5 questions to answer about your business before marketing with Instagram.
The idea that a “picture is worth a thousand words” can be best understood on Instagram. Starting in 2010 as a social picture sharing platform, Instagram has grown to over 800+ million daily active users and is no longer just an outlet for food pictures and vacation selfies. More recently, businesses have adopted the platform and used its visuals for consumer engagement, sales conversion, and brand awareness marketing activities. If you are debating using Instagram for your own business, just look at the top 100 brands in the world – 90% of them have an Instagram presence. As a marketer, what better way to get 1000 words in front of a potential customer than with a picture?
However, if your company is like most small businesses and not a top 100 brand in the world, you may be wondering what value Instagram can create for your business? While some marketers, and blog posts, might convince you that Instagram is only for B2C (business-to-consumer) companies and the marketing channel of the future, that is not necessarily the case. Instagram has proven to be both successful for many businesses and a waste of marketing resources for others, regardless of B2C or B2B (business-to-business) models. As you think about your business, target customer, and value proposition, you should assess whether Instagram is a strategic/value-added marketing tool for your business.
Use the 5 questions below to better understand whether your business model, target customer base and the purported value creation of your product/service can benefit from Instagram marketing.
- Do you sell a product or service directly to consumers or businesses?
Remember that every Instagram account has a human on the other side of the screen. Whether that human is the end-consumer (B2C) or decision maker at a company (B2B), by using the platform to highlight your product or service, you can increase the visibility of your business and engage existing and potential customers. You can use your posts to explain your products, share customer stories and testimonials, reveal company culture and/or simply engage with followers regardless of business model.
- Can customers easily purchase your product or service online?
Instagram posts create frictionless buying. A user can see a post, buy directly, or click to a landing page and purchase a product/service. The rise of Instagram-specific ads, promotions and platform influencers has demonstrated that users will make purchases from the platform. In fact, more than 1/3 of Instagram users have used Instagram to make a purchase online and 75% of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at an Instagram advertisement. Whether through direct purchase or redirect, Instagram is an effective marketing tool for getting potential customers into the funnel and through the sales cycle.
- Does your brand contribute to buying factors for your target customer?
You may have read the first two questions and still think Instagram only works for a product or B2C company, but early Instagram adopters were the brands. There are thousands of brands and a number of high-profile B2B companies using Instagram to drive brand awareness, engage with their audience, and ultimately, attract new customers. While Instagram might not be the right social platform for every brand, engagement with brands on Instagram is 84x higher than Twitter and 10x higher than its own parent company, Facebook. Even some of the more traditional, non-millennial brands such as IBM and General Electric have found innovative and unique ways to leverage the platform for marketing initiatives.
- Does your target customer use Instagram?
With more than 800 million monthly users, there is a good chance the answer is yes. If you are a B2B company, you might be thinking “Instagram is principally for millennials.” Although millennials might not be your target customer, 40% of the workforce in an average company is made up of millennials. In 10 years, it’s estimated that more than 70% of the workforce will be millennials. Regardless of the audience and business model, if your customer is on Instagram, it’s a great opportunity to build your brand awareness, market your product/service and generate leads by getting eyes on your content.
- Do you use other social media platforms for marketing?
The decision to add another marketing channel should not be taken lightly. Like any marketing channel, Instagram requires dedicated time, fresh content, monitoring, and strategy. If you are using other social media platforms, then you have the opportunity to recycle existing marketing material. Repurposing materials across channels will keep your persona consistent and save time while also diversifying your marketing strategy and taking advantage of the channel; however, be warned that this is not a simple copy & paste from other social media marketing efforts. Instagram is a new platform with different rules of engagement. To be effective, users will expect more than a simple wash and repeat but the groundwork to iterate on is there.
While Instagram might not be the silver marketing bullet for your business, if you answered “yes” to 2 or more of the questions above it likely is a viable channel that is currently overlooked by your business and marketing strategy. Success with Instagram marketing is not limited to a specific product, service, or business model. Hopefully, the quote above reaffirms that Instagram is not for a specific business profile. Creating authentic, interactive and innovative marketing experiences will triumph on any platform, regardless of the business. The questions above are meant to help you effectively evaluate your business’ approach to Instagram from a social media marketing strategy perspective and whether the use of Instagram marketing might play a more prominent role.
If you decide to dabble with Instagram marketing, make sure to research and utilize Instagram marketing best practices to better ensure your success.