A few weeks ago Jeff Bercovici of Forbes wrote a piece entitled Instagram Launches Ads, Promises, 'We'll Start Slow' in which he told all us Instagram users that "the honeymoon's over" and that the "long-promised introduction of advertising to the photo-based social network is upon us."
In his piece Jeff made reference to a post from the official Instagram blog which says Instagram will "focus on delivering a small number of beautiful, high-quality photos and videos from a handful of brands that are already great members of the Instagram community."
Well, based on the results of the recently released Instagram brand adoption study from Simply Measured, I would say there will be no shortage of brands chomping at the proverbial bit to be part of the "small number." The most telling of all the stats from the study was the one which highlighted the incredible growth among brands with 71% of the most recognized brands in the world now active on Instgram - up from 40% last year and hence the 80% growth rate.
As the study puts it, "(Instagram's) growth has been so substantial that it now rivals Google+ and Pinterest in terms of brand adoption."
Here's an overview of the other key findings in the study:
- As activity increases, so do followers. 57 percent of top brand marketers are now averaging at least one post per week, up from only 38 percent in Q3 of 2012. As a result, more than one third of topbrands have 10,000 followers and 19 percent enjoy audiences that exceed 100,000 followers.
- Automotive, media and luxury brands dominate. Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi make up three of the top five most engaging brands. In total, the top ten brands received 83 percent of all Instagram engagement, while accounting for 33 percent of all posts.
- Hashags have become the norm. 83 percent of Instagram posts include at least one hashtag, with 63 of the 65 active brands on Instagram using the new feature. Of interest, top brands use hashtags more sparingly than other brands.
- Photos receive more comments and likes than videos. Like most new features, video adoption has been slow to gain momentum, accounting for only six percent of total posts. Meanwhile photos continue to lead the way, driving 26 percent more engagement than videos.
- Engagement is skyrocketing. Brand engagement has grown by a staggering 350 percent year over year, due in part to a 70 percent increase in brands posting to the visual network.
That last statistic is truly mind-blowing and according to the study is directly attributable to the fact that 55% more brands are using Instagram than a year ago and 70% of the top brands are collectively creating more posts than they did just one year ago.
What's It All Mean For Marketers?
The first thing that should scream off your screen reading this is if you're not yet on Instagram, you may want to look into that: after all, Instagram is the fastest-growing of the top social networks.
From the study:
"Aside from the 150 million users, Instagram offers an extremely intuitive interface. The simple double-tap 'liking' feature and ability to quickly scroll through a feed of friends, brands, and celebrity photos makes the experience near effortless. Instagram also gives brand marketers the ability to share their advertising collateral in an organic way, doubling down on the assets they've already invested in. As the network grows and brands compete with organic traffic, understanding the impact of their content types will become more and more important."
There are some very key words and phrases in the above paragraph, starting with the word "simple" - one of my personal favorites. You can insert your own joke here. But I like when I see that word because simple means easy, which means convenient, which means fast which means I don't have to spend a lot of time doing it.
Another key phrase is "gives brand marketers the ability to share their advertising collateral in an organic way, doubling down on the assets they've already invested in." In other words Instagram, provides brand marketers with another outlet to repurpose and recycle their existing content.
Of course, Instagram is hardly the only social network to allow such a practice for one can repurpose and recycle content across a myriad of platforms and networks.
Now, the cynic in me would say that the increase in brand adoption is nothing more than brands staking their claim in the latest, and surely not the last, advertising vehicle. As Jeff Bercovici wrote in his piece "It's been nine months since Instagram began laying the groundwork for advertising by rolling out a new terms of service agreement."
Translation: Brands heard about the new ad platform coming on Instagram and made a mad dash to stake their claim in anticipation of what to come.
Do I believe that is partly at play here? Absolutely. Every advertiser or marketer wants to be out in front of everyone one else and hang out where the cool kids, do, AKA paying customers and if there's a new playground where these cool kids congregate, they're going to be there - even while it's still in the planning stages.
But that does not take away from the fact that more and more consumers are flocking to Instagram - just as they did with Pinterest - the other main player in the visual social media world.
The bottom line is this: As a brand marketer it is your job to know your customer and prospect. To know what they like and just as important what they don't like. And that includes social media networks. It could very well be your particular customers and prospects are not all that keen on Instagram.
Ok, that's fine. So you focus more of your energies when it comes to your overall content marketing strategy around the networks they do prefer to hang out in and on. But you must always be monitoring and reviewing to see if your customers and prospects tastes change and you must react accordingly.
Conversely if your customer and prospect has a liking for Instagram then you need to be there for surely your competition will (be). But just remember to spread the love around meaning just because your customers and prospects like Instagram does not mean you should ignore everything else in your content marketing arsenal.
Source: Instagram brand adoption study
Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife