Instagram: Time to make your business part of the conversation

By Felicity McCarthy, digital marketing trainer & consultant.

The world of Social Media is rapidly changing. As we reflect on how much has changed in the last few years, it’s fair to say that Instagram has been the top performer in this space, showing the fastest and most consistent growth in the last 3 years.

As an indicator of the volume of growth, we’ve reviewed the Ipsos MRBI Social Networking & Social Messaging data over an approximate 3 year time-frame, and compared Instagram to it’s close rival Snapchat (time-frame July 2016 – June 2019)

  • Instagram has grown in account ownership by 78% in less than 3 years!
  • Instagram’s daily use is improved from 56% to 65%
  • Snapchat by comparison has only grown 10% in account ownership in the same timeframe
  • Snapchat’s daily use metric is down 13% over the 3 years.

What has been very interesting during this growth phase is not just the growth in volume of users, but that the growth has extended the demographic profile on Instagram. It’s no longer a platform just for teens or millennials; it has become the darling of the social media world across the age ranges and by both men and women.

Source: Canva

What has caused Instagram’s growth?

Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, the Instagram platform can benefit from both the expertise of the Facebook team, and of course the overall firepower in terms of spending power and quality of technology.

More specifically, in my opinion, what makes Instagram so compelling for people is that it’s frankly got the fullest feature set including:

  • What Instagram became known for (it’s visually beautiful)
  • The best of Facebook (well curated feed),
  • The best of Twitter (ability to hashtag and tag others) and
  • The best of Snapchat (Stories)!
  • And for businesses, the ability to reach new audiences & advertise.

And, with massive move to video consumption on mobile and social, Instagram has all video formats covered –

  • Short form in stories.
  • Medium form in Feed.
  • Long form video in IGTV.

So what does this all mean for businesses using Instagram for Marketing?

Source: Shutterstock

Your Customers are Here

For all consumer facing brands or organisations, it would be foolhardy to ignore that fact that your customers, and prospective customers are not only on Instagram, but they’re coming back to the platform regularly!

With such massive move to the platform across the age categories, and people spending more time than ever here, your business has an opportunity to be part of the conversation on Instagram.

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2019 Industry Report, 69% of marketers are planning to increase their Instagram activity as they enter 2020. Instagram is the number 1 platform marketers want to crack the code on.

Source: Canva

5 Things You Can Do Today

Mean Business

Make sure you have a Business profile on Instagram for your business.

There is a difference between Business and Personal profile. With a business profile you get access to analytics about your Instagram account, for instance how much reach or engagement your posts and stories get. You can also get very insightful data about your audience on Instagram – where they’re located, their age and gender, and even the times of day and day of week when they’re most active on Instagram!!

Think Pretty

When posting to Instagram feed, the aesthetic really matters. The quality of your visuals needs to be as high as possible. It can be great to work with someone with a flair for photography to create a bank of photography to work with. If you’re trying to create good shots on the fly, there are a few things to keep in mind in your photography are

  • Go close up
  • Use filters if they can give you a better tone
  • Pay attention to the background
  • Make sure your camera lense (on your phone) is CLEAN!

Hashtags Matter

Using hashtags on Instagram is one of the most powerful ways you can be discovered by people who may not already know you. As you consider hashtags to use, it is critical to put yourself in the shoes of your customer – what are the topics, threads of conversation that your customers or potential customers are likely to be interested in.

In fact, on Instagram, people can also follow hashtags, so if you use a hashtag that someone is following, you can appear in their feed, even if they are not following your Instagram account.

By creating your own hashtags, for an event, or for your product/service, in a witty or creative way, you can encourage other people to use that hashtag, and share their user generated content. This is a very valuable type of content, and definitely can bring brands to life in many ways.

Use Stories

With Instagram Stories you now have a place for the slightly less beautiful imagery to be shared. Stories is a super way to share lightweight, behind the scenes, authentic content. Stories can be imagery, videos, boomerangs, even just text! It’s definitely worth mentioning that Instagram Stories also give you cool creative features to make your stories come alive, such as filters, location tags, questions, polls, stickers, GIFs and lots more

Your Stories can now last longer than 24 hours, as you can now create a Highlight, which allows you to gather up stories about specific topics and keep them visible on your Instagram profile.

Test Instagram Ads

To create Instagram ads, you need to use the Facebook Ads Manager. The good news about Instagram ads is that they have all of the sophisticated targeting of the Facebook platform. It’s also interesting to see that some advertisers are starting to create ads specifically for areas of Instagram, e.g. Instagram Stories ads. Have you spotted ads on Instagram Stories, where the creative is a 15 sec video in portrait form? Those ads are created specifically for the Instagram Stories environment, and the data is suggesting that they’re proving to be extremely effective!

These are just 5 areas to get you considering your next move on Instagram. There are new features being added all the time, so never a dull moment on Insta. That being said, there’s never a better time than now to reach and engage with your Instagram community!

About the author

Felicity McCarthy has worked on the cutting edge of the technology sector for 20 years, leading European digital marketing teams in companies such as Facebook, eBay & Dell.

As founder of, Felicity now works with businesses at various stages of their life-cycle to help them develop digital marketing strategies, and guide them to execute those plans by providing digital marketing training & consultancy services.

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