Marketing on Instagram : A qualitative study on how companies make use of Instagram as a marketing tool

University essay from Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi; Umeå universitet/Företagsekonomi


The last years technological developments have lead to significant improvements in Internet

usage, availability and the way people interact online. Recent statistics show how Internet and

foremost social media usage increases rapidly, which have been noticed by companies,

increasing their presence on social media platforms as well. Previous research has extensively

been conducted within the area of social media marketing. However, the focus has mainly

been put on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and social media platforms in general.

The purpose of this qualitative thesis is to get a deeper understanding of how companies

currently make use of the social media platform Instagram for marketing purposes and

activities. Moreover, the thesis aims to investigate companies’ awareness and concern

regarding their potential reach of 12-15 year olds on Instagram. The thesis aims to provide

new insights that can be added to contemporary research within the field of social media

marketing. The research question of concern is: How do companies make use of Instagram as

a marketing tool?

Semi-structured interviews were conducted on seven marketers working for Swedish

companies present on Instagram. The empirical findings were analysed and presented through

the different building blocks in Kietzmann et al., (2011) Honeycomb of social media, which

worked as a foundational skeleton to the study. Other relevant theories were additionally

compared with the empirical findings and four themes or approaches were determined. Two

main, and one minor theme or approaches of how companies make use of Instagram as a

marketing tool were determined. The first approach of Instagram marketing includes

companies that we have chosen to call the “rookies”. They are relatively new to Instagram

and/or have not been distinctively active in the way they interact on the platform. The rookies

share characteristic of being in an experimental stage, trying to find their optimal usage of

Instagram. The second approach of Instagram marketing includes companies that we have

chosen to call the “Oldies”. A characteristic identified among these companies is a rather

extensive Instagram experience, gained either through long-term presence or through distinct

active presence during a shorter period of time. However, Company 4 could not be included

in any of the above-identified approaches, as their marketing tendencies on Instagram follow

a slightly different character. Their specific approach of Instagram marketing belongs to what

we have chosen to call “The exception”.

It was moreover brought to surface that the interviewed marketers seemed to have no ethical

concern regarding the increasingly present 12-15 year olds on Instagram, as they do not

believe they reach this group of young users.

The final conclusion is how all of these approaches generate from the fact that Instagram is

new platform where companies are learning by doing how to best make use of the unique

characteristics of Instagram.

We would like to encourage firms planning to create an

Instagram account to embrace some of these characteristics. 1. The real-time aspect;

Instagram users feed constantly updates with the latest content, creates an excellent

opportunity for marketers to promote goods and products at a relevant and specific point in

time. 2. Hashtags; as Instagram allow for little statistical information we argue that hashtags

are great tools for reaching out to specific customer groups. By using hashtags connected to

certain topics of interest among ones targeted users, companies can arguably attain enhanced

customer interest.

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