Social Media Marketing Conundrum: Does Instagram Work For My Marketing Plan?

Instagram is one of the social media channels for businesses to not only reach broader and younger audiences but establish their brand presences. By creating an account on Instagram, the brands can actually shape the online discussion themselves and optimize the platform to build the reputation for their products or services. According to Simply Measured‘s report, 71% of the top 100 brands own Instagram accounts. However, having an account doesn’t mean that your brand will be free from being ignored or criticized.

While people are talking fervently about digging gold mines out of social media, myriads of brands jump on the Instagram marketing bandwagon, posting images and videos with cute sentences; some of them also apply Instagram’s recently added sponsored function. Brands try to grab users’ attention and make them stay as long as possible. That fact is that some companies succeed and some fail. Here are some of the examples that don’t bring the results as they envision:

1. McDonald

Although it accumulates quite a number of followers (912k) now, McDonald actually received a few negative feedbacks due to its advertisements on Instagram last year. Some Instagrammers were not happy to see fast-food ads appearing on their news feed. To them, Instagram is a place to share photos with others who share same interests or ideas. Thus, it’s pretty annoying when you see an irrelevant or uninterested post(ad) on your feeds. The following three expanded tweets are the complaints from the disgruntle users; as for the last one, it is about a careless typo in McDonald’s post. Keep that in mind: small mistakes still cause harm.

2. Domino’s Pizza

Currently, Domino’s Instagram has 378k followers but the engagement rate isn’t that high. The latest post only gets 3122 likes and 64 comments, which equals to 0.84 engagement rate. With that great amount of fan base, Domino’s can definitely do better than that.

image retrieved from:

image retrieved from:

Let’s take a look at its competitor’s Instagram. Pizza Hut certainly beats Domino’s in image quality and composition, from which it gets more responses from the users. Domino’s wants to keep a more nostalgic and real feeling but it should spend more time and effort on creating high-resolution photos.

3. Yahoo

I have to admit I’m surprised to find out Yahoo’s Instagram account. First, Yahoo is a global technology company that is known for search engine service so in a way I feels that it’s not that necessary to have the account. Yet, I find the solid reason behind it later: Google has one too. Secondly, owning 81.6 followers, the engagement is surprisingly low (197 likes, 2 comments for the latest post) on Yahoo’s Instagram account. Thirdly, the contents are not optimized enough. Even though the posts are related to the news and trends, most of them are about celebrities (some are just too casual…) and the theme is inconsistent overall.

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If big companies have issues with promoting themselves on Instagram, the small or local businesses won’t have the pass to avoid the same predicament either. I have some personal experiences as well. I’ve worked as a marketing intern at a startup company called StreetBuff. Regardless of the product itself, our marketing team had a hard time building brand presence and engagement on Instagram such as gaining followers, likes, comments, etc.

From what I observed, there are some problems for the posts itself:

  1. Lack of high-quality images
  2. Have strong call to action in each post but there’s no instruction for how to ask a StreetBuff: “Where are you going to have dinner tonight? Ask a StreetBuff and try out something new….”
  3. Use many hashtags that are not highly targeted or trendy for users to notice
  4. The theme of the post is consistent (traveling in the New York City) but the posts are too random and casual to seem like a personal platform rather than a brand’s.

To sum up, Instagram or other social media platforms are not the panaceas for growing business. Instead, learning how to utilize it, play with it and analyze it are the most significant tasks for all marketers to deal with. Before using Instagram as a marketing platform, one needs to consider whether it fits with the brand image and what strategies you can use to achieve the goal.



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