I get quite a few questions and requests as to whether I am an “Instagram marketing expert,” and the answer is always a bit of a yes and a no. It’s a no in the sense that I am not one of those gurus on Instagram who have zillions of followers and whose every vacation move, every Latte at Starbucks, every visit to Las Vegas is meticulously categorized on the social network. I use Instagram as a person, that is, as Jason McDonald, rather modestly. I like the network, and follow a few brands here and there, and definitely engage with friends and family. So as an Instagram user, I’m pretty adept.
As a marketer, well, that’s a bit of a different story. Have I placed ads on Instagram for clients? Absolutely. Have I set up and run Instagram contests? You betcha. Have I worked on organic Instagram strategies? Yes indeed. And, with my classes at Stanford Continuing Studies both on the Stanford campus here in the Bay Area as well as online, I teach how to market on Instagram and have worked with some incredible entrepreneurs who are pushing the envelope when it comes to both Instagram advertising and Instagram organic efforts. As part of my Social Media Marketing Workbook and companion Marketing Almanac, I also pay close attention to the super gurus of Instagram marketing plus the plethora of both free and paid tools available to market on Instagram.
Instagram Marketing Needs to be Part of a Larger Social Media Marketing Strategy
All of this brings me to some advice if you’re looking for an “Instagram marketing effort.” Think outside of the Facebook; meaning, because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you want to not only evaluate how your efforts on Instagram can play well with your efforts on Facebook, but also what other digital marketing strategies might be advised. Should you be on Twitter? Should you advertise on Twitter, for example? What about LinkedIn? Snapchat? Google+? Ok, I’m kidding about Google+, but seriously, you don’t’ want to just worry about Instagram UNLESS you’ve done thorough research to figure out whether your target customers are on Instagram (exclusively or most prominently) or not, and if so, what you need to do. I’ve had clients who thought Instagram was “where it’s at” only to realize that LinkedIn was a far better choice for them. Or clients who were mesmerized by the movie stars and pop icons on Instagram, yet then realized that plain vanilla SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or even email marketing created HIGHER return on investment than sexy hexy Instagram.
So, yes, Instagram is enormous. Yes, almost everyone (especially the younger set) is really on it, and it has very high engagement. Yes, Facebook is kind of dying due to its time of troubles and its bad brand as the privacy-ripping, stodgy social media network. But Instagram should be PART of a bigger social media marketing strategy, not just a one-off thing.