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Why instagram works

Advertising on Instagram

Why instagram works

A picture is worth a thousand words… It is an old saying, but today we see that the true power of images is being used even more. All the media and advertisers are using less text and more images. An important example is Instagram. It was founded in 2010 as a photo-based network and grew in no time to become one of the most important social media platforms.

New advertising opportunities

Last month, a major update was performed at Instagram that offers many new opportunities for advertisers. Ads are not new to Instagram, but since September 30, this option has been available worldwide. The network uses the technology of Facebook Adverts, allowing ads on Instagram to be directed at target groups with specific interests. Moreover, there are different options for direct engagement with the user, because he or she can, for example, click-through to your website, or from the advertisement an app installation can be launched. Also, videos can be used to break free of the static image to share more information

So during the summer at Instagram, they worked hard to optimize their advertising options. By their own account, it is a perfect communication tool for both large and small businesses. Since the update, you can upload videos up to 30 seconds, while it was previously up to 15 seconds. Both for photos and videos, Instagram abandoned its typical square format, making a landscape format also available.

Why does an image has such a strong impact?

The world of the image seems to offer unlimited possibilities. But why the heck is it such a powerful tool for communication and marketing? The basis for this lies in the fact that our brains have for many millions of years, focused on the processing of what we see around us, while the oldest writing is only about 5,000 to 6,000 years old. Incidentally, we do not know exactly when spoken language originated, but it is estimated that this also was ‘only’ about 100,000 years ago.
The processing of visual stimuli has obviously been very important for our evolution. To survive, it was especially important for our ancestors to recognize danger as quickly as possible. If you didn’t respond quickly enough to an enemy or predator, it would soon mean the end of you. In addition to image processing, there is also a very fast decision mechanism involved. What do I see? An aggressive predator? Flee quickly! That’s why you can interpret within a fraction of a second, what you see, and based on that, you can put an appropriate reaction in motion. The way we process images and the way we make decisions based on them, is very deeply rooted in our minds and we will probably never lose this ability. This could therefore explain why we still strongly respond to pictures, and why photo-based media is so popular.

A special place for faces

A fun but also important fact, is that the effect of images of faces goes even further. As stated, speech and writing are quite late in the development of our evolution. Before that time, people had to rely on non-verbal communication. A lot of information had to be exchanged via facial expressions.

Today we are still inclined to interpret facial expressions (unconsciously) and quickly draw conclusions. This unconscious judgment, rightly or not, will be always carried in our mind about people or images, for example advertisements. Prof. Dr. Daniel Wigboldus of the University of The Netherlands has given a series of interesting lectures about this (it’s Dutch though):

When you know that pictures attract more attention than text, and also can be processed faster and lead to a decision or response, it is clear that this is an important fact in marketing to keep in mind. So it pays to focus as much as possible on putting pictures in your advertisements and other communications.

The placement of ads on photo-related networks like Instagram can also work to your advantage. After the worldwide rollout of the advertising platform Instagram, we can expect a large influx of new advertisers. The question is therefore, whether the network will become oversaturated, and whether users are still interested in so many new ads. But for now the motto is: Get it while it’s hot.


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