Pictures score where words fail. And that's what brands, struggling to strike a chord with consumers on social media, seem to like about Instagram.
Earlier this year, Flipkart teamed up with 15 top social media influencers and launched a campaign called 'Never Ending Trending' on Instagram. The influencers showcased designs and trends from Flipkart's fashion store, and had the task of keeping the fashion trend alive by nominating the next influencer. A contest, user participation and gift vouchers followed over five days. The simple enough exercise resulted in high engagement for Flipkart - each post by these influencers got 5000 views, on average.
As of April 2017, Instagram had 700 million monthly active users worldwide, compared to only 100 million in 2013. According to Counterpoint Research, as of Q1 2017, the image sharing app had 35 million monthly active users in India, up from six million in 2015. The Facebook-owned company currently has one million advertisers globally, a huge leap from 200,000 in 2016.
Brands, too, are making a beeline for the platform. Social media intelligence and analytics firm Unmetric tracked the number of Instagram followers of various well-known fast food brands in India - Domino's, McDonald's, KFC, Cafe Coffee Day, and others - from April 2016 to April 2017, and found that these brands have seen a 300-per-cent (or more) growth. This may be minuscule compared to the number of followers these brands have on Facebook, but the rate of growth on Instagram is higher.
According to Rajesh Lalwani, CEO at Scenario Consulting, the level of engagement on Instagram is far higher. "It actually is cheaper than Facebook to advertise on for engagement-driven campaigns," he adds.
What used to be a regular haunt of food, travel, tech and fashion brands is now the preference of auto, FMCG and even BFSI brands, too. "It's in a transition phase, from being a niche social network to becoming a mass social network," says Rajiv Dingra, CEO and Founder of WATConsult.
Not just the millennials, the photo sharing app is popular among the older audiences, too. A Nielsen study commissioned by Instagram in 2015 had recorded that 90 per cent of its users in India are below 30 years of age. However, NapoleonCat, a cloud-based social media marketing and engagement tool, has revealed on its blog that 85 per cent of social media users on Instagram are above the age of 45.
Although Instagram is the third most used social network in India, it lags behind Twitter by a huge margin - 40 per cent. While Instagram's growth in India has been driven by Facebook, it has much scope to grow. For instance, unlike Facebook, Instagram does not allow acquisition-driven campaigns - activities that allow the brand to acquire more followers for their handles. Though the introduction of Stories for advertising was a good move, Instagram needs to spruce up its offerings for advertisers.
"The options are very limited; there won't be any novelty factor there. Instagram's growth is courtesy Facebook. The moment Facebook bought it and integrated it, people started using it much more," says Nimesh Shah, Head Maven and Co-founder,Windchimes Commu-nications.
Perhaps, it is early days. Though Facebook is yet to generate significant revenues out of Instagram in India, experts are hopeful it will, given its rapid growth.
"Instagram will see an even bigger growth in India in the year ahead. It has now become a part of the digital plan for most of the brands that are active, particularly in the lifestyle and youth space," Lalwani says.
A Stream of Bans
After banning most social networking sites, China has now shut down several live streaming platforms. China's Ministry of Culture has closed 10 hosting platforms and punished several companies for streaming content related to pornography, gambling, and content that was superstitious in nature. The country has also closed down 30,000 studios producing such content, given administrative punishment to 48 companies and terminated the contracts of 547 broadcasters. The business models of these hosting platforms are similar to ones offered by Facebook and YouTube, where the company hosting the content and the creator divide the ad revenues between them.
What's on Facebook's Mind?
Facebook is using the information obtained by studying the browsing habits of its depressed users to target ads, revealed a document 'leaked' from within the company's advertising unit. Australia-based newspaper The Australian recently carried an article on the 23-page document, saying that the social media giant was misusing users' browsing information. The document was a presentation prepared by the company for potential advertisers to give them an idea of its accuracy in tracking depressed people on the Internet. Facebook has issued a statement calling the premise of the article misleading, and clarifi ed that it does not offer tools to target people based on their emotional state. "The analysis done by an Australian researcher was intended to help marketers understand how people express themselves on Facebook," the social media network stated.