Is It Time to Invest in Instagram?

Is It Time to Invest in Instagram-

My clients ask this question frequently. Up until recently, I usually answered this question with a resounding “NO.” I love Instagram and use it myself, but it posed significant challenges to my clients, for two reasons. First, many struggle with creating images that are aspirational or that include a soft brand message. Second, Instagram has been very clunky to manage, making it difficult for brands to incorporate conveniently into their social media practice.

In the last six months, Instagram has added significant features and functionality which have made me change my mind. Here’s why I’m changing my advice to my clients and counseling them to invest in Instagram.

Explore and Search Is Better

explore on IG

As Fast Company reported last year, the enhanced explore and search features on Instagram give brands a chance to target by topics in a way that wasn’t possible before. What does this mean for a brand? You can start following and listening to relevant Instagrammers while building your channel.

Geotagging Means Even Better Targeting

Geotagging on IG

If you’re a business with customers who post, then geotagging means you can see and track Instagrammers who visit your business and talk about you. This means you can also engage with them. In the example below, I’ve posted about a dish I liked at a local restaurant and was able to tag them before pushing it live on Instagram.

Visual Content is the Key

Sounds obvious, right? But it’s surprising to see so many brands struggle with creating content where the visual element is front and center, and the text supporting it is secondary. This is what I want my clients to focus their social media practice on this year. It’s what is driving new social media users to Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope.

Manage Multiple Accounts

The biggest change of all for Instagram was just announced last week. And that is, the ability to switch between accounts. Instagram users can now manage up to 5 accounts from one app. Previously, you had to log out of your personal Instagram to log in to your brand channel. This new feature alone should drive additional brands to jump in to Instagram this spring.

But Remember….

Instagram is owned by Facebook, which is increasing integration for advertisers on both platforms. And while Instagram is easier than ever to use, it should still be part of a multi-channel strategy with goals, objectives, strategy and tactics to make it work for you.

If you want to dig deeper, here is a collection of stories about Instagram.

Want to Compare Instagram and Other Social Networks? 

Compare the Top 8 Social Media Networks

Compare 8 Social Media Networks with downloadable PDF  chart Don’t you wish it was easier to compare social media networks side-by-side? You know, a really cool chart to summarize what’s going on in the network, so you can answer client questions more easily or find that key statistic to drop into your presentation.

Keeping up with the news of each network is tough, even for communicators working in this area.  So I created  this side-by-side chart to compare the top 8 social media networks so I can answer the questions my clients ask more quickly and without duplicating my research string over and over again.

I compared Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope and Instagram and looked at 6 factors: network size, activity, devices and habits, cool facts, latest move and ownership.

Each network is so different. Sometimes it’s really hard to compare them. Size is important when you are counseling clients on using social media resources, but some networks may not report their size. The way social networks report their Activity can also be confusing, but it’s my hope that the activity metric gives an indication of what’s going on there. For the Devices and Habits category, I had been watching the switch to mobile use for my clients, but now that some of our biggest networks are on mobile only — like Snapchat and Periscope– the category had to change slightly.  The Latest Move section allows me to look at the business side of the network and how these networks are changing to meet the needs of their users. Ownership is an ongoing concern for me as a media watcher.  Who owns what is important and as you can see from the chart, the ownership strings are complicated.   Who doesn’t love a Cool Fact to share with their clients?

Comparing the Top 8 Social Media Networks Chart

Using 36 different sources, I gathered the information into this chart, which isn’t very readable here. So I’ve provided a download link below, so you can look at it more closely. Use it for your business or nonprofit, or maybe to win a trivia contest, but PLEASE, if and when you share it, please note and credit the sources of information in the accompanying citation sheet.

Social networks are growing and changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. Having a comparison chart helps me talk to clients about their mix of social channels. Maybe it will help you too.

What would you like to see on this chart the next time I update it?

Download the Social Media State of the Networks Comparison Chart.