The Pros and Cons of Instagram

Instagram Pros and Cons for Small Business Marketers: 2016 Social Media Series

Last week, we looked at Instagram in the abstract — as something Margaret Atwood may have written at the turn of the century — and then, with a high-level geopolitical analysis — because I fancy the work that Stratfor and the like do for our society.

Now let’s get down to brass tacks, por fin, okay?

As I’ve said in prior posts, Instagram is fun and almost easy for the marketer to use. I can hear the digital natives rolling their eyes. (What? It’s audible.)

But I’m not writing for digital natives

I’m writing for the beleaguered, the harried, the tired, the put-upon, the weary masses with a small business, a side hustle, a non-profit, an overambitious PTA or HOA project. The Mom’s and Pop’s and Main Street storefronts who need one more keeping-it-all-on-the-rails thing to do like they need a frontal lobotomy. (Or a bottle in front of me. Heee-ey.)

I’m writing for people who’ve heard of the E-Myth and, even possibly, have read it. Or meant to. Whatever.

The Best Parts of Instagram for Marketers

It’s the “prettiest” of the platforms

Or, let’s say, “the most aesthetically pleasing,” because it’s all images all the time.

We each have a different Instagram experience depending on how we choose to populate our feed. That’s based on who we follow and what they’re into.

If you follow a bunch of yogis and life coaches, like I do, you’ll have a different Insta-experience than if you follow X-Games stars and cross-fitters. Or sports fisherman and mountain climbers. Or herbalists and homesteaders. They’re all there.

Here are a few examples. Please note: at this point, I’m using Instagram presence / page / feed interchangeably.

Show a chronological sequence of events

The screenshot below is Kurt Bradley’s professional motor racing page. You’ll notice that his posts show peeks of how the day unfolded at this year’s Indy 500. Talk about access!
Kurt Bradley's Motor Racing Pics on Instagram

Make a pattern to your posting

Compare Bradley’s Instagram presence (above) to The Color Mage’s more stylized coaching and color reading page.
The Color Mage's Stylized Feed on Instagram

Bring a design sense to your Instagram presence

The visually appealing Instagram page for We Are Soul Sparks bespeaks calm and peace in all aspects from its publishing pattern, to use of white space and color, imagery, even the quotations chosen and mantras offered.
WeAreSoulSparks Stylized Feed on Instagram

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

With a fair bit of forethought, you can really get jazzy on it, like The Whirling Gene‘s composite post of 12 images in one. Or is it 1 from 12?
TheWhirlingGene's Composite Instagram Page

Instagram has higher community standards for content

Unlike Tumblr, as we’ve discussed, and #TwitterAfterDark (NOT a safe-for-work hashtag), Instagram has policies on decency similar to its parent company, Facebook. Both of these companies have come under scrutiny from various sectors, like La Leche League and others.

(Look, you guys, I’m not going to search on beheadings to see if they’re now allowed or not. That’s actually old news, circa 2012.)

Community standards are crowd-sourced

If enough of your followers report the image to be “bad,” then the platform will take it down.

Accounts from pathology assistants, like Mrs. Angemi (846K followers), to birth photographers, like Cate DePrisco (13.6K followers), probably know what it’s like to have posts taken down. Unless it’s pimple popping, like Dr. Sandra Lee (over 1M followers), if it’s got to do with human anatomy and physiology, someone will report it.

So, if you need to use a photo with nipples…

Artist Micol Hebron has got you covered.Michol Hebron's Free the Nipple Male Nipple Facebook Post

Oddly — or not — there’s a substantial 420 presence

They probably all live in Colorado, so that’s cool. I live in a state where marijuana is still illegal so I doubt many or any of them are from here. On that note, I’ll leave this here. For now.

Next week, we’ll look at the a few more of the pros of Instagram, like broader hashtagging, the ability to “sell” within a post, and the art of captioning, which will lead us into the cons.

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Suzanne Hoenig is a strategist and writer helping small businesses, nonprofits, and private practitioners craft their marketing copy, grow their online and offline community, and navigate the changing tides of social media and digital content marketing.
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