So, you’ve seen all the ‘cool kids’ obsessed with Instagram, but you’re not too sure what all the fuss is about. Instagram only launched at the end of 2010, so it’s still a relatively new platform but certainly a very impactful and popular one. Instagram is a social networking app made for sharing photos and videos using a smartphone. It’s mostly utilised by millennials, 16 – 35 year olds. A recent study conducted by World Wide Worx and Fuseware of the South African Social Media Landscape 2016 has revealed that Instagram has seen immense growth over the last year, Instagram has, a staggering 133% growth from the previous year.
While Instagram is traditionally used by the general public and celebrities who post photos for friends, followers and fans, some of them have over a in 1million followers. Companies are also turning their eyes to this appealing visual networking site. Since Instagram more than doubled its user base in South Africa over the last year, 24% of major brands say they plan to start using Instagram in the coming year. While 42% of major brands are already currently using it for marketing purposes. To date, Mr Price and Mercedes Benz have had the most success with individual images locally.
If your business targets the younger demographic age group (16 – 35 year olds) and is an image-friendly business like restaurants, clothes, fashion, food, architecture, technology and designers you should be on Instagram. Instagram has a user engagement rate of 4.21%, far exceeding Facebook and Twitter, because most people constantly have their phones in hand nowadays and the Instagram target market’s short attention spans finds a photo-base app easy to process information. In the US 40 million photos are shared daily. Images should be highly creative, captivating, should tell a story and be relevant to the target market.
Some of the best Instagram campaigns for 2015 are:
1.L’Oréal Paris: What’s more romantic then a snowy white winter – this campaign made use of celebrities and the powerful, contrasting colours (red and white), made for good imagery.
2. Samsung #standtall campaign
The Samsung #StandTall campaign together with the The Prince’s Trust Celebrate Success Awards — an award that honours the achievements of young people supported by The Trust who have succeeded against the odds, improved their chances in life and had a positive impact on their local community.”
#Terracotta is a legendary bronzing powder developed by Guerlain 30 years ago that is already very popular amongst the brand’s existing customers; however, Guerlain wished to reach a younger audience base through digital media. In collaboration with Mazarine and Performics, Guerlain established a 4-week Instagram photo campaign targeting women in France to bring forth the connection between Terracotta and Paris — both classy and elegant.
Successful Instagram campaigns all have the following in common;
they make use of creative, meaningful imagery, have the backing of a good brand or celebrity, are relative to the target market and make use of catchy hashtags.
A hashtag is a “symbol” (or code) that allows web search engines to find and categorize messages, keywords and pictures. For instance, if you type #cat or #cats in one of your pictures, any user anywhere in the world looking for “cat” or “cats” will easily find your picture and others user’s pictures using the same #keyword. It is advisable to only make use 1 – 2 words per picture.
Hashtags are everywhere. You can see them on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, at events, or even on commercials and movie trailers. Brands or businesses use hashtags to keep track of their brands talk ability and search ability on social media platforms. Hashtags make it easy for their target market to join in on a specific conversation, it improves campaign adoption rates and helps in measurability of posts. It also cuts through the clutter on social media, and helps filter and bring relevant content to the forefront. It themes your content, thus making it easier connect with your industry and audience.
Social media is an experiment, and although there are some guidelines out there, trial and error is still the best way to learn and see what works for your brand. Instagram is the fastest growing platform and can really do wonders to drive your engagement and help you get better noticed. Meaningful imagery coupled with catchy hashtags is essential when reaching out to your target audience. Clicking on a hashtag on any of your social networks, will automatically show all other public posts that include the same hashtag. This is incredibly valuable for a small business because it can expose your content to a wider audience, and help your business get found.
Something that can be counted on is that social media is not going anywhere and it is a reliable place to reach customers. A constant gardner approach – The so-called profile of intelligence – Gardner (1991), should be adopted with social media, remaining attentive to what people are sharing about your brand and being cognisant of whether your communications line up with your brand identity.
The social media landscape is forever morphing as new apps are introduced, some are made obsolete, old apps are used in new ways, new features are included and certain formats grow in popularity. There is no endpoint to a grasp on the subject and it is important to be aware of the ebb and flow trends in the social media arena.
With 500 million tweets, 4,5 billion Facebook likes and 95 million photos and videos uploaded on Instagram DAILY and not to mention the wealth of information possible in these vast engagements, social media for business is no longer optional. To give you a quick synopsis of the current lay of the land these are some ways in which social media can give your brand a competitive edge in 2017.
- Messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Line, Google Hangouts and Facebook Messenger are now bigger than social networks. Over-the-top (OTT)* messaging and SMS messaging are millennials’ preferred form of communication. Users login to chat with friends and to engage with brands – watch content, browse and connect. On Facebook, it is now possible to click on an advertisement and go through to a chat window and have instant interaction with a particular brand. Some of the reasons why message apps are so popular that there will be an estimated 2 billion users by 2018 are that: a cellular connection is not requisite; colours, themes and stickers make these apps highly personalized and fun; anonymity is possible through a user name; extra features like knowing your message has been read with the trusty but sometimes troublesome double blue tick all make these apps more suited to the connected and in-the-moment millennial.
*A definition of OTT messaging per technopedia “An over-the-top (OTT) application is any app or service that provides a product over the Internet and bypasses traditional distribution. Services that come over the top are most typically related to media and communication and are generally, if not always, lower in cost than the traditional method of delivery.”
- Real time content in the form of live video has been made popular by Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook Live. Perhaps it is a longing for authenticity on a format that can lend itself to inaccurate one-dimensional portrayals that is the reason, per Forbes, why social videos have greater engagement that any other content format.
- Chatbots are being utilized to handle online customer engagement fulfilling the need for instant and around the clock availability.
- With the growing volume of information in feeds it is necessary to cut through the clutter to ensure your posts noticed are noticed, these paid for boosts are affordable and provide excellent feedback.
- Staff training for social media is a must as it will help your staff understand the appropriate etiquette, know how to harness opportunities and certainly reduce the risk of a social media faux pas.
- Social listening is incredibly handy and by being the fly on the wall, can really give you the inside track to what your customer’s think about your brand, what motivates their decisions, what specific challenges they face, where they shop and so on. These insights have the potential for improvements in product development and communications and certainly provide one with an invitation to turn any negative experience into a public relations turnaround.
Social media, unlike other formats, is something that people invite into their lives, they welcome it and seek it out – there is an affiliation that exists and if used well by businesses, it holds the possibility of developing trust and loyalty with customers, building a following advocates and creating credibility for your organisation. The barriers to entry are low and your business can use social media in real time and with very low outlay to engage directly with customers and build brands. There is no down side – with the right amount of attentiveness, genuine response and strategic messaging you should start to see rewards for your efforts as you bring your brand to life on social media platforms.
They say picture is worth a thousand words, so what better way to paint your brand in beautiful, creative ways than with Instagram. This is one of the most fast developing social media platforms in South Africa, and according to World Wide Worx and Fureware’s SA Social Media Landscape for 2016, it has more than doubled its user numbers from 1.1 million in 2014 to 2.68 million in 2015.
Here is why this platform is a must-have for brands this year:
It’s already tried and tested by major SA brands
According to the World Wide Worx study, at least 42% of major brands in South Africa are planning to use Instagram in the coming year. This follows massive success on the platform from brands such as Mercedes Benz and Mr Price. You cannot afford to fall behind this major trend, so get snapping and ready to wow the world with your creativity!
It is an opportunity to add personal insight into your brand and what you do
Human beings are by nature most attracted to things that tell a story, move the heart or give them a look into the behind the scenes of things that they already know and love. With Instagram you can add a little soul to your business and let your customers into the world of your brand in a creative and personal way.
It’s true – you don’t have to be a professional photographer to make this happen!
Not all of us are professional photographers and enjoy just wondering at awe-inspiring images of those of us who are. But with Instagram you have an opportunity to release some of that hidden creativity with a wide variety of filters, background, text options and stickers. This really is a platform that is just as enjoyable and fun for you as it is for your customers!
It’s incredibly easy to use and highly accessible on smart phones
Instagram is by nature largely driven through mobile devices; in fact the one down-side of the application is that it is not very user-friendly on laptops or desktop devices. However, this is essentially because Instagram is meant to be spontaneous – a quick snap while you are out and about, at your desk, in the office or workshop, or even using your favourite product. The good news is that most South African consumers access social media platforms on their mobile devices so your beautiful pictures are just a button away at all times of the day.
Instagram is an opportunity to tell your brand’s story in a unique and creative way, by bringing your customers along for the ride. It’s interactive and fun and a way to engage the world in something that we all understand – imagery. Happy snapping!