Why Zimbabwean brands should explore the Instagram opportunity

Nigel Gambanga Avatar

The diversity that exists among people has meant that there are many preferred ways of expression. That’s the simple principle that has explained the rise of numerous social media platforms that provide different value propositions.

Instagram is one platform that exemplifies that. Its use of imagery and video to capture moments has helped it create its own separate avenue for expression. As is the case with other social media platforms advertisers and brand specialist have exploited that.

In the last quarter of 2015, Instagram looked beyond the United States and the developed world and opened up its Instagram Ads feature to countries around the world. The service had been active for a year and a half before that, slowly being extended to just 30 countries before being green lit for the rest of the world.

Instagram’s value for advertising and brand building has been easy to sell so far. In markets like the United States where it has been actively used for ad campaigns, the Instagram team has been quick to highlight a number of successful campaigns for sales and product visibility.

The platform leads other social networks like Facebook when it comes to engagement with figures from as recently as September 2015 showing a per-follower engagement of 4.213% ahead of Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Through the presentation of strong visual cues that include video, photo and carousel views, brands can express various concepts through engaging media. The tie in that Instagram also provides with other social networks through shared posts also helps enhance this visibility to other platforms.

A story told visually can be ported to Facebook, creating interest in other visually compelling campaigns that are being carried on Instagram. All this is unfolding in a world where social media is increasingly driven by image and video.

Why isn’t being used it locally?

In Zimbabwe, the case of Instagram has only been explored at the surface mostly because of the limited following that the social media platform has among mobile broadband subscribers.

The high cost of mobile broadband and Instagram’s extensive use of data (the platform is mainly powered by images and videos) doesn’t help the situation either.

When it comes to social media campaigns, local companies and brands have pledged their allegiance to Facebook which has experienced the highest following among social media platforms. The situation has been amplified by mobile operator products like social media bundles that cater for Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter.

However, in all this there is still some value that can be extracted from Instagram by Zimbabwean brands. A test on the Instagram Ads feature shows that up to 55,000 Zimbabweans can be reached through an ad campaign.

These numbers have been enough to sway brands normally active on social media like GTeL, ZOL, Telecel, ZiFM Stereo as well as personalities in the entertainment and fashion like Tehn Diamond, Jah Prayzah, Winky D and Pokello who also command significant followings.

Their accounts are a reflection of how far a brand can express itself visually through Instagram, creating a level of character and brand development that isn’t as easily carried on Facebook or Twitter.

As long as brands are considering extensive visual engagement and looking for an avenue that carries depth in the expression of captivating moments that are better viewed than read, then putting effort and resources into Instagram campaign is worth exploring.


  1. Mhukahuru

    Out of interest, which is most popular with locals, Instagram or Pinterest?

    1. tinm@n


      Yes, I refactored it to 3VL

      Waste of time and effort for the reasons stated above. Unless your market or audience is 5-to-5.001% of the population

  2. Sagitarr

    Considering that mobile use in Zim is in the main Prepaid as opposed to Contract we have similar breakdown of users into teenagers vs adults or dependents vs bread winners as examples. Spending time typing,reading & text at a cost might not appeal to many people who are on prepaid and work for a living but is great for those who have the time & patience for it. Also the digital divide is such that a significant number of Zim users may be familiar with only Whatsapp and Facebook. That’s where their “computer literacy” starts and ends. Linkedin may be a strange medium for some and yet for those who are focused on careers/professional growth its “the thing”. No single solution will appeal to everyone because, in part, of how we spend our resources especially time and money.