Instagram - often associated with photographs of egg and avocado on toast, sunsets and incredibly symmetrical images of skyscrapers.
For years, marketers have battled with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn - but since Facebook's acquisition, Instagram is really proving itself as a big player in reaching out to the younger and 'trendier' generation of consumers.
The fundamental limitations of the platform are forcing marketers to either think big and think brave - or avoid Instagram altogether. But should your business use Instagram? What makes 'Instagrammers' tick and how can you turn a 'like' into a sales opportunity?
Who uses Instagram, how and why?
Unlike its parent company, Facebook - Instagram was born from an exclusively app-based system. It's this model that shaped the type of content and the audience behaviour. It has become less of a discussion forum and more of a 'scroll, see, like, follow and move on' system.
No one has the time or energy to write extensive posts or engage in deep conversation on a mobile device - nor does anyone have the time or energy to read them.
Because of this, Instagram has become the home of creating a visual identity for your business and yourself - owing to the uncluttered 'grid' layout, highly engaged users, sophisticated photo editing tools and lack of punishing EdgeRank algorithms (until very recently).
The only place where content becomes aggregated and ranked is in the Discover section - allowing you to see images and channels that you are likely to be interested in and leaving the homepage feed unfiltered and chronological.
Instagram isn't a sales platform. There is also no facility to create a clickable link in a post, so best practice is to create interest and enthusiasm around your content and carefully manage your bio link to encourage more relevant clicks and a higher conversion rate.
Should only product-based businesses use Instagram?
Although Instagram is a visually led platform - that's not to suggest that service based companies should not bother. What seems 'everyday' to you may seem fascinating to others. Building a good following on Instagram as a service led company can often garner a smaller yet more loyal following.
You just need to think outside the box. If you run a garage - why not post images of beautiful cars or examples of your restoration work? It doesn't have to be sales led. You just want to put your flag in the ground and post what you and your business find interesting. It's this 'realness,' personality and legitimacy that people buy into.
Don't forget about User Generated Content (UGC) too. With hashtags acting as one of the fundamental mechanics of Instagram - urge your customers to join in on the conversation and share their stories and experiences with your brand.
You can't even blame logistics any more for not jumping on the Instagram-wagon, as you can now schedule posts for Instagram through Hootsuite and even jump between multiple Instagram accounts without logging out.