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Facebook acquires Instagram: 5 years later

On April 9, 2012, Facebook agreed to purchase Instagram for $1 billion in stock and cash. It was declared Facebook’s largest acquisition at the time and added a mobile photo-sharing application to the company’s portfolio one month ahead of their IPO.

In a statement issued on the date of the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that acquiring Instagram was “an important milestone” for the company.

Providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.
— Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook

The 5 year anniversary of that acquisition just came to pass on April 9, 2017. Over those 5 years, Facebook has done an admirable job developing an intricate relationship between the two channels that’s benefitted brands, users, and marketers alike.

How has this relationship unfolded? Let’s look at some of the biggest accomplishments achieved by the two platforms, and how they impact your plans for content.

Facebook Acquires 1.86 Billion Monthly Active Users

Facebook was the first modern social media channel to leave its mark on the digital landscape in 2004. The number of active users has grown exceptionally strong since that time as the scope of Facebook’s reach continues to expand across the globe.

As of Q4 2016, Facebook hit a new milestone of 1.86 billion monthly active users. The company is on target to reach a full 2 billion active monthly users before the end of 2017.

Source:  Mashable

Source: Mashable

How This Impacts Your Plans for Content

Facebook is, without a doubt, the largest channel in the social media atmosphere. You need to make Facebook a crucial part of your content plan if you want to expand your business.

Take a look at this chart, which visualizes data on the leading social networks in terms of total active users (in millions).

Source:  Statista

Source: Statista

As you can see, Facebook overwhelmingly commands the peak of the mountain. However, considering that the company owns WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, Facebook is directly or indirectly connected to billions upon billions of social content consumers.

The data should incentivize your team to analyze, and memorize Facebook content best practices. This means determining what types of creatives are optimal for organic engagement, and most likely to make an impact when running Facebook ads.

There’s a massive audience connected to Facebook and you want to get as much value out of that pool of prospective customers as you possibly can.

Instagram Reaches 600 Million Active Monthly Users

Instagram’s growth rate has been nothing short of exceptional since the platform’s inception. Launched in October 2010, there were 1 million registered Instagram users by December 2010. Six years later, the company proudly announced that 600 million people actively use Instagram every month.

What This Means For Your Instagram Content

The platform has become an important channel for marketing campaigns. Instagram is a very personal channel, encouraging users to share photos and videos from their daily lives. This behavior encourages marketers to shift their brand identities towards personalized styles that align with Instagram’s target demographic.

A comprehensive survey entitled “Pictures Speak Louder than Words: Motivations for Using Instagram” identified the motivation, intention, primary activities, and user attitudes regarding Instagram as a channel for content.

The researchers surveyed 212 Instagram users and determined that there are 5 primary social and psychological motives for using Instagram.

  1. Social interaction

  2. Archiving

  3. Self-expression

  4. Escapism

  5. Peeking

Keep those psychological motivations in mind as you create content for your marketing campaigns. You want to connect with Instagram users on their level, which means your content should inspire active users to interact with your brand.

5 Million Advertisers Now on Facebook

According to Facebook, there were 3 million businesses advertising products on the channel in March 2016. Six months later, in September, that number jumped to 4 million.

But on April 10, one day after the 5 year Instagram acquisition anniversary, Facebook announced that there are now 5 million advertisers actively using the platform.

Why You Should Advertise Content on Facebook

Setting the growth aside for a moment, here are some other details about Facebook’s global advertising expansion.

  • 75% of Facebook advertisers are now based outside of the US. In September 2016, Facebook said that 70% were outside the US.

  • 50% of advertisers are creating mobile-first or mobile only ads. The number of advertisers that created smartphone or tablet ads expanded from 40% in September.

  • The 5 countries Facebook says have the fastest growing advertiser bases are:

    • Argentina

    • Brazil

    • India

    • Mexico

    • Thailand

  • The 5 countries where Facebook added the highest number of net new advertisers are:
    • The US
    • The UK
    • Brazil
    • Mexico
    • Thailand

Marketers around the world are clearly utilizing the world’s largest social media platform to reach as many people as possible.

