6 reasons why B2C businesses should advertise on Instagram

©Magicatwork/flickr.com

©Magicatwork/flickr.com

One year ago, we reported on the beginnings of Instagram. At this time (end of 2015), Instagram was not on the radar of German businesses. But how about today? After the app reached a rapid growth, more and more B2C companies bustle on the platform and inspire their followers with pictures and videos.

What is Instagram and what is so special about this app?

Instagram is like a photo album of the modern age and is – if the user wants – open to the public. The Apple Store describes Instagram like this: “With Instagram you can capture and share moments in the world.” And that is what the users truly do: They put filters on pictures and videos and upload them. Besides traditional features, the users can publish so-called Instagram Stories since 2016. These stories are not listed in the user’s profiles and will be automatically deleted after a while. A further development is the launch of Live Stories, like the ones that already exist on Facebook and Periscope.

Why should businesses extend their social media activities to Instagram?

#1 – Power of images: B2C customers make their purchase decisions in an emotional way. For this reason, the visual representation of the product is priority #1.

In contrast to texts without any visual appeal, a picture gets much more attention: Eyetracking studies confirm that pictures are the central point of attention on websites. These study results concern classical websites as well as any social media channel. Posts with pictures generate 94 % more interactions than posts without any visual content. Because Instagram is a pure picture and video platform, the study results are indeed an argument for businesses to use this app.

#2 – Hashtags: Visibility & retrievability

Hashtags were introduced by Twitter and have been very popular since then. Next to the pictures, the hashtags are the central feature of Instagram. Through hashtags, users can find pictures of a specific category – they represent the function of a photo album. Try it out for yourself – #Netgear: Find many Orbis, Arlos and Nighthawks. #Aftershokz: innovative headphones and athletes. With the hashtag #MorphyRichards, the user accesses a photo album with kitchen equipment and a lot of food. Brands not only use photo albums with hundreds of pictures but also hashtags which are used commonly on Instagram: #tbt, #food and much more. Instagram shares a similarity with other social media: The imagination knows no limits. New hashtags can be added and have the potential to become trending.

#3 – Instagram activities are measurable

For example: The measurement of Snapchat is not as clear as the businesses wants it to be. How many followers does my channel have? This question cannot be answered so easily because the data in the menu item “Friends” is getting refreshed often – you are just able to see your newest friends. Instagram is much clearer: The app lists followers, likes, comments and outreach. If this is not enough, users are able to work with analytic tools: How many users have I gained, how many have I lost? Which followers are the most active? Which pictures are trending, which ones are not very popular? Which pictures are intensely discussed? The analytic tools are able to show you the user development in graphs. With the results of analytics, users are able to measure campaign successes and can optimize their activities on Instagram.

#4 – Major widely known brands are very successful on Instagram already

In 2016, about 49 % of the US brands already used Instagram as an advertising platform. The forecast for 2017 shows an increase up to 71 %. A very considerable number. Instagram has 600 million users worldwide (status: 12.01.2017); 70 % of them follow a business. And what about Germany? More and more German businesses like Douglas, Balea, Snipes and others expand their social media activities to Instagram.

#5 – Influencers or bloggers don’t have to be recruited – if the brand is already established on the market, users will proactively post about it

When you look around on Instagram, you see the large number of product placements: whether the ads are intentional or not. This way brands are getting more popular. #Apple has more than 16 million pictures in its virtual photo album. Many of them are taken by private persons presenting the products. This phenomena can also be seen in the photo album of #Aftershokz. According to this, lifestyle products are very suitable for this kind of advertising.

#6 – Target group: Young & dynamic

Out of the 600 million users who have access to Instagram worldwide, 6.7 million live in Germany (status: October 2016) and are crazy about the portable photo album. A large follower base when you consider that Instagram has only been existing since 2010. Only 53 % of these users are female. And even the age is mixed thoroughly: the majority is 13 – 24 years old (around 4 million), and nearly 2 million are between 25 and 39 years old.

All in all, Instagram gains more and more popularity and outreach. The mentioned facts show us how important Instagram will also be in the future. Businesses that don’t only want to work with professional influencers can use sponsored posts or other offers of Instagram. These are constantly optimized and expanded. Instagram is a great addition to other social media channels and makes the brand likeable.

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How marketing is changing through Big Data

©JohnTowner/unsplash.com

©JohnTowner/unsplash.com

Big Data is a catchword that companies usually associate with higher demands concerning IT infrastructure and performance. But the ever-increasing amount of data also affects advertisers.

Nowadays, there is an incomparable information pool which companies that want to advertise can access. The data is available, because more and more mobile devices are in use and the amount will further increase when the Internet of Things (IoT) really connects everyday life. However, the mere amount of data is not interesting on its own. It is crucial to use the data in a purposeful way, since customers today show a very fragmented information, communication and purchasing behavior. They use different devices, i.e. tablets, smartphones, stationary PCs, but also different browsers, apps etc.

