How Instagram has Stolen the Show

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Guest article by Sophie Parry-Billings, Marketing Manager EMEA.

It’s no secret that Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms. Everyone who’s anyone has a well-loved, obsessively checked and professionally filtered profile, probably with hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of followers.

Within this playground, influencers abound; enter any hashtag and you’ll find hundreds of accounts that offer content on that topic, many of which make full use of the brands prepared to pay, often big bucks, in order to feature their products in a post. Instagram has taken over as the place to be, from businesses looking to reach out to and engage with their audience, through to influencers looking to build their personal brands.

Although it might seem like it, this is far from the only platform available on app stores; so how is it winning the attentions of so many users, while others like Snapchat reduce in popularity? Out of favour and out of play, our recent poll of 689 influencers in the UK found that 73% of British influencers prefer Instagram to Snapchat, showing that relative disinterest in the latter.

In further bad news for Snapchat fans, 26% of influencers have even considered deleting the app altogether. When it comes to use,  82% of influencers confirming the expected, that they use Instagram more than Snapchar, but more than half (55%) confessing that they use just the story functionality of Instagram alone more than they use the entire Snapchat app altogether. With just a single function beating an entire app hands down, Instagram is clearly marked as a social media platform that shouldn’t be underestimated.

In order to get an insider insight into the Instagram rule, we asked the influencers why they preferred the platform. It was clear in the responses that the functionality of the app was deemed the biggest advantage. Instagram has updated regularly in order to increasingly cater to the promotional nature of social media: users are no longer just teenagers connecting with friends. Instead, it is a world of business in itself, of influencers and the influenced and all the things brands and businesses want users to be influenced by. Not only is it a vehicle for influence, but a very lucrative and effective one at that. The tagging and swiping functionalities, in particular, are particularly conducive to this promotional activity, enabling influencers to easily direct traffic to brands and rake in the dollars in return. As a result, it has huge draws for influencers to increase their activity on the platform; and where influencers lead, followers… follow.

 

 

In addition, influencers also enjoy the ability to post relatively long form and permanent content on Instagram, something which is in stark contrast to the Snapchat app and which is far more conducive to building engagement and a deeper relationship. These relationships, of course, are also the ones which brands will then in turn be more eager to tap into – a fact which influencers know all too well, and are equally looking to exploit.

Snapchat can’t offer this kind of long term functionality; although the quick and disposable nature of the content was initially its biggest draw, it just doesn’t play out all that well for the majority of influencer posts. The appeal it did offer, that spontaneous, behind-the-scenes, raw kind of footage, is now rivalled directly by Instagram’s story feature; this implementation has seen to it that everything Snapchat can do, ‘Insta’ can do too – with better functionality and more besides. This has left the need to venture over to Snapchat very minor, particularly as the updates to the platform have been generally less well received by its loyal fans and criticised for making the app harder to use.

The rise of Instagram isn’t solely down to business, but it plays a big part. The nature of social media has changed, from the main purpose initially being to connect with friends through to more people building their brands, actively seeking to grow their follower numbers and broadcasting sponsored and promotional posts to their audience. As a result, this move to a more commercial use means that platforms need to provide the capabilities to support their development as a user-generated promotional channel; it might not have been their first intentions, but this is the way the demand has shifted, and the most successful will learn from their users and evolve with the trends.