Instagram: Where Selfies, Food Pics, and Company Branding Thrive

What do brands like Mercedez-Benz, Philadelphia Cream Cheese and Levi’s all have in common?

It is their ability to continuously engage consumers past the point of instantaneous brand recognition. For many companies in 2017, this means one thing: Instagram.

The key word here is not recognition, but engage. We are continuously expanding the limits of how we interact with and in the world. This constant interaction through new technologies has given us the ability to control the way we now process information on the most basic level. It is no longer enough to recognize a brand. It is about the relationship built with a brand.

What should this mean for other brands?

Bottom line -- brands are going to have to get with the program. It is no longer about molding the consumer to fit the brand, but exactly the opposite. We now expect brands to keep up with how and where we, as consumers, choose to focus our attention throughout the day.

Today, consumer trends fade as fast as they come, but Instagram has proven its longevity. While it is easy to pick on Millennials for their ever-shortening attention spans, it is also important to understand that they are the future of business on all fronts and have had an important role in shaping it within the last 5 years alone. Copy is getting shorter, and successful brands are getting more visual.

How is science involved?

Most of the information a consumer absorbs comes from their smartphone - for 5 minutes when they wake up, twenty on their commute, or even stolen glances during a presentation. This means brands must get their message across quickly and efficiently. Today, the Millennial attention span is at an all-time low. Ringing in at 8 seconds, it’s just 1 second shorter than that of a goldfish (a laughably mortal aquatic animal). Doubts about intellectual capacity aside, understanding these generational dynamics is essential to productive consumer engagement.

And in fact, this short attention span does not mean an entire generation is suffering from an intellectual demise. It simply implies that the rate at which they are processing information is increasing tenfold, and if brands wish to stay relevant, they must keep up. Though putting trust in a people so seemingly fickle can make for a difficult adjustment to some, it doesn’t have to be. According to a study done by the Chamber of Commerce, this trust is a two way street. Due to the more efficient processing of information, Millennials are more apt to abandon a brand, but are also more willing and interested in interacting and building relationships with them. Because these Millennials are the ones setting the tone for the future of business, the potential for brands to take advantage of this opportune moment are great.

So, why Instagram?

1. It’s free

While paid advertising definitely has its merits, like being able to gauge immediate results, brands like Oreo and Staples have shown that it doesn’t take a large budget to produce original and engaging content.

2. It’s visual

Whoever said “A picture is worth 1,000 words,” could have seriously profited on the invention of a photo-based app. While memes may be an entirely other topic for discussion, there is a reason why they are so popular. Being able to portray a relatable message through a single, clear image is a skill that will always take advertising and branding to the next level.

3. There is a large audience potential

Other than Facebook, which is less image-based and more focused on content and connectivity, Instagram takes the lead in the most monthly active users with over 500 million and growing.

4. Everyone is using it

Just as with Facebook, more and more demographics are joining in on the fun. Mothers, gym rats, makeup gurus, celebrities, artists, millionaires, presidents, Fortune 500 companies, ma and pa shops, and entrepreneurs are all on the app.

5. It promotes engagement

Take a look at anyone’s Instagram notifications and you’ll find a slew of likes, comments, tags, friend suggestions and photos that other friends have liked. These actions distinguish Instagram as not just a photo sharing app, but a photo engaging app.

 

Bottom line: Instagram is not just a place for millennial duck faces.

 

 

By Aly Garcia

April 2017

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