Instagram: the star social performer of 2014

Instagram: the star social performer of 2014

Let’s put video to one side for a moment. But if you accept that images are very important to your social media strategy, then Instagram has to be near the top of the list. If not at No 1.

It’s been the fastest growing social network for the past year. Since it was bought by Facebook in 2012, IG has added 170m users to its then base of 30m.

And, with such growth, has come a wave of information on how to best use the site (which will need to be updated after Instagram launched its video timeframe app, Hyperlapse, earlier this month. A report in The Independent this week described Hyperlapse as “a free app that’s busy stealing the hearts of iPhone users.” It’s true – I plead guilty, your honour).

Anyway, let’s concentrate – we’re leaving video aside for a moment to concentrate on Instagram’s image surge and the information needed to get the most from the channel.

One of the early guides was published in April, the Instagram marketing guide from Smart Insights, a 9,000 word, 48-page A4 page PDF Ebook. Phew.

This month saw social media news channel Skift publish its latest trends report: Instagram strategies for Travel Brands. Says report editor Joyce Manalo: “User generated content has become native to Instagram and is becoming one of the most effective marketing platforms in the evaluation stage — one step away from the purchase decision.”

Instagram does not, as yet, have its own analytics tool and understanding the figures has historically been an expensive task. Companies like Totem (which bought leading IG analyst Nitrogram in July) charge big fees for metrics, working as they do with large travel brands like JetBlue Airways.

Happily, for small travel brands there is now not one but two free analytic sites. Iconosquare (which bought IG analyst Statigram this summer – do you see a trend here? IG is big business….) provides excellent stats on numbers/average of likes and comments, among other features. Now comes Link361.com which, says my colleague Mark Frary, is “particularly good for managing followers and seeing influencers among other things.”

Instagram was again centre stage last week at the Inbound conference in Boston last week. Hubspot social media scientist Dan Zarrella delivered a paper that analysed nearly 1.5m photos and 500,000 users of IG. You can read a summary paper on his results here.

His analysis was fascinating: photos should be bright, busy, with people in it and using ‘cool’ colours to get more likes. Have a good read of his analysis, because we’re going to have keep on learning about Instagram. It’s likely to remain the fastest growing social channel throughout 2014 too.

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Steve Keenan has been a travel journalist for 25 years. He started at a Reed paper, news editing at Travel News in London - now Travel Weekly - having spent a decade reporting general news in the UK and abroad. He also taught English in Peru, delivered cars in the USA, ran the Sydney desk at AAP and took the train home from Hong Kong. He left Travel News in 1990 to freelance for several publications, including The Times of London, which he later joined as deputy travel editor. In December 2004, he became the first national digital travel editor in the UK, running the combined travel website of The Times and Sunday Times. The introduction of a paywall at the papers in 2010 persuaded him that the connected world might continue outside of Wapping and he left to co-found Travel Perspective. The company runs the social media seminars at World Travel Market London, and works with Reed Expos and others in helping the travel and tourism industry best communicate stories in all forms of publishing.

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