Instagram is all the rage - for new membership growth, for social sharing, for ad sales, for engagement, for everything.
Check this out - this graph depicts interest in Instagram as per Google search volume over time.
Wowza. In July 2011, the first little blip appeared. What followed is remarkable.
- Instagram is growing 5X faster than social media in general. (Source)
- In June, they announced the user community reached more than 500 million users (surpassing Twitter).
- More than 300 million use Instagram every day.
- 80 million photos and videos are shared daily.
- According to eMarketer research, 51.8% of social network users will use Instagram by 2017.
Selling is happening here
From the beginning, Instagram hasn't allowed you to add links to your updates. 500-million users later, that policy hasn't changed.
However, where there's a massive audience, there's money to be made. In 2015 Instagram opened its platform to all would-be advertisers.
Brands showed up fast and discovered the selling power of Instagram - especially ecommerce companies, and especially those targeting Millennials.
Instagram's creative environment and engaged audience is ideal for ecommerce. The company's global head of brand development, James Quarles, says businesses are attracted to Instagram by "the ability to put something visually striking in front of the right person."
Yotpo.com, a company that offers a new social curation tool for Instagram, reports that 30% of Instagram users have purchased products discovered on Instagram.
Facebook, which owns Instagram, doesn't break out Instagram's ad revenues separately, but all signs point to the fact that Instagram has created a billion dollar plus business in one year.
Instagram ads are marked "Sponsored" in the header and can include call to action buttons such as "Shop Now," "Install Now," "Sign Up," and "Learn More." Photo source: Brandfolder
The graphic above comes from a complete guide to advertising on Instagram, from Instagram.
Shop till you click
"Instagram users are shoppers," reads a subhead in a Social Media Examiner post showcasing Instagram insights last year. It says a study of 16,000 reveals 70% of Instagrammers look for brands on the channel and 62% follow the brand simply because they love it.
Instagrammers are amazingly engaged too, another fact that endears brands to the user base. The data above has Instagram towering above all social media for engagement (as measured by time on site). Runner-ups include "email", "direct", "search" and "referral".
"This is likely because visitors from these channels come with specific intent or a previous relationship with the brand," writes Aimee Millwood in a Yotpo post about Instagram engagement. "Instagram even beats out direct traffic. In other words, people who come straight to an online businesses' website are less engaged than visitors who come from a brand's Instagram page."
Let your users do the photography
"User generated content" (UGC) is a term (and abbreviation) marketers use all the time now, and it requires no explanation. UGC tends to earn high engagement rates and create a positive brand association for the customer.
Many of Instagram's most successful brands win their audience over with user generated content. And in line with the immense ascent of the Instagram app, is a proliferation of tools created to help brands transform UGC from accidental to purposeful marketing assets.
Yotpo's new platform is a great example. It enables ecommerce brands to display shoppable galleries on their website, which include Instagram photos and the profiles of the users who posted them. Authenticity comes shining through. Purchases follow.
Here's an example where a product is showcased on a brand's website with a photo from an Instagrammer - and the shopping cart is just a click away.
With the permission of the content's creator, you can also use Instagram photos in your social media ads and posts. Anticipating this demand, Yotpo's platform also offers a tool for requesting republication rights from Instagram users.
Everyone has influence
Instagram has been a fun, creative and interactive play space for millions of click-happy social sharing addicts for several years. In the past year, it's also become a wonderland for consumer brands.
eCommerce companies have discovered they don't always need celebrities to endorse their products - anyone with a smartphone and a point of view can be influential. Recent trends show that more consumers make purchases based on what they see in their Instagram feeds.
As such, ad dollars are flowing to social media-based campaigns. You've no doubt heard it before...
Consumers seldom trust messages they get directly from brands.
What do they trust? Sign onto Instagram and see.