Chances are, by now, you’ve heard of this thing called Instagram. It’s kind of taking over the social media world. But many businesses are struggling with how and why to use Instagram in their business. Instagram really is a successful way to grow your audience, drive traffic, and increase sales. But before you can use Instagram and see results with it, I think you need to understand the “why”.
In this article you’ll learn:
- Why Instagram is so popular
- How Instagram helps create rich content for a visual marketing
- How Instagram produces more engagement and better traffic than other social media sites
Diving into these key points, there are five ways Instagram beats all other social media sites – and these are what makes it so powerful.
1. Fastest Growing Social Media Site
Instagram announced earlier this year that they surpassed 200 million monthly active users. Since being launched in 2010, it took Instagram only three and half years to hit this milestone. In comparison, Facebook took 5 years and Twitter took six and a half years to reach this same milestone.
The only social media site to reach 200 million active users faster than Instagram was Google Plus. And while I really enjoy using Google Plus, and think it’s highly rewarding, I think we can all question how quickly they reached 200 million active users. Since they required anyone with a YouTube account or Gmail account to automatically become G+ users, it’s safe to say that their first 200 million users weren’t exactly “active” on Google Plus.
Part of the reason Instagram has grown so rapidly is that it is the “cool” place to be. It’s where the celebrities are and where the “kids” are. Where they go, we follow! And if you watch most commercials on TV or listen to the radio, most companies and people now ask you to follow them on Instagram, not Twitter or Facebook.
2. Instagram is User Friendly
One of the reasons that Instagram has become so popular is that it is so user friendly. There’s no Edgerank or algorithm to determine what users will see. If you follow someone, you’ll see their posts – without filtered results. And while it’s a stream-style feed, like Twitter, it’s not nearly as fast moving as Twitter. Depending on how many people you follow, you can easily log in once or twice a day and catch the posts of everyone you follow without missing anything.
They also make it so easy to like a post. Users can easily double-tap anywhere on the image while scrolling to like an image. They don’t need to navigate or maneuver to access the like button. It’s easy to upload images and engage with others making it ideal for today’s online consumers.
3. Visual Marketing
Visual marketing is where it’s at today. Yes, content marketing is still king. But visual marketing is quickly climbing the ladder to take its stake at the top of the mountain. Whether it’s on social media or on your blog or in your print ads, visual marketing tells a story in a way text never can.
One of the big advantages to Instagram is that, not only are you sharing visual content, but you’re creating visual content! Instagram provides you with the tools and means to transform an average image into an emotional, evocative story in one frame.
In a recent study by Laundry Service, they found that by sharing Instagram “organic” style images on other sites, the Instagram-style images fared much better than traditional, studio glossy images. Conversion rates were 25% higher with Instagram style images and click-through rates increased to 8% (from 2.35% on traditional images).
4. Instagram Engagement is Higher than Other Sites
Continuing with the theme of increased conversions determined in the Laundry Service study, numerous other studies, including my own analyses, this one from The Blog Next Door, and this one from Forrester, show that Instagram produces higher levels of engagement compared with other social media sites.
In a study I conducted on my social media accounts last year, I shared the same images to multiple social media sites and measured the engagement on each. I varied the postings so some posted at the same time while others posted at peak times for each respective site. Here’s what I found:
- Instagram – 40 likes; Facebook – 5 likes
- Instagram – 23 likes; Facebook – 4 likes; Twitter – 0 retweets or favorites
- Instagram – 19 likes; Twitter – 1 favorite
- Instagram – 34 likes; Google+ – 4 +1′s
- Instagram – 70 likes and 14 comments; Facebook – 9 likes and 1 comment
- Instagram – 42 likes and 4 comments; Facebook – 20 likes and 14 comments
- Instagram – 38 likes and 9 comments; Facebook – 15 likes and 14 comments; Twitter – 2 favorites and 1 retweet
- Instagram – 34 likes and 20 comments; Facebook – 6 likes and 2 comments
At the time I conducted this study, my followers on all sites were about half of what they are now. But the results show how with 600 Instagram followers, 800 Facebook fans, and 2400 Twitter followers, Instagram consistently produced higher levels of engagement.
Instagram users, in general, tend to be more active and more engaged than fans on other social media sites. Instagram users will like and comment on many more posts than they will on any other site.
Of course, these results are somewhat dependent on follower levels on comparative sites. If you have 10,000 followers on Facebook and only 100 followers on Instagram, the results may not be so drastic. However, when you look at the levels of engagement in relation to the number of followers, Instagram almost always beats every other social media site.
5. Instagram Drives Higher Quality Traffic
Finally, the fifth reason why Instagram beats other social media sites, and maybe the most important reason, is that it generates higher quality traffic.
It is true that you cannot put a hyperlink in your post comments. Or at least not a clickable link. Instead, you want to drive people to your website via your Instagram bio. You need to use creative calls-to-action and other means to tell your followers what you want them to do. Typically, I direct my followers to “click on the link in my bio”. The hyperlink in your Instagram bio is the ONLY clickable URL on Instagram. Setting this up properly to send people where you want them to go (landing page, opt-in, sales page, blog, home page, etc.) allows you to send high quality traffic directly where you want them to go.
The reason the traffic is of such high quality is that you have to work to get people there. People that come to your website from Instagram do not do so by accident. They have to take calculated efforts to access that link and visit your site.
As a result, bounce rates are low – in fact, they’re almost zero. They came to your site because they really wanted to.
And, the best part, if you can get people to make one or two extra clicks to get there, the ability to convert them increases exponentially. As shown in this research from Shopify, Instagram produces higher average sale orders than all the other big social media sites.
A downside to tracking Instagram traffic, as discussed in this article from Evolving SEO, is that coming from a mobile device, most traffic is actually considered internet browser referrals. If you notice, when you click on the URL from Instagram, you have to approve a browser to visit the site. Analytics don’t look at this as Instagram referrals – they look at it as browser traffic.
However, even with this issue, I recently tested my Instagram traffic to show the quality of traffic it generates. As you can see, the bounce rate is ZERO and the time on my site is nearly 30 minutes – twice my site average.
To get around this tracking issue, you can use a customized link in your Instagram bio that allows you to track clicks. You can use a custom bit.ly or other link in this situation. Just make sure you use this link only on your Instagram bio so that you know this is where traffic is coming from. This will give you a more accurate analysis of how many people are coming to your site from Instagram.
There are, of course, certain aspects of Instagram that aren’t as competitive as other social media sites and there are plenty of things that they can still improve upon.
That being said, I sincerely believe that any and all businesses can use Instagram effectively. Instagram marketing takes time and a commitment to creating quality visual content, and if you can find the time to commit to Instagram, you can easily reap the rewards of this highly engaged and rewarding platform.