Already an active user on Twitter I wanted to explore the merits of Instagram to see if it may be a better platform for growing brands or small businesses.
THE RISE OF INSTAGRAM, BUT IS IT TIME TO LEAVE TWITTER?
Statistics show that Instagram has overtaken Twitter in active users but Twitter still has far more posts shared each day (500 million tweets v. 80 million instagram images) but what do these statistics mean for me?
Both have a very similar demographic but the main difference is that Twitter is a great platform for sharing content, users can automatically post or share from other social platforms or from a blog, therefore quickly getting content into Twitter to encourage users back to your website or main marketing platform.
Instagram on the other hand is very much ‘in app’ with the user’s complete attention as they are unable to click to go to blogs, videos or outside links. Marketing campaigns must centralise around engaging audiences completely within that platform, not spring boarding them out (of course there is always ways around this) but it is quite a different approach to marketing that needs to be thought about.
Instagram is tapping into a community of very visual consumers, image quality is everything and a great place to build a brand and loyal followers. Whereas Twitter is good for sharing content and interacting quickly with customers, so much so that many large online organisations use Twitter to deal with ongoing support issues.
SO WHAT ELSE IS OUT THERE?
One thing is for sure that the digital landscape doesn’t stand still. Do you remember Myspace and Friends Reunited? The rise of Facebook that was then threatened by Twitter and now Instagram. So it is a pretty safe bet that the next big thing will come along and I have always been under the instinct that early adopters to a platform are actually the ones that reap the benefit, they take a risk, start when the pool is small and get rewarded.
So we have Snapchat making waves with businesses already looking to market here to a very young audience, there is also Vine, and many more. Two new ‘Instagram’ style platforms to watch still in their infancy are Ello and Hyper. Both follow a similar strategy to Instagram but Ello’s manifesto is no advertising not ever. And Hyper with a voting system and anonymous ‘secret’ style posting which could be quite interesting for brands, has the backing of Vine.
Ello’s no advertising manifesto is quite interesting as if using social media purely for selling, then advertising is a quicker way to get in front of your audience and so an avenue to think about. And if it is just about selling then thinking which channel of marketing will actually get the best return on investment is incredibly important, and that may or may not be as an active social media participant.
But mainstream social media platforms are not the only form of social marketing. Currently for me my best return on investment is my newsletter – so efforts should be put to getting more subscribers here.
Also looking at industry specific media platforms is another option. These exist for most industries, and as an example if you are a gallery, photographer, artist or interior designer there is SaatchArt or Houzz. Different audiences but they are still social media, and some of the algorithm’s within these platforms don’t require you to be quite so virulent to get noticed which is another factor when looking for the right marketing balance.
These niche platforms on which you can create a following from an audience actively looking for your type of product or service, although there may be less users and less posts than the big 3, they are much more qualified leads.
STILL A SOCIAL MINEFIELD?
The thought is not, should I be using Twitter or Instagram, Facebook or Linkedin, the questions is what is my marketing strategy and which platform is going to best suit my business, audience, time allowance and budget. These platforms don’t work for everyone and is spreading yourself thin really going to be more beneficial than a contained effort?
There are, and always have been small factions of people that do things differently, but with the connection of social media their voice can gain traction very quickly. This cool hunting means a wave movement of users across platforms scouted out by those hipster explorers and pioneers, followed by the influencers, then mainstream and marketing bringing up the rear.
This pattern won’t stop it has been going on in a social context throughout humanity but our global connection has made it a much faster and more fickle movement. Standing still as a business has never been harder with such a strong forward current as technology expands and globality contracts.
So don’t just jump on the latest bandwagon as it won’t last but instead use that traditional approach of ‘which type of marketing actually works for us’. Time is money and all marketing avenues should be considered. Social media, although very much a tool in our marketing toolkit is not the free, magical, marketing machine we have perhaps been lead to believe. Research, testing and a firm strategy, with routine and continuity will stand you in good stead – and you never know you may even become an influencer not a follower.
SOCIAL GOES UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
I spent a week ankle deep in Instagram and a few of the other visual social media platforms to give some insider insight in my article coming out next week. But if this is already on your mind and you can’t wait until next month why not give us a call and pick our brains in relation to your business online.