Hello, Instagram All Stars!

Hello, Instagram All Stars!

Social media

Instagram continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As of June 2018, there were nearly one billion monthly active users; that’s 10 times the usage the mainly mobile photo sharing network enjoyed back in June 2013. And businesses continue to flock to the site, although some are using Instagram more effectively than others. To encourage brands to do their very best, we’ve called out four who are absolutely rocking the Instagram platform.

Cadillac: The Big Reveal

Cadillac scores points for using Instagram to do a major product unveil. In September 2019, the General Motors luxury vehicle division revealed the 2020 model of its CT4 sedan, which it hopes will attract a younger demographic of possibly first-time Cadillac buyers aged 25-to-35 years old.

 

“We made a strategic decision to launch a social-first campaign to meet the customer where we know they interact,” Jason Sledziewski, Cadillac’s director of product marketing, told Marketing Daily.

The campaign incorporates an interactive Instagram story and multiple video clips meant to appeal to potential customers’ sensory nature. As Melissa Grady, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, explained in a release, “Because the CT4 is equal parts technology and performance, we wanted to reveal it in a way that would stimulate the senses and evoke emotions our customers might feel when behind the wheel.”

Cisco: Doing Good

Technology conglomerate Cisco has used Instagram to good effect in a visual way — quite a feat when one considers that unlike Cadillac, the company doesn’t have a cool product to showcase. Using hashtags like #WeAreCisco, which highlights employees celebrating Cisco culture, and #BeTheBridge, which draws attention to Cisco’s employee giving campaign, Instagram is helping Cisco project its commitment to supporting global communities and a caring corporate ethos.

It’s worth noting that women are showcased in Cisco’s Instagram feed, significant in an industry traditionally dominated by males.

McDonald’s: Food is Fun

The McDonald’s Menu Hack on Instagram consists of fun ways to liven up a McDonald’s meal. Peppered with Pro Tips like “once you add some fries to that Filet-O-Fish, life will never be the same,” the campaign uses video to tell a story (e.g., you can put those fries on your Filet-O-Fish).

Key to the campaign are the bright, thumb-stopping visuals. Although it’s not always easy to make food look appealing in photos or videos, McDonald’s manages to pull it off.

Vogue: Sneak Peek

Already visually powerful, Vogue is using Instagram Stories to increase engagement and provide a ephemeral peek behind the scenes. It’s been a lucrative move for the fashion and lifestyle brand. For example, to promote the September 2018 issue before its newsstand release—and unveil its cover model—Vogue decided to reach out to its Instagram following to generate interest. Vogue launched an Instagram Stories campaign featuring superstar Beyoncé in a series of sparkling gowns, as well as an advance peek at the September issue cover, which featured Beyoncé. The campaign was credited with helping the issue sell out on newsstands and bringing in 20 percent of new subscribers.

Contact True Interactive

The takeaway here is that Instagram can help brands generate interest and define—or redefine—themselves for audiences increasingly drawn to visual punch. And these brands are creative with Instagram. They go beyond posting visually appealing images and video. They keep audiences engaged with lively copy and interesting ideas. They surprise and delight. They never fall into a rut. Want to know how to use the Instagram platform to extend your reach? We can help.

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Why Brands Need to Capitalize on the Power of Visual Content

Social media

We respond to images every day: an Instagram shot of a stunning sunrise, or the pictures friends text us from a vacation spent hiking in Ireland. But not everyone understands the tremendous power images wield in the business world. Just as any business cares about how its website is written or its ad copy composed, it should also treat images with the same attention and respect. Mary Meeker’s widely read 2019 Internet Trends report underlines that truth.

Images are on the Rise

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report is an annual thought bomb with considerable influence. According to Meeker, consumer usage of digital continues to increase overall:

With that uptick, there’s been a climb in image creation. Images hold a lot of power. People respond to them: not only the pictures they take, but other people’s, too. And as image sharing becomes more popular, perhaps it’s no coincidence that Instagram use is soaring:

As Meeker points out, Twitter content with images gets more tweet impressions:

And artificial intelligence tools are making images more sophisticated, in the process rendering them more powerful as communication instruments:

What Does The Rise of Visual Storytelling Mean for You?

