One year ago, we reported on the beginnings of Instagram. At this time (end of 2015), Instagram was not on the radar of German businesses. But how about today? After the app reached a rapid growth, more and more B2C companies bustle on the platform and inspire their followers with pictures and videos.

What is Instagram and what is so special about this app?

Instagram is like a photo album of the modern age and is – if the user wants – open to the public. The Apple Store describes Instagram like this: “With Instagram you can capture and share moments in the world.” And that is what the users truly do: They put filters on pictures and videos and upload them. Besides traditional features, the users can publish so-called Instagram Stories since 2016. These stories are not listed in the user’s profiles and will be automatically deleted after a while. A further development is the launch of Live Stories, like the ones that already exist on Facebook and Periscope.

Why should businesses extend their social media activities to Instagram?

#1 – Power of images: B2C customers make their purchase decisions in an emotional way. For this reason, the visual representation of the product is priority #1.

In contrast to texts without any visual appeal, a picture gets much more attention: Eyetracking studies confirm that pictures are the central point of attention on websites. These study results concern classical websites as well as any social media channel. Posts with pictures generate 94 % more interactions than posts without any visual content. Because Instagram is a pure picture and video platform, the study results are indeed an argument for businesses to use this app.

#2 – Hashtags: Visibility & retrievability

Hashtags were introduced by Twitter and have been very popular since then. Next to the pictures, the hashtags are the central feature of Instagram. Through hashtags, users can find pictures of a specific category – they represent the function of a photo album. Try it out for yourself – #Netgear: Find many Orbis, Arlos and Nighthawks. #Aftershokz: innovative headphones and athletes. With the hashtag #MorphyRichards, the user accesses a photo album with kitchen equipment and a lot of food. Brands not only use photo albums with hundreds of pictures but also hashtags which are used commonly on Instagram: #tbt, #food and much more. Instagram shares a similarity with other social media: The imagination knows no limits. New hashtags can be added and have the potential to become trending.

#3 – Instagram activities are measurable

For example: The measurement of Snapchat is not as clear as the businesses wants it to be. How many followers does my channel have? This question cannot be answered so easily because the data in the menu item “Friends” is getting refreshed often – you are just able to see your newest friends. Instagram is much clearer: The app lists followers, likes, comments and outreach. If this is not enough, users are able to work with analytic tools: How many users have I gained, how many have I lost? Which followers are the most active? Which pictures are trending, which ones are not very popular? Which pictures are intensely discussed? The analytic tools are able to show you the user development in graphs. With the results of analytics, users are able to measure campaign successes and can optimize their activities on Instagram.

#4 – Major widely known brands are very successful on Instagram already

In 2016, about 49 % of the US brands already used Instagram as an advertising platform. The forecast for 2017 shows an increase up to 71 %. A very considerable number. Instagram has 600 million users worldwide (status: 12.01.2017); 70 % of them follow a business. And what about Germany? More and more German businesses like Douglas, Balea, Snipes and others expand their social media activities to Instagram.

#5 – Influencers or bloggers don’t have to be recruited – if the brand is already established on the market, users will proactively post about it

When you look around on Instagram, you see the large number of product placements: whether the ads are intentional or not. This way brands are getting more popular. #Apple has more than 16 million pictures in its virtual photo album. Many of them are taken by private persons presenting the products. This phenomena can also be seen in the photo album of #Aftershokz. According to this, lifestyle products are very suitable for this kind of advertising.

#6 – Target group: Young & dynamic

Out of the 600 million users who have access to Instagram worldwide, 6.7 million live in Germany (status: October 2016) and are crazy about the portable photo album. A large follower base when you consider that Instagram has only been existing since 2010. Only 53 % of these users are female. And even the age is mixed thoroughly: the majority is 13 – 24 years old (around 4 million), and nearly 2 million are between 25 and 39 years old.

All in all, Instagram gains more and more popularity and outreach. The mentioned facts show us how important Instagram will also be in the future. Businesses that don’t only want to work with professional influencers can use sponsored posts or other offers of Instagram. These are constantly optimized and expanded. Instagram is a great addition to other social media channels and makes the brand likeable.

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