Instagram’s Story feature just celebrated its first anniversary — and what a year it was.

According to TechCrunch, Instagram’s answer to Snapchat now boasts 250 million daily users, compared to Snapchat’s 166 million. In just under a year, Instagram has dethroned Snapchat as the ephemeral king of media. One year doesn’t sound like much to celebrate, but history isn’t measured only in time. It’s measured in impact, as well.

Instagram’s impact extends to generating conversions. In 2017, 60 percent of users said they learned about a product or service from the platform. In March alone, 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got directions, called, emailed or direct messaged to learn about a business based on an Instagram ad.

What can only be described as the future of social media actually gets its inspiration from the past. Instagram’s original logo was inspired by a 1950s camera by Bell & Howe. More interesting still is how the app’s potential has evolved. Millions of brands and organizations have adapted the platform to share their own unique stories.

Pictured: A 1950s Bell & Howell Camera appears next to the iconic 2014 Instagram app logo.
A 1950s Bell & Howell Camera appears next to the iconic 2014 Instagram logo.

Many museums and nonprofit organizations have adopted Instagram to catapult their collections into the digital age. Organizations like the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution have figured out how to make tangible artifacts work in a digital space. As part of an initiative to build excitement around its centennial, the National Park Service used Instagram to challenge the way people see national monuments and raise awareness about the country’s landmarks.

There have a been a flurry of successful campaigns since, but like all social media, Instagram accounts are most successful when sharing content that looks and feels authentic to a company’s brand. For any company that has been actively taking photos since its inception, this should be great news. Your company’s history separates you from the other businesses in your sector that are flooding the platform.

Here are five reasons you should be maximizing your heritage content on Instagram.

1. Using your history on social media capitalizes on content that is uniquely yours.

When you post an image from your archives, you are sharing a piece of an authentic story. Products and services can be replicated by competitors that are constantly trying to beat you at your own game, but your history can’t be stolen. Your company can make the most of heritage content from digital asset management systems, publications and anniversary campaigns by breaking down and repurposing that content into bite-sized social media posts.

When and what to post are the questions that keep social media managers up at night. In that regard, most of the work has been done for you. Popular hashtags and days of the week can direct an entire heritage campaign. The only variable left is to find the content that will work best to achieve your goals.

2. History is photogenic.

Forget the fancy filters and clever captions. By their nature, historical photos are different, and they break through the clutter in your followers’ Instagram feeds. History doesn’t have to look stale or old. In fact, Jack Daniel’s and Harley-Davidson are using heritage to visually celebrate founders, dates and the evolution of their products on Instagram.
Using heritage content in this way provides audiences with a visual history of your brand. Translating your history into an Instagram post distills a historic moment into a single, accessible image, and allows you to tell your story frame by frame over an extended period of time.

3. People are hungry for vintage content and the feeling of nostalgia.

A study cited in Entrepreneur on nostalgia marketing links nostalgia to increased consumer spending.

Popular social trends like #ThrowbackThursday (TBT) and #FlashbackFriday (FBF) actually tap into this phenomenon. Consumers and brands alike participate each week and account for an 18 percent increase in social engagement on Thursdays and Fridays. These trends translate best visually and already have adapted to Instagram. There have been over 380 million uses of #TBT on Instagram to date.

4. Your company makes history every day.

By adding heritage entries to your content calendar, your company has essentially created a self-perpetuating source of content. Every date on the calendar is now of potential relevance to your company social strategy. Of course, the most powerful heritage posts find a way to be relevant to the date that you post them. For example, posting pictures of product prototypes from 20 years ago as you prepare to release the latest version would be a timely and meaningful use of your company history.

This is a mashup of two photos. On the left, Indian Motorcycle posted a photo of the Spirit of Munro motorcycle shown at the 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to their Instagram feed. The motorcycle was built in honor of the legendary Burt Munro, who set the land speed record in 1967. On the right, there is a photo of Munro's original Indian Motorcycle.
Left: At the 2017 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Indian Motorcycle posted the Spirit of Munro on Instagram. The motorcycle was built in honor of the legendary Burt Munro, who set the land speed record in 1967. Right: Munro’s original Indian Motorcycle.

5. Historical content can be used to foster internal growth.

Heritage-focused campaigns can inspire a new generation of employees, partners and communities. Consider an internal campaign that calls employees to share images from past company events. Photographs from holiday parties, summer picnics and employee milestones evoke emotion. Employees will feel a stronger kinship with the company, and the process of building a collection helps preserve history for recruitment purposes and future colleagues.

Instagram’s greatest strength is its massive popularity. But like moths to a flame, 70 percent of U.S. businesses have an Instagram account competing for consumers’ attention. It is more important than ever to find a new way for your company to stand out in a crowd of over 700 million users. Using your company’s history is the best way to maximize content you already have in order to promote your company brand and values.

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