Her findings are a reminder that businesses need to treat images as critical assets in both paid and organic content. What should your response be? Here are some tips:

  • Capitalize on tools that make your digital advertising stand out, such as Google Shoppable Ads. As we noted in this post, select retailers are experimenting with a format that allows them to highlight multiple products for sale within a sponsored ad appearing in Google Images results.
  • Make Instagram part of your game plan. Instagram is trending, becoming increasingly popular for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands, as advertisers become aware of—and ever-more curious about—the opportunities the platform affords. We’ve written about some of those opportunities, including Instagram’s Branded Content Ads, which makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds.
  • Use strong images in your organic content. In a recent post, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media discusses how images can improve your search rankings. As he points out, “Now we know that visuals are an SEO’s (search engine optimization’s) best friend.” Perhaps that’s because visuals, like well-crafted text, can speak volumes with a minimum of fuss. “Just as you wouldn’t miss the chance to turn a paragraph of items into a bullet list, never miss the chance to use a visual to explain a concept,” Crestodina says.

We agree. And one area where you can make the most of strong images is your Google My Business (GMB) page. That’s because a company’s GMB page, as noted in moz.com, is the single most important way for a business to be found through local searches.

Images hold power. Want to learn more about how to capitalize on that power? Contact us.

Three Big Trends Shaping How Businesses Use Social Media

Three Big Trends Shaping How Businesses Use Social Media

Social media

Paid social on the rise. Facebook is king. And Instagram is the crown prince. Those are some of the take-aways from a recent Social Media Examiner survey of marketers’ social media spending priorities in coming months. The survey offers a useful snapshot of social media trends that cut across industries. Here are some of the principal findings:

Paid Social Is on the Rise

According to the Social Media Examiner report, social media ads are fast becoming indispensible to social media marketing strategy. This development is due to the fact that social media platforms like Instagram are offering more sophisticated tools that help businesses create content that targets specific audiences. One example: Instagram’s new feature, Branded Content Ads. As we recently discussed, the Branded Content Ads feature makes it possible for businesses to use Ads Manager to promote branded content as an ad in their Instagram feeds, and to target a specific audience when they do so.

Facebook Has Fans—A Lot of Them

According to the Social Media Examiner survey, Facebook is the most popular platform for advertisers, with 94 percent of marketers polled choosing it as their first option. On the surface of things, this might be surprising, given the knocks Facebook took in the wake of the high-profile privacy scandals that plagued the social media giant in 2018. And yet, Facebook membership keeps rising: according to the company’s Q4 2018 earnings report, approximately 1.52 billion people used Facebook every day in December 2018. That’s a nine percent year-over-year increase. Also noteworthy is the fact that Facebook tends to be popular among Baby Boomers and older millennials: that’s significant to advertisers who want to use a social platform to reach this audience, which tends to have more discretionary income.

Another reason Facebook remains popular with advertisers is that the company has always provided strong targeting tools, and continues to do so. As this WordStream article discusses, the company makes it easy to launch ad campaigns that target specific audiences with different ad formats and literally thousands of ad targeting parameters. Finally, Facebook is popular for all kinds of content, including video, which expands its usefulness to advertisers. According to the Social Media Examiner report, Facebook is right up there with YouTube as the most well liked video channel for marketers.

Instagram Is the Crown Prince

Though perhaps not as popular as Facebook, Instagram is still a valuable resource for advertisers. And advertisers are intrigued by it: the Social Media Examiner report indicates that when marketers were asked about the social media platform that they’d like to learn more about, a whopping 72 percent chose Instagram. Maybe that’s because the app’s strengths in visual storytelling present a golden opportunity to capitalize on the fact that increasingly, people are using images as a means of communicating. We take trillions of photos each year. And not surprisingly, we’re sharing those photos on platforms such as Instagram, which is also showing a marked increase in membership.

