Guest post by Siobhan Scanlon  founder of Peacock Bride

In 2015 it was recorded that there are now more mobile phone connections than there are people on earth. In the last year the number of active internet users has grown by 21% and a whopping 23% of the entire population are now active on social accounts. Mobile is here to stay. Todays trends are towards mobile social networking with a record 26% growth in the number of active mobile social accounts compared with a 1% rise in the number of overall social media accounts. With these figures the rise in popularity of mobile apps like Instagram and Snapchat is no surprise.

The sheer scale of Instagram is something not to be ignored. Instagram launched in 2010 to become the second fastest growing social media network of all time, after Snapchat. In just over 2 months it had over 1 million users (it took Twitter 2 years to reach the same feat). In 4 years it boasted an active monthly user base of180 million compared with Facebook had had140 million active users over the same period. Monthly user volume has grown to 400 million, 75 million users of which are daily users of the platform.

In addition to the astronomical reach of the platform user engagement is significantly higher than it is on Facebook and Twitter, 56% and 121% respectively. On average users share 70 million photographs a day with over 30 billion pictures shared to date. The average users spends 21 minutes a day using the app and every second 8500 pictures and 1000 comments are posted on the app every second.

As smartphone popularity continues to rise it’s no surprise that 98% of Instragrammers use the platform on the go. 64% of it’s user base is female, 36% male and 73% are between 15 and 35 years. Almost half of all users follow a brand simply because they find the content funny or interesting and two thirds would follow a brand to benefit from special offers.

Being a relatively new platform in the social space means that for brands Instagram offers some unique benefits, benefits early adopters of the platform continue to enjoy.

  • Unlike it’s sister Facebook, who limits the number of your followers who see your post, your Instagram posts will be shown in the newsfeed of your entire fanbase.
  • Consumers favour subtle advertising technique and visual story telling fit perfectly with this. Marketing is fundamentally about evoking emotion in your customers and visual storytelling is simply the best way to do this. Not only is it more engaging for consumers but it allows for greater creativity which allows small businesses on tight budgets to gain significant traction that they may otherwise have got.
  • The nature of Instagram is that brands don’t have to spend a fortune creating content that resonates with consumers. They can simply curate content from around the web (and credit where applicable) and cleverly use captains to brand it to connect with your fanbase
  • The use of hashtags on Instagram makes it easy for people to find your picture and in turn follow your brand. Typically brands should choose a number of hashtags and use these for each post / campaign but also choose some generic ones that relate to individual posts. In that way your post shows up in searches for these terms.

There is no sure set way to make it at Instagram but there are some techniques that will help you get ahead.

  • Define your brand and ensure your Instagram feed reflects this visually and in tone
  • Be consistent in your posting habits. Users come to expect a certain number of posts at specific times and failing to deliver can disengage an audience
  • Create a reason for people to follow you on this channel by offering something unique to the platform. This could be behind the scenes footage, Insta competitions, user generated contented and more
  • Promote your Instagram account on other channels or in your store / outlet
  • The age old saying there’s power in numbers stands true for Instagram. Team with brands who’s audience your would like to reach but be realistic, there needs to be something in it for both brands
  • Team with influencers that align with your brand. Account takeovers / competitions are great ways to work with influencers to engage your audience.

In short Instagram is one of the remaining social media channels where, aside from the cost of resource to manage your account, marketing is still free. But the question is for how much longer?

*We are social: Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015

*Huffington Post

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