An Unfiltered Look at Instagram’s Ecommerce Appeal

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instagram-logo

Like your friend who seems to crave attention and carbs with all the food pictures they post, the proof of Instagram’s success is in the pudding. Since its creation in 2010, the social media platform has expanded considerably, and its future looks very promising. Thanks to a constantly widening user count and notably high engagement, online retailers may soon find themselves allocating more and more of their advertising budget specifically for Instagram.

Growth

There’s a huge amount of Instagram stats, so let’s look at all of the evidence pointing toward its future dominance. First and foremost, although overall social network growth has slowed down — only growing by 3.1% last year — Instagram is expected to grow 15% over the course of 2016. That’s pretty significant, considering that other massive networks, like Facebook and Twitter, grew by three and nine percent respectively during 2015.

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Why has it expanded? Mobile growth is a major cause. The two run parallel considering Instagram is widely considered to be the mobile-marketing-medium of choice for marketers. Makes sense, considering it was started as a mobile-only app whose entire purpose was centered on taking pictures and posting them. As an increasing amount of consumers adopt smartphones, there’s a solid chance they’ll adopt Instagram as well.

And that just reinforces how critical Instagram may become for online retailers. We know that last year’s holiday season validated the theory that mobile would eventually dominate ecommerce, with mobile traffic accounting for 45% of all online traffic, and 22.6% of actual online sales. The trend is set to continue.

To add, Instagram is the clear platform of choice for teenagers. Once those teenagers grow in age and spending power, Instagram is sure to be even more essential than it already is.

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Those whipper snappers are always in-the-loop on what’s hip or up-and-coming. Even their predecessors — the more-than-happy-to-buy-online millennial generation — seem to be hopping on board the Instagram train, further suggesting the need for online merchants to add the platform to their social media portfolios.

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But it’s still early days for Instagram, which may be another factor fueling its large jumps. Most other major social platforms have been out for quite a while longer, and growth is a younger company’s game.

Advertising

Where there’s user growth, there’s advertising.  Perhaps the most promising part to Instagram is its advertising capabilities. Facebook and Adwords are two ad spending staples for many online merchants as they both have massive audiences and the tools to efficiently laser in on specific segments for higher returns. And Instagram is quickly following suit.

It’s actually expected to surpass Google, too. Just look at these projections on its mobile ad revenue by 2017:

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Last year, they launched their own advertising API, signaling a major change for the business, which previously had a far less programmable ad buying process that involved contacting sales representatives. Now it’s possible to connect directly to Instagram, helping marketers to better automate their advertising efforts and collect valuable information on their audiences.

What raised eyebrows even higher was Facebook’s (who owns Instagram) involvement. Their own tools — Ads Manager and Power Editor — are usable to create Instagram ads. That’s an overlap in advertising data, like demographics and page views, and tools that the latter directly benefits from. E-retailers already using Facebook now have an easier time targeting Instagram users.

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Content

But what differentiates Instagram, and what fuels its user and ad growth, is the content. At its very core, it’s entirely about engaging images. Combine that with an average person’s general unwillingness to read text, and you’ve got a platform for the future.

In fact, according to eMarketer, Instagram is best-in-class when it comes to mobile engagement, with more than 75% of brands posting daily content. It’s expected that company adoption of the platform will rise by double digits over the next two years.

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There’s a reason much of this blog post is charts – visual content is more appealing than textual content. In some cases, visual content is just more entertaining or prettier, and in most cases it’s faster to process. As overused as it is, the phrase “a picture’s worth a thousand words” is 100% true. And Instagram directly benefits from such a visual focus on content. According to Forrester, it boasts a staggeringly high rate of engagement – 58 times the engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times compared to Twitter.

The visual content is double win for online merchants. Not only does it entail better engagement, an online merchant’s marketing revolves around product photography, which is the crux of the social media platform.

With highly engaging content, a rapidly growing user count, and powerful advertising capabilities, there’s a reason why many consider Instagram to be a major platform in the coming years for online retailers and marketers alike. The combination makes for a killer marketing concotion that only gets stronger as more and more consumers use their mobile phones to research and buy online.

Image: Colorlib