Not a week goes by right now that you can’t turn to your nearest trade publication and read another story about brands launching on Instagram. And for good reason.
The discovery-driven platform is a perfect place for brands—both emerging and established—to deepen relationships with existing customers, reach new audiences, and fuel top of funnel growth. Used holistically, Instagram is an incredibly powerful piece of a brand’s marketing mix, delivering positive returns at each part of the customer journey.
There are, however, a few areas that many brands could improve their approach to Instagram.
Making revenue someone else’s problem
Social teams often consider their job done once they deliver referral traffic to the brand’s site. The act of turning that traffic into revenue, though? That’s “ecomm’s problem.”
For many organizations we work with, that mindset is quickly evaporating. Social teams are starting to roll up under digital marketing, a part of the organization that operates with more of a performance marketing lens. While Social teams in these organizations still value metrics like reach and engagement, they’re also beginning to align to hard dollar metrics, like ROI.
As this realignment continues to gain momentum across brands, Social won’t be able to consider revenue as someone else’s problem for long. If they do, they’ll start losing credibility.
Thinking native shopping tags cures all
Shortly after Instagram announced shopping posts and Stories, there was a near collective sigh of relief from brands. It seemed they all believed this feature would unlock big revenue gains to support their investments in the platform.
Here’s the problem with that thinking: Social commerce is much bigger than turning on shopping tags.
What we’ve seen with our clients is that, of their social commerce revenues, only 3-5% can be explained by native shopping posts alone. There’s a much larger social commerce universe. Thinking outside shop tags is critical to driving revenue from Instagram content.
Failing to repurpose content created for Instagram
Creating content is expensive—especially for a platform that’s as visually appealing as Instagram. But that content? It’s an asset. You take a picture, you post it, it loses its effectiveness within 48 hours.
When you factor in everything that goes into producing an image for Instagram—the production costs, the editing time, the talent, the resources—the typical image costs between $250-$500 an image. That amount of money buys you a pretty nice office chair. Could you imagine changing your office chair every two days? It’d be unheard of.
Instagram content isn’t just expensive—it’s highly engaging.
Brands are paying that money for good reason; they just need to get more for it. Brands have an opportunity to bring all that engaging content to other channels where engagement is just as crucial to business success—on site, in email, in ads. Those who aren’t doing this are losing out on strong engagement and incremental revenue.
Living in the Brand Pulpit
For a long time, Instagram and its users rewarded high quality content with strong engagement. That’s changed.
Since the platform’s algorithm changes, simply posting highly curated, brand-crafted images isn’t generating the success it once did. Instagram and its users don’t just see it as a channel; they see it as a community. For brands, that means it can be a content source.
Brands, then, can’t just preach. They’ve got to involve.
What’s that look like? Instead of only posting content created in house, brands are finding stronger engagement by investing in hashtag campaigns, micro-influencer relationships, and user-generated content. In short, they’re featuring a diverse library of great content that their fans and customers are creating on their own. And it’s adding an element of authenticity to the aspirational dynamic of most brands.
For many brands, investment in Instagram will only continue to grow.
The platform now has more than 1 billion monthly users, and ad sales continue to grow. All that means is increased competition for brands. To succeed in a more competitive channel, then, marketers will need to refine and improve their Instagram strategies to deliver they types of results that support the amount of investment they’re making in the platform. It’s certainly possible, and checking against these common mistakes is a smart place to start.
Apu Gupta is the co-founder and CEO of Curalate