Last week we were lucky to have Eleanor join us for work experience. As an avid Instagram user, Eleanor explains why she believes the picture sharing app is on its way to becoming the ultimate social media marketing tool…

With over 300 million active monthly users and 2.5 billion likes every day, some might argue that Instagram is fast becoming the world’s favourite social media platform.

With these statistics, Instagram plays host to countless brand accounts that are hoping to reach the 300 million strong audience and increase awareness of their brand and products. Take the well-known ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s as an example. After releasing their new ice cream flavour “Scotchy scotch scotch” the company took to Instagram to promote it. They reached 9.8 million users in the USA and saw a 33 point increase in ad recall.

This example is only one of many, so with this in mind should marketers be switching from the much loved Facebook, which has over 11 years’ experience as a social media platform and has over 1.4 billion active monthly users?

The choice between Facebook and Instagram ultimately depends on the age group that a brand wishes to reach. A survey of 7,200 US students reports that only 45% of teens now use Facebook, whilst over 75% use Instagram.

In addition to this, whilst Facebook has a larger audience, marketers using Instagram are getting a bigger return on their investments.

But why has Instagram become so popular in such a short space of time? What is the secret?

Whilst Facebook is going out of fashion with teenagers, Instagram is quickly filling the gap that Facebook has left behind. Users love it because it’s quick, easy to use and as an added bonus, there aren’t advertising banners dominating the screen.

Advertising banners aren’t an option for Instagram but there is still plenty of room for marketing through promotional posts and competitions. Users respond well to company competitions and 70% of users have already entered one or would do so. Promotional posts such as the Ben and Jerry’s “Scotchy Scotch Scotch” post allow a company to raise awareness for a new product and subsequently increase profits, without thrusting advertisements into their customer’s faces. The caption for the post simply read “I love scotch, scotchy scotch scotch; here it goes down into my belly”. As unlikely as it sounds, this sentence (originally a quote from Anchorman’s Ron Burgandy) yielded great results. Ben and Jerry’s didn’t have to say “Buy one get one half price” or even ask followers to purchase the product. The campaign was simple, effective and in a way; genius.

People could argue that what can be done on Instagram can be done on Facebook, but unlike the latter, Instagram is a very visual platform that is simple and has nothing else to distract its user from the main content. A short, memorable caption and a beautiful photo is all that is needed to capture the attention of millions.

So, with Instagram’s popularity growing and the simplicity of the platform, can companies really afford to be left behind?

Eleanor Johnson.