Perhaps it's the "Pinterest Effect" - the social media network that is all about the visual side of life. But more and more brands, especially the big boys on the brand block, are joining Instagram - the mobile only app that, as per Wikipedia "allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other Instagram users they are connected to on the social network as well as on a variety of social networking services."
Originally available only to iPhone owners and now available to Android users as well, Instagram has seen a remarkable growth in the first seven months of 2012 - going from 15 million users in early 2012 to 80 million in July - an increase of over 400% in just seven months. Now I was hardly a math major in school but that's some pretty impressive numbers I would say.
Now obviously the penetration rate for Instagram among the big brands is light years behind the big dogs - Facebook (which happens to own Instagram) and Twitter but you have to remember that Instagram is still a young company and is, as previously mentioned, available only via a mobile platform. It's for those reasons Simply Measured referred to Instagram's growth as "very impressive" and I would surely agree.
And I would surely agree and recommend that all brand managers and brand marketers, who are not currently active on Instagram on behalf of their brands, get active in a hurry.
The "Good Reason" Part Of My Title
Back in March I wrote Why Brand Managers Need To Take An Interest In Pinterest. The rationale behind my statement was for the simple fact that Pinterest was extremely popular among women, AKA the people who make the majority of household purchase decisions.
And Instagram - while not yet possessing the same gaudy numbers as Pinterest when it comes to the number of female users or the amount of trust women place in it, does have a user base that is nearly 70% female according to data from appdata.com.
According to Simply Measured, the leaders in the Instgram clubhouse right now are luxury brands with Burberry, Tiffany and Gucci among the brands with highest number of followers. From the chart below you'also see that MTV and Starbucks have the highest number of followers overall among brands but upon further review you can see that brands such as Audi and Nike are doing a better job in terms of engagement as witnessed by the number of "likes" and comments in relation to their overall number of followers.
Obviously if you're a brand manager or brand marketer you need to stop what you are doing and set up an Instagram account right away for the future of the free world depends on it.
Ok, maybe not the entire free world and perhaps I am being a bit melodramatic but the fact remains that consumers - more and more of them, are using Instagram, just as they are Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. And if you're not including Instagram as part of your social media strategies which should be part of your overall integrated marketing campaigns, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to move that needle.
From the conclusion of the Simply Measured study: "For brands that continue to hold out and watch as their competition is engaging users and measuring results, 80 million potential customers are being ignored."
Put that in your marketing hat and smoke it - 80 million (and growing) potential customers being ignored.