Instagram is kind of taking over the social media world. Different from other social media platforms, Instagram is simple, authentic and visually stunning. It enables companies to communicate with their clients in a more creative way by using visual marketing. According to Forrester research in 2015, Instagram is also the king of social engagement.
For the reasons above, every marketer should consider how they can catch up with this trend to help build more online presence and engagement with clients on Instagram for their business.
Before we introduce 3 killer strategies that have been used by some successful players on this platform, let’s get started by defining your Instagram presence. Important elements to keep in mind:
Brand Identity: You should understand deeply your brand Identity and let everything on your Instagram tell a story of your brand. It’s absolutely critical that your Instagram presence reflect your brand’s signature style in order to make an impact and attract your ideal customer.
Instagram Performance: Set benchmarks when it comes to measure the number of followers, frequency of posting and engagement rate. These are all important indicators to help figure out the ongoing performance of your Instagram. Consistently monitor the changes of these indicators.
Now, let’s go straight to the point!!
Less is more. When it comes to Instagram, quality of your image should always be your priority. Post only when you have a great, on-brand image to share. Deliver content that is inspiring and relevant enough with the value that are perceived by your target audience. Check out a fantastic example for this : Red Bull (@redbull). Red Bull has achieved 4.2 m followers on Instagram so far. As a leading brand in energy drink industry, Red Bull has set a clear signature style of its Instagram presence as Energetic, Brave, Outgoing, Collector of interesting experiences. Red bull really catches people’s eyes by consistently posting high-quality images and videos featuring wonderful moments of people doing all kinds of sports. More than that, Red Bull uses image description to give out inspirational quotes. What a smart tactic to boost likes and engagement!
Hashtags are key to reaching prospects and customers on Instagram. With proper hashtags, companies can drive traffic to their Instagram profile, where the profile link can drive traffic further to their official websites or any other ideal websites. While making hashtags that could speak for your images of videos, you might want to use trending ones so as to increase the chances of being seen and reached by more people. The suggestions here are to take a look at the “Trending Tags” and “Explore Posts” using Instagram’s Explorer Feature. Find out the ones of these Trending Tags that are relevant to your brand and include them in your posts. You can also use tools such as “Tagboard” to give yourself some ideas on making relevant hashtags.
As Instagram introduced this new paid feature, consumers can now regularly see sponsored ads in their timelines. An exciting thing is that Instagram even puts a series of call-to-action buttons in the advertisements. With a larger user base, Instagram is able to help businesses to reach out to their ideal targets. So if you have enough budget, it is a good try to promote your products or service using Instagram sponsored ads.
Implementing a social media strategy for marketing, branding, or recruiting isn’t as daunting as it seems. Still, there are questions — not obvious at the start — that become very important as your social presence expands. Make sure you address these issues to get the most out of your social media initiatives.
I’m not talking about the easy questions, which I’ve outlined before. Those boil down to who your target audiences, what you want them to do, and how they respond. The more complicated questions affect not only your audience but your content and your workflow as well. Answer these to ensure smooth sailing.
All my clients have must-haves: They must be on Instagram, or post humorous content, produce day-in-the-life YouTube videos of their employees. But when analyzing your competitors, be sure to note what they do wrong and what their weaknesses are. Learn from their mistakes. In my competitive analyses, I’ve seen brands that litter their tweets with @mentions and hashtags; brands that post two Facebook articles within five minutes of each other; and brands that ignore comments and replies. You may also find that your audience isn’t on Instagram after all, so you can safely drop it from your strategy — at least for now. Maybe your content does fine without any extra humor, or maybe video is too difficult or expensive for this year’s budget. Must-NOT-haves can be just as useful as must-haves…and they’re always free!
There are important days for your company: New product launches, company anniversaries, hiring fairs. Your organization might also hold seasonal events, such as a hiring spree near graduation time, or special offers around the winter holidays. Plan your social media posts for those events in advance to build buzz and awareness. Make sure someone is there to take photos and tweet, so that your fans (or job-seekers or employees) can follow along in real time and experience it no matter where they are. Of course, what this question really means is that you should have an editorial calendar for your social media content, taking advantage of any important dates to increase interaction and conversions.
