Why Aren't More Brands Taking Advantage Of Instagram?

Chris CrumSocial Media

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We recently looked at a study from Yesmail, which found a shockingly low percentage of brands are using Instagram despite the visual social service providing excellent engagement for most brands that are taking advantage.

The study found that while brands on Instagram experienced a 278% growth in followers in 2014, only 23% of the 2,000 brands it analyzed are actually on Instagram. That's compared to 80% on Facebook and 82% on Twitter.

We decided to reach out to Yesmail for some additional insight into why brands aren't taking more advantage of Instagram in their marketing efforts.

Bob Sybydlo, Director, Market Intelligence and Deliverability at the company tells WebProNews, "Instagram is still a fairly new platform, and is late in the advertising game – the platform introduced sponsored posts just two years ago. It’s possible that before 2013, marketers didn’t view Instagram as a must-have, but rather as a nice to have. As engagement and users increase, I have no doubt that we’ll see more brands adopt the platform."

Asked about how easy it is to build a successful marketing strategy on Instagram compared to Facebook or Twitter, Sybydlo says, "I think that each platform presents benefits to marketers, and if marketers optimize each social network correctly, can be successful. What sets Instagram apart from other social platforms, however, is the fact that Instagram’s main purpose is to share photos and videos. With more than 70 million pictures and videos shared daily, marketers can easily get involved with Instagram’s highly engaging platform."

"One of the main goals when Instagram introduced sponsored posts in 2013 was to make their advertisements feel as organic as possible, and in my opinion, the social platform has been successful," he adds. "Instagram’s unobtrusive nature is part of the reason marketers can be hugely successful on Instagram. Consumers expect to see all types of images on Instagram, and as a result, won’t be thrown off when a brand gets involved in sharing. Additionally, Instagram’s new carousel ad offers a flexible way for brands to not only share, but tell an interesting story. Instagram’s carousel blog post explains that consumers are inspired to learn more about a brand if they have shared a photo or video."

A New Way for Brands to Tell Stories on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

To make itself more appealing to brands, Sybydlo says Instagram should continue to grow its advertising platform, noting that carousel is a step in the right direction.

"By offering new and unique ways for advertisers to tell their story, Instagram differentiates itself from competitors and appeals to marketers," he says.

On industries with the best chance of finding success on Instagram that aren't really using it, Sybydlo says, "We’ve found that CPG, retail and hotel brands have the chance to be highly successful on Instagram, especially if they are also on Twitter and Facebook, but aren’t utilizing it to the best of their ability. As we mentioned in our report, restaurants have the highest adoption rate – just 31 percent."

"Other obvious industries like apparel brands have the ability to make a big splash on Instagram," he adds. "Just as apparel brands like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters have seen success through picture sharing on Pinterest, these brands can do the same by utilizing Instagram."

Since he brings up PInterest, I can't help but be reminded of a discussion we had a while back with Curalate CEO Apu Gupta, who said, “The primary difference is that Pinterest tends to contain more imagery generated by brands while Instagram tends to contain more user generated content. In many ways, these two platforms represent a continuum from pre to post purchase. If Pinterest is what people aspire to own or try, then Instagram is where consumers go to celebrate what they did. Beyond that, Pinterest’s layout offers the opportunity to thematically organize images to tell a broader story, whereas Instagram is more temporal and favors singular arresting images that document the ‘moment.'"

As I'm sure you're aware, brands have had some trouble reaching their fans on Facebook over the past year or two as organic reach for Page posts has dwindled. We recently looked at a report from L2, which found that this is causing brands to flock to Instagram. The question remains, however, are they following a sirens' song? Will Instagram (which don't forget, is owned by Facebook) eventually do the same thing to brands?

Sybydlo says he expects Instagram to offer more advertising opportunities for brands, which might coincide with algorithm changes of an Instagram news feed.

"Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, a change like this won’t surprise too many people," he says. "By contrast, the carousel app will be free for advertisers, which leads me to believe that Instagram will remain somewhat hands-off."

We'll see what happens.

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.