Over the past three years, Instagram has become a top player in the social media market, growing to include more than 150 million monthly users, an annual growth that surpasses both Facebook and Twitter.
Users spend approximately 257 minutes on Instagram a month, with most (57%) visiting the network once a day and others (35%) tapping into the site more than once. The report attributes the ongoing growth of Instagram to consumers’ more favorable responses to images versus standard text.
To date, more than 16 billion photos have been shared on Instagram, indicating that consumers are more than willing to share photos of their day-to-day lives with the social universe. Approximately 55 million photos are being uploaded on a daily basis.
As a result of consumers’ growing attraction to Instagram, brands and retailers are refining their social initiatives to focus on building up their arsenals of user-generated photos, according to research from L2 and Olapic.
In fact, 93% of prestige brands now maintain a presence on Instagram, up from 63% in July 2013, according the 2014 Instagram Intelligence Report. Of this group, 72% post videos on the social network.
To spotlight best practices and case study examples, L2 analyzed prestige brands across 15 social media platforms worldwide. Specifically, the research firm evaluated the performance and programming of 249 brands on Instagram, with categories spanning across beauty, fashion, retail, hotels and jewelry.
On average, brands posted six images and 0.38 videos per week on Instagram. Brands and retailers will the most Instagram followers included the following:
- Victoria’s Secret: 3.5 million followers;
- Christian Louboutin: 2.0 million followers;
- Topshop: 1.7 million followers; and
- Michael Kors: 1.6 million followers.
“The best place to socially engage with users is Instagram,” said Pau Sabria, Co-Founder of Olapic, in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “The reason why, fundamentally, is that human beings are very visually oriented and the amount of information you can convey through visual content is increasing, largely due to the rise of smartphones.”
Adding Context To Online Shopping Experiences
Although Instagram is powerful because it allows brands and retailers to offer consumers a “behind-the-scenes” look at the business, it also enables consumers to share their experiences with products.
Brands and retailers can include user-generated photos on their e-Commerce sites to add context to products. Rather than relying on professional photos and models to showcase apparel and handbags, for example, brands can publish photos of consumers wearing the items.
“User-generated photos can give consumers a better understanding of how products look in real life,” Sabria explained. “And that helps close the gap between what consumers expect to receive and what they actually receive” when they purchase a product online.
As the report confirmed, for some brands and retailers, “Instagram is an evolved form of window-shopping enabling users to see products on organic mannequins.”
Featuring user-generated photos at the point of purchase helps increase conversions by up to 7%. However, only 14% of brands are currently taking advantage of this opportunity.
“When retailers sell to customers, one of the key priorities for them is to try and personalize the online shopping experience,” Sabria said. “This can be done easily via text, but retailers are typically serving the same product images to everyone — it doesn’t matter what you browse or what your demographic information is. Photos are usually professionally staged, too, so it’s no wonder that consumers don’t feel connected to products.”
The fact that users are shifting from text-based communications to more visual content “suggests that brands should use visual content as one of the key pillars of their marketing strategy,” Sabria said. “How a brand or retailer does that, though, depends largely on the vertical and type of business.”
Sabria offered the following best practices for establishing a visual commerce strategy:
- Understand key challenges your business is facing, such as poor customer engagement, high cart abandonment rates, etc.;
- Establish a set of goals. These goals can include anything from engaging return customers, increasing conversions or developing your company’s content marketing strategies; and
- Create a list of three priorities that will help your company achieve top goals, and think of how user-generated images can help.
Click here to access additional findings from the L2 / Olapic report.