Of all the social media apps, Instagram is one of the most popular, with more than 700 million active users every month. Apart from sharing their pictures and videos on Instagram, what do all these users do? Or at least what do most of them do? They keep track of brands they are interested in, and follow the Instagram feeds of those brands. That is why social media is a significant part of any digital marketing strategy today, and in that social media mix, Instagram occupies pride of place. Why is Instagram so crucial to a business that wants to reach out to prospective customers and convey its marketing message?

More The Merrier: First, the numbers. I already told you about the huge number of active users on Instagram. Those numbers can’t be looked at in isolation. Instagram allows users to follow other users, so every brand whose profile has Instagram followers can also get the cascading effect of the followers of those followers. Here is an example. Say a brand has 500 followers on its Instagram profile. Now let us assume that at least 100 of those 500 followers would have another 500 followers themselves, and any hashtag of this brand that they use would be seen and used by those 500 followers too. So the brand is potentially reaching out not just to its 500 primary followers but also to at least 5000 secondary followers. And those secondary followers, in turn, would have more followers themselves. This works somewhat like the power of compounding that financial products gloat about.

Let’s Have A Conversation: Next, Instagram enjoys great traction. Say a brand has put up an advertisement in a magazine or a sponsored ad on Facebook. It might be seen by several readers or users, but might not generate conversations. Instagram by its very nature would encourage users or followers to not only like the post by that brand but also engage in conversations about the brand. Like I explained above, the use of hashtags by a brand’s followers quickly helps the message spread too. This vibrant and pulsating nature of Instagram is the second reason why brands prefer to have an active presence on Instagram.

Picture Perfect: National Geographic is a brand which has the most number of Instagram followers. The reason is that the brand is one that relies heavily on the use of pictures to accompany the usually riveting text and stories. That is why it can mold its marketing efforts to be Instagram-friendly very easily because it has the world’s collection of amazing pictures. Similarly, brands which have products which are visually easy to portray like to spread their message through Instagram with the use of judiciously selected pictures. For example, a footwear company could showcase various colors and designs, it could advertise pictures of its products in use, or of celebrities wearing them, and they could also post pictures of the upcoming variants of their products to generate user interest. No wonder Nike is the brand that comes second after National Geographic in the number of Instagram followers!

Target Practice: Smart businesses have uncovered a myth behind Instagram which most others are still not aware of. A majority of marketers have the wrong notion that Instagram doesn’t have similar options like Facebook to pinpoint and target their messaging to specific users based on their gender, race, location, age and perceived (by the algorithm) choices. But the reality is that Instagram feeds also have that functionality now, so targeted marketing is very much possible.

Keep It Simple: Instagram is very basic in its premise of allowing users to share their pictures and videos, and at best they would add a description to their post. So a brand or business looking to use Instagram to attract and engage its existing and prospective customers would not need to think about too many things while they work their Instagram profile. That’s why this ease of use and massive reach is an irresistible combination for most businesses.

Catch ‘em Young: Of all the social media apps, Instagram has a user base with youngest average age. LinkedIn, for example, has built up an image of catering to the career-oriented folks, and a college student wanting to find out about the latest health drink might not go to LinkedIn, or even to Facebook. A brand which is targeting the younger users has no other option than to engage them on Instagram.