The person who creates isn’t always the one who posts. Social media recruiters may find photos coming from marketing. Social marketers may get instructions from the C-suite. Multiple departments may want, or even think they have, final approval over posts. Making sure the workflow and approval process is clear to everyone involved is essential to an effective social media strategy. A weak link in the chain can lead to all kinds of very public disasters, as well as hurt feelings — but also missed opportunities, as stakeholders who could have provided assistance or insights are wrongly sidelined. A clear social media policy, with agreed-upon procedures for likely scenarios (i.e. someone complains on Twitter and tags CNN), can make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. While we’re on the subject: who’s creating and posting the content when the regular person is on vacation? Better put that on the calendar mentioned in question 2.
This often requires the help from colleagues outside your department. People won’t know about your social channels if they’re not highlighted throughout your materials and documents. First and foremost, that means a prominent placement on your website (and careers site for social recruiting). It also means adding URLs, shortened links, and/or icons to your letterhead, business cards, brochures, presentations, and “leave-behinds.” Micro-sites, splash pages, and your LinkedIn company page as well. And your social channels should mention each other! Put your Twitter handle on your Facebook page, a Facebook link on your Instagram, your Instagram on your YouTube, etc. Even if followers of one platform don’t follow you to another, it’s important that they know you’re engaged on multiple channels and are keeping up with your competitors. Any organization — even a non-profit — that’s not on a few social media platforms looks old-fashioned and unattractive to customers and job-seekers alike.
The answer often eludes organizations who are entering the social space for the first time. Social media is great, and follows, likes, shares, and comments are wonderful, but what are your actual goals? Do you want fans to click a certain link, apply for a job, read an article, download a paper, buy a product, visit your website? If so, your strategy should be tailored to that outcome. A goal like “brand awareness” or “recognition as an employer of choice” is fine, but it helps to have some kind of metrics to make sure you’re on the right track. In cases like those, shares, retweets, and repins are more valuable than simple favorites or likes, which Ford Motor Company’s social media director called nothing more than “digital grunts.” Determining objectives and benchmarks will keep your content from seeming aimless — and ensure your realize social media’s full potential for your organization.
Brandemix has ten years of experience in creating social strategies for marketing, branding, employer branding, and recruiting initiatives on both small and large scales. View our most successful work, download our exclusive Social Media Marketing Strategy Guide, or contact us for more information.
Jason Ginsburg is Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix.
I’m a cheerleader for social media, but when they fail, it can be instructive. First Friendster, then MySpace, and now Google Plus. What was Google’s strategy for creating its own social network? Why did it fail? And what did it do right along the way? Here’s my analysis.
When Google Plus debuted in 2011, I was skeptical, since similar efforts Google Buzz and Google Friend Connect had both fizzled. But if any company had the infrastructure chest to take on Facebook, it was Google, which owns YouTube, the Chrome web browser, and the Android mobile operating system — all of which could be integrated into the social network. MySpace was no longer a competitor, so perhaps Google could solve some of Facebook’s problems, further innovate in the social space, and give people a legitimate choice?
Google Plus’ numbers were great — first. A month after launch, G+ had 40 million users. At that time, Facebook had over 500 million users worldwide, half of whom logged in every day. Still, Google Plus was gaining a million followers a day, while others were encouraged to create a profile when logging into YouTube or Google Maps. While the format was similar to Facebook’s — some would say too similar — the Hangouts feature was unique. Users could video chat with up to nine of their friends (15 with a business account), a huge improvement over Skype. Internet startups with far-flung employees loved it. International Space Station astronauts held a live chat from orbit via Google Hangouts. President Obama answered voter’s questions in a Hangout as well.
By the end of 2013, Google’s Vice President of Social Business Vic Gundotra could claim that Google Plus had 300 million active users; respectable, if still way behind Facebook. And how “active” were those users? There was a joke going around that only Google employees used Google Plus. But eventually the joke became that even those people weren’t using the site. Mashable’s Ben Parr found that, in the first three months of Google+’s existence, Google CEO Larry Page had only posted seven times; co-founder Sergey Brin had posted 12. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt didn’t post anything until Steve Jobs’ death, 107 days after the service went public.
And while some brands — like BMW — were using the platform in innovative ways, many seemed to be on it just to be on it. Superstars were hard to find, since many of the features were available on other sites; why should a celebrity create new content for Google Plus when they could just cross-post from Facebook or Instagram?
