The Pros and Cons of Instagram for Your Business

Thinking about using Instagram as part of your social media marketing strategy? Wondering why to choose Instagram over the other platforms?

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for all types of businesses, but finding the one, or ones, that best meet the needs of your specific organization can be challenging. After all, every social media platform comes with a unique set of pros and cons, which means there's no such thing as a 'one size fits all' social media marketing solution.

Is Instagram right for you? Find out with these pros and cons

Why Choose Instagram?

If you haven't yet signed up for an Instagram account, you might be surprised by the features, benefits, and most importantly, the potential, of this wildly popular social media platform.

Initially designed as a pure photo-sharing app with a location-based check-in feature in 2010, Instagram was first dubbed Burbn. The name was inspired by founder Kevin Systrom's love of fine whiskeys and bourbons, but he quickly realized the name needed work. With the help of seed funding, Systrom fine-tuned his app by focusing on photos taken on mobile devices and creating a lean, sharable social media platform called Instagram.

On launch day, Instagram gained 25,000 users, and within two months over a million accounts were created. By 2012, more than 27 unique users signed on to the photo-sharing platform. Instagram was purchased by Facebook back in 2012 for $1.0 billion USD, but the two platforms remained separate — a reflection of the fact that each provides a unique spin on social media.

As of April 2020, Instagram had over 1 billion active monthly users, and over two-thirds were 34 years old or younger. This makes Instagram the obvious choice for businesses looking to utilize social media marketing to reach young audiences, although it's also important to recognize that a good portion of Instagram users is over the age of 35.

Pros of Instagram for Businesses

For a small to medium-sized business, Instagram offers several attractive benefits:

  • Instagram is all about images, making it the perfect platform for companies that sell products such as clothing, food, and vehicles
  • Instagram can also be used to market service-based businesses using guides and carousels populated with copy-based posts
  • Instagram makes it easy for users to share and save content, and that can help amplify marketing messages
  • Instagram is optimized for smartphones, making it easy to upload new images from virtually anywhere without any special skills or equipment
  • Audience engagement is easy, immediate and measurable, also addictable
  • There's a ton of Instagram-compatible apps available for iOS and Android that allow users to create unique images and videos

Cons of Instagram for Businesses

Like all marketing tools, Instagram isn't necessarily the best option for every single business. Some of the downsides include:

  • Instagram relies on photos and videos, which means poor-quality images can damage, rather than boost, your brand
  • Instagram limits captions to just 125 characters for ads, and that can make it difficult to communicate your message accurately and appropriately
  • Video clips are limited to just 60 seconds, which is too short for many explainer videos, ads or tutorials (unless you use Reels or IG TV)
  • You can't include clickable links in your caption (unless you have more than 10K followers), which limits your ability to direct users to your website
  • At approximately $0.50 to $1.00 USD, the average cost-per-click (CPC) on Instagram is relatively high, making effective advertising on the platform out of reach for many small businesses
  • Despite its popularity, everyone doesn't have an Instagram account, certain types of audience demographics have an account, and that can limit your reach

are you wanting to use Instagram for your business? Is it right for you?

What's the Best Social Media Marketing Platform for Your Business?

There's no simple answer to the question of which social media platform is right for your business since there are many factors to consider.

Think about your target audience. If you're marketing to the under-35 crowd, an active presence on Instagram is likely to be far more important than it is if you're trying to connect with an older demographic.

You should also consider setting up accounts on Pinterest and Twitter as well to prevent 'brandjacking', and maintain a presence on all the major social media platforms. You can then use your secondary social media accounts to redirect visitors to your main feed, whether that's on Instagram or another platform.

For professional B2B relationships, LinkedIn is the hands-down best choice as users can post lengthy articles and images, and business networking is actively encouraged.

Ideally, an active presence on combined social platforms can capture a broad audience with your social media marketing efforts (for instance, we use a combined Pinterest and Instagram strategy that allows us to reach more of our audience). Whether or not you opt to make Instagram your primary platform should depend on your particular branding strategy, the industry you're in, and your target market.

Social media platforms such as Instagram are powered by algorithms, and those algorithms amplify accounts that are active, engaging, and updated regularly.

Regardless of the channel you decide to focus on, being successful with social media marketing, involves finding the right platform for your brand, committing it into your marketing plan for the long term, and making it work for you.

What’s your favourite platform? Let us know in the comments below.  

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