Table of contents
  1. 1. Definition
  2. 2. Overview
  3. 3. Advantages and disadvantages
  4. 4. Relevance to influencer marketing
  5. 5. Best practices

Definition

Instagram is a social networking app where users can upload and share photos and videos from their smartphone. Once a person has created an Instagram Account they fill in their profile and begin to use it to share their favorite videos and photos. 

In order for Instagram users to view content, they have to “follow” other users. Once they are following a particular user, they will be able to view their pics and vids through their feed in the same way Facebook users and Twitter users are able to see posts and tweets in their feeds from the people they follow or are friends with. 

Instagram is likened to a much simpler version of Facebook, it’s parent company, but with a larger emphasis on visual content such as videos and pictures. Some of the main Instagram features include commenting, liking, tagging, saving, and direct messaging

 

Overview

Since its launch on October 6, 2010, Instagram, has become the most successful social media platform in the area of influencer marketing. As the platform primarily focuses on visual content, it has attracted some pretty big names in the world of popular media, Hollywood, and pretty much any niche where a following can be gathered. 

One of the main reasons why influencers choose to increase their following through an Instagram Account is because a picture says a thousand words and so it is much easier to get their message across with a quick pic than it is to come up with engaging text. 

Instagram has the ability to increase a brand’s following exponentially and the company periodically provides statistics that back up this fact. The list below briefly outlines some of those numbers: 

  1. 800 million active users (12/24/17) 
  2. 500 million daily active users (12/24/17) 
  3. 40 billion photos shared (1/23/17) 
  4. 4.2 billion likes per day 
  5. 25 million businesses using an Instagram Account (12/24/17) 

Another reason why advertisers and big brands flock to Instagram is that the app provides a number of influencer management tools right on the platform itself, such as Instagram Graph API, as well as a number of third-party tools like Hootsuite, which make the tasks of posting, liking, and commenting much easier. 

 

Advantages and disadvantages

Why would a business, brand, or influencer want to open an Instagram Account? Aside from the statistics shown above, Instagram has many other advantages that support influencer marketing endeavors whether they come from influencers or those who pay them to tout their products and services

Benefits

  1. People spend more time on Instagram Stories than they do on all features from all other social media platforms - 300 million daily active users (November 1, 2017). 
  2. Instagram hashtags produce higher engagement than any other hashtag feature on any other social media platform. According to a recent study, Instagram users are more likely to engage with an image or video with a relevant hashtag than with no hashtag at all. 
  3. Users on Instagram trust Instagram influencers. There are 3 main platforms where influencers have the most influence: Facebook, YouTube, and of course, Instagram. How much trust do users of these platforms, specifically Instagram, have in the influencers they follow? Take a look: 
    • 72% of social media users engage with influencers 
    • 50% of US Instagram users consider a product after they have seen it on an influencer’s post 
    • 31% of social media users purchase products after an influencer mentions it in their post 
    • 43% of global users follow influencers because of the belief in their authenticity 
  4. There are more influencers on Instagram than other social media network. This is so because there are more opportunities for influencers to connect with brands through their Instagram Account. Basically, Instagram makes it easy for both influencers and brands to connect and do business with each other. 
  5. Influencer promotions on Instagram can target consumers with greater precision and so get better results. Customers prefer to buy products on the basis of a referral and B2B customers even more so. Marketers who use Instagram influencers for their promotions often get better returns on their investments than marketers who go elsewhere for their marketing. 
  6. No adblockers. When using influencers for their marketing, advertisers, and brands do not need to utilize influencer management tools designed to get around ad blockers as this form of marketing is personable and does not resemble an ad - one of the main reasons why it is such a successful marketing method in the first place. 
  7. Marketers can get better rankings in the search engines by using Instagram influencers. One of the things Google looks for when measuring a site or a post is the number and quality of links pointing back to it. Technically, an advertiser can get a large number of links through an influencer who shares their site with their following. This following will re-share it with others across the platform as well as on other social media accounts, forums, and personal website. 