The backlash escalated. ReadWriteWeb asked its fans why they weren’t using Google Plus. The most popular response was that their friends weren’t on it, a cyclical argument that can kill a social network. In late 2014, former Google employee Chris Messina (creator of the hashtag), wrote a scathing blog post about G+ where he admitted that he and the company “screwed up” what could have been a social site that combined personalized search functions. “Why did the world need another Facebook, unless to benefit Google by making their ad targeting more effective?” he wrote.
Around the same time, YouTube co-founder Jawam Karim posted on his YouTube page, “Why the f— do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?” Many YouTube users and commenters felt the same way. No one likes being forced to sign up for anything to do something that required no effort before. Google was insisting that people use a social network they simply didn’t want to use. Bad PR, bad user experience, bad everything.
In 2014, Google began reassigning G+ employees to other teams. And a few weeks ago, it announced that users would no longer need a Google Plus account to access YouTube or other Google features; a Gmail account would suffice. The headlines that followed made it more clear: “Google Gives Up on Google Plus as a Facebook Rival,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s “Digits” blog.
In that same article, Google Plus chief Brad Horowitz says that his department is now referred to as “Streams, Photos and Sharing.” Google Photos, for example, lets users store and share photos and videos. It launched last year and does not require a Google Plus account. Other features are moving to other Google apps. And Hangouts, the most popular and exciting app in my opinion, isn’t going anywhere.
Horowitz posted on Google Plus that new features were coming, like Collections, which looks like a cross between Pinterest and Storify — an interesting idea. He describes the change to G+ as a “pivot” and says “Google+ can now focus on doing what it’s already doing quite well: helping millions of users around the world connect around the interest they love. Aspects of the product that don’t serve this agenda have been, or will be, retired.”
So it looks like Google will continue to innovate in the social space, without forcing users of other Google apps to set up an account or try to emulate the unstoppable Facebook. It’s an interesting lesson in failure from one of the world’s most successful companies.
But does it mean that no social network can ever rival Facebook, whose mysterious algorithm controls what users see from their friends, family, and brands? Stay tuned.
Jason Ginsburg is Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix.
As Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, I constantly research trends in social media. Recently, I’ve come across some interesting facts and statistics across the biggest social networks. Here are some of my most surprising social media findings.
The most geo-tagged location on Instagram is Disneyland, pushing last year’s winner, the Siam Paragon Mall in Thailand, to fourth place. The Magic Kingdom also beat three New York attractions — Times Square, Yankee Stadium, and Madison Square Garden — for the crown. (Source: Time)
Disney’s US “properties” (no distinction is made) are also the most checked-in American locations on Facebook. Rival park Universal Studios Hollywood is second. (Facebook)
The most viewed video on YouTube is still Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” which has reached 2.3 billion views. Next is the music video for “Baby” by Justin Bieber and “Dark Horse” by Katy Perry. All of the most popular uploads on YouTube are from musical artists. The most popular non-music video is the “reality” classic “Charlie Bit My Finger,” now at 825 million views. (Wikipedia)
The most popular pinner on Pinterest is Joy Cho, whose account has 88 boards, almost 13,000 pins, and more than 13 million followers. Unlike the other major social platforms, the top Pinterest profiles are not affiliated with brands or celebrities. (Top Pinterest Users)
Over on Twitter, the most popular account in the world still belongs to Katy Perry (#3 on YouTube, you’ll recall), with more than 72 million followers. Behind her is Justin Bieber (#2 on YouTube) with 65.6 million and Barack Obama with 62 million. Interestingly, YouTube’s Twitter (#5) is more popular than Twitter’s (#10). (Twitter Counter)
The most retweeted tweet is also unchanged from last year: Ellen DeGeneres’ famous group selfie at the Oscars has 3.3 million retweets. After that is a show of love and support from One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson to bandmate Harry Styles, which has passed 1.3 million retweets. In third place is Obama’s “Four More Years” photo from the night of his re-election, with about 744,000 retweets. (Adweek)
The most popular recruiting Twitter is Twitter itself (@JoinTheFlock), with 451, 428 followers. It finally overtook last year’s champion, Park Place Careers, which recruits for a chain of car dealerships across Dallas. (Social Recruitment Monitor)
On the same subject, the most popular Facebook page for recruiting is the US Air Force, with 652,729 page likes. On YouTube, the title goes to Disney’s College Program, a channel with more than two hours of videos and more than 1.4 million views. (Social Recruitment Monitor)
LinkedIn recently analyzed the employment history and profiles of its 330 million users, and discovered that the most “in-demand” skill that got people hired in 2014 was statistical analysis and data mining. Network and information security was #4, SEO/SEM marketing was #5, and mobile development was #7. (LinkedIn)
The brands with the most Facebook likes in America are Amazon (#3), Subway (#2), and Walmart (#1 like last year). The most popular person on Facebook in America is Vin Deisel, with about 94 million likes (compared to Walmart’s 32.7 million). Next come Eminem and Michael Jackson. (Socialbakers)
Want to learn more about these and other social media sites, and how Brandemix can use them to help your consumer branding or employer branding campaigns? Contact us!
