When Facebook announced Instagram’s new API and a major shift that meant everyone from the biggest corporate company to the smallest content marketing agency could create and share their advertisements on Instagram (a previously heavily gated experience curated by Instagram specialists to ensure each advertisement blended in with users’ existing content stream), the Internet exploded into discussion. Some people believe this is the best thing to happen to advertising since … well … Instagram. Others felt this was the beginning of the end of purely user-generated content and advertisement free browsing. Although the verdict is still out, these are some of the top discussions happening right now:
1. Introducing more ads … Or is it?:
One of the biggest concerns users have is that their feed will suddenly be filled with ads. Because Instagram does not hide or minimize any content, there would be no way to escape a deluge of new advertisements. Instagram
2. Quality vs. quantity:
One aspect almost all users and leading digital marketing agency experts agree on is that advertisement quality is likely to suffer. In the past, Instagram has enforced strict guidelines on the advertising experience. All images were generated in-house at Instagram, all verbiage cleared by their creative team, and all targeting triple checked before going live. Instagram’s new API will allow brands to use their own assets to upload and share content (via Salesforce or other marketing tools) which could lead to a dip in quality … we sincerely hope not in tandem with an increase in quantity.
3. The road not taken:
Those who oppose Instagram’s new API are upset because Instagram represented one of the last places where users could browse content created by them, not for them. Instagram was a unique experience and prided itself on not participating in the mainstream monetization of social media. When Facebook purchased Instagram in 2012, people knew it was only a matter of time. Many of the complaints around this change stem from fear that an influx in advertisements would rob users of an experience they have grown to love.
4. Hipsters, authenticity, and advertisements, oh my:
If the artistic hipsters, sunset-loving celebutantes, selfie-stick-toting travelers, and millennials flee Instagram, what will the platform become? And what will replace it? For the sake of the large (somewhat demanding) user base that embraced Instagram’s unique authenticity and purity, we suspect Instagram will need to scale back on the level of freedom they grant advertisers to avoid risking user abandonment.
5. Keeping that 2.8 average:
We would be remiss to remind you that Instagram has had advertisements for several years and that Insta-ads typically yield a 2.8 return on investment when compared with other social media advertisements. The reason for this return is simple: high user engagement and the flawless design strategy Instagram used to keep those ads on the cutting edge of creativity and relevance. As long as Instagram (and any participating advertising agency) can maintain the same level of engagement after their new API goes live, all this fuss might be worth it’s weight in gold. Read: see above that 2.8 average. Way above.
6. Content is still king:
For Instagram to pull this off (and for your business to benefit), your digital marketing agency needs to remember that content is still king. We don’t believe that Instagram’s new API is the end of the social media ecosystem as we know it. In fact, we believe this change poses a unique challenge for all marketers and industry professionals to step up their creativity and get back to hard hitting marketing strategy, instead of churning and burning meaningless campaigns and hoping they stick.
7. Hail the new king:
If Instagram encourages businesses and marketers to serve better content to their customers, Instagram may become even more relevant than it is now. Instead of abandoning the platform, new users could flock to Instagram knowing that they’ll be receiving hyper-personalized content that they actually want to see. This would make Instagram the new king of social media and possibly even Google or other search platforms in terms of pure advertising and conversion potential.
8. The future of filtering (and we don’t mean Ludwig):
Another way to mitigate risk is for Instagram to introduce new filtering tools to users’ feeds. This would fundamentally change the structure of Instagram and the never-ending content flow users seem to enjoy, but may solve for the advertiser’s dilemma if Instagram’s new API starts driving users away. In the same way that users can currently tab into their followers’ activity, their photo feed, and individual profile tags, Instagram could use some form of tagging or filtering to enhance the user experience as their advertising model evolves.
9. This really could be a good thing:
Love it or hate it, the only things certain in life are death and taxes. And change. Instagram, like every platform before it and every platform that will come after it, needs to evolve with current marketing trends and business needs. Even with shock and outrage from the Internet, Instagram is launching their new API. Instead of fighting it, we recommend on capitalizing on it and making the experience better for all parties involved – you as a user and your advertising agency partner.
10. Who is next?:
So that leaves us with only one question left: who is next? Because we know that Instagram won’t be the last platform to radically change their marketing techniques as customers crave more tailored advertising content and highly individualized marketing experiences.