Instagram has recently eclipsed the 300 million monthly active user mark, which ranks it as one of the largest social networks available for marketers to serve their customers. To develop a powerful marketing strategy on Instagram, and other social networks for that matter, marketers should first understand the unique elements that make the network popular and the mindset behind its user base.
A typical user will build their Instagram account with a collection of visual moments from their lives, which is similar to how they develop their other social channels; however, Instagram differs by giving their users tools to crop, edit, and better perfect their posts prior to sharing.
While this doesn’t initially appear to be a big feature as it relates to your marketing efforts, it is likely to change the behavior of how your audience interacts with your content on the network. Instagram users tend to curate their content to reflect a specific look or feel that they are trying to achieve through public perception, essentially creating an idealistic representation of themselves.
By spending more time to create a positive image for their profiles, users subsequently create higher quality and better crafted content on Instagram. Generally speaking, Instagram is a social channel with more visually appealing photos and videos, particularly when compared with Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat which has content that tends to be more raw and unedited.
It is important to understand the psychology behind the users of Instagram so that your marketing strategy can complement the actions that your audience is taking on the network. Learn how to identify the behaviors of your audience and how you should align your campaigns on Instagram to better fit in with the community and drive more customer actions for your business.
Understanding the Intentions of Your Instagram Followers Through Research
Whether it’s narcissism, boredom, or envy, understanding your customer’s natural motives is a key step when learning how to create content that not only serves their wants and needs, but influences them to take actions with your brand.
Identifying common consumer behaviors is not a new marketing concept, but it can often times be difficult to execute properly, particularly when applying the concepts to a relatively new audience such as your Instagram followers and target audience.
To better anticipate how your customers intend to interact with your content on Instagram, you should start by thoroughly researching your audience through a mixture of both primary and secondary research.
Primary Research: This can be the most hands-on, personal and potentially time consuming approach to finding the motives of your audience, but can yield some of the most relevant and actionable data to inform your marketing strategy.
Analyze both yourself and some of your competitor’s Instagram followers and begin to document their social behaviors on the network. Pay careful attention to the visuals that these users publish and the types of accounts that they follow as this can be an indication of the content that they are most interested in seeing. You are looking to identify any trends that your followers have in common to inform the content you should be publishing in the future.
For example, if you were interested in learning about the motives behind Prada’s Instagram audience, you could begin by analyzing the users that are interacting with their content.
In this post, there are over 32,000 users that have liked this image, which means that there are plenty of accounts to research and glean insight from. After analyzing the comments and a few of the accounts that follow Prada, we can find that their audience tends to post images relating to fashion and engage with content that revolves around celebrity culture and fashion.
By analyzing this data consistently and over a wide variety of posts, Prada can better serve their customers with content that is likely to resonate with them from their product lines and related to the fashion industry at large. While you don’t always need to investigate each of your customer’s personal Instagram accounts or comments, generally, the more information you can gather on these users, the easier it’ll be to identify any patterns in behavior your account can capitalize on.
Secondary Research: This is where you analyze outside sources such as third-party data, focus groups and surveys as opposed to conducting your own. Secondary market research can often be easy to find either through searching on Google for case studies, scholarly articles and white papers about the behavior of certain demographics of Instagram users.
It’s important to note that while there are a variety of documented case studies and third-party research that can help you better depict your customer’s Instagram behaviors, these often won’t have the same level of insight on your specific audience as conducting your own research would.
As a general rule, collect data from multiple sources and cross-reference trends that you find. Consider performing the following steps before confirming your initial research:
- Analyze and collect customer behavioral data from you and your competitor’s audiences.
- Consult data from third-party and secondary research outlets.
- Monitor the Instagram techniques that other brands use to generate results.
Applying Market Research to Serve Your Customers
To make use of the data that you collect, focus on developing content that serves your customer’s intentions in the best visual representation possible. While this is often easier said than done, think about how your customers would typically use your products or services and portray these ideal use cases in your Instagram posts
For example, Nike uses incredibly professional photographs to engage their audience online and sell them an experience that only a Nike product could provide. This can appeal to their ego by promoting their products modeled on athletics individuals in beautiful and exotic locations.
By showcasing these near perfect situations, Nike is marketing to the dreams and intentions of their audience, which can evoke an emotional response from their customer’s that Nike products can help them live a better and more beautiful life.
By understanding the intentions of your customers, you can better align your Instagram strategy to appeal to their needs and create content that resonates with your audience.
What strategies have you used to serve the wants and needs of your customers? What trends have you identified by studying your audience? Would you agree or disagree with the psychology behind the typical Instagram user? Answer and provide any feedback below in the comments section.
Updated November 22, 2017.