Drawbacks 

  1. During this year, Instagram has done away with their old Application Programming Interface (API), which really made it easy for marketers of all shapes and sizes to scrape information about influencers such as the number of followers, quality of followers, posts, and likes. 
  2. The new Instagram API - Graph API - has set limitations on these features and many of the old apps that connected with the classic version have been blocked. What is more, to access most of the marketing features of the new Graph API, a user must have an authenticated business profile on Instagram. 
  3. While one of the benefits of Instagram’s new Graph API is to eradicate bot followers and bot engagement, it is still likely that many of the influencer Instagram accounts have a “fake” following. If a marketer puts their faith into one of these fake accounts, they will end up spending their money promoting to bots who do not buy. 
  4. Facebook’s algorithm makes sure that all of an influencer’s posts are not seen in order to promote more paid advertising on the platform. Now, Instagram has also incorporated an algorithm that rates posts as well. 

One of the main reasons for this algorithm is most likely to promote more paid advertising on the platform as well since Instagram and Facebook receive no money from influencers who market their users' products. This will probably result in influencers having less reach on the platform and so less of an influence.

 

Relevance to influencer marketing

Any business, marketer, or an individual wanting to increase their brand awareness, following, leads, or sales should consider marketing through an influencer on Instagram. While Instagram is not the only place influencers hang out online, it is where they have the most influence. 

Instagram has proven thus far to have the highest engagement rate out of all social media networks (Instagram = 3.21% engagement rate, All Other Social Networks Average = 1.5% engagement rate). 

Instagram influencer audiences put a lot of trust into the recommendations of who they follow. This helps in building a loyal and authentic relationship between an audience and a brand. What is more, as the dreaded Instagram algorithm continues to limit organic reach on its platform, brands need more outlets in which they can promote their products and services. Influencers provide these extra channels and do so in the most trustworthy way possible. 

The cost for employing an influencer varies widely and is subject to many factors, both data-driven and creative. For the most part, the larger the number of followers, the higher the price is going to be. If a brand is looking to reach a large audience, let’s say around 100 thousand followers, then they should be ready to pay as much as $5,000 for a sponsored post. However, the average sponsored post for influencers on Instagram is between $250 to $1,000.

 

Best practices

In order to start benefiting from Instagram, an account is required. The setup process is quite simple and involves the following steps: 

  1. Download the Instagram APP (App Store for iOS, Google Play for Android, Windows Phone Store for Windows Phone). Tap to open once installed. 
  2. Sign up: Enter email address (can also sign up with a Facebook account). Tap next. 
  3. That is as simple as it gets. Brands and businesses might want to switch to a business account under the settings menu to gain access to more marketing capabilities through the Graph API. 

Once an account is up and running, users should adhere to the following best practices guideline to make sure they are getting the most out of their marketing through Instagram. 

  1. Define account goals: What is the purpose of the account? Is it to increase brand awareness, leads, sales, or a loyal following which can be marketed to at will? Without knowing the purpose of the account, it will be really hard to measure its success. 
  2. Find influencers to follow: For the most part, brands want to partner with influencers who are related to their niche (niche influencers). Other things to look for are an influencer’s engagement rate, as well as how big their following is. Micro-influencers with a smaller but highly-targeted following are also ideal. 
  3. Stay transparent: If a brand does not disclose that the influencer post is a sponsored post, their account can get flagged and they may be liable for FTC penalties. To comply with FTC guidelines, marketers and brands should make sure that influencers use the “Partnership With….” tag on their sponsored posts. 
  4. Track account statistics: Accounts on Instagram should be tracked for engagements and following on a regular basis. This holds especially true for any paid campaigns a brand runs, but with the additions of conversion metrics like leads and sales. There are a number of influencer management tools that will help track these items to establish if an account is meeting its overall goals or not. 
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