In the past few years, Instagram has evolved from being just a novelty alternative to other social media platforms to being a powerhouse in the social media spectrum. Today, the platform has 800 million monthly active users and 500 million daily active users, making it the second-most popular social media platform in the world, next to Facebook.
For that reason alone, marketers and advertisers have gravitated toward the platform for use promoting their brand image. After all, a bigger audience means more potential reach for your content, and bigger sections of niche audiences you might be seeking.
But the real metric that reveals the quality and effectiveness of a social media marketing campaign is the return on investment (ROI) you see. Compared to the amount of effort you spend on Instagram, how much of a return on your investment can you expect?
The Problem With Social Media ROI
Unfortunately, I won’t be able to give you a straightforward, universal answer to the question of ROI, because social media ROI is hard to define, measure, and calculate accurately, for several reasons:
· ROI depends on many factors, some of which can’t be quantified. Social media ROI isn’t as simple as collecting data on revenue and comparing it to a finite cost. There are many potential effects that would need to be measured for an accurate estimate, including the number of people visiting your website as a result of people seeing one of your posts, the number of followers seeing your messages, and the growth of both brand awareness and reputation.
· Different businesses will see different ROI. Some businesses will see a much higher ROI than others. For example, B2C businesses tend to get more value out of Instagram than B2B businesses, and businesses that specialize in products or services with a strong visual appeal (like travel organizations, or ones with colorful products) are automatically going to see a higher-than-average ROI on the platform.
· ROI is different at different effort levels. There isn’t a strict correlation between results and the amount you invest that scales with the size of your following. For example, an hour of time spent when you have an audience of 100 will be nearly inconsequential; that same hour spent when you have 100,000 followers can be extremely rewarding. This makes it difficult to come up with a universal figure for a platform’s ROI.
What We Know
That being said, there are some facts we do know about the platform that we can use to extrapolate its relative ROI:
· Instagram users are active. First, Instagram users are unusually active for a social platform; according to one study, about 75 percent of users take an action (like visiting a website) after seeing an Instagram advertisement. These users are also like-happy; collectively, users “like” about 4.2 billion posts per day. Facebook and Twitter users are somewhat active, but Instagram users are more likely to engage, in part because of the visual nature of posts.
· Instagram users like businesses. More than half of all Instagram users follow at least one business, with 60 percent of users claiming they’ve used the platform to learn about a product or service. This makes Instagram users slightly more receptive to businesses and advertisements than users of similar platforms.
· Businesses like Instagram. The reverse of that relationship is also true. Businesses love using Instagram so far, with company usage growth projected to surpass use of Twitter this year; eMarketer projects that by the end of the year, 70.7 percent of businesses will be using Instagram. This isn’t a direct indication of ROI — these businesses may be simply buying into the hype — but it’s certainly a good indication that companies are seeing some kind of value in their investment.
These factors don’t prove anything, but do suggest that Instagram carries a higher ROI than its counterparts. Unfortunately, if you want a sure answer, you’re going to have to try Instagram and measure the ROI you see for yourself.
Building a Better ROI
There are some tricks you can use to boost your ROI when you do try the platform, however:
· Post regularly (but don’t spam). Try to post a new image or video every day, but don’t go overboard; any frequency greater than once a day might feel spammy to users who aren’t ready to see that content.
· Be consistent. Try to keep your strategy as consistent as possible, to build a brand and attract more users at a steady pace. Use the same types of filters for all your images, and build a loyal fanbase with consistently high-quality content.
· Always have a call to action. Instagram users want to engage, but you have to give them a reason to do so. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t allow you to post links back to your site in posts — but you can encourage users to check out your main page and direct them to your profile (where you can include a link), or use another trick to get traffic.
Ultimately, ROI is both difficult to measure and non-universal; like every other platform, business’s ROIs on Instagram will be highly dependent on unique individual variables. However, Instagram is popular for both users and businesses for a reason; it’s an attractive, easy-to-use platform with exceptionally high rates of engagement. If you’re interested in building a better online marketing ROI, you should add Instagram to your repertoire.
For more content like this, be sure to check out my podcast, The Entrepreneur Cast!