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Why the Latest Social Media Trail Leads to Instagram - 3/17/2015 -

Why the Latest Social Media Trail Leads to Instagram

The use of Instagram, already outpacing Twitter, will surpass Facebook in three to five years. What are the reasons for Instagram’s rapid rise, and is it possible that we are just seeing the tip of the social media iceberg?

By Marsha Friedman

Whenever I think I've heard the last word on ways social media can give an added boost to how we market ourselves, new information arrives that leaves me wondering: Are we just starting to see the tip of the social media iceberg?

I was reminded once again of this ever-evolving situation when EMSI social media strategist Jonathan Sellers made one of his regularly scheduled appearances on the local NBC affiliate news show. Jonathan and the host, Stacie Schiable, engaged in a lively conversation about Instagram, a mobile photo and video-sharing service that's moving up quickly as the new social media darling. In fact, the ever-bold Jonathan gave this prediction: The use of Instagram, already outpacing Twitter, will surpass Facebook in three to five years.

If Instagram is where the potential customers are going, businesses and their marketing strategies will need to follow. So, if you don't know much about Instagram,Jonathan suggests you start learning posthaste.

Jonathan's observations about Instagram didn't end with his chat with the TV host. He also penned a blog post about Instagram, and it's so chockfull of insightful information that I decided to share it with you.

Here's what Jonathan says: Instagram is the hottest social network around these days. People are joining the network in droves, and according to statista.com, they passed 300 million monthly users in December of 2014. For perspective, Twitter currently has 284 million active users.

So why are people so intrigued with Instagram?

  • It's visual. Social media has been moving to more visual content for a couple of years now. The pictures and videos are easy to scroll through and don't require much effort. A user can scroll through recent pictures posted by the individuals they're following or view all the pictures in a conversation by searching for hashtags on the topic. This is a great way to find interesting new people to follow.
  • It's mobile. The entire network is designed to be used with a smartphone. The vast majority of social media users are walking around with an Android or iPhone in their pocket. The powerful cameras on these phones give everyone the capability of capturing interesting, timeless photos. Combine this with the ability to have quick, simple communications with people on Instagram, and you have a perfect place to post all your photos in real time.
  • It's interactive. Recent data compiled by Socialbakers shows that Instagram posts get engaged around 50 times more often than tweets. That's right: 50 times more. This information was compiled from a comparative study of the top 25 most engaging brands on social media. These results were analyzed based on interactions with a tweet versus interactions with an Instagram post, average profile interactions, and total profile interactions.This is big news for associations with products or services that can be shown or demonstrated visually. Creativity drives engagement, but access to a creative platform that encourages engagement gives brands a chance to become a leader in their market. Instagram is still a new corner of social media for most associations; however, those that take the time to invest in growing a presence now will likely reap the benefits over the coming years.
  • It's social. This point is really at the core of social media. You can easily like pictures that are interesting to you and even leave messages with the person who posted the pictures. Instagram encourages — and almost creates an environment for — casual connections. You don't have many functions to figure out with the network, so you can quickly catch up on the latest photos, comment to your friends, and get along with the rest of your day. You'll get a notification if someone likes your photos, comments to you, or follows you.

There's little surprise that Instagram has become so popular. The network checks off all four of the critical factors for social networks above with flying colors. Oh, and it doesn't hurt that Instagram's owner is Facebook.

Associaitons, if you're frustrated with Facebook's lack of reach for your pages, consider following many of Facebook and Twitter's former users over to Instagram. They can't wait to see what you've been up to.

And, I think Jonathan's points serve as excellent reminders for all of us: When marketing tools evolve, we need to evolve, too. Otherwise, the world — and potential member and customers — move on, leaving us behind.

Marsha Friedman is the founder of pay-for-performance public relations firm EMS Incorporated.


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