These takeaways paint a compelling picture. Interested in learning more about how social can serve your business needs? Contact us.

https://pixabay.com/photos/twitter-facebook-together-292994/

Advertiser Q&A: What Is a Micro-influencer?

Advertiser Q&A: What Is a Micro-influencer?

Social media

As we discussed in a recent blog post, celebrities are not the only game in town when brands want to include influencers in their advertising campaigns. Micro-influencers are also useful and usually less expensive. Increasingly, our clients are reaching out with questions about them. We thought we’d take a moment to answer some of those questions—and help clarify who these micro-influencers are and why they are important.

What is a micro-influencer?

A micro-influencer is someone who commands a smaller audience — anywhere from 2,000 to about 50,000 followers— on a social media channel like Facebook or Instagram.

Micro-influencers tend to be everyday people (as opposed to celebrities). But they know a lot about a specific topic. That expertise inspires loyalty in their community of followers, who look to them for recommendations, likes, and dislikes.

Take The Brothers Buoy: Brooklyn-based Jackson (who writes the copy) and Graham (who shoots the photos) have taken it upon themselves to turn people on to good places to eat in New York and beyond. Their sass and humor have earned them about 8,000 followers, along with some healthy respect (e.g., they’ve worked with Condé Nast Traveler).

Why do micro-influencers matter?

In short, they have street cred (see the Condé Nast Traveler reference, above). And micro-influencers tend to enjoy high levels of engagement. They may not be breaking records in terms of the size of their audience, but the followers they do have really love them and interact, a lot.

In fact, a smaller following makes it possible for micro-influencers to maintain a personal connection with their fans: as Adweek reported, engagement usually dips the more followers an influencer attracts. Perhaps because of the high levels of engagement, micro-influencers project an authenticity—and inspire a level of trust—that is sometimes hard for celebrity influencers to sustain.

Another bonus: micro-influencers tend to be less expensive for businesses working on a budget, and may give a business more bang for its buck. Smart Insights notes that micro-influencers are 6.7 percent more cost effective than their higher-profile colleagues. And as IZEA points out, a business might reach more people working with several micro-influencers who charge less but enjoy a powerful connection with loyal followers, as an alternative to maxing out the entire budget on a single post from one celebrity influencer.

What are some tips for working with micro-influencers?

  • First identify the goals for your campaign, then begin researching potential micro-influencers. Influencers have different personalities and communication styles; look for someone who feels like a good fit. Consider factors such as their audience and how the influencer connects with that audience. Are their tone and approach suitable for your own brand?
  • Once you’ve found an influencer who seems like a good match, establish a connection. Follow them on their social channels, leave comments, and engage meaningfully before reaching out about a collaboration.
  • When you do reach out, contact the micro-influencer via their direct email, and demonstrate that you are indeed familiar with their work—and a fan. Since you’ve already established a connection, that familiarity, not to mention the admiration, will likely come naturally.
  • Finally, don’t micromanage the micro-influencer. Remember, one reason micro-influencers are popular is because their audiences trust them to be real. Feeding micro-influencers lines or opinions defeats the purpose of the collaboration—and can backfire if followers suspect inauthentic content.

Interested in learning more about micro-influencers and how a collaboration might benefit your business? Contact True Interactive.

Instagram Creates Its Own Customer Journey with Checkout

Instagram Creates Its Own Customer Journey with Checkout

Social media

Instagram describes itself as a platform for people to “experience the pleasure of shopping versus the chore of buying.” It’s designed for people to browse for ideas and then shop as opposed to visiting with an express intent to buy and leave. On March 19, Instagram took one step closer to making itself a strong shopping destination by launching a checkout function.

Available on a limited basis, Instagram checkout makes it possible for Instagrammers to buy what they want on Instagram. As Instagram said in a blog post, “Checkout enhances the shopping experience by making the purchase simple, convenient and secure. People no longer have to navigate to the browser when they want to buy. And with their protected payment information in one place, they can shop their favorite brands without needing to log in and enter their information multiple times.”

