Written by Sal Bhakuni
The key to Instagram’s success is in its ability to have “franchisees” of sorts, who personalize and customize traditionally corporate messages.
Social media is a powerful platform, connecting consumers and brands from across the world to one another. Different platforms serve different purposes—the way in which brands utilize these media has therefore become increasingly important in order to reach their target demographics. Instagram and Snapchat represent two such social media platforms widely used by millennials today. Recently, there seems to be an ongoing battle between the two to claim the title of number one preferred platform by users. Facebook used to reign supreme about a decade ago, and then Snapchat took the spot for a few years, and now it seems like Instagram is taking over. Why does this struggle exist? How does it come to be? And what does it say about our society?
Watching a video ad or looking at a sponsored photo proves much easier for the Millennial consumer to do than reading a post on Facebook or even a tweet. As such, it would seem that Instagram and Snapchat are better conduits for brands targeting Millennial consumers. And statistically this is the case—a study by sproutsocial.com shows that Instagram has 58 times the engagement rate of Facebook; with the rise of lifestyle bloggers and self-made celebrities, Instagram and Snapchat have become vehicles for even the laymen to get involved in promotional and influential advertising. Whereas on Facebook and Twitter, on which promotions come from the brands themselves—corporatizing the message—brands that utilize Instagram and Snapchat are able to humanize these messages by delivering them from spokespeople with lives just like ours. Though Facebook and Twitter may have more users than Instagram and Snapchat, the proportion of Millennials who use Instagram or Snapchat over Facebook and Twitter is higher than that of other generation cohorts.
Though it arrived on the scene a little bit after its peers, Instagram has risen to the forefront of social media, becoming an example platform for user engagement. With the addition of ‘Insta-stories’ to compete with ‘Snap stories’, Instagram has been able to revitalize its brand. Especially throughout 2017, Instagram has been able to expand its reach from being a mere photo-sharing app; brands can utilize the Explore Tab to increase the visibility of their influencers, multiplying their impact. Not to mention the fact that Insta-stories have been giving Snapchat and Facebook a run for their money with subtle add-ons like the Boomerang feature. The key to Instagram’s success is in its ability to have “franchisees” of sorts, who personalize and customize traditionally corporate messages. As consumers, we have the power to receive advertising well or not, which would affect the way in which we arrive at purchase decisions. Often when we watch corporate ads, we know we are being explicitly encouraged to buy something—Instagram gets rid of this corporatized messaged by having it come from consumers, who themselves serve as brand ambassadors. These otherwise-corporate messages now seemingly come from people who look, live, and act just like us, leading to the proliferation of this concept of a “lifestyle” brand. No longer do companies have to shamelessly promote their products all the time; a simple post about a regular person’s life and some artful product placement in a few photos can achieve a much greater influence.
The world of social media is constantly changing, and which network sits atop the feeding chain is a constant race. For now, we might just have to indulge ourselves in all of our photo-editing glory in the age of Instagram. And who’s complaining about that?