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An introduction to Instagram

The social media era is well and truly underway and photo sharing app Instagram is one of the biggest hot topic social platforms. We'll show why it's important and how to get started.

 

What is Instagram?

Instagram is essentially a camera smartphone app with a social community built behind it for sharing images. The app was purchased from its creators in 2012 by none other than the world’s leading social media network, Facebook.

Instagram was designed to capitalise on the ever improving technology crossover between smartphones and photography. Year on year new mobile devices focus on their built-in camera functions as a key selling point, mostly due to the increasing photo and short video-led world of social sharing


 

Why is it important?

  • Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform in the world at present
  • It has over 400 million worldwide users (December 2015)
  • It is also the social media platform with the highest rate of user engagement
  • The platform is estimated to receive over 100 million new image uploads per day
  • Users engage via comments or likes and the platform produces over 10,000 engagements every second

Instagram has huge penetration with the tech savvy Millennial audience (18-30) who are also the top online spending demographic.

Health, beauty and fashion are dominant categories within Instagram but travel and food are also very popular.

Until recently Instagram was completely untouched by advertising formats. A user’s Instagram timeline is only populated with images posted by other users they have purposely elected to ‘follow’. Thus the platform is seen as one of the most controlled and non-invasive social media platforms around. That said, despite being the least invasive, Instagram has a very personal connection with its users. It’s often said to be a highly motivational and inspiring platform within which personal discovery is seamlessly promoted.

Instagram has added video functionality to their platform within the last 12 months. This allows for videos (with sound) of up to 15 seconds to be used in place of an image. As a brand, this means you can use Instagram with a greater range of creativity. You can also use it to build a more personal connection with users. Some Instagram users have earned celebrity status similar to that enjoyed by YouTube Vloggers (Video Bloggers) showing just how powerful the platform can be and why it’s worth including in your social media marketing plan.
 

How do I use it?

Many advertisers and brands connect with their target audience on Instagram by directly earning follows through producing compelling content. This is something that within reason can be achieved very simply at the cost of a Smartphone and some artistic/photographic talent.

Paid-for advertising on Instagram is still brand new and only available to limited brands, with a more public platform to be made available some time in 2016. When this does become available Facebook has announced that paid-for advertising will be minimal as they want the non-intrusive organic nature of the app to continue to shine through.

At present the only way to generate clicks and traffic to your other online assets via Instagram is a single link from your accounts home page.  Producing compelling content and earning followers will ultimately raise your brand’s profile and aid in awareness driving for new products.
 

Getting started with Instagram

With Instagram’s accelerated growth and its very personal, non-intrusive place in users’ lives, it’s a platform all brands particularly those in retail or lifestyle sectors should certainly be taking advantage of.

Getting started is simple. Download the app to your smartphone or tablet.

  1. Create a username and password.
  2. Fill in your profile information, being sure to include a link to your website in the bio (this is how users will get from your Instagram profile to your website).
  3. Use the magnifying glass icon to discover brands and users with similar interests to your own and that of your brand’s consumers.
  4. You can upload images to your Instagram profile right away. Be sure to include a caption and relevant tags.
  5. You can like other users’ photos by tapping the heart icon.

That’s it, you’re all set to start posting some great images.