Charter businesses participating in checkout include Burberry, Nike, and Revolve. In coming weeks, more businesses will participate, including Adidas, H&M, KKW Beauty, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC Cosmetics, Michael Kors, NARS, Oscar de la Renta, Prada, Uniqlo, and Warby Parker. (It’s interesting to note the number of upscale brands creating shoppable experiences on Instagram – a comment on how luxury brands have adapted to the times by becoming more accessible via digital.)

Checkout seems like a natural move for Instagram. As Vishal Shah, Instagram’s head of product, told The Wall Street Journal, “People were already shopping on Instagram. They were just having a hard time doing it.” The platform previously launched shoppable features such as product stickers in Stories. Vishal Shah  told Bloomberg, “Over time, as we are creating value for people, this could be a significant part of our business.”

The launch of checkout positions Instagram against Amazon as a platform for searching and shopping although Amazon clearly has an advantage with its scale. Enabling commerce on Instagram also makes it possible for businesses to create more integrated advertising experiences that connect the customer across the entire purchase journey, from awareness to conversion – with the entire journey occurring inside Instagram (instead of sending customers to an advertiser’s website to make an actual purchase). This is the kind of experience Amazon is creating – a self-contained customer journey where you can search and buy on one platform.

For more insight into how to create successful digital advertising on Instagram, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Image source: Instagram

Instagram Explodes as an Influencer Outreach Platform

Instagram Explodes as an Influencer Outreach Platform

Marketing Social media

Influencer outreach is alive and well. Recently, Adweek reported on Instagram’s Ashley Yuki, Instagram’s interests products lead, who said that 69 percent of Instagram users come to the app to interact with celebrities, and 68 percent visit Instagram to interact with influencers.

Instagram’s Growing Presence

This is major news, given the growth Instagram has been enjoying. According to statistics portal Statista, the number of monthly active Instagram users exploded between January 2013 and June 2018, from 90 million to 1 billion. And as digital marketing agency Omnicore reports, as of September 2018, daily active Instagram users had reached 500 million. Other telling stats from Omnicore include:

  • Six in ten online adults have Instagram accounts.
  • 6 million Instagram users are from the United States.
  • 80 percent of Instagram users come from outside the United States.

When you do the math, one thing becomes clear: Instagram users represent a large market. It’s a market with an interest in celebrities. And that’s a powerful endorsement for the practice of influencer outreach.

Bad Press

The revelation is especially timely given the black eye influencer outreach suffered early in 2019. Twin documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, Fyre Fraud, which aired on Hulu, and Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, on Netflix, discussed how influencer outreach was used to promote the festival as a cool, sexy event, only for the Fyre Festival to fall apart due to poor planning and unprofessional, unethical behavior. The strategic campaign ramping up to the event included spending millions on flying celebrity models down to the Bahamas so that the influencers could take pictures of themselves frolicking in paradise and post about the upcoming Fyre Festival. Additionally, on December 12, 2016, 63 influencers simultaneously posted an orange tile graphic to social media with the hashtag #FyreFest. That effort earned more than 300 million impressions in 24 hours.

The influencers were paid well for their troubles. Kendall Jenner, for example, earned a $250,000 fee, and no influencers brought in less than $20,000. But model Emily Ratajkowski was one of the only influencers to designate her post as an #ad, drawing criticisms that Fyre was misrepresented from the get-go. Post-festival, the backlash was fierce. Wired published a piece in May 2017—“Blame the Fyre Festival Fiasco on the Plague of Celebrity Influencers”—and The New York Times predicted “The Rise and (Maybe) Fall of Influencers.”

