August 18, 2014

There are plenty of social media sites out there. They probably work just fine for you. You have a fan base there and you drive traffic and sales from those sites. So, why on Earth, would you want to waste your time on Instagram?

This is a question I get frequently. And I recently had a good variation of this question on one of my blog posts. While I have written about the benefits of Instagram multiple times (here and here and here and here and here among other posts), I wanted to answer this specific question directly.

The question I was asked was "why would you waste your time on Instagram when you have sites like Facebook, and even Pinterest which are way more effective at driving traffic?"

This person continued to explain that they believe that given similar parameters of fan base size, etc. on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, those sites would blow away Instagram because you can't drive traffic from Instagram but you can using those other social media sites.

Here's the thing. I actually love questions like this! This person brought forth a legitimate argument and concern that many business owners think about. And that's why I'm writing a whole blog post to answer this question! 😉

So, here we go.

To start off, I agree that, yes, in general, you can definitely drive more (quantity) traffic through Twitter, Pinterest, and even Facebook. This will, of course depend on numerous factors including the number of fans you have on each platform, how active they are, why they choose to follow you, and what you have to offer.

Someone who uses any social media site purely as a blast-them-away method to spew marketing material in attempts to drive traffic won't see much success on any other platform, let alone Instagram. In fact, they'll probably fall really flat on Instagram.

In terms of traffic though, as I've shown before, Instagram produces more high quality traffic than any other site. Because people have to navigate a few steps to get to your site from Instagram, the chances of them bouncing off are low. They will stay on your site and complete the action they went there for.

And studies have shown that the average sale generated by an Instagram referral is over $65 - higher than any other social media site referral sale amount.

So, while you may not get as much volume of traffic, you will get better traffic through Instagram - seems like a worthwhile investment to me.

Depending on how you measure your ROI, if you want to look at overall engagement, Instagram produces in this department too. Instagram engagement is 15X greater than what brands see on Facebook. Instagram accounts with significantly smaller fan bases will see higher engagement rates on equivalent content than their Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Google+ accounts.

And, while we know likes, comments, etc. aren't the gold standard of ROI, they are still a predictor of social media influence and brand development.

I can honestly say that I've seen better results from Instagram than any of my other social media sites. I get better engagement - by far! I get better conversations. I get more questions and requests. I get better connections and relationships. And I've received broader brand awareness across a broader spectrum of people.

It's also worth noting that very few people only use one social media site for their business. But, no matter how many social media sites you use, I always recommend you choose the best platform(s) for you. And, Instagram may not be your best choice.

To be completely honest, if my only goal on social media was to drive traffic (as a blogger), and I was only using one platform, I'd probably focus on Twitter.

But that's not my only goal, and I'm definitely not only using one social media platform. 😉

My goal, which is really rewarding on Instagram, is to build relationships around my brand. I have conversations, share ideas, show what I'm working on, and tell a story. So when I do share posts advertising my blog posts or promoting a new service, I get very positive results. My audience has learned to expect these posts from me (I am trying to grow my business after all) but it's because of our relationships that they follow through on the calls to action.

I have seen more positive results from Instagram than any other of my social media sites. But I also spend more time there. If I spent more time on Pinterest, I might see better results there. But where you choose to invest (or waste) your precious time is entirely up to you. There are only so many hours in a day and too many resources to utilize.

I just want to finish up by saying that if Instagram continues to grow and explode like it has been doing, you're likely to end up using Instagram for marketing at some point. I would rather get started now, grow an audience, and develop a solid presence. That way, when everyone else figures it out, I'm not trying to play catch-up like them. I'm already here, seeing results, and hanging out with my awesome followers!

You can choose to use Instagram now, or you can wait. Or you can ignore it forever. Your business is your business. Your social media results are based on your commitment and investment. You decide where you want to put that commitment and investment.

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