Or… How marketers should approach the Instagram channel in 2014
Instagram recently announced it has more than 150 million monthly active users worldwide. Not only is the total number impressive, but it means Instagram is growing at a rate of more than 100 million new users per year, as the social network added 50 million of them in the past six months.
Managing the Instagram channel is no longer optional. It has become a strategic imperative for any brand or small business, and the urgency grows daily along with its user base. More than anything, Instagram presents an unparalleled opportunity to build and share a brand — to show a different side by leveraging this highly visual medium. Plus, the rate of customer engagement is off the charts compared to other social channels. But there are challenges.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, it’s not as easy to manage Instagram using native tools. Plus, what exactly does it mean to “manage” Instagram? This is a big question that we’ll seek to answer through the entirety of this post.
Instagram may be a new channel that is just now achieving massive scale, but many of the same marketing principles still apply. Consistent with the new media revolution, Instagram represents the ability to connect directly, authentically, and efficiently with a large number of consumers through a two-way medium. The medium has evolved, however, from text and ads through PCs to photos and videos through mobile devices.
Below, we’ve outlined the three key principles to successfully managing the Instagram channel and executing a successful Instagram strategy:
1. Create and Curate
Brands can populate their Instagram feed with content through two methods: creating original brand content and curating customer content.
Original Instagram content strategies can vary widely. We find that authentic, in-the-moment content performs best…as opposed to generic advertising photography being repurposed for Instagram. There are cases like Fab, however, where images shot in a studio feel natural on the Instagram platform. This has a lot to do with the brand and brand category, as we find that authentic food photos do better than studio shots. The top Instagram brands in terms of original content include Patagonia, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, and The Gap. The feeds for these brands show originality while staying true to their identities and providing a more intimate and authentic look at what they represent.
Nevertheless, producing a steady stream of authentic, original content can be expensive and time consuming. Which is why brands should consider balancing original content with curated customer photos and videos i.e. “re-gramming” the best brand-related content from customers.
This is similar to a retweet on Twitter…but with better content. Re-gramming takes a customer photo or video and reposts it to the brand’s feed with the proper attribution. It provides brands with a limitless source of high-quality, brand-specific content while authentically engaging customers and encouraging them to produce more and better photos of their brand experiences. [Note: Regramming is not a native Instagram feature. One must generally use a third-party application that automates this feature on a smartphone, as the only way to post Instagram content is through the mobile Instagram app.]
First, brands need to see all of the related photos and videos customers are posting on Instagram. This includes monitoring all brand, sub-brand, and campaign hashtags — positive, negative, misspellings, etc. — as well as photos being tagged to specific locations, known as “location tags.” With brick-and-mortar brands, up to 40% of all brand-tagged Instagram photos are only being location tagged, and these tend to have a stronger brand signal than hashtags.
Next, brands need to monitor Instagram comments for critical keywords. These could be related to a campaign or product launch to measure impact. On a daily basis, however, Instagram comments will surface a broad range of customer issues. Indeed, Instagram has become a critical customer service channel alongside Facebook and Twitter.
Unlike Twitter or Facebook, though, Instagram always includes a photo or video. So if there is a hair in someone’s food or a messy bathroom; if employees are behaving inappropriately or the customer experience doesn’t live up to the brand promise, an Instagram response means there is photo or video proof. As such, the negative impact on a brand can be magnified tremendously as this content gets shared to Facebook and Twitter.
There are two simple ways to respond to customers via Instagram: liking and commenting on their content.
The Instagram “like” is an easy and efficient way to thank customers for sharing and engaging with a brand. More often than not the customer will receive a mobile push notification indicating that that the brand has liked their photo, thus engaging on a one-to-one basis. This also has the effect of growing a brand’s Instagram following because tapping on the brand’s “like” takes the customer to its profile page. The customer may not have been aware the brand was on Instagram before this.
Commenting can also be a way to thank customers. However, this mechanism is best utilized as a customer service channel to address dissatisfied customers and resolve the issues, either within Instagram or through an offline channel. One of the advantages of Instagram is that the conversation on each photo is discrete. Unlike Twitter they are not part of a brand’s open content stream. So it’s not absolutely necessary to take these conversations offline. Plus, a brand can comment on multiple photos with the same message without coming across as inauthentic.
By crafting strategies around these three basic principles, brands can maximize the success of Instagram as a scalable and multi-faceted marketing channel that puts customers at the center of the experience.
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As the technology space evolves, so does the terminology
In 2009, we added the term “geolocation” to this blog as one of its primary topics. We marked this with a post stating that geolocation would be a major trend in 2010. This echoed much of what other blogs were writing at the time. Geolocation was the buzz term.
We followed up several months later with one one of our distributed blog posts entitled “10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World.” It’s about this time, however, that the terminology shifted and we began to refer to this as location-based services or LBS for short.
We’ve published several posts on the topic, but this one from November of 2010 is particularly relevant and timely: Four Reasons to Invest in Location-Based Services. We were essentially making the case for checking-in. Today, Foursquare launched Explore for the Web at Foursquare.com/Explore. Earlier today we tweeted that it’s the first social search engine for the real world, as it uses your check-in history, social graph, and location to make intelligent recommendations of places you’d like to go. In that November post, some 14 months ago, we wrote,
“The promise of intelligent recommendations is the feature that gets me most excited. Based on the data I volunteer through checking-in everywhere I go, whether it’s a public or private checkin, location-based services can use their aggregate data to accurately recommend other places I’ll like. Mind you, this is no small task.
