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Why Instagram isn’t just for people sharing pictures of #brunch

 

In the summer of 2018, Instagram announced it had hit one billion monthly active users. Despite this figure, many B2B companies are still unclear on how to effectively use the image based platform or the benefits of using Instagram as part of a content marketing strategy.

Facebook was launched around fourteen years ago, Twitter twelve years, and Instagram only eight years ago. So, it’s understandable that businesses could be reluctant to invest in a media platform that isn’t even a decade old.

Can a B2B campaign be relevant on Instagram?

The simple answer is yes.

Instagram can be a really useful tool to not only support brand awareness but also help develop a business personality. People want to buy from brands they like and trust, and Instagram is a great way to do this. A picture speaks a thousand words as the saying goes.

Take IBM or MailChimp for example, these companies directly target businesses; however, both successfully use Instagram to highlight the company voice as well as product offerings.

Just because a business is selling directly to another company, rather than to a consumer, doesn’t mean there is an absence of people in the purchasing process. It is as equally important to develop a reputation and trust with individuals, as it is to develop a relationship on a whole business-wide scale.

 Business communication opportunities 

Not only is Instagram a great place to build brand awareness, but it’s also an excellent tool for two-way conversations between a company and the desired target audience. The premise of social media is to be social, not just to broadcast information. The ease that customers can communicate directly with a company allows for constant feedback. Instagram provides any B2B company with the opportunity to gain valuable customer information directly from those who it affects most.

Twitter may have introduced the use of hashtags on social media, but Instagram took their application to a new level. Users routinely click on hashtags that are appropriate to them. By using the most relevant hashtags to a business or industry, B2B companies are able to reach users who are actively showing an interest in the content, resulting in more valuable engagement.

Facebook changed its algorithm a couple of years ago to make posts from business accounts less discoverable without advertising spend. Instagram’s algorithm is focused on ensuring users are seeing the content they care about.

“If your favourite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.” – Instagram, 2016.

This algorithm provides businesses with the opportunity to engage with the followers who care about its content.

New and improved 

Instagram is always launching new features to improve its offerings.

In June 2018, Instagram launched IGTV, the longer-form video hub allowing people to share videos up to sixty minutes. Users are even able to create their own channel, similar to YouTube (that’s the important part).

According to research from Statista, YouTube was crowned second in ‘the most popular social media channel worldwide’ as of October 2018. And Cisco reported mobile video will account for 78% of all mobile data traffic by 2021.

These figures make it clear the opportunity available to brands utilising IGTV and Instagram properly.

Not only can companies collaborate with influencers creating longer videos on IGTV, but they can also create and share high-quality video content from the company profile. Coupled with the rise in popularity of Instagram stories and the traditional photo grid upload, companies are able to design an entire digital campaign, and deliver it in multiple formats, through one platform.

Only seven months after its launch we think IGTV has the potential to be a strong contender against YouTube, and in turn should be considered by B2B companies aiming to maximise the effectiveness of its social media presence on Instagram.

Spending time and money well on Instagram

While Instagram is a great tool for many companies in supporting its larger communication and brand image, it is important to remember that to be successful the content needs to be strategic. There is almost no point in writing and sharing posts just for the sake of it.

As with all communication activity, social media also needs to be executed properly to ensure the desired outcomes. It is more important to share quality content that will create conversation than it is to create mass volumes of content that nobody engages with.

Time is money and if you spend time creating content with no plan of how it will impact the communication plan on a broader scale, or you are posting a tweet every now and again just to be ‘active’ – this will not provide a return on investment.

If you want to develop a lively social media B2B campaign and need some advice, give us a call on 01608 495012, or drop me an email –  Elisa@twelvepr.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

How influential are influencers?

 

 

Is 2018 the year we see the end of influencer marketing?

There has been a lot of coverage in the media recently about the value of social media influencers, with many companies cracking down on ‘fake followers’.

Brands such as Unilever are leading the way when it comes to preventing the endorsement of fraudulent influencers. The firm has announced it will not work with any influencers who buy followers, in an effort to make advertising more transparent.

According to Forbes, customers want authenticity and a lack of this causes people to not trust brands, so this announcement should be something customers are pleased about.

Influencer Marketing is a billion-dollar-a-year market. The increased volume of influencers who are purchasing followers that are either bots or dormant accounts is likely to devalue the market and reduce consumers’ trust. It could also damage the credibility of those who can and do provide genuine, unbiased reviews.

Louise Pentland is just one YouTube influencer who has openly voiced her opinions on this matter. She commented on Twitter: “Would LOVE for Instagram to weed out the accounts that have bought followers and bots. These ‘grammers work with brands based on their fake sub count and damage the credibility of our industry. It’s easy to spot if you know what to look for and it’s wrong”. With support from influencers in the industry it seems brands really do need to do more when it comes to preventing endorsement of fraudulent influencers.

