real benefits. Its direct messaging function gives you a way to talk straight to you customers. Its profile feed gives you a space to create content to engage your communities. And stories provides a way to interrupt and entertain over 200 million people every day.

Instagram 3

It’s about adding value

For financial services brands and advertisers, a key challenge in this space will be to move beyond the rational, the rate-based, and the product-specific advertising that works in other formats and on other platforms. Instead, we need to think about unexpected insights and emotional benefits.

On Instagram, a thirty-year-old renter is more likely to respond to aspirational images of the home they could own one day rather than a great introductory rate for a savings product. Someone in the market for an insurance product will respond better to the life benefits that having insurance provides rather than the specific features of a policy.

For some inspiration about how you could use Instagram, take a look at Monzo, which blends product and service content with glimpses behind the scenes of the business. Or TSB, which has a feed full of inspirational stories that build brand equity. Or NatWest, which offers useful hints and tips around financial and digital security. For something outside financial services, check out Maesrk, a global shipping company with a great eye for travel photography.

Be worth people’s attention

The brands that thrive on Instagram are the ones that sell themselves and their products in smart, integrated ways that enhance their customers’ experiences and present themselves as offering something more than just a product to buy.

Sure, you can simply run adverts on Instagram – and plenty of companies do. But when you have all of these options for connecting with people in exciting, unexpected and meaningful ways, why not try something a bit more interesting?

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