Instagram, called at times, the new homepage, the millennial search engine, or the hipper QVC, can no longer be the afterthought that it has been. Not only are engagement levels 58x higher than Facebook, but a rapidly increasing number of internet users -- 28% -- consult Instagram when conducting a product search. (2) In fast growth markets like Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, Instagram dramatically beats search engines for product discovery. (3) On Instagram, users find product shots that inspire, user-generated photos that validate, follower counts and likes that serve as social proof. And now with the release of shoppable tags and a stealthily announced native payments feature, users can go from discovery to purchase all in-app, making Instagram not such a nice, social media channel, but one of the fastest growing retail storefronts.
What does this mean for you:
Make Instagram a priority and not an afterthought for the agency or a project for the intern.
Plan your gallery strategically and aesthetically – think of it as your storefront. Use a mix of professional photography and UGC.
Consider your profile and grid your new homepage. Make sure they instantly convey who you are and what you’re promising your followers.
Use the 80/20 rule advocated by Gary Vaynerchuk in his book -- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook -- serve and socialize 80%, sell 20%.
Serve through visual storytelling that inspires, informs, or entertains.
Be patient – Instagram penetration of the US market is just 32%, which means that the mass market is not quite there yet. That being said, visual storytelling is an essential skill, so develop it, invest in it, leverage it across all your channels, but most of all, don’t delegate it to the intern.