Guest Column: Brands must add to the user's experience of social zen: Pooja Gururaj, Digital Strategist
If numbers are anything to go by, Instagram is turning out to be just the perfect social platform that brands have been hoping for. According to Brandwatch, Adweek, almost 50% of users follow their favourite brands on Instagram and 70% of the most used hashtags are actually branded and Instagrammers engage with brands 10 times over Facebook and 84 times over Twitter.
But numbers are just one piece of the puzzle. It’s imperative for brands to take a moment, question what the other pieces are, to begin with and then let the answers drive the strategy on the platform. The questions could be --
> What is the role that Instagram will play in this ever-growing platter of platforms that brands are pressurised to be on?
A clutter breaking campaign, like worthy photos and super analytical tools ultimately don’t help a brand if the brand isn’t clear on its purpose on the platform.
>Is the brand going to be able to lend itself to the temperament of Instagram or is it going to be a buzzkill?
Brands can’t just be themselves. Brands can’t not be themselves either. It is only fair for brands to review their fit to the content, nature, audience and mood before being forced to try too hard in hindsight.
While brands question and derive their purpose on Instagram, here are some simple hacks to help take the brand story forward effectively:
1.Humanise your presence. Like and Interact
Instagram gives brands the breathing space to be as human as they can get, not just with the kind of content but also with their interactions. Actively like user photos related to the brand, comment and break the ice.
Nothing warms up the users to a brand as much as a surprise validation.
2.Keep your bio dynamic
As the only part of your profile that Instagram lets you link out, use the bio wisely. Lead users to different parts of your website based on the theme of your communication.
Link shorteners like Bit.ly will also help track how effective Instagram has been in diverting traffic to the site.
Another trick is to use your bio to seed your owned hashtag with a clear call to action. This will help turn users to be more participative than just passive spectators.
3. Give Instagrammers a reason to be social with you
While content plans and activities aim at reaching out to the audience, this is just one side of the conversation. Don’t forget to encourage users to make the brand a part of their photos. Give users owned hashtags to use along with reasons to tag and interact with the brand. Even better, feature them from time to time to help turn them into regular brand contributors.
4.Take a visual stand
Being the highly visual platform that it is, most Instagrammers begin to follow an account when they want to see more of what they’ve seen. Just like when you buy a magazine, you turn the first few pages and you buy it. Hoping every other page is in sync with what you liked. How disappointing would it be to find something different half way through?
Be it a colour pallete, selective filters or a photo style – maintaining consistency helps the brand keep up with the follower’s expectations.
Analytics tools these days also help the brand understand which formats and filters work best, adding statistical validation for the style guide.
5.Let your stories interact with the content
While Instagram stories and Snapchat fight it out to be distinct, or not – the point is Instagram gives you the advantage to run stories that can relate back to your feed.
Apart from using Instagram stories for just the filters and location based emojis, use it to win the algorithm battle and invite users to the brand’s profile. Use it as a poll to devise user voted content or as a teaser to upcoming activities. This will help add a more definitive value to this popular expiring format.
6.Build a universe of content co-creators
As a brand, while creating regular content is part of the plan, build a universe of Instagrammers (bloggers or even those from within the brand) who will help populate the brand’s feed. Tag them and even share their experience!
This will help establish category authority and even showcase a larger brand network seamlessly.
All these hacks and marketing activities will help take the brand forward on its way to achieve its platform objectives, no doubt.
However, one thing to remember as marketers is to not take away from what the platform had set out to do for the audience.
As a brand, it is important to add to the user’s experience of social zen than ruining it with an irrelevant brand agenda. It’s all about telling the brand story, the way it is liked to be heard.
(The author is Digital Strategist at VML)
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com