If Facebook is the runaway hit of the social media world, Instagram is the blockbuster for businesses. Thanks to a study by Olapic, the visual marketing platform, we can learn deeper insights into why Instagram is set to become the most powerful social media network of 2015.
There are roughly 300 million Instagram users, up from 200 million in the past nine months. Companies have discovered that users engage more often on the photo-sharing app compared to Facebook — as well as more compelled to purchase from a post, research shows. That is, in comparison to a similar number of Twitter users and followers, who tend not to buy as a result of a tweet.
The Instagram Intelligence report assessed 250 brands, concluding that in the past year, Facebook brand posts have dipped, while Instagram posts have risen, giving way to a virtual tie in use with a little over one post daily. Retailers, according to Yesmail marketing, are hopping on board at a rate of eight percent more a month.
In fact, in 2014, brands who had an Instagram account experienced nearly 300 percent more followers. Yesmail adds that those who aren’t on the platform “are missing a sizeable opportunity to further engage with their customers.”
Several reasons have been cited for the increased Instagram usage, including Facebook’s changes to the News Feed algorithm, which meant much fewer eyes on the page, as well as corporate paywalls, says Olapic.
Additionally, it helps that Instagram’s emphasis is on content, rather than followers. The study sums up: “Images generate more engagement”.
Indeed, according to a recent KOMarketing Associates’ post, “12 Noteworthy Examples of B2B Companies on Instagram,” Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Hootsuite, Oracle, among many others have garnered enormous successes with Instagram for that reason.
“It embodies a unique element: storytelling… without making the user feel like they are actually being sold to. I believe that this is the very reason why Instagram blows away Twitter on brand engagement”.
Marketing Manager Andi Narvaez, concurred, when she wrote “How B2B Companies Can Use Instagram to Make an Impact in 15 Seconds.” She explains it’s the rich multimedia – with editing tools built in the medium – that grabs people’s attention.
“One of the main reasons reporters, bloggers, influencers and customers turn down some B2B stories is that they are deep in the weeds. If you can explain, better yet, show, how a new technology or product works in 15 seconds, you’ve got their attention.”
Meagan Nordmann, digital marketing specialist for atpay.com, an email payments technology based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, says that in terms of brand engagement, Instagram is the top choice, due to its emphasis on photos and videos.
“As a marketer, I only post on Facebook out of a feeling of obligation. So that if anyone happens to search our company on Facebook, they can see that we are alive and well. Otherwise, all of my true attentions are on Twitter and Instagram. Both social sites actually show our followers every single one of our posts in real-time,” says Nordmann.
She adds that when marketers are no longer concerned about website traffic, it gives them a moment to really be creative on how they want to portray their company and start a genuine conversation. “Even if they’re not engaging on a particular post, at least you know that many of them actually saw it in their Instagram newsfeed that day, unlike Facebook, who chose not to show it to 90 percent of your fans.”
The focus, she adds, should be on “creating a personality for your brand and starting a conversation that leaves a great, lasting impression.”
Daniel E. Lofaso of Digital Elevator, a marketing agency in West Palm Beach, Florida, says that he has had more success with Instagram than Facebook, and has already converted a ‘follower’ to an advertising client.
“One of my clients whose Instagram account I oversee, drives a large percentage of his website traffic from Instagram and we can attribute it to over 30 percent of the conversions of the products he sells.”
Sarah Zeldman, who is developing a specialty in social media for B2B companies, says that companies are flocking to Instagram because engagement is higher – “so long as it’s not too salesy”, users come with a shopping mindset, and content can be pushed into other networks, she notes.
“Over the last six months or so, several local business owners told me that they are having great success with Instagram,” says Toronto-based Zeldman. “It’s easy to see why they would emigrate over to Instagram in droves.”
For more information how B2B firms can find Instagram success, read our report here.