Marketers missing a trick with Instagram advertising, research reveals

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Forget traditional Christmas lists since customers are getting more visual than ever. New research suggests that nearly 41% of Instagram users have used the social media tool to drop hints to friends and family about what they want for Christmas.

More than half (57%) of the 1,000 respondents surveyed in a report commissioned by digital marketing agency Greenlight have used it to gain inspiration when gift buying and one in three have bought items after seeing them on Instagram.

And yet marketers are missing a trick. A separate survey by Greenlight of 100 senior UK marketers showed that 60% aren’t using Instagram as a marketing channel and only 14% run a branded Instagram account.

But while they may be missing out this year, the research suggests that marketers are planning to be more on the ball next year with more than half (53%) planning to make use of the channel in 2016. The research showed that nearly a third (29%) planned to use Instagram’s recently launched advertising services whilst just under a quarter (23%) said that they were planning a branded account to target consumers.

The main reason for embracing the channel was for brand awareness for half of respondents and for brand storytelling for 30%. Driving sales and loyalty was the priority for 30% of respondents in the survey.

However these priorities differ somewhat to those of consumers where the top reasons that consumers followed Instagram brand accounts was for offers and discounts for more than half (51%). Using the channel for inspiration for new purchases was the main reason for 39% of respondents and to monitor brand news and announcements for 37% of consumers studied.

When it came to what they wanted to see, 49% of customers said that they valued useful or informative content, whilst 37% said that they wanted to see brands sharing authentic or user-generated images. Respondents also valued two-way interaction through the channel with 35% valuing brands interacting with their followers and a further 15% liking to see brands reposing or sharing other users’ photos and videos.

For 2016 the study showed that 18% of marketers planned to run influencer engagement programmes aimed at Instagram ‘celebrities’ next year and nearly one in ten (8%) were looking at how to make greater use of user generated photos or videos.  However although 29% of marketers plan to use Instagram advertising to target users and promote posts next year only 23% intended to share photos and videos using a branded account.

Andreas Pouros, COO and co-founder at Greenlight, said that although brands were looking at the channel for next year there was still an opportunity to hook them this Christmas too. “The sharable nature of this social media platform makes it the perfect channel to understand what loved ones might be hankering for this Christmas. With this in mind marketers should be using Instagram to encourage hint dropping sharing this festive season,” he said. 

Read more: Instagram announces Instagram Partners programme, boosts advertising options

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