In Social Media

You just figured out how to tweet. You spend your mornings responding to comments on Facebook. Your LinkedIn page is updated with a project you finished yesterday. You’re good, right? Well hang tight to your seat. There’s a (relatively) new kid in town and we think you should sit down, buckle in, and hear about why adding Instagram to your small business social media strategy is a MUST for 2016.

Instagram is visually based (photos and videos), self-contained (it doesn’t generate hyperlinks in your caption, so your posts can’t link to outside content), and red hot right now. While getting the hang of its unique style and format can require developing some new editorial strategies, many small businesses are finding it indispensable.

Here are 8 reasons to be on Instagram now:

1. It’s captured the “trend market.” Instagram is currently filled with the coveted marketing demographic: Millenials. It’s quick and easy, visual, and smartphone based, so it’s second nature for them to check often. If your brand is in any way relevant to this demographic, Instagram is where to find them.

2. It’s new enough to be cutting edge, but it’s been around long enough to be tested. Started in 2010, Instagram has proven its staying power, and its rapid growth rate indicates it will be a major player in the future. Which means that designating 2016 as your year to make it a component of your social media strategy is likely to reap benefits for some time to come.

3. There’s still time to catch it while it’s “young.” The aforementioned explosive growth rate means that getting in now makes you an “early adopter,” before the medium is saturated. 36% of marketers are currently on Instagram, vs. 93% on Facebook. Which means that you can have an established base of followers before users are overwhelmed with marketers.

4. It’s actually quick and easy. That picture you snapped suffices for 1000 words of copy. And if you do choose to add some words, you won’t have to spend hours trying to cram your message into a 140-character limit.

5. Instantly warm up your brand. The personal tone and connection formed by sharing pictures of your product, service, and employees in action takes people behind the scenes and builds a sense of closeness and authenticity to your brand. And for Millenials, this makes them more apt to feel good about opening their wallets to you.

6. 100% reach. You don’t have to game the system to get your posts out. No more begging for likes and comments or paying to boost posts. Instagram has no algorithm. On Facebook, brands reach an average of 6% of their followers per post. On Instagram, if you post it, it will show up in 100% of your followers’ feeds.

7. Users engage more. While fewer people are on Instagram vs. on Facebook, the engagement rate (“liking” or commenting) is 58x higher per follower. You’re building a relationship, not just trying to game the system to reach eyeballs.

8. Hashtags extend your reach. Similar to Twitter, hashtags help you quickly target interested folks which extends the reach of your posts far beyond your followers. While only your followers will see your posts in their news feed, anyone who searches for a hashtag you’ve tagged your photo with will see it — and be exposed to your brand — in their results (assuming your posts are public).

Here’s a handy infographic from laying out a few of these reasons to be on Instagram.

Given its visual platform, some businesses lend themselves more directly to Instagram editorial ease. If you make a product or perform a service that can be captured visually, Instagram will be easy to adapt to. Artist, wedding planner, shop owner… even a plumber can find a way to market visually! If you consult, or sell ideas, Instagram’s visual nature can be more challenging to harness for marketing, but there’s still good reason to find creative solutions to add Instagram to your social media portfolio in 2016.

Come back soon to read more about developing an editorial strategy for Instagram’s visual-based platform.

Are you on Instagram yet? What’s stopping you?

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