Should Your Business Be on Instagram?

As a Social Media Manager I was recently asked by a shareholder … “When are you going to put us on Instagram?” The answer was “I’m not” but the reasoning behind it was more complex. Should your business be on Instagram? Read my 5 point checklist and if you answer yes to 3 or more then go ahead and open that Instagram account!

But first let’s start with a few basics…

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a visual platform owned by parent company Facebook, which relies on photo uploads via a mobile app. With 300 million active users, Instagram connects to your other social accounts, eg Facebook, Twitter, Swarm, Tumblr, Flickr, Mixi and Weibo and VK. This enables you to upload photos to Instagram, viewable by those following you and then share them to other networks if you so choose.

User stats

  • 300 million active users
  • 20% of all internet users have an Instagram account
  • 75 million daily users posting 70 million photos each day
  • 51% of users are male

Should your business be on Instagram?

Any business can have an Instagram account, after all, it’s free… but should you? Many businesses make the mistake of trying to be everywhere … after all- isn’t that the way to be successful? No, not really, because each social network you manage needs a different plan, different content and a different approach. If you have Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, G+, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Stumbleupon … that’s a lot of networks to keep updated with cool stuff! So before you start, stop and think… do you have the resources for all the networks you want? If you think the answer is yes then read on and find out if you should have Instagram for your brand.

#1 Is Your Target Audience 16-24?

Before you sign up, think about your target audience and where they are hanging out. Instagram is generally a young app which has a large portion of the teenage market. In fact 90% of people on Instagram are under the age of 35. If your product is retirement savings you probably won’t have much success.

#2 Is Your Product Socially Desirable?

The most popular products on Instagram are Nike, Adidas, Starbucks, Topshop and Gucci. If you are a fashion or lifestyle brand then there’s a good chance you could fit right in because your product is visually marketable and socially desirable. If you are selling something less desirable… let’s say anti dandruff shampoo, then it may be difficult to showcase your brand. There is also a certain level of kudos associated with taking a selfie or photographing your designer clothes. Consequently, brands like Topshop frequently run Instagram contests to encourage interaction and virality.

#3 Will Your Product Photograph Well?

Instagram is really cool for brands to interact with users via social competitions, tagging and sharing. This makes a brand like Starbucks destined for success because users can checkin, tag, photograph the products and share the photos across all their networks. Starbucks in turn can share tantalising photos of their latest coffees, cakes and happy smiling staff. If your brand does not have a physical product or location then it may be difficult to gain social traction on this network, not impossible but difficult.

#4: Are Your Competitors Successful There?

Forget whether they are there, look at whether they are doing well there. Of course without inside knowledge you cannot ascertain their signups or profits but you can look at their followers, interaction and virality.  If they seem to be doing well on Instagram then perhaps you could too. Take inspiration from their successes, learn from their mistakes but don’t copy!

#5 Do You Have The Resources?

Ok, we mentioned it before but let’s come back to it again. If you are a serious brand then to be on Instagram you will need to have access to a graphic designer who can make your product photos look really good. In fact you will also need to have a photographer to take the photos in order for your graphic designer to make them look good. Got it? Ok, now add a social media manager to interact with fans, upload photos daily and create the specific contests you need in order to make it a success. So do you still think you have the resources?

If you answered yes to three or more of these points then an Instagram account could be great for your brand. If not then it may be better to focus your attention elsewhere.

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