Research on Instagram: How I Discovered That Visual Content Is King

There are people who say that their master’s degree took two years out of their lives with little to show for the time and trouble, and then there are the people who manage to look at it differently and say: “Oh my God, I actually learned something!“ Luckily for me, I fall in the second group.

As with many passionate researchers before me, I have had bad days where I was crying to myself about how I would never get to the bottom of the topic, while at the same time I also established a great relationship with the junk food in my fridge. I must admit, it was absolutely worth it!

Not only did I get my master’s degree in Strategic Marketing, I put together about a hundred pages of research on the topic Instagram as the Main Marketing Communication Channel – a Case Study of Seven Slovenian Lifestyle Brands which had never been researched before.


Why would anyone write a master’s thesis about Instagram?

We are all deeply mesmerised by different social media channels which have become extensions of our own selves, and Instagram is my favourite. What grabbed my attention was the notion of different, relatively unknown (to me) Slovenian brands with visually appealing content.

Browsing further and scrolling through almost every single photo that they published, I became determined to prove that Instagram can work as a marketing channel. Not only that, it can become the main or only channel for small, lifestyle brands. My main question was – how do they use it?

Research on Instagram
Research on Instagram


How was the research on Instagram done?

When I started writing my master’s thesis, four steps were clear to me: read a lot of theory, ask the right questions, and most importantly, conduct accurate in-depth research and learn from it!

I rolled up my sleeves and started pushing myself to the point of picking up the brands I really wanted to interview. Although all of their owners were busy – as most of the brand owners were self-made entrepreneurs and social media managers as well, every single person I reached out to took the time to reply and join me for an interview.

I picked seven Slovenian lifestyle brands that established their Instagram account at least one year earlier and, in my opinion, became great examples of how brands should look on Instagram. From the famous characters on the ceramic cups to wooden bikes and fashionable backpacks, I interviewed the creators of the following brands:

iterowatches, instagram


What have I learned, or why should your brand start using Instagram?

Conducting a yearlong research into the topic brought me to numerous findings about branding on Instagram, however I will describe five simple ones that will definitely stay with me forever*.

  • Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in our brains than texts, and 40% of people respond best to visual information (Forrester research 2015). Do you want a visual example? Go around the grocery store today, look at the cans of corn on the shelves, and note for yourself that you will automatically grab the can with the biggest image of corn on it.
  • If you have a product or service and no budget to market it, take your best camera, call a person who takes breath-taking photos, create an Instagram profile for your brand, and start posting the photos and creating short videos.
  • Instagram might not be selling your products directly, but it is the perfect channel for creating brand awareness, which leads to better brand recognition and triggers the customer’s desires for your showcased products. Remember how well the burger on the billboard works when you are hungry, driving along the highway?
  • Define the strategy, figure out who your target group is, and be wise about picking up the right hashtags – as they will lead people who don’t know your brand to your Instagram profile. If you don’t know how to do it, take a look of the Instagram profile of your biggest competitor and fake it till you make it!
  • Communicate and interact. Reply to every single comment, answer every single question, and communicate an interest in what your followers are doing, too. Not only that, your followers are your potential buyers, they might “write between the lines” and lead you to ideas that improve your product. Your company and your brand want to grow, right?

Is there a conclusion?

Yes! Instagram is not rocket science, but it can do magic for your brand as soon as you accept and embrace that visual content is king. Not only has it become a channel for marketing communication, my master’s thesis proved that five out of seven brands use Instagram as their only marketing tool. So, it’s definitely possible.

But I won’t stop here. With a master’s degree in my hands and with about 732 topics I’m interested in, I am shouting out loud: »Bring it on, world!”

*In case you’re on the curious side and would like to know more, please, drop me a message!

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