Marketers Find Success on Instagram as Consumers Spend More Time on Mobile

Tracking engagement, learning what works

Headshot of Kristina Monllos

For marketers, Instagram has proved to be an ally. The platform allows them to quickly track how their campaigns are doing and learn from what's working and what isn't. And with 400 million monthly users, some brands are even launching new products there.

During a discussion with Daniel Habashi, Instagram's director of brand development, Progressive's digital marketing director, Nader Ali-Hassan, credited his brand's success to its ability to look at the numbers. 

"We joke [that] we're in an arms race [in the insurance business]," said Ali-Hassan. "It's 10 a.m. and you've probably seen seven insurance ads already. But for us, it's about being innovative and being first, and the great thing about digital marketing is that we can measure and track if something works." 

Keri La Ra, director of global social media and digital compliance at Starwood Hotels & Resorts, agreed. "The best part of it is that we can learn from it," La Ra said.

Earlier this year, Starwood launched Tribute Portfolio, a new chain of hotels, and used Instagram's "Carousel" option, which lets consumers swipe right to see a few images, as its main source of promotion. 

"Social media, instead of complementary marketing, is now at the forefront," said La Ra. Though, she added, "How you engage with consumers on each platform is different." 

For example, Starwood's Instagram followers expect to see more polished looking content from the brand than what they'd typically see on the platform, she said, and that leads to more engagement.

Starwood has also bet big on LinkedIn and Uber, according to La Ra, who said that mobile is the fastest growing marketing channel for the brand. 

Instagram's Habashi noted that it makes sense for marketers, who are increasingly looking to mobile, to push out content on Instagram because people use Facebook or Instagram an average of one out of every five minutes they're on mobile. 

"And 79 percent of American mobile users are only putting down their phones for two hours a day," said Habashi.

Plus, knowing when consumers are engaging with their content—Instagram recently revealed an hour-by-hour breakdown of when its users are on the platform—helps marketers figure out what's working and what isn't much faster. 

@KristinaMonllos Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.