Jason Ginsburg is Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix.
Salesforce just released its 2015 State of Marketing report, and the results are very intriguing for online marketers, recruiters, and branding professionals. As Salesforce put it: “Marketers are shifting attention from traditional metrics like conversion rates to metrics that better reflect customer satisfaction.” More fascinating findings are below.
Salesforce surveyed thousands of marketers around the world and found that the top metric for digital marketing success was “return on investment” at 32% — but followed close behind by “customer satisfaction” at 30%. “Customer retention” was just as important as “customer acquisition,” with both rated at 23%.
Some of the ways that companies are seeking customer-oriented success stand out to me. 44% are using social media engagement, which Salesforce separates from social media listening at 37%. Just a few spaces down, 38% of marketers use blogging as a strategy, 37% use videos, 31% use content marketing, and 15% use podcasts, of all things. This proves that there are a number of compelling, innovative, and just plain fun ways of reaching your audience online. I also find it interesting that social media listening rated a “very effective or effective” rate of 68%, the highest on the list, tied with email marketing. Are you using social media listening software in your marketing or recruiting efforts?
Globally, the value of social media marketing is becoming more clear. 66% of marketers now believe social marketing is core to their business, and the same portion now have a dedicated team managing their social media efforts. Perhaps most significantly, the number of marketers who categorize social as a primary revenue source has doubled since last year.
What channels are brand using? The top five are Facebook (80%), Twitter (70%), LinkedIn (62%), Google Plus and YouTube (both at 56%). But the Salesforce report discovered a range of new or niche channels, including Line (11%), MySpace (17%), Flickr (20%), and Snapchat (13%). As for the most effective social marketing, only one site beat out simply “videos” at 81% — a site called Tagged, “the social network for meeting new people” (86%).
This proves not only that your organization needs to be on the “big five,” but that you should look for other sites that better reflects your brand or speaks to your audience. Along with text posts and blog articles, consider photos, videos, infographics, podcasts, and specific content for sites like Vine, Line, and SlideShare.
Salesforce’s headline is “The Year of Mobile Has Arrived — For Real This Time,” and the numbers back that up. In 2014, only 23% of marketers were using some form of mobile marketing (like apps, SMS, or location-based functions). In 2015, that number has doubled to 46%. 58% of organizations (and 73% of US organizations) have a dedicated team for mobile marketing — which means that more than half of all brands have specific stakeholders for both social and mobile, a crazy concept five years ago. If your marketing department is too small, it may be time to bring in an agency partner to manage at least one of these important initiatives.
I also find it interesting that 35% of marketers consider just “brand awareness” a metric for success. That means that even non-profits or B2B brands without a retail location can still leverage mobile to expand your customer base and increase revenue.
The cost of inaction in social and mobile marketing looks to climb higher. Three of the top five areas of increased spending for American companies are in social media; another is in location-based mobile tracking. When asked which technologies are “most critical to creating a cohesive customer journey,” 52% of marketers named mobile applications. And since responsive design can lead to a 130% increase in clicks for emails read on a mobile device, 68% of marketers say responsive design is “absolutely critical” or “very important” to their email marketing campaigns. Another 46% always or often integrate responsive design into their website landing pages. Thus, even “old” marketing methods like email and websites are being affected by social media and mobile devices.
According to the report, the third-biggest challenge for all marketers around the world is “remaining up to date with current marketing technology and trends.” Brandemix has had great success with online marketing, branding, and recruiting efforts with organizations of all sizes. Check out our portfolio or contact us for more information. And be sure to download the full Salesforce State of Marekting report here.
Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.