After more than a decade on the scene, Instagram has gone from a humble photo-sharing app (that introduced the world to filters) to one of the world’s most popular social media platforms.

Today, Instagram boasts more than one billion active users.

According to statista, as of October 2021:

  • Roughly 32 per cent of global Instagram users are between 25 and 34 years old
  • Over two-thirds of total Instagram users are 34 years old and younger
  • In the Fall of 2020, Instagram ranked third as the most preferred app among teens in the United States (second only to Snapchat and TikTok)

It’s undeniable—these numbers make Instagram incredibly appealing to marketers and this isn’t likely to change any time soon, as Instagram has proven itself to be an agile beast when it comes to keeping step with its competitors.

Move over Snapchat – Introducing Instagram Stories

Instagram knows how to stay relevant. When Snapchat entered the scene, it posed a threat to Instagram’s Millennial base for a hot minute, but it didn’t take long for Instagram to respond. In 2016, Instagram launched Stories, a carbon copy of everything Snapchat had to offer. This new addition to the app proved successful by keeping a captive hold over Millennial users—now they never had to leave the Instagram app to enjoy all their favourite features rolled into one.

Instagram Stories completely reimagined the way users interacted with the app. By 2016, 71 percent of marketers believed lasting partnerships with influencers were one of the most effective forms of marketing. “Swipe ups” from Stories to partner links were all the rage. Brands started diverting a huge portion of their advertising budgets to hiring influencers to promote their products and services—and it was lightning in a bottle.

A recent study reported that 72 per cent of Instagram users make the decision to purchase based on something they see on Instagram. This is an astronomical influence, especially when compared to other popular platforms:

  • Facebook with 23 per cent influence over consumers
  • Twitter at 3 per cent influence over consumers
  • Snapchat with just 1 per cent influence over consumers

Curated content is (still) King – IGTV takes the stage

Two short years later and Instagram Stories would inspire IGTV, which allows users to create episodic content centered around a specific theme or topic. This gives brands another opportunity to make clever use of this feature to promote their product and/or services with thoughtfully produced content, without ever having to leave the app.

By this time, paid advertising had permeated Instagram. When Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, we started to see the (dreaded) decrease in organic reach. To be competitive, brands now how to shell out big bucks to pay for ads or promote their content.

As if overnight, Instagram marketing strategies became a vital tool of the trade.

Knock, knock, who’s there? Reels, that’s who

Ever the masters of maintaining a ‘cool factor,’ Instagram didn’t stop evolving there. In August 2020 Instagram launched Reels, an apt copycat of emerging social media giant TikTok.

By launching these three key features (Stories, IGTV and Reels), Instagram didn’t just maintain its following, it also started to lure users from competitor platforms like Snapchat, YouTube and even TikTok.

Changing the face of advertising

There’s no doubt these competitive additions to the platform have kept Instagram among the top-ranking social media platforms in the world. But, perhaps most importantly, they’ve also helped to secure Instagram’s place as the hub of social media commerce—especially with the ingenious incorporation of Instagram’s Shop Feature.

The Instagram Shop feature made it easier than ever for brands to connect with their targeted audience. By using a combination of Stories, IG TV and Reels to share their brand story and highlight their products and services with interactive and highly visual content, brands don’t just attract massive awareness, they put their products and services at the fingertips of a massive audience. Instagram users can browse products, explore collections and make purchases without ever leaving the app.

This has meant huge growth for Instagram—and has revolutionized the way marketers use the app.

In 2020, Bloomberg released a report stating that Instagram brought in $20 billion in advertising revenue in 2019, outperforming both Facebook and social media giant YouTube.

A survey conducted in May 2021 reported Instagram as one of the most influential advertising channels among female Gen Z users when making purchasing decisions. No small feat when you consider the fact that these days, Gen Z is fueling social media advertising spending.

In January 2022, Hootsuite released some undeniable stats to prove Instagram’s marketing power. A few noteworthy stats are:

  • 90 per cent of Instagram users follow at least one business
  • The average Instagram business account grows its followers by 1.69 per cent each month
  • 44 per cent of people use Instagram to shop weekly
  • Instagram’s advertising reach has outpaced Facebook this past year

Agencies across the world, g[squared] included, have dedicated whole departments and specialized positions to harnessing the power of Instagram.

Social Media Managers and Coordinators are spending countless hours developing well-researched and creative Instagram marketing strategies. They’re also working tirelessly to develop enticing content—not just for the Instagram gallery—but for Stories, IGTV and Reels. And the content doesn’t just need to be visually pleasing, depending on the audience you’re trying to reach it also has to be on trend, and with luck, to go viral.

Social media has become a (crucially important) full time job. To be competitive as a brand, you not only have to have a lively and engaged presence on Instagram, you also have to know how to use it to your advantage as a vital marketing tool.

Luckily for you, at g[squared] we have the expertise and that passion to help amplify and drive your brand’s social media presence.

Explore our marketing services or reach out to us today.