Keith Weed, chief marketing officer at Unilever, comments that it is hard to pinpoint how prevalent the practise of buying followers is, but he has heard estimates that as much as forty per cent of influencers have been involved at some point, sometimes accidentally.

This makes it really hard for brands to be sure that the influencers they are working with are going to provide the genuine return that they promise. It also makes it harder for brands to identify if the influencer will have any contact with their desired target market at all.

According to PR Moment, customer reviews are sixty per cent more effective than social media endorsements when buying online; and less than two per cent think it is important for products to be endorsed by celebrities.

So, in theory genuine customer reviews should in fact provide more financial benefit to a brand than that of a social media influencer or celebrity.

So, should brands scrap their social media influencer budget altogether?

Realistically, no. Despite research that claims consumers are not swayed by influencers the brand awareness and reputation that can be gained through genuine influencer collaboration is still extremely valuable.

A responsibility does also lie with the social media platforms to ensure stricter protocol is in place to prevent and discourage the practise of buying followers.

Alongside this, it is important for brands to identify which type of influencers are going to be the most valuable to their customers experience. If the company’s target markets not likely to even come across the influencer or be persuaded by their opinion, it doesn’t really matter how many followers that person has.

A microblogger with fewer followers that reaches the customers a brand is targeting, will be much more influential than an influencer who has paid for 600,000 followers and receives little to no genuine engagement. Unfortunately, many influencers work purely off numbers, not off the value they are delivering.

On a more positive note, brands can use the fact that consumers are placing so much trust in customer reviews to their advantage. To achieve the best results, companies could integrate more paying customer reviews into their marketing strategy, as well as using influencer marketing.

Therefore, rather than scrap social media influencers all together, brands should take some time to review the influencers they are using and make the experience more personal, to reach customers effectively.

Snapchat: Tech titan or fleeting fad?

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We’ve all seen them – the countless animal-eared, sunglass-clad, hat-wearing selfies – taken using Snapchat. It’s a wildly popular social media platform, especially with today’s young people – it’s a fun, impromptu and fleeting way of communicating, with photos or videos only appearing for up to 10 seconds.

In the most eagerly anticipated tech IPO since Facebook in 2012, Snapchat went public last week – and its shares have been up and down since. In the light of this uncertainty, we wanted to take a look at Snapchat’s functions and values as a new social media phenomenon, and consider what it might be worth.

Unlike Facebook, which strives to create a record of its users’ lives, “Snapchat offers liberating impermanence”. And its figures show that this is a popular concept: Snapchat has revealed it generates over $400 million in annual sales and has 158 million people using its app on a daily basis.

Although this isn’t as many as Facebook, with about 1.2 billion checking their Facebook account daily, Snapchat claims their users are much more engaged than Facebook’s – two-thirds of them check the app every day – and the average daily user visits the app 18 times a day, spending an average of 25-30 minutes a day sending and watching snaps from friends, celebrities and advertising brands.

And there’s no doubt that the app is quickly evolving from a ‘chat’ platform that gave Snapchat its name. Over the years it has steadily increased advertising and added news. Last month, Snapchat launched its annual filters for UK brands, and last year began selling its Spectacles – eyeglasses that can take photos and record videos. So does this mean brands should be on Snapchat? Is it an effective channel to convey a business message?

I think time will tell. When Snapchat first become popular, the novelty of masking selfies and wacky filters was fun, new, and different from the sleek offerings of Instagram. And I do still think Snapchat can be fun…when I remember to use it. But it’s not indispensable to me – I skip the ads, I don’t use it for news. In fact, a recent survey claims that 69 percent of its respondents said they ‘always’ or often’ skip adds on Snapchat, and 61 percent said they didn’t follow any news organisations on the app. So it seems it’s neither a necessary tool for communication nor a reliable source for information, and paid-for brand adverts don’t seem to be worth it over 50% of the time.

The Sunday Times issued a warning before the app went public, listing six reasons why Snap’s float could flop, from growth not equalling profit to lack of proof from the app that it can actually make money. Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder, although its user figures are impressive, whether the whole concept of disappearing photos and videos is simply another digital fad.

I’m not saying there is no value in Snapchat for brands. Adidas or Amazon are good examples of brands using Snapchat effectively. They have used the app to help show their brand’s personal side and reach a young demographic in a way which engages them. Snapchat connects with audiences ‘in the moment’, in a unique and creative way. But it’s still very much new territory and we’ll have to wait to see long-term effect and measure success.

If you’re a brand thinking about how you can use Snapchat – whether you should be on it, how to use it, its advertising functions – my advice is to tread carefully. Think about your market, test the waters, and take it slow. You can always talk to a team of digitally-minded PRs (like us at Twelve) too…!