To say, Instagram is popular is an understatement. As of June 2016, the community has grown to more than 500 million users, and more than 300 million use it every day.
Social analytics and reporting company Locowise reports that the average user now follows 400-500 accounts — a jump from 250 one year ago — which also means there’s a lot more content (including sponsored ads) for users to sort through. There are 95 million photos and videos uploaded and shared daily.
Paradoxically, its popularity has led to a decrease in organic reach and engagement — a trend that’s already been seen in other channels like email and Twitter: the larger the audience, the lower the engagement/click-through rate.
Instagram’s new Stories feature is the platform’s bid to combat this decline by allowing users to share all the moments of their day as a slideshow in a bar on the top of the screen. Like Snapchat’s My Story, the slideshows and/or videos only appear for 24 hours. Up to five Stories can be featured at a time. Instagram Stories also provides a behind-the-scenes “View Counter” that includes the usernames of the people who viewed each Story.
As the new social media darling, experts have touted its marketing potential primarily because of the platform’s reach and high engagement rates. Since it was acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has also opened up opportunities for advertisers, such as carousel ads, which give brands more storytelling flexibility, and increasing the length of video ads to 60 seconds.
For banks and credit unions looking to be more relatable or show just how well they fit into consumers’ lives, Instagram might make sense — particularly for larger institutions and those who have already mastered the other major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn). But Instagram probably isn’t going to move the needle for the majority of financial institutions. It could be a gigantic waste of time for many banks and credit unions, with minimal ROI in terms of growth. If you are going to use Instagram, at least use it to its maximum potential. Here’s are a few ideas you should consider
1. Show, Don’t Tell
Images speak louder than words. Instead of simply writing a post about employee volunteer efforts, showcase them in a photo. Actions can make a bigger impact when there is a visual to support them.
Meredith Olmstead, the founding partner at Social Stairway, suggests financial institutions find a way to be inspirational and aspirational in ways that express their brand. Highlight the personalities of your institution and give customers a reason to look forward to seeing what is happening behind closed doors. “Share real photos of customers and employees doing real things. Behind-the-scenes photos are viral because people like seeing what goes on at their bank or credit union,” she said.
Ryan Ruud, founder/CEO of Credit Union Consulting Group, says financial institutions should emphasize photos of customers on Instagram. “Ask them to share their favorite places around town. Encourage people to share pictures of things that your financial institution has made possible whether college, home, car, boat, or vacation.”
Instagram is a visual platform, so you’ll have to put some thought into the images you share. Keep in mind how it relates to your business and how it can benefit your followers. Does it tell a story? Does it sum up the feelings and emotions behind your event?