On the one hand, there is a lot of data, on the other hand the potential customers are increasingly difficult to reach. To adjust and synchronize campaigns in real-time is necessary.
In times with more complex usage patterns, a paradigm shift in marketing is needed: for today’s marketing customer groups, end-devices or certain channels are less important. More important are the individual users and their preferences.

To really understand what the individual customer wants is only possible if the different data silos are combined. The user experience is crucial for campaigns: How does the user behave, where is he located and what are seasonal trends? Is it raining or snowing? If potential customers are also active on different channels, the campaigns need to be synchronized in real time. Who wants to see a pair of shoes on the smartphone months after it was bought with a tablet?

To better serve their customers, companies need to find ways to make use of the data – without violating privacy. Suppliers like our client Criteo offer such services under the term Performance Marketing.

The heart of Performance Marketing are technology-driven marketing measures trying to achieve measurable responses within the target group. It focusses on addressing users via individualized advertising messages, but classic search engine optimization (SEO) is also a part of it. In contrast to retargeting, Performance Marketing is supposed to provide customers with forward-looking and active offers.

Clearly, efficient and targeted marketing is now possible if companies address their icustomers in the right way. However, comprehensive know-how and the corresponding expertise in analysis is necessary – in this way “Big Data” can turn into “Valuable Data”.

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Blog – hobby or a full-time job?

©JulietteLeufke/unsplash.com

©JulietteLeufke/unsplash.com

The technology of the 21st century enables a quick and easy information flow and communication. There are plenty of communication channels on the internet and one of them is blogging.

A blog is a channel which offers certain content for a specific target group and lately it is one of the most popular marketing & PR tools. The big advantage of a blog is that it doesn’t require big investments; you only need time and motivation to start. Popular and well-known social networks such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are milestones for a successful blog. All the information written on a blog is transmitted quickly and it goes directly to the selected target group.

When it comes to blogging, the target group chooses the information source they are interested in and not the other way around. The target group “follows“ the chosen information source, which has to provide new trends and attractive content. In this way, the target group agrees to be influenced.

The most influencing blogs are, of course, those with the most followers. A large number of followers means a large number of potential customers. A large number of potential customers means a chance for big earnings. At this point, various brands follow the trend. They get in touch with the bloggers and offer cooperation possibilities, so they can reach thousands of potential customers. By cooperating with popular brands, the blogger gets even more attention and followers and builds a reputation. It can even be the first step towards a successful own business. When a blog has reached a respectable number of followers who expect new content, trends and ideas every day and every hour, a blog stops being just a hobby or a platform to post interesting photos or thoughts. It becomes a tool that consumes a lot of time and effort, but that in the end is an opportunity for a successful career.

In the US, a blogger who has more than six million followers can earn between 20,000 and 100,000 dollars with publishing a single photo or text. The largest number of “influencers“ are female bloggers who write about fashion, travel and beauty. World famous bloggers such as Danielle Bernstein or Chiara Ferragni can earn up to several million dollars a year. Chiara Ferragni’s blog The Blonde Salad has more than 8 million followers. In that case, her success didn’t stop at writing. She has her own shoe and clothing collection and she cooperates with world famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna and Mango.

Danielle Bernstein is one of the most famous US fashion bloggers. Her blog We Wore What has more than 1.6 million followers. She claims that her “price” for sponsored content is between five and fifteen thousand dollars. She cooperates with expensive hotels and famous fashion and beauty brands.

In my home country Croatia, the popularity of blogs is also growing significantly and quickly. Blogs are still not such a popular marketing & PR tool like in other Western European countries and in the US. Therefore, in Croatia even the most influential bloggers cannot earn as much as the bloggers in the US, UK, France or Germany. Ella Dvornik is a Croatian lifestyle blogger who lives in London and Zagreb. On her blog, I am Ella, she writes about travel and fashion. In an interview for one Croatian magazine she said that although she gets invitations from hotels all over the world, she still has to spend her last money on plane tickets, taxi, restaurants, etc. She started as a hobby blogger, but now – with the significant number of followers – her blog is her full-time job. Not because it is so well paid, but because it consumes a lot of time and energy.

Isabella Rakonic writes about fashion trends on her blog The Pile of Style. She started as a hobby blogger as well, but now – with 80,000 followers – she claims that her blog is her full-time job.

Both Isabella and Ella partly owe their popularity to the English language; other bloggers who write only in Croatian don’t reach that large target groups so far and therefore they don’t have enough followers to make money out of a hobby.

In the beginning, every blog is just one among a few hundred million others. If a blogger wants to have an influential blog with a significant number of followers, he or she has to offer what the readers are asking for: fresh ideas and a unique style. A blogger who does that stands out from the crowd. But whether his or her blog is going to be a hobby or a full-time-job depends on the competition and the number of followers.

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How do you think outside the box if you don’t know you’re in one?

©FrancesGunn/unsplash.com

©FrancesGunn/unsplash.com

We’re told every day as marketing strategists and business innovators to think outside the box. But we’re not often told how to recognize when we’re in one. Our brains are designed to box up concepts so we can process them, and shifting that way of thinking requires a concerted effort to end-run our own subconscious.