To remain competitive, you’ll want to look at Facebook’s advertising guidelines so that you can promote your own ads across social media. You’ll also need lots of custom content for these ads and should consider new solutions to create that content at scale.

1 Million Brands Run Monthly Ads on Instagram

In March 2016, there were 200K businesses actively advertising on Instagram. One year later, the company proudly declared that the number of monthly active advertisers grew to 1 million.

Instagram has positioned itself as a valuable channel for both large and small businesses. Instagram released a number of business tools last year to help businesses lacking websites or other forums gain invaluable insights about their target audiences.

Why You Should Advertise Content on Instagram

In a statement given to Forbes, Instagram VP of Business James Quarles said brands and consumers align on Instagram because it’s a platform for “discovery.”

Businesses are drawn to Instagram because it’s a place where people follow passions, everything from mainstream interests, like their favorite musician, to niche hobbies like candy art.
— James Quarles, Instagram

Placing an ad on Instagram is as simple as tapping four buttons while logged into your business profile. Features like Boomerang and Hyperlapse allow users to transform day-to-day moments into brief video snippets that can be uploaded and shared across the platform.

This is a great way for brands to promote human moments or behind the scenes shots that show audiences life behind the company name.

Instagram is also releasing a new version of Direct that will archive photos and videos in the same threads as text conversation threads.

Source:  Mashable

Source: Mashable

You can learn more about each of Instagram’s creative features and their impact on your content by registering for the “Ultimate Guide to Instagram in 2017” webinar recording.

Facebook Launches Stories for Mobile

Facebook formally launched its own version of Stories at the end of Q1 2017. The new feature borrows features from both Instagram and Snapchat, and introduces them to a much larger audience.

Why Facebook Stories Impacts Content Creation

Like Instagram and Snapchat, people can publish photo or video content to Facebook Stories that will disappear from the feed after 24 hours. One notable difference between Facebook Stories and its counterparts is that users swipe up or down to view the content as opposed to left or right on Instagram and Snapchat.

Connor Hayes, Product Manager at Facebook, described Stories as a recognition that the ways people share and consume content are changing “from text to photos and videos.”

This is in turn changing the way they’re sharing with one another and interacting online.
— Connor Hayes, Facebook

Just like Facebook recognized that photos and videos are the types of content that connect people to other people, you as a marketer must acknowledge that visual content is the best way to connect brands to consumers.

People spend hours every day searching for these types of content so why not make your brand the one that stands out?

Instagram Releases Ads in Stories

In August 2016, Instagram released Instagram Stories as part of the company’s plan (with Facebook) to compete directly with Snapchat. On March 1, 2017, Instagram provided brands with greater incentive to bring their own stories to life through creative content.

As of the end of 2016, 150 million people actively used Instagram Stories daily. The company established a plan to monetize the storytelling format by allowing brands to insert single media ads in between stories. The ads are in the form of full-screen photos and vertical videos, mirroring the style of this video developed by McDonald's for a new product release.

How Ads in Stories Affects Your Content Plans

Instagram Stories is a very interactive feature and people who interact with story content will subsequently interact with your ad. People can tap forward, backward, and pause your ad at their own discretion.

By giving people control of how your ads play in their stories, Instagram helps you position your brand narrative in a way that is easiest for users to recall. Reach is the primary metric to analyze the effectiveness of your Ads in Stories, but brand recall is a powerful reason to create content specifically to insert into Stories.

What’s Next for Facebook and Instagram?

It’s safe to say that Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram has benefitted both social channels and the billions of users that consume content on the two platforms. The specific future of this relationship is unclear, but the two companies will presumably continue to integrate their platforms and their features so everyone enjoys more fulfilling content experiences.


Are you creating the right types of social content? Are your efforts having the impact you expect? Register for our upcoming “How to Create Facebook Content with Impact” webinar for insight into recent platform updates, tips for proper A/B testing, and new solutions to scale creative output of your Facebook content.