Instagram presents an amazing story in social media. Coming from almost nothing, the site now sports a user base of more than 400 million monthly active users, which makes it the second-biggest social media platform in the world.
It’s not quite as big as Facebook, but it’s bigger than Twitter now, so it’s displaced one of the previous “big three” in social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) and changed the balance. Brands are now flocking to Instagram in a mad dash to establish a presence there, so the platform can now be considered the new “golden child” of social media.
Why did this happen?
Why Instagram Is Now a Leader
Instagram’s popularity has been the subject of interest from a variety of observers, but if you take a look at the motivations for its growth, it should be quite clear why Instagram has been steadily gaining in online marketing interest:
- Sheer number of users. Given a choice between posting on a platform with 400 million users and one with 400,000, which would you choose? Part of the reason Instagram continues to grow in popularity is, well, because it’s popular. There’s a certain curve of popularity where a trend or idea starts to generate bigger traffic simply because of the popularity it’s already earned — and Instagram has definitely passed that threshold. Of course, just because there are 400 million Instagram users doesn’t mean 400 million people will see your posts. If you want to be effective, you need a way to build an audience for your brand, with a program such as PeerBoost, which can help you automate your like, follow, and commenting activity specifically to heighten your account’s following.
- Historic and projected growth rates.Another reason for Instagram’s popularity is the expectations people have developed for the brand. Social media marketing strategies aren’t investments in the present; they’re investments for the future. Accordingly, savvy marketers want to devote time and other resources not to the platforms that are currently popular, but the ones people believe are going to be popular in the coming years. The trajectory of Instagram’s growth has led the marketing industry to the conclusion that this social media avenue will continue to grow — likely along perhaps a similar exponential curve — for the next several years at least.
- Commitments to ongoing improvements. Instagram has also exhibited a commitment to making ongoing improvements to its platform. If you’re concerned about the long-term survival of a social media platform (and anyone who expects to do effective online marketing over the run should be), this is absolutely essential. Platforms such as Facebook have stuck around partly because they’re constantly refining their tactics and options to keep their users happy; platforms like MySpace fell into disuse because they remained stationary for too long. Instagram is an adaptive platform, and that has made it more valuable.
- Young demographics. The demographic makeup of Instagram also makes it appealing to marketers. Although Facebook boasts a larger population, its demographics cover a broad spectrum; in contrast, the majority of Instagram users are teenagers and young adults, which means it’s a hotspot for the millennial generation. To many brands, this is an immediate win: They’re constantly looking for new ways to engage millennials, so where better than a platform they already call home? Even if you’re not specifically or exclusively targeting millennials in your marketing, the fact that so many young people are using Instagram is a signal of the platform’s chances of continuing to succeed.
- Visual nature. Visual content is riding an upward trend in popularity, and Instagram is one of the best visual content platforms available. If a brand is planning to inject more images and videos into its content marketing campaigns, Instagram is a solid place to do it. The platform makes the visual production process much easier, which reduces the creative burden on brands. Just as important, it puts your visual content in front of an audience which, by its nature, craves visual content. It’s a niche platform for an increasingly popular content medium, and it’s worth pursuing for that reason alone.
- Expressive control. Instagram is also appealing to users because of the sheer amount of control they can exercise over their posts. They’re restricted to posting items with some kind of visual element … but they’re doing that anyway. Instead, their degree of control comes in the sheer number of filters, options, and hashtags at their disposal. Instagram is an individualistically focused, open-ended platform; and because of that, it attracts an expressive, interactive audience. Brands, too, can benefit from this degree of expressive control.
- Facebook influence. Finally, let’s not forget that Instagram was formally acquired by Facebook, which has access to billions of dollars in resources, more than a billion users worldwide, and a wealth of experience in what it takes to make a platform wildly successful. As an influencing force in Instagram’s development, Facebook has already been a powerful guiding force, and that positive relationship is bound to grow as both social platforms expand on their own.
How to Take Advantage of It
Now that you have a sense of why Instagram is so powerful, you should be taking advantage of it. Your first step, obviously, is to establish an Instagram presence, which is free and fairly straightforward to do.
From there, you’ll have to develop a niche: something unique, engaging, and valuable about the content you distribute. From there, it’s all about building an audience and captivating that audience with your material.
The big hurdle for most brands is capturing that audience in the first place. It takes a long time and a significant amount of effort. That’s why tools like PeerBoost exist. With cloud-based software of this type, you can automate many elements of your Instagram campaign, including your post scheduling, your following and unfollowing activity, and even your comments, to help you build an Instagram following.
If you aren’t convinced by the premise alone, you can try it for 3 days for free! Sign up for a trial today and see how powerful your Instagram efforts can become!