Winning with Instagram – 3 Insights into the Visual Marketer’s Mind
With a whopping 1 billion monthly users and 25 million business profiles, Instagram is where marketers are testing the waters to seek and sustain relevance among their target audiences. Due to the visual and evolving nature of the platform, brands and agencies are spending more time and energy exploring its business potential.
If you are not on Instagram, you may miss out on the occasional cat video and Oslo-filtered holidays of your friends, but if your business is not on Instagram, you’re missing out on targeting 60% of Instagram users who actually discover a product or service on the platform.
This is where the FOMO begins! Competition is cutthroat, paid promotions are not enough, and the ROI on celebrity influencer marketing isn’t always clear or consistent. Whether you’re a Fortune 500 company or a small next-door business, whether you are a movie star or a local influencer, you have the same stage and audience with similar user behavior and intent to impress, engage and entertain. It is a play-hard-or-don’t-play world. Get ready to play hard!
Assuming that you have a valid business page on Instagram, with a complete and up-to-date bio, and you’re active enough with a couple of posts a day, let’s dive into some new and successful tools and approaches that can help improve your followers’ Instagram experience as well as attract more for your brand. By “followers,” I mean an audience that is interested, engaged, and active in the context of your brand, service, or product.
IGTV – the savior of long-form videos
After the much-needed additions of the video in 2013 and stories in 2016, Instagram finally revealed its highly promoted and anticipated feature – Instagram TV, a long-form, vertical video answer to every brand, art, craft, and the question that has ever been posed on the channel!
This is the mini-YouTube a lot of marketers have been waiting for. The best part is that IGTV comes without a search bar and increases the chances of your branded content landing on anybody and everybody’s feed based on their interests and likes. Yes, there are a lot of technical considerations, like
- Your video can be anywhere between 15 seconds to 10 minutes (with a file size up to 650 MB); verified accounts can post up to 60 minutes (with a file size of up to 3.6 GB). Instagram has claimed that all time limits will be removed eventually.
- There’s an image thumbnail for every video. The first frame is selected by default, but you’d do better to upload an impactful cover photo (like a custom YouTube card) to drive more interest.
- You can link to an IGTV video from Instagram Stories, where story viewers can swipe up to watch the IGTV video.
Early IGTV adopters like Shot Studios, Inc. are integrating the mobile-first digital content approach into their communication strategy. The entertainment company has signed musicians, comedians, and influencers to create original, vertical content for user segments based on interests. Their “What’s Cooking?” series with Lele Pons, “The Science of Cooking” with Hannah Stocking, and a product-review show called “One Star with Anwar” featuring Anwar Jibaw are a few good examples.
Brands have also embraced this tool with notable enthusiasm. A couple of instances are the famous “What’s for Lunch” video by Chipotle, which was one of the first pieces of content created exclusively for IGTV, in collaboration with One-day Agency, and the #DamnGoodDenim pictures by Everlane, which were repurposed to suit the TV format.
Since the feature has been smoothly integrated into the main Instagram app, marketers are optimistic about the potential of long-format vertical videos.
Shopable Posts – your photo app marketplace
Instagram has been testing this feature with Shopify for a while now. It makes sense since 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business profile. The time between discovery and purchase has been reduced significantly now that businesses can redirect users from product images to checkout seamlessly.
Jim Squires, Instagram’s Head of Business, had this to say: “People come to Instagram every day to discover and buy products from their favorite businesses. We want to be a seamless experience. Whether it’s a local artisan, florist, or clothing store, shopping directly on Instagram has never been easier.”
You can tag up to five products in your organic posts and see how the call-to-action (CTA) leads users to directly purchase and checkout without hassle. Apart from multiple tags in one picture, brands can also utilize product tags in carousel posts. This is also an opportunity to optimize your sales strategy by leveraging influencer marketing on Instagram, and tracking referrals will help you better analyze the ROI from such campaigns.
Explore – new and improved
At Facebook’s F8 developer conference in May 2018, Instagram revealed its revamped, restructured, and power-packed Explore section. The algorithm will deliver content based on user experience, social dynamics, and individual interaction. The immediate advantage will be that when followers like your post, their friends may also see your content on their Explore page.
It also entails better consideration of the like-to-follower ratio where 100 likes from 1000 followers is a better performance than 1000 likes from 1 million followers. The ultra-relevance hashtags and locations to stories that appear on the Explore page are one of the reasons why Wired called it the realest page on the internet.
Instagram rewards a consistent, yet dynamic user-experience. Brands are using this to their advantage by aiming to increase users’ time spent on content. Instagram recently revealed that over 400 million accounts are actively using Stories as a feature of choice for a more personalized brand experience. Swipe ups, polls, stickers, locations, hashtags, and questions are different ways in which the number and duration of interactions with your stories can be improved.
Keeping in line with the focus on shopping, Instagram has integrated Shopping tags from brands you follow to your Explore page. As the company explained, “We’re also announcing a Shopping channel in Explore that will be personalized to you. Topic channels, which launched in June, allow you to browse across your interests and go deeper into any area you like in Explore. Now, when you simply want to shop for fun, you’ll see a channel dedicated to Shopping posts from the brands you follow and brands you might like.”
2018 has been a year of confidence and optimism for Instagram. It has been flooded with the rollout of upgrades and new features. The Explore section is a success story followed by many dramatic improvements like the expanded scope for CTA (call-to-action) button, Question stickers, emoji sliders, engaging story features, polling stickers, type mode, and clickable hashtags and links in the bio.