When was the last time you checked your Instagram account? What do you do on the social application? You may browse, like, comment, and share, but have you ever really thought about the implications of Instagram? Since this is a marketing blog, naturally, we will be discussing the marketing implications of the social media platform in today’s post.
The recent integration of social media as a marketing channel has proved to be wildly successful. Utilizing social media platforms allows companies to connect and communicate with their customers on a personal level, receive criticism, comments, and feedback about their goods or services, and target a certain audience. Social media platforms encourage participation and communication while adding value to the relationship with the company’s customers. When a company chooses to integrate social media into their marketing strategies they are building a closer connection with their audience. It can result in authentic, transparent, and real communications (Agresta, Bough & Miletsky, 2010).
Social media can be an extremely powerful marketing tool due to the ease and spread of information. For example, it only takes one click to share information with hundreds (if not thousands) of followers instantly. And then what about when they share it with their followers, and so on. Information (or a marketing message) can spread like wildfire (Agresta et al., 2010)!
It is pretty much common knowledge at this point that social media is a very powerful marketing channel. But what about Instagram in particular?
Well, as of late 2017, Instagram had over 800 million active users! What an audience! And this is changing how consumers make purchase decisions. Per Adweek, “as the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities” (Smith, 2018, para 3).
Instagram, and the rise of the “Influencer,” are changing the world of word-of-mouth marketing. Per the Impact article, 72% of Instagram users make purchase decisions based on what they have seen on the application. Additionally, brand advocates and real fans are 4 times more influential than celebrity endorsers! On top of all that, Instagram actually has been shown to have the most influence on consumer shopping habits out of all the other social media platforms (Instagram – 51%, Facebook – 23%, Pinterest – 22%, Twitter – 3%, and Snapchat – 1%) (Smith, 2018).
Instagram has an influence on both the pre-purchase and post-purchase stages of the consumer buying cycle. In pre-purchase, as discussed above, consumers are now able to browse Instagram for reviews, comments, and feedback from friends, family, (and most importantly) influencers. These WOM reviews drastically sway their opinion, and the likelihood of purchasing, a certain product (Agresta et al., 2010).
In the post-purchase stage, Instagram gives consumers a platform to share their feedback and experience with a product, or company, quickly with masses of other users. Negative reviews and feedback can spread rapidly and can be detrimental to a company. It is imperative that companies listen to their customers, respond quickly to concerns, and attempt to fix the problem. Instagram (and other social media platforms) have empowered the consumer to demand only the best from businesses (Agresta et al., 2010).
So, all this information is great, but how has this really impacted me as an individual? Yes, I have an Instagram account. And yes, I check it multiple times a day. While perusing the application, I often come across advertisements that spark my curiosity. I typically interact with ads from smaller companies that are promoting unique and innovative products that I typically don’t see in stores.
For example, I am a crazy millennial dog mom. I LOVE buying new dog products for my furbaby! Needless to say, my Instagram is full of dog related products (it’s like they know me or something). One that recently caught my eye was an ad for a new way to brush your dog’s teeth (yes, I brush my dog’s teeth. Total dog mom. Told you). It is a hard plastic chew toy that is covered with small rubber bristles. Your dog brushes his own teeth while he is gnawing away on a cool new toy. This totally intrigued me! No more wrangling him in for his nightly teeth brushings! Alas, I am a frugal millennial and the price point was just not worth it for me.
Instagram has allowed companies to be able to target me based on my specific interests. This has resulted in more appealing (for me) marketing content on my Instagram feed, which results in me interacting with more advertisements. It has also made me a much more informed consumer. For example, I read the comments on the dog toothbrush ad, and there was mixed feedback. This swayed me not to fork out the $20 for a dog toothbrush.
However, I will say I am still very much swayed by Instagram influencers. I also have personal interests in beauty and fitness. I follow many beauty and fitness influencers on my Instagram. When one of them posts about a new product, particularly if I am in the market for it, I will more often than not take their word for it and purchase it. As a consumer, I view influencers more so as a benefit. One can easily get lost in the isles of a supermarket, reading the back of the packaging, determining what product is best for your needs. Influencers can very quickly, and efficiently, give you the run-down on the pros and cons of a certain product. While one should always remember these are still often bias reviews, it is at least a starting point.
What Instagram ads have you interacted with recently? Why did they catch your attention? How has Instagram influenced your own purchase decisions?
Until next time, my beautiful readers.
Agresta, S., Bough, B. B., & Miletsky, J. I. (2010). Perspectives on social media marketing. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu
Smith, M. (2018). The eye-opening influence of Instagram on buying [infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/influence-of-instagram-on-buying-infographic
Image retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/best-time-of-day-to-instagram-3485858