More Malaysian clients see the value in marketing on Instagram

Instagram now has more than one million active monthly advertisers globally. This is a significant growth from just 200,000 advertisers this time last year.

Recent statistics from the platform reveal that it currently has eight million organisations using "business profiles", with the greatest adoption coming from the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and the United Kingdom. More than 120 million instagrammers have also visited a website, received directions, called, emailed or direct-messaged to learn about a business in the last one month, said the social photo sharing site.

Mirroring this global trend, the popularity of Instagram in Malaysia is also on the rise.Andrew Gnananantham, CMO of Lazada Malaysia said that the company's Instagram account has grown by 15 times in the last 18 months. But he declined to comment on the increase in investment.

"We have been able to use it to connect brands with customers in a fun, engaging, and relevant manner. Our growth has been achieved by investing in shareable content, fun games and influencer activation; all of which is simpler to do via Instagram," he said.

Similarly, Tito Costa, regional managing director of Zalora, said Instagram has played an important role on the company's marketing mix. He said:

It is a great visual product discovery platform where most consumers start the journey of product discover.

Costa as well, declined to comment on investment or marketing budget details.

The reach issue

Meanwhile from an agency stand point, Amit Sutha, managing director of Ensemble Worldwide said Instagram has definitely matured over the years, from being used for creative purposes to driving sales or traffic. He added that according to his team's estimates, traffic on the platform is growing at a rate of 8-10% a quarter.

However, he was of the view that, while Instagram does add a lot of variety and impact to marketing campaigns, it still cannot be deemed as a reach based platform.

David Soo, managing director of Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid echoed similar sentiments. He said that while there has been an increase in interest on Instagram, no major investments to date.

"Instagram is visually attractive with high engagement rates, however its reach is still relatively low," he added.

A platform to establish relationships

Malaysian brands today are continuously looking to establish direct relationship with the consumers with the help of social platforms, said Derek Tan, partner, content and social, Entropia. Therefore, Tan explained that Instagram as a platform will keep attracting attention and be a priority for brands, as it keeps its pace of innovation on current and relevant trends.

Casper Anderson, managing partner, Lion & Lion, also agreed with Tan and said that clients spend on Instagram has doubled over the last quarter.He said:

In a digital world, sometimes there is too strong a focus on the role of the 'click' and there is too little focus on the ad experience. In such a scenario, Instagram offers the much needed canvas for good creative content.

Anderson explained that marketing has predominantly been about influencing people. However, this does not mean that all advertising needs to lead to an immediate action, irrespective of the offline or online medium.

Integrated media buying across Instagram and Facebook makes it possible for brand to execute campaigns to apply controlled targeting, which optimises the reach, frequency, experience and hence influence across different stages of a strategy.

However, Anderson explained that brands need to be mindful of matching their presence on the platform with the experience users are looking for on that specific platform. With this, brands can leverage Instagram better than others.