Will Instagram soon overtake Facebook? Or is it on the wane? As always with such topics, forecasts and arguments for both sides can be found online. But one thing is clear: What once started as a niche, ad-free photo community app is now an enormously fast-growing platform with many offers for visual marketing and storytelling. In numbers: While in January 2016 there were still nine million active monthly users in Germany, an increase to 15 million was reported in August 2017 − putting it in second place in Germany after Facebook (31 million).
Good chances with organic content
As it currently stands, as a company you still have a good chance of being found organically. Unlike Facebook pages, Instagram’s business profiles have the same features and capabilities as a personal profile. You can also follow other users, “like” their posts and leave comments. Only the algorithm intervenes here as well: An automatic function determines what is displayed on the start page.
The hottest tip among professionals at the moment is to rely on formats beyond the individual photo: Picture and video galleries (“carousel posts”), individual videos and, above all, the Instagram stories are regarded as the key to success. However, the basics have to be right − in other words, you need to have a clear idea of who you want to reach on Instagram and with what content and topics this will work. Accordingly, your profile must be professionally set up and show at a glance what can be expected here. This continues to play a greater role at Instagram than elsewhere. Meaningful interaction with the thematically relevant community can make a big difference here.
The search area called “Discover” has just been redesigned. Those who want to reach many new users must make it to the front here. And in order to convince the automatic function of this, your own contributions must show one thing above all: a lot of commitment in the form of comments and likes.
Significantly less important than before are the hashtags. It still makes sense to use them specifically and appropriately. But they are no longer considered the central tip they once were.
Numerous advertising formats for visual storytelling
If the organic range alone is not good enough for you, you can fall back on one of numerous ad formats. And by the way, most of them can be used without an Instagram profile. This can be done simply with Facebook’s own tools. But you sacrifice a lot of potential: Even with advertisements, users like to look at the profile behind it and, if they like it, become followers. In this respect, Instagram’s familiar advice is to target a combination of organic and paid content.
The advertising formats have meanwhile become very diverse. Anyone with a business profile can “highlight” both the profile itself and individual posts, i.e. distribute them for a charge. This is similarly known from Facebook.
In addition, appropriate advertisements can be displayed both in the “classic” Instagram and in the Instagram stories. Their formats are based on regular posts. This is what ultimately makes them so interesting for advertisers: They stand out less than elsewhere and become part of the offer. On the other hand, this means that you should adapt your advertising materials accordingly or develop it specifically from the outset. Otherwise they will not appeal to users.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Instagram is well suited for visual storytelling. Even in the gallery posts you can tell a little story with up to ten elements and cleverly combine photos and videos.
And those who have an online shop can also use “Shopping on Instagram” under certain conditions: Products in photos can be linked directly to the offers on your own website. Instagram is now also working on a payment offer of its own so that users can shop directly in the app.
Instagram has changed over the last year and a half in a breathtaking tour de force. Companies should be particularly enthusiastic about this, because they now have many options for marketing on their own behalf. With so many changes, however, the protest in the community is also getting louder. Snapchat recently annoyed many users with its redesign. Instagram must be careful not to overstep the mark as well. On the other hand, parent company Facebook has shown a lot of skill in the past. After all, today’s Facebook has little in common with that of 2008 − and has experienced unrestricted growth.