"In 2010, one of the hottest startup apps for the iPhone was, without a doubt, Instagram. Already growing in popularity soon after its launch, the app allows you to take photos of your everyday lives with friends, and then enables you to slightly modify, recolor, caption and share them online. At the time, it was just something easy, cute and fun to do in our personal lives.
Four years later, Instagram doesn’t appear to be going anywhere; on the contrary, the platform is continuing to grow and is becoming prominent in the business world.
Since 2010, the site has transformed from a personal photo log into a storytelling platform that allows both individuals and brands to tell their stories in a visually eye-grabbing fashion. User numbers on Instagram have been steadily climbing, especially in the last year – so much that the site reportedly has 150 million monthly users as of December 2013; the Pew Research Center reports that 17% of online adult users are on Instagram, and that Instagram users are as likely as Facebook users to check their account daily.
As for businesses, it’s believed that 71% of the world’s largest brands are using Instagram as one of their social media outlets ,hoping to take advantage of the platform’s potential to help them reach both current and prospective customers.
Instagram’s popularity is especially astounding when you consider that the site is still growing in user numbers. However, popular does not mean necessary in the marketing world, and just like with any other social media platform, businesses should carefully evaluate whether or not their company or brand should be using it. Here are four factors we recommend considering before starting a brand presence on Instagram:
1. Instagram is an entirely visual medium – to stand out on it, your photos need to look unique.
Each year, social media content grows more and more visual; in the last twelve months, we saw a dramatic increase in the number of photos posted on social media sites. Instagram, which was designed purely to post and share photos across other social media platforms, is only one of the sources of the increase in visualization that we’ve seen in social media overall.
Because Instagram is easy to use, anyone can post a photo and enter it into the platform’s massive photo library. So when considering whether or not Instagram is right for your brand, you need to ask yourself: does my business have something visually interesting to show?
Now, to be clear, businesses don’t just have to post pictures of products on Instagram. Sure, if you run an antique store or sell handmade goods, then Instagram is a great way to show those unique products off. But what qualifies as good Instagram content for one business isn’t always good content for another. So while some businesses excel at showing off beautiful, homemade products on Instagram, others are better off aiming to highlight their casual Fridays, their office perks (like traveling for work) or adorable office pets, well-earned awards, and other interesting parts of their office culture that add a human element to their brand. These types of photos appeal to Instagram users because they go beyond what the brand is selling, and take a look behind the scenes at the who; this provides some insight into the company culture and adds a human touch to your company’s public image, which social media users love to see!
No matter what kind of content you ultimately decide to share, before setting up an Instagram account you should consider what your brand has to visually present, as well as how you can make it unique and can tie it to your brand story. Remember, without a strategic edge, your company’s photos can easily get lost in a sea of images."
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