The online world has been all abuzz with the news of Facebook’s recent $1 billlion acquisition of Instagram with some excited about what this could mean for their marketing, along with the critics who say the move is a desperate one to keep fans on board.
Details are still coming into focus as to how the two platforms will weave together in the future but for the moment Mark Zuckerberg insists that Instagram will be completely independent and will continue to be so.
Nevertheless there are plenty questions about the Instagram/Facebook combo and the new challenges and opportunities that will come up for marketers due to this alliance.
Instagram remains the place to communicate visually with friends via photos, artfully masking suggestions and influence with their users surpassing 30 million and many companies are realising that a picture of what you had for lunch (especially when there is a brand name displayed) can actually be worth the marketing involved. While this is the case, it is a small platform that brands are only just beginning to make use of.
With Facebooks members close to 1 billion, a powerful advertising program and the rollout of Timeline for Brands, Facebook has shown immense support for brands and has established itself as a reputed and imperative platform to make use of in marketing strategy.
By integrating Instagram into a brand’s Facebook communications, the potential is to create a much more visual conversation via rich stories and conversations. This could really revolutionise brand personification by fleshing out previously transparent personalities with no real humanity behind it.
The question really is whether as the branded Instagram content begins to work its way into users feeds, people will notice or mind the instrusion. Paid endorsements are supposed to be unobtrusive but whether this will hold true remains to be seen.
Facebook and instagram will need to maintain independence and their authenticity as separate platforms so as to not push users away. Marketing efforts really do need to have the end user in mind. This doesn’t just go for the way that Facebook and Instagram roll out their paid endorsements but also for the brands that are making use of the platforms.
It is vital that the brands and companies making use of social media marketing remember why their audience is even accessible: the need for entertainment and interaction online.
While this move may prompt many to join Instagram, brands need to continually evaluate their image and whether Instagram is a platform which will enhance their brand reputation or whether the integrity of the platform will be affected by misuse and guerrilla marketing tactics.
While Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook may bear the brunt of anything that may go wrong in the future of Instagram, the real responsibility lies with brands and their focus on user engagement. Used correctly, however, the two platforms could complement each other wonderfully.
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