Book Review: Instagram Power

In 2013, Jason G. Miles published Instagram Power, after his bestselling book Pinterest Power. In Instagram Power, he focuses and talks about how businesses and companies use Instagram to market and promote their brands more efficiently. As people using Instagram more and more in their daily lives, businesses and companies are seeking out how to promote their brand throughout the various social media platforms, in order to secure the secure one or more connections with their potential and existing customer base. If one of the social media platforms did not work such as the company’s Facebook pages are deleted, you would still have other ways to market your products to your potential and existing customers. According to Miles, Instagram was the first social network that was entirely built for the mobile devices. As our world is becoming more mobile, it makes sense that companies do want to shift their focus from the online, desktop world to the mobile world. To do that, Instagram is a good way to start.

This is true based on what I have seen during my summer internship at an advertising agency. We were responsible for managing a company’s Instagram and implementing different campaigns that would drive Instagram users to use a unique hashtag and have them be exposed to the mission statement of the company and the real purpose of this campaign. Our first and foremost goal is to quickly expand the new social media platform by recruiting our existing customers through different incentives that are announced on Facebook page and on the company’s website itself. This is similar to what Miles is suggesting in Instagram Power. He advises companies to set goals that they should achieve when they start to use a new social media platform, such as to follow different industry leaders and potential customers that are weak ties and gaining 1000 followers as soon as possible, because according to Zeynep Tufecki, we can use attention as a measure of value and with Instagram, the more followers you have, the more credible and valuable it would be to the consumers. Even though it might seem to be totally feasible, but when you actually try to recruit followers, the process is a long and hard one.

When our group, csmtwerk, decided to choose this book as our book review post I thought that this book would be an easy read, as it is about Instagram and it is such a relevant social media in our lives. However, I had quite a hard time going through the first part because it was a detailed step-by-step guide as to how Instagram works, the buttons on the application and the specific functions of each button. It was then that my group as a whole realized that the target audience of this book isn’t for our generation. It is for the generation above us who does not use Instagram but would like to take the social media properties of Instagram and help them use this tool for marketing purposes. Also, since Instagram will constantly update its software and be in a perpetual beta according to Ellison and Boyd, this book might not be the best resource for a step-to-step guide to use Instagram as it might be outdated. Only through participant observation, as mention in Michael Wesch’s video: An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube, would the non-users of Instagram that wants to learn how to use this social media application be able to learn and master the use of this application.

Miles talked about how to create a “tribe” of potential customers through the use of hashtags and to follow people who are opinion leaders that would be relevant to your industry. As you follow these people and they follow you back, when they liked your photos, their followers would be able to see what kind of photos the company liked for a limited time on the “Following” tab in Instagram. This links to the idea of strong, weak and latent ties that Caroline Haythornthwaite mentions in her essay “Social Networks and Internet Connectivity Effects” which NicolasSaadMichelle, and Jessica also mentioned in their notes,  how it would be beneficial for the company to gain potential customers. Miles starts of with advising businesses to convert their existing customers that are on Facebook to also follow them on Instagram by offering an incentive. This would then create a strong tie between the business and its consumers as they are connected by multiple social media channels and the business would be able to promote their products to their followers through different social media channels, thus achieving media-multiplexity. Latent ties can also be established and potentially converted into a weak tie by using hashtags that are relevant to your customer base. Through the act of reiteration, as mentioned by Zizi Papacharissi in “Without You, I’m Nothing: Performance of the Self on Twitter,” you can start a trend and have your followers catch on to the trend as well. This can be accomplished through holding different contests on each social networking site and engaging their followers, the latent ties would also be exposed to the business.

I find that Miles could have approach Instagram Power in a different way because in its current state, as our group had discussed, it might appeal to the older generation that has no experience in mobile applications. However, this book does not successfully target the younger age group because most of the younger generation have some experience with Instagram and the first quarter of the book is designated to people who have no experience with Instagram. It talks about every buttons and functions of Instagram and to the younger reader, it does not captivate their interest as they would put down this book after 20 pages into this book. However, my group and I found that the weirdest part throughout this book was Miles promoting and asking people to follow him in this book. I feel that if people liked your book after reading it, they would try to seek you out and follow you on different social networks and not asking readers to follow you in your book.

I personally would like to see that Miles include more examples of different incentives that companies are adopting for customers to start following their Instagram such as TOMS giving out a free pair of TOMS shoes for their first 200,000 followers. I find that this is another possible method for companies to start attracting new followers to become potential customers while not “cheapening [the product’s] perceived value.” (Miles 132) Furthermore, Instagram Power mainly focuses its examples on Miles’ company, Liberty Jane Clothing, where there are only 3955 followers at the time this was written. It would be helpful to the readers if Miles would use the same analysis that he is using with Liberty Jane Clothing as an example, and adapt it and focus on different company’s Instagram profile, seeing how the other companies that have a large amount of followers use the same methods that Miles incorporates in his book to gain followers. Also, Claire, Michelle and Skyler brought up that it would be interesting to see how Miles would incorporate the new video function that Instagram has added less than a year ago into his book and how he would implement this video function into Instagram marketing during our group discussion. It would be interesting to see which function does Miles think it would be better for marketing, Instagram Video or Vine.



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