Last night, I was flipping through my Instagram feed when I came across a promoted post by a brand. I stopped my routine flipping for just a second longer than normal and then resumed thumbing through posts from friends, brands and celebs alike. It was in this brief pause that I realized, the fact that I paused at all is a massive advantage for brands seeking to utilize image-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
What the specific post that stopped me was isn’t important. It wasn’t for a product or brand I was eager to learn more about, so I kept flipping. The reason I stopped was natural and instinctual. It was variety. This image immediately looked different than almost every other image in my feed. And not because of the content. I think it was a bicycle. There are plenty of bicycles in my feed.
It was a high quality, professional image. There was movement, vibrant colors, and nature. It was more than just a product shot taken from a catalog. It was an attractive representation of a product but evoked a number of feelings and attitudes that make a brand a provider of much more than just a product itself.
The democratic format of these platforms is ideal, as well. There isn’t a whole lot of other noise to fight with like on other platforms. No banner ads, no sidebar, no chat. Each image gets the same amount of space, unless there’s an essay’s worth of text. This means that ideally, a great image alone is enough to get you noticed. The same is not true on other networks turning to more of a pay for play model.
Users quickly establish a rhythm as they flip through. Breaking that rhythm with your image has the potential to be powerful, even if it doesn’t stir them to buy or even follow. That image is a data point that, when done well, is a net positive for your brand.
Though these two platforms in particular are starting to integrate ads and promoted posts, it’s hard to imagine them becoming as sponsor-heavy as some of the other social networks. If you want to shell out big bucks to be an advertiser on one of these platforms, you can. But I’d recommend using your other channels, hashtags, and @mentions to grow your followers organically.
So remember, while using image-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat is a great way to show company culture, it’s an equally effective means of influencing your audience with an unexpected yet subtle positive experience. Showing not only the product you provide, but also the attitudes and ideals that go with that product will make your use of visual platforms worthwhile.