Instagram has come a long way. What was once a simple photo-sharing app is now a multibillion-dollar entity that has helped shape social media as it exists today. With around 1.5 billion daily active users (yes, daily), Instagram is the 4th most used social media platform in the world. How did Instagram reach this level and how can you leverage it for your brand? Read on to find out.
Instagram launched as an iOS app in October of 2010, and it didn’t take long for the app to gain popularity. It accumulated 25,000 users in just one day. By the end of 2010, it had reached one million users. Around this time, it wasn’t yet a platform for influencers. Instagram had grown mainly by word of mouth. A year and a half after launching, Instagram was bought by Facebook (now Meta) for $1 billion in cash and stock and has seen a meteoric rise since then.
After being acquired by Facebook, Instagram went through several changes. From 2012 to 2016, it incorporated the use of hashtags, added video sharing, enabled advertising capabilities, updated its photo and video editing features, and launched Instagram Stories. By the end of 2016, Instagram had over 600 million monthly active users. With that kind of usage, the development of ad capabilities, and the growth of Influencer Marketing, Instagram became the perfect place for eCommerce businesses to market to potential customers.
Using Instagram to Your Brand’s Advantage
It’s important to have a strategy when using any social media platform for marketing or advertising, and Instagram is no different. Start with research. Learn whether or not your customers use Instagram and go from there. If your brand is already on Instagram but you haven’t made any marketing or ad efforts, start with building engagement.
The Death of the Overly-Curated Instagram Aesthetic
When influencers began to rise to prominence on Instagram, everything was carefully curated. Images were edited to perfection, just like what you'd see in a magazine. Many influencers had perfectly polished profiles with all of their photos following the same presets against bright and glossy backgrounds.
However, curated feeds are no longer trendy, and influencers are now opting for an unfiltered and authentic experience. This is especially true for the younger generation, who favor low-fi production and candid shots in an effort to come across as more relatable. For brands to succeed today, it’s more important for them to utilize high-quality assets that support a variety of content styles to give followers and potential customers a true feel for what your brand represents.
Stories and Reels
Gone are the days of posting a static picture and hoping for the best. Currently, Instagram has been using its algorithm to push reels. Reels are short, multi-clip videos that are often enhanced with audio, effects, and other creative tools. Reels give people and brands the opportunity to reach a wider audience and often depict real-life or even behind-the-scenes content in place of editorial productions. The introduction of reels has given brands the opportunity to capitalize on new trends while showcasing their true personality.
Instagram stories allow you to break concepts down into digestible pieces. Whether you’re describing the ins and outs of a product or showcasing customer testimonials, Instagram stories are a great supplement to feed content. Stories, unlike reels, have a 24-hour shelf life, so they have the potential to garner of-the-moment interest which can be beneficial for brands who are promoting events or limited offers. Many customers enjoy seeing behind-the-scenes footage of their favorite brands, so show off the making of your product or the care you put into packing items for shipping. Get creative, add music, and don’t be afraid to show the people behind your brand having fun.
When it comes to marketing on Instagram, it’s worth noting that influencers are often a key component. If you have the budget, influencer marketing can increase sales and engagement, and also can supply you with content to repost on your own channels that act as social proof. If you’re a brand with a physical product, influencers will often use or discuss your products on their own platform, usually in exchange for direct payment or a commission on sales. It can be helpful to involve influencers when launching new products, and even partner with influencers to create a new product altogether.
Instagram is a Meta product, which means you have access to the same targeted advertising on Instagram as you would on Facebook. There are a couple of different ways to advertise on Instagram. You can create static or video ads that show up in targeted feeds, or you can advertise in stories. Now that Instagram has made it possible for users to shop directly from their platform, advertising can go even further than it used to.
It’s likely that your brand uses Instagram, but whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at it a while, it may be time to level up. Instagram marketing doesn’t have to be a pain. All you need is a strategy and a plan to move forward, and you’ll see growth.
If you’re considering Instagram marketing or advertising but aren’t sure where to begin, the team at Blue Wheel would be happy to help!
Contact us and we’ll get in touch to discuss your Instagram goals.