It seems a fairly obvious thing to say for marketers not to put all of their efforts into Instagram at the expense of other channels but with Instagram considered the ‘powerhouse’ of influencer marketing (rightly or wrongly), it’s a warning that really needs to be said – and needs to be heeded.
Instagram’s dominance of influencer marketing isn’t without merit. More than most channels, it’s a natural home for influencers, providing a visually rich, highly accessible, easily usable platform to both create and publish content. Couple this with the money Facebook has pumped into it – and the fact that most marketers probably use Instagram, personally, more than any other channel – and its dominance is understandable.
Is your audience there?
The danger here is that being easy to use, nice to look at, and popular doesn’t (always) make it right. One of the major pitfalls of influencer marketing, which brims with the fallen bodies of many brands, is that marketers tend to be so blinded by the beauty, variety, price, and ‘pace of activation’ of the influencers on Instagram, that they forget to first look to see if their audience are actually there.
When it comes to any digital marketing strategy, the starting point – surely – has to be the target audience and identifying which channels they’re actually active on. Throwing heaps of money at a channel just because it’s the one you like the look of carries a high risk that that money is just being thrown to the wind.
One basket approach
Of course, even if Instagram’s dominant position is truly justified, there’s still a risk in the one basket approach. It might simply be a coincidence – or there might be something to the conspiracies – but this year has been a technologically troubled one for Instagram due to frequent crashes and outages and a whole host of issues around disappearing data.
As a marketer, there’s an inherent risk in building campaigns on a service that lacks reliability. Pressing ‘go’ on that global, all singing all dancing megabucks Instagram campaign just to find that no-one can access the service and see your wonderful content is the fear that keeps marketing execs up late at night.
There’s also the more longer-term risk that Instagram’s dominance (finally) takes a hit. No social network is ever truly safe from falling off a cliff into obscurity. History is littered with social networks that made it big yesterday but are nowhere to be seen today – and even if the current crop have stood the test of time a little longer, it only takes a well-placed PR scandal or two to see users run a mile. With Facebook now firmly in charge, there’s a real and present danger for Instagram.
However, regardless of what the risks are to Instagram and how likely they are to damage the service – and those who sail with it – marketers need to look beyond a single channel approach; not only to mitigate risk but also to develop their understanding and uncover other opportunities. There are so many ways to work with influencers to reach a target audience across so many different channels that sticking with one just because it seems the most popular and is the one your most used to is a fairly lazy and very limited approach to marketing.