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New reasons for—and against—Instagram marketing

Two articles from Adweek, out this week, offer more evidence that Instagram is proving to be the social-media platform to watch and learn from.

It’s gaining on Facebook

Although only a select few dozen corporations currently are able to run ads on Instagram and it’s not yet clear when a wider rollout will happen, the photo-sharing site had almost half a million brand posts in the second quarter of 2014, according to the Adweek article, which quotes data from Shareablee. That’s a 49 percent year-over-year jump, showing that the chosen marketers are very active on the app; Facebook had 2.5 million brand posts, a year-over-year jump of 22 percent.

And those Instagram marketers are getting bang for their buck, it appears. While promos on Facebook accrued 6 billion likes, comments or shares in the second quarter and 2,400 actions per post, Instagram promos totaled 3.4 billion likes, comments or shares and nearly 7,000 actions per post. Keep in mind, Facebook has been around for a decade and Instagram has existed for less than half the time. And while Facebook has 829 million daily active users, Instagram is pulling those results with 200 million monthly active users.

Adweek concludes that brand activity is growing much faster on Instagram, even though companies have limited access at this point, but what’s most notable is that “Instagram is achieving three times the engagement per post when compared to Facebook.” While it’s not clear what that means for the future of Instagram advertising, many marketers anticipate that the social media app will broaden access soon.

… but are customers really ready for it?

An article on Adweek’s website the next day, however, points out the challenges companies have in figuring out what works most effectively for engaging customers on these newer platforms. An Instagram post McDonald’s ran earlier this week has received notable backlash from users unhappy with seeing promos in their photo streams. Despite 45,000 likes, the ads garnered nearly 2,000 comments, many of them negative.

Whether it was the fact that the images were obviously ads showing and hashtagging the chain’s Bacon Clubhouse burger or that people were just not ready for ads to interrupt the photos posted by their friends and favorites is unclear. Adweek questions whether McDonald’s efforts also “suggest that fast food chains may not be as well-suited for Instagram as other image-heavy brands like fashion labels and sports marketers that routinely dominate social engagement on the platform.”

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