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
2015. , 66 p.