On the Rebound

FTC crackdowns, however, have subsequently had a positive impact on the credibility of influencer outreach. In a survey of 287 U.S. marketers, Influencer Marketing Hub found a huge change in attitude following the Fyre Festival debacle: “Less than half of our group (132 people) admitted they hadn’t paid much mind to the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations [regarding transparency of paid endorsements or other “material connections”] before Fyre Fest. In the wake of the fallout, though, and with the FTC already cracking down before Fyre Fest imploded, every single one of them stated that maintaining compliance will be a top priority.”

The Power of Micro-Influencers

The bottom line? Influencer outreach isn’t going anywhere. We recommend that businesses take a serious look at influencer outreach as a way of building their brands. The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to pay celebrities to build excitement: many brands are now turning to micro-influencers to drum up awareness. Well-known locally but not necessarily nationally for fitness, lifestyle, and other interests, micro-influencers typically enjoy more than 1,000 but much less than 100,000 followers, and hold sway in specific cities or regions. Consider individuals like Brendan Lowry, a Philadelphia-based micro-influencer with about 30,000 Instagram followers: his feed bursts with photos of the city beside sponsored posts endorsing local companies. If you can connect with people like Lowry, who maintain a high profile in a specific market, you may not get as much reach nationally, but you can get significant reach in specific markets that are of interest to you.

Influencer outreach is still relevant. And by doing some smart, targeted research, companies can find influencers across different markets who will be most effective for their needs. For more insight, contact True Interactive.

 

 

 

 

 

Get Ready for LinkedIn Live

Get Ready for LinkedIn Live

Social media

Live, from Sunnyvale, California: it’s LinkedIn Live!

LinkedIn is rolling out a new feature that makes it possible for businesses and people to create live content. With LinkedIn Live, members of LinkedIn’s 562-million-strong community will be able to livestream content just like they can with Facebook Live. Yes, that’s right: now you can do all the things you do on Facebook to create engagement through live video, such as offering behind-the-scenes glimpses of conferences or trade shows, coverage of news stories in your industry, announcements of your own, launches of new products, thought leadership, and instructional content, depending on the nature of your business.

LinkedIn Users Want Video

And your company’s rock stars will be able to do the same. When the feature becomes available (it’s in beta only right now), live video will humanize your brand by making your thought leaders, brand ambassadors, and company executives more accessible and authentic through the power of live video.

In addition, LinkedIn will work with partners such as Wirecast, Switcher Studio, Wowza Media Systems, Socialive, and Brandlive to make video content more polished than what you’re accustomed to seeing on Facebook Live. Microsoft, LinkedIn’s owner, is supporting LinkedIn Live with the Microsoft cloud-computing business, Azure Media Services.

LinkedIn told TechCrunch that live video is the most requested feature among its members, and the use of recorded video has been booming. Pete Davies, the director of product management at LinkedIn, told TechCrunch, “Video is the fastest growing format on our platform right now, and the one most likely to get people talking.”

Late to the Game?

Some have asked whether LinkedIn is late to the game. I think that’s the wrong question. The real issue is how brands will capitalize on LinkedIn Live to create video content that complements what they’re already sharing on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. LinkedIn is going to offer options to broadcast across LinkedIn as well as to more targeted groups within LinkedIn, which is important because businesses and people will be able to use live video more strategically. Imagine, for example, using live video as part of drip campaign with prospects, or for colleges to recruit talent.

Questions You Should Ask

It may take some time for LinkedIn Live to achieve a bigger rollout. I suggest that businesses prepare now. Start asking:

  • How might I incorporate LinkedIn Live into my existing marketing and recruitment campaigns?
  • Which of my employees on LinkedIn possesses the magic combination of large followers and video savvy to capitalize on LinkedIn Live?
  • Are my corporate social media guidelines properly reflecting the use of live video? They should be if you’re using other platforms such as Facebook, but now is a good time to do a gut check.
  • What upcoming events and news lend themselves to LinkedIn Live? What does your upcoming calendar look like?

More details, including technical information on how to create live content on LinkedIn, will be forthcoming. For now, get ready. And contact True Interactive to build a stronger digital brand. We’re here to help.