Social Media for business continues to evolve and mature. It’s now official. Instagram is bigger than Twitter! And with recent announcements there are exciting opportunities to exploit Instagram for business growth that exceed those of using Twitter. And they may even exceed Facebook marketing opportunities for the foreseeable future, depending on your business audience.
If you’re not using Instagram for marketing your business, it’s time to consider it seriously. 93% of marketers are using Facebook, but only 36% are using Instagram.
Instagram (owned by Facebook) recently announced that they have reached over 400 million monthly active users. 100 million of those have joined since December, so growth has recently accelerated. This number surpasses the number of active Twitter users.
As I have spoken with business people in my local area recently I have seen and heard very little interest or engagement in using Twitter. But those in the 20-45 year old range tell me they are spending more time on Instagram as are their friends. These informal conversations seem to support the trend in the data.
28% of the US population now uses Instagram. But Instagram is not just a U.S. phenomenon. 75% of its user base is outside of the U.S.
Instagram has also just announced that any business can now run ads on the platform by using the Facebook ad infrastructure available via Power Editor.
Why You May See Higher Marketing ROI from Instagram
There are several reasons why you may generate more return on your marketing investment with Instagram versus either Twitter or Facebook.
- It’s big and growing fast. You can now reach more people than on Twitter and growth appears to be accelerating. While Twitter is large, its user growth has slowed considerably. And equally concerning is that less than half of Twitter users even check it daily.
- It’s not overly crowded yet by marketers. Only 36% of marketers are using Instagram so far, so the chances of your message being seen and gaining user engagement is still much higher than on other platforms already crowded with marketers, e.g. Facebook. That will change over time as the platform gains popularity and more business features are added, but not for a while.
- User engagement is higher. 3.1% of posts on Instagram have user engagement of likes, comments, and re-posting. This is way above Twitter and Facebook where post engagement is 0.7% or less. (Source: SocialBakers research)
- Organic reach is not limited. It’s like the good old days of Facebook. Your business post is displayed to 100% of your followers. Contrast that with the 2-6% of followers that you can reach organically on Facebook now. This benefit probably won’t last as the platform grows and Facebook looks for more ways to monetize the audience. But for now you can build relationships with your followers easily and consistently without paid advertising or post boosts.
- Younger people use it more than Facebook. According to data from a Cowen & Company study, 44% of 18-29 year olds use Instagram while only 23% of them use Facebook regularly. It’s about the same usage for those in the 30-44 year old age range with 27-28% using each platform. Instagram usage is significantly lower for people over 45 years old as compared to Facebook usage. If a key audience for your business is younger people making purchases, you may see greater bottom line results from Instagram marketing than from Facebook. As it gains in popularity I also expect to see usage increase across all age ranges the way that it did for Facebook.
- You have access to all the Facebook user data. Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you not only have access to user data from Instagram, but also from the same users on Facebook. A whopping 94% of Instagram users also have Facebook. So the wealth of user data that Facebook has aggregated on each of us is also available for Instagram advertising.
- You can run very targeted ads with specific calls to action. The Facebook ad infrastructure is being shared with Instagram. So for paid advertising to extend your business reach you can do the same specific targeting based on interests and behaviors in addition to demographics. In using Facebook’s Power Editor, you also have options for specific objectives and calls to action. An Instagram ad can create brand awareness, but it can also be clickable to your website (unlike a normal post). You can also set objectives for a mobile app install or a video view. Website conversion tracking will be coming soon.
Will This Last?
The Instagram marketing opportunities are exciting right now. As the platform grows I expect they will become less compelling over the next few years. Facebook will need to monetize the audience the same way they have done on the core Facebook platform.
More and more marketers and users may clutter up the Instagram feeds to where they will need to implement something like the Facebook News Feed algorithm to prioritize posts.
As Facebook moves toward more visual content the distinction between Instagram and Facebook may diminish. Facebook is already sharing the ad infrastructure between the two platforms. There may be other technology synergies and integration in the future. Will they continue to have value as two separate platforms or will they converge over time?
As more older adults move on to Instagram, it may no longer be a cool place to be. A new wave of young people may choose yet another social media network to increase interaction away from their parents.
So the time is now to exploit opportunities to grow your business with Instagram marketing. There is still a lot to test and learn about what is most effective to drive business results. There are differences. For example, you can’t post from a desktop to Instagram. You must be on a mobile device. And it’s about beautiful, eye-catching images. See my other blog post on Top Five Instagram Marketing Best Practices for some key elements to keep in mind.