Instagram’s power seems to be on the rise and it’s interesting to observe how brands can benefit from it. What makes Instagram so special as a social platform and where is it heading? We’re looking at Instagram’s newest features to explore the next steps that marketers need to focus on.
Rising engagement among users
Instagram’s power lies in the fact that it appeals to broader demographics than other platforms. It manages to reach both the younger generation, but also the older ones, in a way that it makes it tempting for brands.
According to Pew’s recent survey, Instagram is the second most popular social platform among teens, with only YouTube coming first. In fact, 72% of the respondents seem to be Instagram users.
Furthermore, 81% of Instagram users aged 18-24 seem to use the platform on a daily basis, while 55% of them use it multiple times a day. Instagram seems to fulfil Snapchat’s vision of building an engaged young audience without alienating other demographics.
Instagram has recently announced that it reached 1 billion users and the news on the level of engagement is very encouraging. According to Similar Web, Instagram users in the US seem to spend almost the same time on Instagram as the time they spend on Facebook through their Android apps. In fact, Android users have spent 53 minutes per day on Instagram, with Facebook users counting 58 minutes per day.
This means that Instagram is almost ready to dethrone Facebook from the most engaging platform, which makes it extremely interesting for the brands who have already invested in it. Whether you already have an Instagram presence, or you’re ready to create one, the rising engagement is a good sign of future success for the platform.
From awareness to consideration and conversions
Instagram used to focus primarily on raising a brand’s awareness and engagement with visual content that stood out in users’ feeds. Nowadays, Instagram’s power can also tap into consideration and conversion, which is a goal that is always ideal for businesses.
By the time Instagram introduced their “Business Profile,” it became clear that it is aiming for a professional use that will allow brands to use the platform as another way to move their audience further the funnel.
The initial steps may have been small, but things changed after the launch of “Instagram Stories.” According to Facebook’s survey, 33% of the respondents found their interest growing in brands with the introduction of “Instagram Stories.” There are currently more than 300 million people using IG Stories on a daily basis, while it’s also good to note that more than 200 million people visit business profiles daily.
Instagram’s goal was to make business profiles as useful as possible, which is why they introduced “action buttons.” This way, users can simply click an action button to make a reservation, order tickers, book their holidays, etc. The idea of removing the unnecessary steps benefits the platform, but most importantly, the users and the brands who will be willing to use more of it.
IGTV and the introduction of longer videos
Instagram wanted to tap into the popularity of video content so it decided to introduce IGTV, a new standalone app that allows videos up to an hour long. Videos have already been engaging on Instagram, but now influencers and brands can expand their creativity to discover a new form of communication with their audience.
This move has been considered to be Instagram’s attempt to beat YouTube, its biggest competitor with engaging users. The option to upload videos of up to 1 hour makes Instagram a great choice for marketers that want to build a community through videos that will benefit their brand.
What’s interesting about IGTV is the fact that Instagram decided to create a new app to introduce longer videos, while it decided to maintain the vertical format that we’ve learned from IG Stories.
The idea most likely wouldn’t be successful if we haven’t been used to vertical videos through IG Stories. However, as IG Stories became extremely popular, the transition seems sensible now. We’ve learned from Snapchat that vertical videos tend to be more engaging and they bring out a new form of creativity that makes sense with the use of smartphones.
According to Revfluence’s report for Digiday, there has been a 63% growth month-over-month of branded videos on Instagram Stories back in October. This was the time when more brands started experimenting with the new format and how they can appeal to their audience in just a few seconds.
Now they have the big opportunity to tell a longer story in a way that Instagram will become a more important part of their digital strategies.
Nike has been one of the first brands to test its IGTV channel and it shared a video of Cristiano Ronaldo’s World Cup Campaign. Also, big brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci have tested their own channels with existing content, while publishers such as Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and Cosmopolitan have already started using their own channels.
A new opportunity with IGTV
It’s the perfect time to use IGTV for your brand, as it’s still new and the users’ content is not overcrowded. Even if you’re unsure of your content strategy, you can test your existing content by using longer videos you already have. The most creative brands will be able to engage with their existing audience and tap into new one. The sooner you explore this new sub-channel on Instagram, the bigger the benefits for your brand.
Thus, early adopters can use IGTV to:
- Grow their community
- Improve engagement
- Test their creativity
- Get used to vertical video format
Furthermore, IGTV can help you explore a new direction in influencer marketing by taking advantage of a new ground that is still not saturated in a busy feed.
Instagram and e-commerce
If you think that Instagram is only good for awareness and community building, then maybe you need to consider the fact that 30% of Instagram users have bought something that they’ve first spotted on Instagram.
One of Instagram’s biggest bets is to make e-commerce more social for mobile users. It may not be the only social platform that is heading towards this direction, but it seems to be a social network that we need to keep an eye on.
At first, there were ‘shoppable’ tags that allowed users to click on an item and visit the page that they can purchase it. This was the easiest way to turn an appealing Instagram feed into a virtual showcase. However, it had to take users away from the app to complete the purchase. Now Instagram wants to make it easier by introducing native payments. The idea has been tested on some users and it helps them store their payment details to make their shopping experience easier.
The next step was to introduce an e-commerce function to IG Stories. Instagram has recently announced the test phase of bringing ‘shoppable’ actions into IG Stories for selected brands. In their own words, “Instagram isn’t just a place of inspiration, it’s also a place of action.” That explains why brands such as Adidas and Louis Vuitton feature shopping bags in their IG Stories; to make sales as easy as possible.
This is a wise move for Instagram to keep more brands engaged in the platform and it’s an even better idea for marketers who want to promote their brand’s products in best placements. As Instagram Stories tend to be users’ favorite option to consume social content, it’s only a matter of time to see this feature rolling out to more brands.
What does this mean for brands?
- New sales opportunities
- Engagement will come closer to conversion
- It will introduce a trend of social e-commerce with vertical videos for short attention spans
- It will make influencer marketing and brand collaborations even more important to reach the right audience
- More senior marketers will understand the changing face of marketing and how conversion can take place
It’s exciting to see what’s next for Instagram and how the platform will evolve to keep both the users and the businesses happy.
If there’s one key point in the future of Instagram that has already shaped its constant growth, then this is the rise of vertical video.
Its appealing and engaging format has contributed to the success of IG Stories and it’s now the next big bet for IGTV. If Instagram manages to keep its users engaged in IGTV, this will lead to a new profit opportunity through advertising revenue.
IGTV may be ad-free for now, but Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of introducing ads that will split the revenue with creators in the future. This move will be interesting in many directions:
- More video creators would be willing to join the platform
- Influencer marketing can grow even more on Instagram
- Brands will be able to advertise in another channel that may turn out to be really engaging
- Instagram will benefit from a new advertising opportunity to keep the platform growing
Lastly, longer videos bring out the option of mid-roll ads, which can make Instagram a serious competitor for YouTube.
Instagram is aware that it has the opportunity to replace Facebook in terms of the new big platform that will keep the users interested while expanding its business features. More and more brands are willing to invest in their Instagram marketing strategy, whether they want to improve their engagement or even to boost their sales.
What’s useful to remember is that Instagram is seeing a constant growth over the last few years without still losing its hype. As more brands create successful case studies from their Instagram use, it’s time to explore all the creative ways you can use the platform to surpass your social marketing expectations by tapping into the latest trends of social mobile marketing.