When was the last time you went to a brand’s website before checking out their Instagram feed? It’s 2018—and Instagram is the new homepage. “Followers” are the new customers, “likes” are the new reviews, and “engagement” is the new client testimonial.
Consumers are now checking Instagram to get the latest news, celebrity gossip, fashion and travel trends before logging on to any news app or website. Why? Because in an era of instant gratification, social media reigns supreme. Be honest—if you missed the recent Royal Wedding, where did you first see images of the Duchess of Sussex’s dress?
Even with Instagram’s sneaky algorithm changes that have ultimately made the social platform less, well, instant, consumers have been groomed to believe that a brand’s Instagram account is the go-to source for any buzzworthy news.
This shift of responsibility to social media content as the first interaction with the consumer has placed a great deal of importance on quality control
Long gone are the days of publishing unedited iPhone shots. The brands doing it right on Instagram are taking several things into account: Is this photo going to perform well with our demographic? Is this caption going to encourage engagement with our followers? Will this filter throw off the aesthetic of the grid?
Every caption, tag and hashtag coming from a brand’s Instagram account is meant to be digested with some authority, which can be a great thing if you have the right people running your account. By the same token, a user’s experience can turn sour rather quickly when an account has been obviously neglected.
Brands that lack an Instagram presence are often overlooked, and consumers are less likely to give them a second chance. Harsh? Sure—but if you want to play with the big dogs on the social media playground, you have to put your best feed forward.
So if this is the new reality, what does it mean for your brand?
The bottom line—you get what you give. Consumers are already “investing” in your brand by hitting that follow button. A “follow” on Instagram translates to real-life interest in what the brand is doing, saying, or making, so make the most of the exchange by providing your following with killer content (written and photos/videos). When you invest in your brand’s social media presence, your followers will invest in you. This is not something your intern should handle. One more time, for emphasis, this is not a project for your intern.
Striking a balance between inspirational and promotional content is never easy, but it’s necessary in building a brand’s story
Consider a clothing brand presence on Instagram, the last thing they want to do is appear ‘salesy’, “Buy this!” “This looks great on EVERYONE!” “You need this!” This is where that subtlety comes in. Instead of directly telling followers they need to purchase something, create content that makes them think, “Wait a minute. I think I need this.”
Content creators making waves on Instagram are thinking of the consumer first, and the return, second. An Instagram feed is more than just a hub of photos. A brand’s feed should tell a visual story from start to finish; with each chapter revealing more of what to expect. My theory? Create content so great that the feed itself eventually becomes a page turner and you find yourself looking at posts from 2014.
Remember: Instagram is as important as your website, for different reasons perhaps and for different audiences perhaps, but it is that important. Plan your human and budget resources accordingly.
We work with quite a few of our clients on their Instagram presence. Need help with yours? Drop me a line.