The early results of our Small Business Digital Marketing survey are starting to come in and one of the most interesting preliminary results is the fact that we’re entering a big time for businesses and Instagram.

Instagram has been on the rise for personal use for several years now as more and more young people flock to the social media service. So it isn’t surprising that businesses have reported using it more: they’re going where their audience is. What is surprising is that Instagram is starting to surpass other previously more dominant platforms like Twitter.

Why is Instagram So Popular With Businesses?

It can be argued that Instagram is one of the best platforms for customer engagement. This is the biggest reason, and has resulted in over one million advertisers on the platform. Now, “engagement” is hard to measure and can mean different things for different brands. Overall, engagement is considered any way you connect with followers. But likes versus comments versus video views could have different value to each brand.

Instagram is good at customer engagement for a handful of reasons. I’ll start with its mobility. Instagram wants everyone who uses it to use it on their phone, the desktop interface is so painful it practically forces you to. The emphasis on mobility also gives Instagram an “in-the-moment” feeling and makes even brands’ and marketers’ posts feel more authentic. The mobile interface is also incredibly easy to use and provides an “infinite scroll” of content, both of which bring more people in to engage.

That “infinite scroll” is a big part of what makes it so popular and provides a big opportunity for marketers. As visual beings, humans prefer to gather and interpret information through sight and Instagram’s visual nature with its “infinite scroll” makes it practically impossible to run out of content to look at on Instagram. Which makes it easier to get your brand’s content in front of scroll eyes – if you know what you’re doing.

Finally, what makes Instagram so popular with businesses is that it isn’t limited to a niche environment or audience. LinkedIn, for example, pretty much only functions as a professional network and (to some people) Facebook only functions as a place to check in with old friends and for your mom. Instagram is blessed with the reputation that pretty much anyone can use it for whatever their message is, person, business, dogs, etc. It’s a home for everyone if you’re clever enough.

But Instagram Can Still Be Tough for Business

Despite its openness, Instagram still has some challenging aspects to it for businesses. Namely: no links in posts. You can only have one link and it’s on your bio page. This makes leading users back to your website to make a purchase nearly impossible unless you pay for a service to cultivate your links for you. Conversation and captions are also harder on Instagram. The comments sections can be hard to follow and captions cut off after only a few words. Text size is also incredibly small and nearly impossible to read for visually impaired readers. All of these present unique challenges, and show that using Instagram for business can take an entirely different skill set than with other social platforms.

Quick Tips for Promoting Your Business on Instagram

  • Start with your image. You need to have good images for Instagram. Do they need to be photos? No! But they can’t be made in Microsoft Paint. Once you have your image, form your strategy around it. Instead of writing a caption and trying to find a photo to fit, find a photo and work a caption, posting time, hashtags, etc. around it.
  • Brevity. Instagram isn’t the place for paragraphs of text or long-winded videos. Keep posts short and simple.
  • Have a Call to Action. This is true for all social media, but without a link in the post, this can be harder to execute. You can fill the void with contests or a simple “link in bio for more info,” but if you aren’t asking followers do something, what’s the point?

Today’s post was inspired by some of our early results from the 2019 Digital Marketing Survey.  We are still collecting data.  Take the short survey now, and we will send you the 2018 report now, and an early preview of the 2019 report when it is complete in January. 

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