Instagram is big business. It is impressively sizeable in its own right. Indeed, when Facebook took over the image sharing network in 2012 its user base was 30 million and the fee was a cool $1 billion. But Instagram has now gone on to become something else altogether. It is now a social media equivalent of the stock exchange. Despite its superficially social function the site has become a vast forum for commercial activity.
With what business analyst’s statista.com gauge as a 400-million-strong user base, Instagram now has the potential to put images and messages in front of an enormous number of eyeballs. Brands are prepared to spend big if it means their message reaches the right number of potential spenders. If we are to believe CBS president Leslie Moonves, a 30-second spot during this year’s Super Bowl cost marketers a cool $5 million. Instagram may not be in the $10 million-a-minute bracket, but that doesn’t mean that there are not serious deals being done across the network.
A Strategic Approach
Clearly, marketing is more subtle than just finding the biggest audience you can and then shouting at it. And that’s where Instagram comes into its own. As Greenlight Digital describes, a targeted Instagram strategy for brands– if it is delivered intelligently – has the potential to make a significant impact at comparatively moderate cost.
Of those 400 million users, 90% are aged 35 or below, and 68% are female. Business Insider additionally reports that the service is ‘agnostic in the smartphone wars’ with a neat 50-50 split between Apple and Android devices. Along with the easily overlooked facts that users are tech literate, fashion aware and responsive to visuals, this makes for a very targetable demographic. If you want to sell to young, fashion conscious women between 18 and 35, all around the world, Instagram is a long way from being the worst place you could start.
The commercial pages of Instagram’s own commercial marketing pages bear out what has been said already. Brands such as Vidal Sassoon, Carrera Eyewear, Mercedes Benz and KFC are all held up as having achieved increased brand awareness and retention, and in some cases dramatic sale upturns, as a result of formal partnerships with Instagram that capture the value inherent in the Instagram marketplace.
But it is the social dimension of Instagram that is the dream element for marketers. As Greenlight pointed out, astute engagement with easily identified key influencers (those with large numbers of followers) is an increasingly recognised marketing technique. Celebrity endorsement in the tradition of TV is nothing new, but the freedom of individual expression that Instagram allows takes this to another level.
But it is the social dimension of Instagram that is the dream element for marketers. As Greenlight pointed out, astute engagement with easily identified key influencers (those with large numbers of followers) is an increasingly recognized marketing technique. Celebrity endorsement in the tradition of TV is nothing new, but the freedom of individual expression that Instagram allows takes this to another level.
An analysis by simply measured.com, which they called the Instagram Influencer Report, listed Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, Miley Cyrus and Ariane Grande in the top four positions, with an aggregated 1606,684,438 points engagement between them. That allows scope for a concerted, highly managed marketing thrust.
In the meantime, propelled by the ever expanding network of its users, the business of Instagram continues to boom.