Why you should be paying Instagram more attention

5 minute read

Fashion and entertainment brands have already spent time working out Instagram. It’s young and very engaged audience makes it ideal for a brand with a bit of creative flair. Research by Forrester earlier this year paints a depressing picture of the lack of engagement brands get from their followers. If you can get through the depression, the positive to take is that Instagram stacks up a lot higher against Facebook and Twitter.

instagramThe research created a percentage point based on the interactions with posts versus the number of followers. For Facebook the average was 0.7%, Twitter 0.3% and Instagram 4.21%. Or over 1.5 million interactions on 162 Instagram brand posts. So with that in mind, it’s no wonder that Facebook is looking to tie the ads on Instagram into its worse performing but much bigger brother, Facebook itself. According to a report by Digiday, Facebook is starting to build links between the two, running ads with Mercedez-Benz to target people on Facebook with ads after they’ve already been exposed to the ad on Instagram.

The article also references some advertising execs which believe that it could also work the other way too. It’s important because Facebook is developing smart ways to introduce multiple touchpoints and targeting across its network in a way that will seem natural and provide interesting creative and context for users. Certainly Facebook’s direct response ads coming after initial brand exposure on Instagram makes sense. The other way round means that Instagram could be working its way into being an important ad format for activity further up the funnel.

But with the two becoming more closely linked, the concern may be that Instagram ads befall the same fate that Facebook has in becoming less effective from a natural reach perspective. With such high engagement rates for posts naturally, brands will not like the idea that they’ll have to start paying for the same engagement, a common criticism that Facebook now has to answer.

Speaking at an event in June Instagram and advertising network Omnicom, which entered into a $100 million dollar deal earlier this year, the agency said its deal with Instagram was a bit like a “second marriage”. What they mean is that they are taking the learnings from their marriage to Facebook and trying not to make the same mistakes twice.

It seems to be working so far as the pair released details about research that they’ve been carrying out on two of its brands Levi’s and Chobani. According to the research there are some specific nuances with Instagram about frequency, with two posts being the most that should be posted to maintain engagement. This is something that brands are now being advised to do by Facebook too. Nike for example now only posts around once a day for each of its pages, preferring to make that one post really good rather than lots of posts that are average.

While that insight is something that also links both Facebook and Instagram together, another insight was the fact that Instagram users like content that’s exclusive to the channel. Feeling like content has been specifically chosen for you as a follower at that time and place makes sense. This perhaps throws up some issues and questions where the integration of ads concerned. With Facebook ads being shown to people previously exposed to Instagram ads, the content or creative will need to fit both channels and so messaging for that journey will be key, rather than relying on repeating the imagery.

For those that haven’t considered Instagram as a channel, the time is ripe for building an audience and learning the type of content that your followers want to see. If your business is already a bit of an Instagram pro then you should start to consider about how you apply learnings from Facebook and work out how the two can live closely, but not too close. Either way, Instagram is set to become very important to all types of brands.