Frequently termed ‘The King of Social’, Instagram started as a simple picture sharing app, used mainly between close friends and some carefully-selected family, to display the ‘best’ snapshots of your life. It was a refreshing alternative to the swathes of imagery that confronted you on Facebook, each one only slightly different to the last. It’s single-picture format enforced a kind of self-control not seen elsewhere. Of course, this wouldn’t last forever. Years later we have video, galleries and stories, and Instagram has expanded far beyond your own social circle. It has, however, kept its highly-polished aesthetic and fetish for ‘authenticity’.
Now the app is one of the biggest Social Media sites in the world, with over 700 million users, 400 million of which are active daily! It’s impressive to say the least and the potential audience reach on this platform is ever growing. It took only four months to gain the last 100 million followers, whereas the previous took six months.
So, what makes it such a great platform? It’s seen as considerably cooler than Facebook, more interesting than Twitter, and more useful than Snapchat. Instagram has become incredibly sophisticated in storytelling and doing so in an artistic manner. The ability to fluently and diversely communicate a brand or individual’s story has become indispensable. Authenticity is key to modern marketing, and Instagram is the platform that allows this ‘intimate’ insight into a brand. And what better brand to apply it to than a Start-Up? A company that is rooted in individuality, ingenuity and passion. One that is already trying to tell its own story, and express its personality, unlike many conglomerates that churn out an all-encompassing ‘brand’ worldwide.
Engage your audience
So, we know Instagram has the audience and the tools to effectively tell your story, but what techniques can you employ to make Instagram work for you? As a Start-Up, it’s important not only to put out great content, but to actively engage with your following, and users who you feel would be interested in your brand. This engagement, or ‘community managing’, is what will help you grow your channel, awareness, and ultimately your brand. It may seem like a lot of work, but just taking the time to reply to comments and reach out to users and brands can make all the difference.
Building this community can be done in several ways, but the most immediate is through hashtags. By putting up to 30 relevant hashtags underneath your post you can make yourself visible to the potentially millions of daily users who are engaging with account and brands like yours. Engaging with other users in these hashtags is the next step to generating conversation, and this is worth remembering. Social Media is not a one-way street, you need ask questions, respond authentically, get people interested and keep them talking with you and about you.
If you are a local business, such as a restaurant, boutique or event, then you can utilise these hashtags to target a specific audience. Likewise, you may also use geo-tagging to involve the local community in a location-targeted campaign. These techniques allow you to build a community both offline and online.
Collaborate and listen
Many brands have taken to cross-posting and collaborations to bolster their online presence. This is a mutually beneficial process that sees both brands raise awareness, and is particularly applicable in a Start-Up environment, where both have a chance to establish themselves in an industry. It’s not just other brands that you might consider this tactic with; featuring your customers is an increasingly valuable tool in promoting your brand’s merit. Not only will this provide potential customers with authentic, positive feedback for your brand, but it also rewards fans for being fans. In doing this, you encourage them to continue to share their interactions with your brand on Social Media. It’s a win-win, they get to interact with the brands they love in an authentic way, and you get exposure and great content for your own channels. Just make sure you always credit them!
For me?! @chapabouttown is ready to chow down on some Turkey and Duck Dinner!
Do what works for you
There are a plethora of techniques to employ on this ever-expanding channel. To do it perfectly, you would be using a variation of careful curated daily posts and stories to provide the most artistic storytelling experience you can. You could run competitions, and cross-post and promote other brands. You could shout about your brand down every relevant avenue, and target it perfectly with paid posts and influencer marketing. This is a lot to take on, especially as a Start-Up. It can seem overwhelming, but it is also wholly unnecessary to try to do all of them at once, and to sustain them. Our advice would be to cherry pick what works for your brand, and remember that creativity and authenticity are at the heart of successful Social Media marketing.
If you want to champion your brand on Instagram effectively, the main thing to consider in this whirlwind of possibilities is creativity. Instagram is a platform that welcomes creativity more than any other. This is the point of difference needed to stop users endlessly scrolling through their feeds and focus on your post. This is the first point of engagement with a consumer, and one of the hardest things to engineer. You want to disrupt and simultaneously engage; having a creative edge here is key.
Of course, this is perhaps easier said than done. But with a proper strategy and some practice, you should quickly find yourself building your brands presence and identity online. Building and maintaining this presence is of huge value to brands and businesses, after all, 32% of all internet users are on Instagram. That’s a big slice of the pie to be missing out on!
If you would like to talk about how our digital services could help grow your Instagram following, why not get in touch with us today.
Natwest Social Media Crisis – The Importance of Immediacy in a Social Media Crisis
In the digital age we live in, when we are not happy with the service a company has provided us, more often than not we turn to Facebook and Twitter to seek immediate support. But what happens when the right information isn’t readily available to us?
A new report from Birdsong: Social Media Reconnaissance reveals a number of failings by Natwest in actively supporting its customers via Twitter during the IT collapse in late June. Despite the surge in followers and influx of mentions of @natwest_help, extended branch hours and weekend openings, the bank’s Twitter account did not actively extend its social media presence or increase replies until very late on in the crisis, choosing a ‘business as usual approach’.
The new report from Bird Song: Social Media Reconnaissance showed numerous elements which shows that Natwest failed to increase its Twitter support to match the measures taken by branch staff and call centres.
