02.16.2018

#Inorout – Does Advertising on Instagram have a Future?

The use of visual content on social media continues to grow and there's no end in sight. Images have become increasingly important marketing assets as more and more marketers turn to photo sharing apps like Instagram to reach their audiences.

The French artist and photographer Brassai once said, "There are many photographs which are full of life but which are confusing and difficult to remember. It is the force of an image which matters." This "force" is precisely what makes Instagram effective. Instagram is a photo sharing app that allows users to take pictures, add effects and filters, and share them with friends. Products are not simply being photographed and published on the app. By using specific techniques, commodities are being shown in non-conventional ways and posted by and with recognized personalities. This enhances both effectiveness and credibility and makes Instagram a perfect channel for visual storytelling.

Yet this doesn't necessarily make Instagram the perfect marketing tool for every company wanting to pitch their products online. A social media strategy must fit a company's target group and Instagram only works for companies that wish to reach a specific group. Another important question companies should ask themselves is whether their content can be best communicated through images. Taking all this into account, Instagram presents an opportunity to position brands and to build brand awareness among consumers. Moreover, Instagram allows companies to share images that provide insight into everyday business life, such as photos of staff at work or at events. It should be noted, however, that followers do have high expectations that have to be met. Not only is it important to post regularly, preferably daily but no less than weekly, but photos must be well-executed and of high quality.

Instagram can be used in three different areas of marketing communications. The first area is employer branding. Smart candidates not only look at corporate websites and job rating portals, but also on social media channels such as Instagram. They want to see how a company ticks and figure out if a company's culture is right for them. Hence, via Instagram, candidates can be reached on a more emotional level as they try to get a feel for what it's like to work at their new potential employer. Moreover, the photo sharing app is a very powerful social media platform for brand building. Via Instagram, companies can convey their desired image and values. This makes being creative and innovative a key asset. Elements and colors of a company's corporate identity can be inconspicuously built into images to increase the recognition value and achieve a strong emotional influence. Also, Instagram is ideal for product communications as companies can promote their products through their own accounts for free. That said, influencer marketing is better than self-promotion. Influencer marketing has exploded as more and more Influencers are being sought to become brand ambassadors. Top influencers work with personal managers and agents to negotiate deals with brands that are eager to find the perfect digital age testimonials. Influencers are even being used in job recruitment campaigns.

It's a fact that social media advertising is one of the most effective ways to reach an engaged audience. Instagram faces heightened competition from Snapchat. Although Snapchat targets a younger audience and has a more playful nature, Instagram has taken aim at Snapchat with their feature which allows users to upload photos and videos to "Instagram Stories". An Instagram Story disappears automatically after 24 hours and is automatically archived to a private part of the user's profile. However, while posting videos is becoming ever more popular on Snapchat, Instagram is still mainly used for sharing pictures. Snapchat is more suitable for the media because of its high reach while Instagram is more suited for brands. In addition, Instagram is perceived as the most emotionally charged social media platform because it's not overstuffed with ads while images are far more likely to evoke emotional reactions than texts. Instagram is a powerful platform to create visuals that resonate with consumers on an emotional level.

If companies use Instagram as an advertising platform, they should make sure to link all their social media accounts. Fans on Facebook are likely to also become fans on Instagram. Companies should also link Instagram to their websites and blogs. The objective of getting likes, shares and building relationships is as valid here as anywhere else on social media. As the future is visual, platforms like Instagram, that allow people to engage with photos, will without a doubt continue to be relevant, both for personal and business purposes.

Sabrina Wagner

Trainee Public Relations