Social Media
Social Media

In the beginning Instagram was just a simple photo-sharing platform. Then things started taking a more professional turn and more and more users started using this network. From common people who share their everyday life to professional photographers who risk their life just to capture the peace from the eyes of a lion.

Smart brands have realized the potential Instagram has and started investing more and more resources in this network. From quality content adapted to the platform to campaigns in order to grow the brand awareness and even to make the user press the holy “Follow” button.

But the smartest player was Facebook, who bought Instagram in April 2012 at a time when in Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger’s team consisted of only 13 people. The price was $1 billion, i.e. $300 million cash and the rest in Facebook stocks.

The success of the Instagram brand lies in 3 important columns:

  1. Community management
  2. User engagement
  3. Editorial projects

And all these were able to facilitate the work of implementing advertising to the platform.

The first step towards official advertising on Instagram was made on October 4, when Kevin & co. officially announced on the blog the launch of Sponsored Ads. Later on, the announcement gets a visual element – the icon that announces that it’s a Sponsored Ad.

Big brands have started using Instagram Ads: from simple ads in photo/video format or Carousel-Ad.

The problem of ads on Instagram

Ben & Jerry’s have easily explained the success of a brand on Instagram (or at least what it should be):

It’s helped being on the platform from the beginning, but the secret is respecting the community and providing value to them. source

But I think that marketers will ruin Instagram.

Not all marketers, of course,  just badly trained ones who think they know how to use the app just because they’ve read 3 articles on SME or other social media sites where some social media specialist told them how to be successful on Instagram.

I try to look at this problem from two perspectives:

  1. the one of a daily Instagram user who creates and consumes content
  2. the one of a marketer who sees this platform as an ideal visual storytelling for his brand.

The Instagram user – When I want to connect with a brand on Instagram there’s 4 essential things that the account has to have: a communication style that I understand, a product that I use (or want to use), quality content adapted to the platform and respect for me.

The marketer – I often see marketers around me who want to take advantage of yet another platform to make their brand’s presence felt. Therefore, they will pull any strings to be able to create a community as large as possible, which communicates as much as possible with the brand that later turns into clients, and ideally, product evangelists. But their problem as marketers can be summarized into time, money, and field expertise.

This morning I came across the tweet of an internationally renowned instagrammer expressing their concern about the ads that any brand can have on Instagram:

And I very much agree with her.

When you see these photos on Instagram you realize that it’s just a matter of time before you will see those ugly ads that you find on Facebook or on any other publisher who wants to earn some money through a crappy banner.

So what’s to be done then? Stop allowing any brand to advertise on the platform? But then how can Instagram keep itself alive? Will users pay for a clean platform or will there be two types of Instagram: an ad free one for which you pay a monthly subscription and a free for all one but with the risk of seeing those ugly ads that Jessica referenced above?

No wonder we are afraid of advertising.

What is the solution then? Because not all marketers think about the good of the community, but rather the good of the brand.

Well, if you don’t primarily think about the good of the community, then there won’t be a community that sustains the platform (just like many social media networks are supported by the community/the people/ the users) where the brand communicates and you will have to find other ways of communication.

The first solution- listening

Marketers should listen before executing. Get in contact with the instagrammers who are present on Instagram (pay for advice and to learn inside tips and tricks from the influencers that create quality content dedicated to the platform), learn visual communication and know what the community on Instagram wants.

Caution! Not every blogger with an Instagram account is in a position to give advice. There are very few instagrammers that know how to communicate for a brand, that know how to create engagement with the community on Instagram and make quality content.

And I understand the problem of awareness, but that may be a question for another time.

The second solution- community first

Why do you think that Instagram focuses so much on community? Why do you think instameets are an ideal place to make new relationships? I have seen this many times: simple instameets lead to friendships and collaborations among instagrammers and that often leads to praise worthy projects.

That’s why I recommend, learn to focus as much as possible on the community and less on the brand.

Finally, I want to leave you with Instagram’s statement from their business page:

Inspire People Visually With Your Business’ Story

Consider this idea before you get down to business.

What is your brand’s story? How will it inspire people?

To help understand better how to create and Instagram ad and what things you should do and don’t, here is an infographic that we made on Bannersnack’s blog. Check it out and feel free to share it with your community:

Courtesy of: Bannersnack

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Robert Katai

Content Marketing Strategist

"Content isn’t king. Usefulness is. Robert does this in the online marketing and social media space with ease."

Ram Castillo