As the problems unfolded, the followers of @Natwest_Help escalated at a rapid rate, growing by over 200% during the crisis, taking the bank from one of the least followed to one of the most followed UK bank accounts. During this time the number of mention @natwest_help grew 8 times more than its original amount.
The report also reveals the slow reaction time from the bank. Despite the influx in followers and mentions, the bank maintained standard tweeting hours of 9-5 at a time when branches were being opened later. It took a week for the bank to start maintaining a later presence on Twitter, until 7p.m.
In addition to this, for the weekend that the bank opened, the Twitter account was left to broadcast automated messages, offering no active support, only a link to direct followers to online help. The tweet alone generated 800 links (Bit.ly) of people seeking support.
This has also been the case for both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways in December 2010 and was the case for O2 last week. Since the start of the national coverage disruption, the @O2 account has grown by 50%.
National crises such as the Natwest fiasco, demonstrate just how dependent we are on the web and computer networks, and the ability to adapt to the consequences of a major systems breakdown. Therefore it is imperative that companies such as Natwest act immediately, enforcing a social media strategy that would see to support those who have been affected. Putting social media on the back burner could have a detrimental effect on the reputation of the brand, resulting in a leap of unwanted negative comments, which ultimately could lead to customers taking their business elsewhere.
Cover image courtesy of lamoix, flickr.com
Instagram bought by Facebook – how will this affect the Instagram community?
Unless you have been asleep for the last week, chances are you have heard the news that Facebook has bought the 2-year-old app ‘Instagram’ for a whopping 1 billion USD. Breaking it down that works out at $80million per employee and $33 for each of their 33 million users. An offer I’m sure was very hard to refuse!
The news of this broke on Monday morning when Mark Zuckerberg himself took to Facebook to announce the new integration.
This was met with a mixed reaction. Many loyal Instagram-ers pledged to delete their account following the news claiming that Facebook would destroy it. The main reason for this reaction being that the whole world is yet to find out about Instagram, and that’s how users like it. As successful apps go this one is pretty niche, and although they have a strong 33 million following, the users represent its quirky arty nature through their photos. People fear that with an industry giant such as Facebook taking over the app it will turn into yet another mainstream public service. It’s comparable to when Coca-cola bought shares in healthy brand ‘Innocent’ – to an extent it could be seen as degrading the brand personality, replacing it with connotations associated with the buyer.
Not all responses were as extreme and others seemed amiable to the convergence of the two social networks claiming they already share their photos on Facebook, so it makes no difference.
At first, I was unsure as to which party I agreed with. As an avid Instagram user, I can understand the opinions of those deleting their accounts. The quirkiness of the app is why I like it, and in a way, it’s a ‘cool’ secret that I share with my community on there, which is significantly smaller to my Facebook community. And I, personally, do not share my Instagram photos on Facebook; only a select few make it onto Twitter. So it does feel like an intrusion on Facebook’s part.
However, Zuckerberg clearly states that Instagram isn’t changing. They are supporting the (now very wealthy) creators of Instagram in improving its services and help enable others to use it. As much as I love the app I could list a few of its flaws, and if Zuckerberg and his team can help fix these then surely it’s a win-win situation. Instagram remains the same brand with help from a super brand to make it better.
The founders of Instagram, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, are probably thinking this is too good to be true. Their two year old business has made them millionaires overnight and they are able to continue developing as if it was still there own.
In addition, Instagram is a free app, meaning that sooner or later users would have had to start paying or the developers would have had to start rolling in ads. Which I’m guessing would have sparked the same boycott as this news has. How else would they have repaid the investors? From this perspective, Facebook has saved Instagram from a foggy future.
Alas, as many have learnt, nothing is too good to be true and I fail to believe that Facebook are doing this out of the kindness of their cyber heart. After all, Instagram is one of the largest mobile social networks around, and Facebook needs mobile to work…
Do we have separate online personas?
Social media has become an everyday tool for many people. We use it to both manage and record our lives. Consider that worldwide we send 200,000 tweets a day and upload 48 hours of video every minute – it soon becomes clear just how detailed an online archive we are building.
Never before has the minutiae of ordinary peoples’ lives been recorded in such vivid detail. A whole generation are active online, sharing information from our physical characteristics to our personalities regularly. With developments in technology such as smartphones and tablets, our social media activity is only increasing, adding more detail to our online profile in the process.
This anthropological archive is also, as far as we know, permanent. For example, what happens if you deactivate your Facebook account? By deactivating you are choosing not to post any more content but what about your past content? True, your deactivated profile is not visible to any other users but Facebook does keep all this data on file, in case you want to return to the service in the future. Once again this draws attention to the topical issue of data ownership – surely as users, we own our own content – in which case why are we unable to permanently delete it?
Another key question is how much our digital persona actually reflects our offline persona. It is impossible to speculate on this, without considering the lack of anonymity in social media, which is bound to determine the ‘public’ persona we project. I would guess that – to a greater or lesser extent – most users ‘cherry pick’ the parts of their real lives they wish to publicise on social media. So their online persona is a decidedly blinkered view of their real life.
Nevertheless, the really crucial question is; what will become of the data we do choose to share? Undoubtedly the amount of personal information we upload is only ever increasing and the archive becoming more detailed.
Will there come a time when historians are recreating the lives of our generation – perhaps programming robots to mimic us for example – using the information we have shared online?
Now that is some serious food for thought… Don’t forget to tweet this or share it on Facebook! 😉