Instagram has become a widely popular social media platform. While the site started as a photo-sharing platform in 2010, it has evolved into a humongous platform with a wide variety of features. Acquired by Meta in 2012, Instagram’s popularity continued to grow and now has more than 2 billion monthly active users.

But what exactly makes Instagram so popular? How is it any different from other social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok? In addition, why is Instagram so popular among online businesses?

In this article on social media marketing explained, we will dive into Instagram as a powerful and effective marketing and ecommerce platform.


Instagram and the Ecommerce Industry

Social Media Marketing Explained: Instagram Marketing
Source: Pexels


During its launch, Instagram was meant to be a photo-sharing platform specifically designed for mobile devices. The app came with basic features such as commenting, people and location tagging, as well as photo filters and enhancements. However, the original app was initially only available for the iPhone operating system (iOS).

Despite this, Instagram quickly became popular. It features a pretty simple interface where users can scroll through dozens of posts from people they are following. The highlight of the Instagram experience is its photo and video-sharing capabilities, where people can be updated through highly visual content. By 2012, Instagram was made available for Android mobile users.

However, Instagram’s popularity did not stop there. While Instagram was popular as a social media and networking platform, its features bode well for brands and online businesses. 

Because of its highly visual content, some brands started using Instagram to promote their products or services. Instagram has become an effective platform to post high-quality content that is extremely appealing to consumers. 

With this trend, Instagram evolved from a simple social media app into an ecommerce platform. Now, it features a wide range of marketing and ecommerce tools that make online shopping more accessible and convenient for its users.

Here are some of the platform’s ecommerce features to give you a better idea,


Instagram Stories, Highlights, and Reels

One of the biggest additions to Instagram is its video-sharing features. Initially, users can post photos and videos and showcase them in their profiles. 

However, as video content became more and more popular, Instagram introduced brand-new ways to include them in the platform with the introduction of Instagram Stories, Highlights, and Reels. These three new features are Instagram’s attempt to incorporate and accommodate short-form video content. 

Instagram Stories allow users to post pictures or videos that are only visible for 24 hours. It is a unique feature often used by brands to keep their audience updated. It is also one way to keep them engaged. The limited view time factor also creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity in Instagram Stories content.

However, Instagram Stories are not limited to just posts. It also comes with some interactive features that can be used to engage with viewers. Brands can create polls, ask questions, add links, and even create a countdown.

Instagram’s Highlights feature is also a powerful tool for social media marketing. While there is beauty in the limited view time element of Instagram Stories, some people want the ability to keep some of these stories in their profile. Thus, the introduction of Instagram Highlights.

This feature allows users to select stories from their archives and keep them displayed on their profiles as a highlight. Users can create multiple highlight sections and rename them accordingly. Some brands use the highlight feature to keep previous marketing campaigns present in their business profile and allow customers to go back and revisit them.

Lastly, Instagram Reels is the platform’s effort to include short-form video content recording and sharing. Reels come with an array of editing features as well as other elements such as filters, music, and the like to make content much more engaging and entertaining.


Instagram LIVE and IGTV

Social Media Marketing Explained: Instagram Marketing
Source: Pexels

As mentioned above, video content continues to be a popular marketing tool, especially in social media marketing. To accommodate the increasing demand for video content on social media platforms, Instagram introduced another video-related feature that will cater to long-form videos and posts.

The above-mentioned Instagram Stories, Highlights, and Reels are all designed for short-form video content. Generally, these videos are only less than a minute long. But what about longer Instagram videos? Well, the IGTV feature allows the posts of videos up to one hour long.

One unique element of Instagram IGTV is that it is solely focused on vertical videos only. This means that brands would only need to use their mobile phones to create IGTV video content. This feature makes IGTV more cost-effective and accessible to most people. 

Aside from IGTV, Instagram also introduced a live-streaming function known as Instagram LIVE. Here, users can go live and interact with their followers with just their mobile phones. 


Instagram Ads

To further boost its online shopping and marketing features, Instagram introduced its advertising program. Instagram Ads allow brands to advertise and promote their products or services in a variety of formats. It is a paid or sponsored advertising plan that increases brand awareness and online visibility to targeted audiences. 

Here is a quick overview of some of the Instagram Ad formats online businesses can use for their online marketing strategy.


Photo Ads 

This features a single image that appears on users’ home or For You pages. It is the simplest ad format but can still effectively drive traffic or even encourage a desired action from the target audience.


Carousel Ads 

Carousel ads can show multiple images or videos that users can swipe through. This provides brands with more options and creative freedom on what to include in their ad campaign. Carousel ads also offer more value as they can feature more products and information about the brand in one ad unit.


Collection Ads 

This type of Instagram ad uses a unique format where it features one primary image and a couple of smaller images below, which is perfect for showcasing multiple products. Collection ads also come with a feature that allows users to shop directly through the ad by simply clicking on the product featured on the post.


Video Ads 

Video content has been a big part of Instagram in recent years. Since more and more users are consuming video content on the platform, video ads have become essential in Instagram’s advertising program. Brands can utilize video ads on the platform’s various video styles and formats. Video ads can be incorporated into Instagram stories, reels, and posts.


Explore Ads

Instagram’s Explore Ads takes advantage of users’ tendency to scroll through the platform for hours. This ad format is visible on Instagram’s Explore page, where people go to find or search for new content. To better target specific audiences, Explore Ads looks into users’ viewing habits and are typically seen by people who have previously looked into a similar or related product. 


Instagram Shoppable Posts

Aside from mere advertising and marketing features, Instagram also comes with ecommerce tools that allow users to shop and purchase products through the app. Instagram’s Shoppable Post combines ecommerce and social media into one convenient platform.

Since Instagram is primarily a social media platform used to publish photos and videos, most people use it as that. They post pictures and other content as a way to connect and build social networks. 

However, Instagram also evolved into a popular marketing tool where brands advertise their products or services by posting high-quality images and content. 

Generally, the idea for Instagram as a marketing tool is that users would see a brand or product they are interested in. Then, they would go over to that brand’s business profile to see what else they have to offer. They would find posts showcasing products in the most aesthetically pleasing way. And if they want to buy it, they would find a link to that shop’s ecommerce website.

Instagram’s Shoppable Post is designed to make this whole process easier. These features allow brands to include product links directly to the post. 

Take for example a photo featuring several products. Instagram’s Shoppable Post can tag each particular item and show users the product name and its price. The tag also directly links to the product’s listing from the brand’s ecommerce website. With just one click, Instagram users can be instantly redirected to the online store and make their purchases faster. 



Digital marketers and ecommerce brands can utilize Instagram as a powerful marketing tool. However, they have to learn how to create a variety of content that leverages the platform’s demand for aesthetically pleasing visual content. 

If used correctly, Instagram marketing can be an effective way for brands to promote their products, increase their online visibility, boost brand reputation, as well as generate more sales. 


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