The short answer? It Depends.
What? You were expecting a cut-and-dry, black-and-white answer? Nope. Like all things – marketing is more about the shades of gray.
Instagram can be a valuable tool for many businesses by helping to build brand awareness and create a community around your product or service. Instagram is especially useful for businesses that have a more aesthetic-driven company. What do we mean by that? Those who can rely on imagery as a good tool to demonstrate their business and connect with others. For example, these verticals do well on the ‘gram: real estate, photography, retail, travel, hospitality, community-driven for-profit or non-profits, and others.
For other industries – it’s not to say IG isn’t the place for you – it will just take a different approach to find your right audience and how to shape your message for this platform.
Let’s take a step back though and look at some of the numbers.
1 billion people use Instagram every month. 500 million use the stories feature every day. 200 million users are visiting at least one business profile daily. 75.3% of businesses (25 million) will be using Instagram in 2020. And, finally, Instagram’s total number of users, which is your potential advertising reach, is 849.3 million people.
Those are some big numbers. We could go on with the Instagram statistics (don’t tempt us with a good time!), but we think you get the picture. You have every reason and incentive to use Instagram for your business just looking at the stats, but here are some more specific reasons to consider Instagram.
Put a face to your brand
Customers respond better when they know that they are buying from or working with another human – one they can relate to and engage with easily. The more you empathize and identify with your audience on IG, the deeper a connection you make. This connection can lead to community, and ultimately sales.
Build up your community
One of the most exciting things for business owners is seeing the excitement of their clients when it relates to the products or services, or even just the conversation you’re delivering. Instagram can help you create a community of brand fans that are as into what you do as you are.
Through Instagram you can create targeted marketing campaigns, flash sales, product or service awareness and so on and so on. And yet, while we all want the end result of all your hard social networking to be an increase in revenue – the real end-game is engagement and brand loyalists. For IG, the data to watch and measure is your engagement rate – not your numbers. Too often we’ve seen people chase the # of followers, while drastically diminishing the number of people who interact with each post. Eyes on the prize: a real community.
Gather data with polls
Instagram lets you interact directly with your followers, gather data and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Wondering if you should release that new t-shirt in blue or green – go ahead and ask your clients directly! Use these features wisely and you could gain some helpful insight while also allowing your customers to participate in your business – thereby adding more ownership of their own experience and a more willingness to buy.
All that being said, we do think it’s important to mention some reasons why Instagram might not work for your business. In general, they all revolve around not using Instagram correctly, or not using it at all. The real question to ask yourself before creating an account is will you actually use Instagram? Here are reasons not to use Instagram:
If you’re not going to post or interact regularly
It almost hurts you more to have an inactive account than to have no account at all. Consider someone searching your business on Instagram and all they see is your 10 followers and the 5 pictures you’ve posted in the last 3 years. They will see this as either a business that doesn’t care or doesn’t have any loyal following. Additionally, if you have comments, or even negative feedback that you are not responding to this reflects poorly on your responsiveness and awareness.
If you’re not going to learn the app:
You don’t need to put a hundred hashtags for every post. Not every post needs to have a novel’s worth of content. Instagram is a very user-friendly platform but it does take some time and investment to learn how to use the features and platform effectively. If you’re not going to take the time, you may be better off using another social media platform.
If you’re not going to take the time to focus on aesthetics:
You don’t need to be a professional photographer to use Instagram. You do need to have some awareness of what makes a good picture and how to use the app’s features to create visually appealing images and messages. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a misnomer that Instagram only works for visual brands. You can make Instagram work for any brand, but you have to think about the aesthetics of your posts.
So, does Instagram make sense for your business?
We do want to assure you that we are not being paid off by Instagram to tout its glories. We just want to highlight the tools available to businesses. And Instagram is a fantastic tool when you learn to use it correctly.
Have questions about using Instagram for your business? Have success or horror stories? We’d love to hear from you and we’re here to help if you are looking for ways to utilize this social media platform to your business’s advantage.