Case in point: A professor once asked my psychology class to tell him about his house. His house, not our own — which none of us had ever visited. Your house has a front door, we told him. Walls that divide the rooms into smaller, square spaces. There’s maybe a little bit of dust in the corners where you can’t reach with the broom.

We had no idea he lived in a geodesic dome.

According to the schemata concept, our brains create individualized frameworks or mental structures that help us categorize ideas and view the world. They help us shortcut the processing of information because some data inputs are made into Givens. We couldn’t come up with the idea of a house with no corners because, in our heads, all houses had corners.

The very words we use and the way we look at problems and situations can blind us to other ideas. The way we frame questions can hamper our brainstorms and our understanding of one another, because everyone’s schemata are different. My mental image of a tree may have pinecones; yours may have palm fronds. If we want to come together on how to landscape the yard, we have to back up and identify how our existing assumptions have already framed our thinking before we move forward on brainstorming and evaluating options that can exist outside that frame.

We can be more innovative, work together more effectively, create stronger thought leadership, and come up with better solutions together if we back up to identify the boxes we’re in. J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst did this to amazing effect with their book “S.” In an era when electronic is the way to go and e-readers are more frequent sights than dog-eared pages, they published a book that is built – built – to have its pages turned, its loose ephemera shaken out and unfolded to reveal side journeys in the story, its “eau de grandpa’s attic” sniffed. They built a book that eschews any box for the concept of “book.”

So the next time someone asks you to “think outside the box,” ask yourself first, which boxes am I in?

 

This entry was written by our WorldCom partner Bliss Integrated Communication. The original article can be found here: http://www.blissintegrated.com/2016/04/01/how-do-you-think-outside-the-box-if-you-dont-know-youre-in-one/

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Which social media channels fit your organization?

©TanjaCappell/flickr.com

©TanjaCappell/flickr.com

There is no need to explain that social media has become inevitable for our society. Most of us are registered on at least one social network and are active there, almost daily. It is clear that companies should also try to use the large potential of these online communities to share their messages and stay in contact with their customers and stakeholders.

Social media requires planning
The large number of social media platforms makes it difficult for companies to decide which ones are the best choices to reach their target audience. However, the right decision is extremely important. Social media requires a lot of time and effort because it needs to be planned thoroughly. It is better to have only few channels that are well prepared and aligned with the target audience than to perform badly on every social media platform. Less is more in this case. Also, the content which is published has to match with the respective social media site. Aligning the posts with the needs and expectations of clients is crucial for the success of an account. After all, we only share what we are interested in.

Another important issue is the amount of available content, because usually posts have to be prepared on a regular basis. Often, it is easier to create content for consumer products, especially on picture-based media like Instagram or Snapchat. But even in this case, it is important to keep in mind that social media is a long-term project. And make sure that there will be enough material to be able to keep posting new content even after a year.

Is Facebook headed south?
Facebook is being criticized a lot lately. On one hand, fake news spread easily on the platform. On the other hand, our newsfeeds have changed. Facebook is using algorithms to show us exactly what we allegedly want to see. Sometimes we get the feeling that all we ever see are likes from friends that we haven’t met in three years. Still, it is really difficult to find anyone, under the age of 50, who doesn’t have a Facebook account and use it at least once a week. What has changed is the way we use Facebook. More and more people access Facebook over mobile devices and they post less, but share and watch more. Facebook is still an amazing tool to reach a broad public, but it has become more important than ever to create interesting content so it doesn’t disappear in endless timelines.

Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest – the world of images
Especially for consumer products, Instagram and similar platforms are the place to be. Companies can present their new products and share an inside view of their company. The pictures should provide good quality, but are not supposed to look too marketing-like. It is important to create an authentic image of the brand to attach the followers to it. Especially young audiences can be reached via Snapchat. Here, companies can show their audience behind-the-scenes content. Storytelling is key to bind customers to a brand.

Twitter
One of the world’s largest social networks is based on real-time news. The short messages are supposed to inform about recent topics and create an overview. Operating a Twitter account takes a lot of time and effort, because the posts should be prepared on a regular basis and posted while the topic is still up-to-date. However, companies should take care of posting only relevant information for their audience so they don’t get blocked as “spammers”. Twitter is also a great possibility to react to recent topics, state opinions and spread important links.

LinkedIn and XING
The business platforms LinkedIn and the German version XING are used to network with colleagues from other organizations and other employees. Especially XING focuses less on brands, but more on individual people. It is important for employees to connect employees with the company. That way, they can spread news and draw attention to the company.

No matter which social media platforms a company chooses, the content has to be aligned with the needs and expectations of the respective target audience. However, it is equally important to create the posts in a way that fits the medium. Therefore, companies need to inform themselves about the customs of the social platform. Creating random accounts and posting without a real plan should be avoided. But a good and thought through social media plan with posts that are aligned with the target group can lead to great brand awareness and loyalty.

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