I am not part of the social media generation. Though I am situated at the tail end of the age group we now call “The Millenials,” I grew up in a time when it was okay to make stupid mistakes; online photo documentation wasn’t a thing. Because of that, I didn’t hop on the Instagram trend until after Facebook’s acquisition of the beloved photo-sharing app in 2012. In those three years, the Facebook engineering and marketing teams have taken Instagram to new heights. Now, you need Instagram if you’re in a visual-based industry. The problem with that is that Instagram wasn’t designed for marketing.

With a strong anti-ad history, the platform requires some workaround. If you’re just beginning to build a presence on Instagram, don’t worry if you experience some growing pains. It’s not just you. I’ve shed my share of frustrated tears over the inefficiencies of Insta-marketing. That’s why, when I find a good tool that directly addresses my marketing concerns, I can’t wait to share it.  

Instagram: Good for Businesses, Not for Business

As one of the fastest-growing major social networks, everyone wants a piece of the ‘gram. Its simple user interface showcases images and messaging one piece at a time, making content digestible and engaging. I first learned of Instagram’s business value while doing PR for an art gallery. If you are in fashion, art, or publishing, the size of your online following is the equivalent of career cachet.  When I moved over to marketing (especially now that I work for an agency and touch dozens of social accounts in a day), I realized that cachet is not necessarily actionable.

A successful and actionable marketing plan will do the following things:

  • Target an audience and service their need
  • Create a story and build brand awareness
  • Increase engagement
  • Move leads into a sales funnel
  • Build trust and loyalty

Though Instagram can help build an audience and brand awareness, the informational exchange is superficial at best. There is little about this platform that nurtures a contact through a buyer's journey. To turn your Instagram account into a legitimate marketing avenue you have to work around the rules.


*Since the publication of this blog, Facebook has launched updates to the Instagram platform, including (but not limited to) sponsored posts. 

Originally published October 27, 2016, updated June 12, 2020
Tags: marketing roi social media Instagram Marketing