Why Instagram is Awesome for Brands
Talking Popularity, API Issues & High Quality Content
As we move into mid-spring it’s clear that Instagram has grown considerably since this time last year. In fact, when it comes to frequency of site use, Instagram is now second only to Facebook! (No surprise really since Instagram is owned by Facebook.)
Instagram’s engagement levels are staggering: There are currently 150 million active users on the platform, 55 million photos uploaded every day and 8500 likes per second.
Brands are quickly adapting to this visual-powerhouse too, posting an average of 5.5 times a week, with 43% of brands posting more than once a day. To boot, the number of “prestige” brands using Instagram is at 93%!
And no wonder, compared to other networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, Instagram is so easy to use and it plays on our visually-driven, let’s-take-another-selfie consumer culture.
This is why we are focusing more and more on Instagram.
But while Instagram is super easy for individuals working a personal account, it’s rather complicated for those working commercial accounts. In fact, of all the networks we work in, Instagram is the toughest logistically.
At this point, we’ve got our system down like a well-oiled machine, but we had to learn a lot along the way. And, as fabulous as we think Instagram is, there are still logistical challenges for those who wish to market on this dynamic network…
Ixnay Third Party Apps
Most large social media networks allow third party apps to communicate and interact with them.
For instance, platforms like Hootsuite are allowed to access several big social media networks including Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
This allows us to monitor, track, schedule and respond to posts all in one place—A dream for community managers when juggling as many clients as we do.
But Instagram is very strict about its API. It doesn’t allow uploading photo or video content from any source other than its native phone app.
With no way to schedule Instagram content, we work in ‘real-time’ meaning hopping on our iPhones to make sure content goes up accordingly every day.
Apps like ScheduGram and Postso are popping up to try and combat this issue, but using these programs can be costly and risky to your brand (Instagram will quickly ban an account that they think isn’t playing by the rules). These apps aren’t technically associated with Instagram and it’s a shifty way to get around the problem. When our clients’ accounts are at stake, we don’t take that risk.
Instagram = Keeping it Organic
Only allowing manual posting protectsInstagram from transforming from a social network into a marketing network, and losing its appeal along the way. But it makes it tougher to work a commercial feed…
A Community Manager’s Worst Nightmare
One of the scariest things a community manager can do is accidentally post a personal update on a client’s social media account.
We’ve all heard about cringe-worthy PR disasters among brands where the intern slips up or posts something inappropriate that blows up on Twitter, resulting in endless apologies and bad press (…and usually a little brown box to pack up the contents of their desk.)
Suffice to say interns aren’t the only people who make mistakes; they happen to seasoned community managers too. There was a moment, a few months back, when my new kitty-tastic sweatshirt appeared on a commercial Instagram feed for about 20 seconds.
The client was cool about it, but still, it was a reminder to me of how careful I have to be.
So the big question is how did this happen? Because I am constantly switching back and forth on Instagram between my personal account and client accounts. There’s no easier way to get the job done due to their API restrictions. Hence the only answer is for community managers to be hyper-vigilant and 100% focused when working in Instagram.
Instagram’s Good News
But there is good news about Instagram’s finicky API restrictions: High quality content. Lots of real, engaging, user-generated content; the kind that Twitter dreams about. Not to mention high engagement and interest levels from lots of demographics! Sure it’s more work, but really, if you’re willing to put in the extra effort, it’s a marketer’s dream.
When you think about it, Instagram is about life on the go. It’s meant to be spontaneous! Once it allows uploading from other sources it’ll be a lot harder to control the quality of what comes into the Instagram ecosystem.
And, even though we have to spend a little bit of extra time throughout the day creating real-time posts, isn’t that what social media is all about: Being social?
We’ve gotten fabulous feedback from our Instagram friends who love our authentic and engaging posts. And when it comes down to it, our clients are worth the extra time.