Several years ago Instagram was a niche social network. It wasn’t generating revenue and was essentially thought of as a tool where young people could pretend they were expert photographers. According to a recent study, however, approximately 18% of cell phone owners now use Instagram on their phone. More than a third of these people say they use the app on a daily basis and a fourth say they use it several times a day. With its popularity growing, should companies, especially small startups, be spending time posting to the tool? The following are reasons they should.

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People respond to visual content

As popular as Facebook has become, some get overwhelmed with the noise of the site. A university student who quit Facebook explained that he did so because it seemed to have become a “soapbox” or “dairy” for people to argue and promote opinions rather than engage in meaningful communication. Not to mention, with older people joining the site it’s lost much of its “cool” factor.

Instagram relies mostly on visual content. This is good thing, as 40% of people respond better to visual information than text.  The interface is clean and simple, making it easy for people to pull out their phone during the day and scroll through images, without getting bogged down in lengthy political discussions. While there is place for comments on Instagram, they are easy to ignore.

What to post about?

Companies trying to integrate Instagram may ask themselves, “What pictures could I possibly post that would interest people?”  One idea is to take followers behind the scenes of the company. Where are company employees travelling? What new products have arrived? What events is company participating in? This is a great way to add the “human” element that so many companies use social media for.

Several companies are showing how the tool can be used effectively. The clothing company Everlane for example, frequently posts pictures of where their products are made as well as the people who craft them. Starbucks posts artistic pictures and videos of food, inciting people to stop by on their way to work. Both of these accounts have a lot of interaction.

Some people will remain skeptical about the effectiveness of Instagram. For most, it doesn’t stand out as the first choice for effective social media marketing. With effort and creativity however, it can certainly take its place in establishing a powerful brand.

Jamie Bates