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With over 600 million users, more and more brands are putting Instagram as one of the top channels on their digital marketing efforts. Apart from Facebook, Instagram’s audience targeting is just as powerful. Marketers can target the audience in detail, including: demographics, location, interests and behavior. Arguably, Instagram provides marketers with a personalised, inspiring and aspirational environment with immense scale.

The drastic rise of Instagram as a marketing channel has been noticeable ever since Facebook bought it in 2012 for a huge sum of USD$1 Billion. As it is run on user-generated content, Instagram has now become the most popular photo-sharing app. According to Instagram’s own cultural insights, the global migration of ‘regular’ mobile devices to smartphones along with the rise of social media has put photo or video sharing apps as more favorable for an advertising platform.

A More Engaging Type of Content for Consumers

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In today’s era of exponential production of information, it is difficult for marketers to create engaging and lasting messages for its consumers. Mitchell Kapor himself said, "getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant". However, our brain processes images 60,000 faster than text. Therefore, any content embedded in visual format (video or photo) will be better for reaching the targeted audiences. With its features, such as photo-sharing and the recently-introduced Instagram story and live video, Instagram creates appealing user-generated content for people to engage with.

A recent article from Warc Best Practice in February 2017 explained that Instagram photos and videos are ‘snackable’ content. ‘Snackable’ content refers to the short videos or photos that Instagram use to connect with millennials, who learn better through visuals rather than through text. This makes Instagram more appealing to millennials. It also increases the awareness of users, Instagram hashtags are relevant to engage with young audiences.

Especially for fashion retail, Instagram is a platform one should not leave behind. In fact, more and more brands are collaborating with buzzers and influencers. Buzzers and influencers are people who communicate between brand and target audiences with eye-catching and inspiring photos to tell the brand story, associations and also, product-usage. These kind of activities done by brands and influencers are based on the factsheet that instagram users who are interested in fashion are not only present in Instagram solely for using the platform, but are more likely to purchase from what they have seen on their Instagram feeds.

Instagram Audiences in Malaysia

Since its introduction in 2010, Instagram has had a rapid spread out globally. As of 2016, one study from Kantar shows that there are 59% to 73% of total internet users in Malaysia that are active on Instagram. With a 68% of internet penetration, Instagram users in Malaysia consist of more than 10 million users, that’s a lot. 87% of Malaysia’s Instagram users are young audiences, ranging from the ages of 21 to 24 years old. According to TNS Global, Malaysian social media users are more socially engaged as compared to the global average. 34% of the internet users in Malaysia check their Instagram feeds on a weekly basis, compared to the global average by 11%. This data could explain the rise in digital advertising and the commerce boom in Malaysia. Data from Statista in 2016 showed that the advertising revenue in Malaysia for that year reached MYR 548.52 million.

Two Crucial Things For Your Content Strategy on Instagram

As a photo and video sharing platform, your best shot on Instagram is to create engaging and meaningful visual communication to your audiences. Here are key things you should consider:

Identify Themes

Identifying themes is your first step in forming your content strategy. Themes refer to what kind of posts that you would like to share with the audiences. These themes could be about your company stories, educating your audience on your product’s usage, even a motivational theme. However, your themes should drift away from your core company value. Put your company value first, then throw in some ideas to define what themes would be suitable for your company’s instagram content.

Content Elements

After defining your Instagram themes, narrow down your content strategy plan to its content. Your content elements should consist of:

  1. Writing Style (including captions)
  2. Hashtags
  3. Color Identification
  4. Type of Font
  5. Filters

Even though you have several themes available for your Instagram content, your content elements should be aligned accordingly. By using different content elements for each theme will you confuse your audience about your brand image and your company’s values. However, it is acceptable to incrementally modify your content elements for each theme, as long as you do not drift away from the main set of your content elements.