The numbers are in, and it’s official: 2014 is the year of Instagram. The four-year-old social media outlet built upon sharing photos and videos has surpassed the chatting, or tweeting, of its senior social competitor, eight-year-old Twitter. As reported in this article by SKIFT, Instagram has 300 million active users (MAUs), compared to Twitter’s 284 MAUs. Among the top heavy hitters in the social media world — including Facebook and YouTube — Instagram, the baby of the family, has achieved the highest growth rate, as well as acquired the most engaged community of users. For a youngling, that’s no small feat.
Appeal to the marketer
Considering the visual appeal and capabilities of Instagram to not only the casual user but also the marketing world, it’s feat comes as no surprise. Instagram offers marketers a space to promote through authentic, raw photos — not stock shots — that help to bring a brand to life and strike viewers as a tangible company with real people behind it through genuine communication that isn’t overly promotional.
Instagram doesn’t plan on going stagnant. In fact, they’re moving full speed towards the future and offering the marketing world even more value by introducing verified accounts. These verifications are ideal for both businesses and those representing high profile individuals such as sports figures and artists. The verifications will work to eliminate spam accounts making it easier for users to find and follow authentic pages — which will help businesses grow their following. Existing spam accounts will be removed.
Tools of the trade
With Instagram’s success, it’s time to strike while the iron is hot. One great way to take advantage of the social media outlet and apply it to a business or marketing plan is through the use of social media campaigns made possible through software such as Offerpop. The digital marketing tool for mobile and social users allows for cross-channel promotion that connects with customers and offers measurable results. Promotions include hashtag campaigns, voting contest, and other forms of engagement social media users eat up.
Pay for pics
While this is not an ideal option for small businesses with coinciding budgets, if you do have the funds this is not a bad move to make. While social media outlets everywhere seem to be heading towards the pay for play — think Facebook’s recent push for paid posts through significantly reducing the number of screens reached without putting a little padding behind it — Instagram’s sponsored shots ensure that your brand’s snapshot of the day will get the views it craves.
Keep it real
As mentioned earlier, one of Instagram’s prime selling points is that it allows for a company, or individual, to show their human side. With photos a brand can exude personality– humor, heart, and innovation. While it’s great to post crafted shots with thoughtfully executed messages to get the desired message across, a key (and free!) tool is to repost photos that fans have posted featuring your product or brand. Monitor hashtags that mention your brand, and repost on your own account being sure to tag the featured users so they can see their name in lights, so to speak. This reinforces them to participate in the brand, while showing to the world on Instagram users that yes, you really do exist out there in the real world, and there is real use for your brand.
Numbers don’t lie, and going into 2015, it’s clear that Instagram is the social media platform to be utilizing. So get to snapping — instantly.
Laura Davis has worked in many facets of the media world. Working as a reporter and calendar editor at the alt. news publication the Las Vegas Weekly out of college, Laura gained experience in the writing and PR world from a slightly different angle. Laura worked as a freelancer for the alt. weekly Reno News and Review, then tried her hand in corporate marketing before eventually finding her home in advertising and public relations.