Instagram is officially at the forefront of the social media marketing world. The platform is now one of the fastest-growing social media channels, with over a billion users. It’s safe to say that it is a key channel to leverage for brand building and marketing.
Although the social media landscape is constantly evolving, Instagram has gradually entered the competitive sphere – mostly due to its incredible potential to keep users engaged.
But while Instagram is a great place to earn interactions, some essential questions remain: What exactly defines engagement on the platform? How can you best utilise it for your brand?
Instagram is becoming the top social media platform
Up until recently, Facebook has been the main platform for social media marketing. However in recent years, Instagram has not only caught up, but continues to steadily advance past the competition.
Our data shows that businesses are leveraging Instagram for advertising more than ever before. The share of Instagram ad placements is clearly on the rise, reaching 43 per cent in March 2018.
This means that out of all the ads marketers launched on Facebook and Instagram, almost half were run on the latter platform.
At this point, you are probably wondering what makes marketers so keen on advertising on Instagram.
The answer is pretty simple – it is all about Instagram engagement.
Instagram might not have the biggest audience size or highest activity volume, but it is surely a major interactions driver for brands – more so than Facebook or Twitter.
So what exactly makes Instagram so engaging?
Instagram’s algorithm favours relevant content
According to an Instagram spokesman, Instagram’s feed ranking is “constantly adapting and improving based on data” to give users the best possible experience.
This is why in June 2016 the company decided to ditch the reverse chronological feed in favour of an algorithmic one. While this change was not received too enthusiastically at first, it led to Instagram users seeing 90 per cent of their friends’ posts, as opposed to missing 50 per cent of them prior to the update.
In a nutshell, this means that the Instagram news feed started prioritising more relevant content, which helped shoot up engagement on the platform.
But it was not just users’ posts that began receiving more engagement. Brands experienced a 105 per cent uplift in interactions after the update, too.
Users spend a lot of time on Instagram
According to the company, users under the age of 25 spend over 32 minutes a day using the platform, while users 25 and over spend more than 24 minutes daily on the app.
To put that into perspective, same-aged user groups spend 30 and 20 minutes, accordingly, using Snapchat and an average of 35 minutes using Facebook.
In contrast with Facebook, time spent on Instagram is increasing. This means users stay on the app longer, which makes it more likely for them to discover interesting content and interact with it.
Instagram is a highly visual platform
Instagram is founded on appealing images and videos, which resonate with people more than text. In fact, as much as 40 per cent of people respond better to visual than textual information. In addition, visual posts get more social media interactions, among them the most valuable ones – shares.
Instagram enables creativity
Instagram is not a one-trick pony. Aside from its successful news feed that keeps users engaged, it catches even more eyeballs through the Stories format and, recently, the IGTV app.
Here is what data has to say about engagement on Instagram Stories:
In contrast with regular Instagram posts that are consumed passively (they just appear in users’ news feeds), Stories are consumed actively (users have to tap on brands’ Story thumbnails to be able to view them).
Yet, brands get as much as 37 per cent of their total Instagram impressions from Stories, meaning that users are actively interacting with the format. This is great news for marketers who can spice up their Instagram content with Stories and engage their audiences in the process.
Instagram is home to engaging content creators
Instagram’s attractive content formats render it a perfect spot for creative minds. The platform is bursting with incredible posts from all sorts of social media influencers, offering interesting content for anyone’s taste. Also, because it is so easy for users to discover appealing photos and videos on Instagram, they are more likely to interact with the content actively.
Instagram has a truly unique ability to keep users engaged, which savvy businesses can use to their advantage. But while maximising Instagram interactions is surely beneficial to marketers, it should not be a goal on its own.
Instead, brands advertising on Instagram should focus on leveraging Instagram engagement to drive their business objectives.
Co-written by Marta Buryan, Content Marketing Specialist, Socialbakers.