Instagram. What are some words that come to mind when you think about it? Perhaps “photos, friends, quick, easy, streamlined, visual, lifestyle, entertaining, app, or social might be a few. This photo sharing app was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and was launched in October of 2010. The application rapidly gained popularity, with over 100 million active users as of April 2012, at which point Facebook decided to acquire them for $1 billion. Instagram continued to grow following the acquisition, reaching 200 million active users as of March 2014, and over 300 million only nine months later in December 2014, as reported by Statista.
It should come as no surprise that the driving force behind the growth of Instagram users is Millennials. While we classify Millennials as being between the ages of 18 and 34, Iconosquare conducted a study a few short months ago and found that 73% of Instagram users were between the ages of 15 and 35 – a range that encompasses the entire Millennial bracket. The younger generations are beginning to shift their focus from Facebook to Instagram and according to Iconosquare’s study, the main reason is because people are becoming more receptive to visuals as opposed to text. “They want nice pictures that illustrate the philosophy of a brand and not an ad. They want to be able to scroll fast, discover new content every day, find out about the next trends, [all while] being part of a community and this is what Instagram offers: a beautiful visual world.”
Instagram is the ultimate hub for visual storytelling. It lives on our mobile device, which is nearly always within arm’s reach; it’s fool-proof, inspirational, shareable, and so simple that it’s actually quite addicting for many. It’s truly the perfect platform for brands trying to reach the Millennial audience. Brands have so much to say about their products, their company and their philosophy and this platform gives them the creative space to showcase what they’re all about in a way that is easy for their consumers to access and absorb. “Behind the scenes” photos give users that feeling of exclusivity while custom content that simply showcases a brand’s products provide an avenue of inspiration for their consumers. Instagrammers elect to follow various brands for various reasons, however, Iconosquare’s study honed in on the top 3 reasons why Millennials follow brands:
What should marketers take away from all of this?
1. Marketers should pay close attention to their Instagram followers, and especially those who regularly engage with their brand. The Iconosquare study found that 65% of users would feel flattered or honored if a brand liked one of their posts. Doing a simple act of engagement such as this brings your brand to life.
2. Do not fail to recognize what makes Instagram so enticing – the visuals. Aesthetic appeal is key. Putting some extra effort into ensuring your content not only gets your message across, but also is pleasing to the untrained eye will surely get you further in the game of Instagram success.
3. Be memorable. Inspire your audience and give your brand a distinct voice. In more ways than one, Instagram is a “feel good” space. Play to your audience’s emotions and never forget the power they hold in either promoting your brand or tearing it to pieces. Stay true to your brand’s unique identity, but remember the incredible reach of social media. Much care should be given to offend the least number of people as possible. You can’t always please everyone, but the more the better.
The tips that could be given are endless. Use hashtags, but not too many! Use filters, but sometimes it’s cool to use #nofilter. Brand your content, or leave it unbranded if you wish. Many suggestions are subjective; however, if you follow the three simple steps outlined above, your brand will be on its way to a successful life on Instagram.