By checking-in everywhere I go at home and when I’m traveling, no matter how mundane or insignificant, these apps can learn a lot about what I like and don’t like. With enough data, they can learn more about my preferences than I probably even realize. Again, let’t think in terms of many years’ worth of data that may also include sentiment value one way or another. Then consider a data set that includes hundreds of millions of users all over the world.
This type of predictive intelligence for location is only possible if we provide the raw data i.e. a complete history of check-in behavior. That’s the trade-off. That’s the value exchange. And that’s ultimately how LBS improves my life.”
This is a game-changer for Foursquare and will likely provide a monetization engine not unlike Google Search. You can be sure that Facebook is working on something similar, given its push toward Yelp-like recommendations on Places, and there’s little doubt that Google will provide a similar service with a combination of Search, Plus, and Places.
Throughout 2011, we collectively referred to this as the Location-Based Services (LBS) space. It wasn’t ideal, and it lead to a lot of confusion about what did or did not constitute LBS. The term was both too broad and too narrow. With 2012, the terminology has evolved once again. Geolocation and Location-Based Services are now collectively referred to as SoLoMo – shorthand for the convergence of social, local, and mobile.
The SoLoMo Manifesto: Just About Everything Marketers Need to Know about the Convergence of Social, Local, and Mobile
We invite you to download the most recent whitepaper from MomentFeed: The SoLoMo Manifesto
The SoLoMo Manifesto explores the mega-markets of social, local, and mobile as a cohesive ecosystem of marketing technologies. Driven by the rapid adoption of smartphones and the global network of connected consumers, the SoLoMo space can be uniquely understood through MomentFeed’s “Location-Based Engagement Stack.” This is the central premise to the paper and represents the core vision for the MomentFeed location-based marketing platform.
You can download this free whitepaper by clicking HERE
Guest post by Lorna Li, founder of a green marketing blog for green entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs. Visit Green Marketing 2.0 for more great tips on how to use social media for green business.
A new tool allows green business owners to take their marketing to the next level – geolocation. This inexpensive marketing medium allows green business owners to not only attract more customers, but also to learn more about current customers.
What is Geolocation?
Geolocation software has a variety of applications for small business owners. The most popular geolocation software is available in the form of games for customers to play. Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and Loopt all give customers the opportunity to “check in” to certain locations and earn points. Each game has its own rules, however, all utilize global positioning software (GPS) on a player’s smartphone to identify where the player is located.
• Foursquare: These users access the Foursquare app on their phones and “check in” at certain locations. Players can earn different badges after a certain number of check ins, or can become the “mayor” of a location if that player checks in at the location more than any other player.
• Gowalla: Users check in on Gowalla to earn stamps on their “passport”. Users may share their locations on Twitter and Facebook. They may also take part in trips created by organizations such as National Geographic, USAToday and CNN.
• Loopt: When Loopt users check in at certain locations, they are able to see which of their friends are nearby. They can even use Loopt to “ping” their friends and share their own location. Loopt allows players to set up alerts when certain friends are nearby or for local hot spots.
• Yelp: This geolocation software lets users check in and review local restaurants, bars, clubs, shops and more. It also allows users to find and read reviews written by other Yelp members.
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If your company or client has multiple locations, such as a restaurant or retail chain, then you need a location-based monitoring and analytics solution. An interview with MomentFeed founder Rob Reed.
First, we wrote that geolocation would be the trend for 2010. Next, we added geolocation as a fundamental topic, alongside social media and green living. Most recently, we cross-posted 10 Ways Geolocation is Changing the World on more than 100 blogs (Guy Kawasaki re-posted it just yesterday). All of which is culminating with the launch of MomentFeed, a first-of-its-kind analytics solution designed to monitor geosocial engagement across hundreds or thousands of physical locations. Indeed, it’s like Google Analytics for the real world.
MomentFeed was founded by Rob Reed and ”a group of marketing and technology executives who believe the nexus of mobile, social, and location amounts to the Holy Grail of marketing,” according to the company website. Rob is also the founder of Max Gladwell. The company recently launched its first product—known as Location Engagement Analytics (LEA)—in beta. To learn more about it, we conducted our third one-on-one interview with Rob in as many years.
Max Gladwell (MG): Tell us a little more about MomentFeed. What does the company do?
Rob Reed (RR): MomentFeed solves a big problem for companies that have any more than 10 or 20 locations. With the rapid adoption of location-based services (LBS), consumers are engaging or “checking-in” to millions of places on a daily basis, and there are no fewer than 20 different applications worth noting so far, not the least of which are Facebook and Twitter. On the Web, companies like Subway and Starbucks have one website and one brand to manage. In the real world, they have tens of thousands of brick-and-mortar locations, each of which is now behaving like a website thanks to smarthphones. Our LEA solution provides a single, dedicated interface to monitor, measure, and manage all of this activity.
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