The Next Big Social Network Is Here.

The social network that will rule ad dollars and eye-balls for the next decade has arrived. Is it Peach? No. Down To Lunch? Nope. Live.me? Negative. Actually, you probably already have it and use it religiously. The social network that needs your attention is...

Instagram

The fact that Instagram has 500 Million Monthly Active Users is nothing to sneeze at. But Facebook, Whatsapp, Messenger, WeChat, and QZone all have more. And Snapchat is catching up. What makes Instagram so important is how it is used and viewed.

Stories

Whilst Instagram Stories may be an obvious knock-off, users don't seem to mind. Earlier this month, Instagram announced that Stories Daily Active Users now mirrors Snapchat at 150M. Why is this important? Because it is a lot cheaper and easier to grow your Instagram audience than your Snapchat audience. And with the same amount of DAUs, why not focus your time and dollars in one place.

It is why the brands and celebrities we work with at Well&Well have begun uploading identical content on both their Instagram and Snapchat feeds. If a user is already on Instagram looking at photos, why not knock out two birds with one stone?

Live

Since Live Streaming became 'the next big thing', I've been on Periscope once and watched an actual Facebook Live stream maybe twice (by the time I catch them, they've normally finished an hour prior). But I use Instagram Live daily. When brands and personalities use Instagram Live, they're engaging with their audience rather than just presenting. They're responding to comments in real-time, and even if they don't reply to you, it feels authentic and connects the user with that personality or brand. Once a live stream is over, it's finished - there is no recorded version users can view later. It adds to the urgency that isn't there with Facebook Live. Live presents a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their audience and build brand loyalty in a way that scrolling past a post cannot.

A follower is meaningful.

How many Pages have you liked on Facebook? How often will you unlike a Facebook Page? I can't count how many Facebook Pages I liked in 2009 and haven't seen a post from since. It may say that Xavier Di Petta still 'Likes' Skittles, The Cold Side of the Pillow, and Disneyland, but I can't remember the last piece of content I saw from any of those pages. However, even with Instagram's algorithmic changes, if a user follows your brand on Instagram, and sticks around - they have some connection to the brand.

Whether a user is concerned about a simplified feed, the 'Cool Ratio', or 'curating' their following, Instagram's users are selective in who they follow. Whilst it is crucial to get that initial follow, your strategy on how you keep it is just as important.

Sticking-Power

We build our various social networks to be a reflection of ourselves (or at least how we want to be perceived), yet the care taken people take when curating their Instagram account is second-to-none. Users not only care about the image they post, but the 'aesthetic' of that image next to their previous posts. This 'aesthetic' is so crucial to many users that they will:

1) Have a separate account they keep private that they upload the identical photos to, so they can 'preview' how it will look in their aesthetic OR 2) Will upload it, screenshot their page within seconds, and remove the image so they can view their 'aesthetic' to see if they'll re-upload the post.

Whilst we may share content on Facebook that makes us look smart, or content on Twitter that makes us look funny, the level of thought and consideration that goes into Instagram is unparalleled. With users so invested into their page, you can bet they're invested in the brands and personalities they're interacting with.

Discovery

Whilst memes and models undoubtedly rule Instagram, it's still an incredible Discovery tool for brands and personalities.

However, a major pitfall I see is businesses engaging in short-sighted tricks to gain followers. Whilst your business or personality may benefit from a slight boost in followers and eye-balls from 'following & unfollowing' a bunch of users - you can beat they'll see when you unfollow, and it will leave a sour taste in their mouth. Instagram Automation tools may have been game-changers three years ago, but today with everyone and their dog (quite literally) liking certain hashtags, it's saturated, and users aren't naive to what is happening.

Double-down on Instagram

You most likely have an Instagram strategy. You may even have someone posting regularly on it. But all the great content in the world doesn't matter if it goes unseen.