7 ways brands can use Instagram Stories

Instagram – 800 million monthly, 500 million daily active users and 300 million daily active users for stories! With more than half of their daily users posting stories, there is no doubt that stories are the craze these days. And where there are users, there have to be brands – trying to target, engage and connect with their users through stories.

I have been using stories for some time now and there is something about it that makes it fun. To add to that, it’s placed very prominently and hence every time you go to Instagram, you can’t miss those tiny circles on top. Many brands are experimenting with stories for different marketing objectives, while some have been able to do wonders, some still are trying to figure out the power of this tool.

Here’re some of the ways in which brands can use Instagram stories , I have personally implemented these in my marketing initiatives and I think these are worth giving a try:

  • Announcements: Stories work good for announcing new updates, be it a new blog post on your site or a to-be-launched collection. The placement of the stories icon ensures visibility and higher reach. There are many brands and users who are already using stories very effectively.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/zara/
  • Contests: If you’re hosting contests, Instagram stories are absolute fun – right from announcements prior to the contests going live to the countdown before announcing the winners, stories can add a lot of value in getting your audience hooked on to your contests plan.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/chumbak/
  • Enhanced Storytelling: While whole Instagram is anyways all about gorgeous photos and beautiful visual storytelling, but if you have some aesthetically shot products with details to be shown, stories will be helpful. The large size picture format adds to the charm of your visual storytelling and makes it more appealing to users.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/natgeo/
  • Events: Stories by virtue of being “photo stories” are great for events or documentaries, be it for communicating the sequence or some of the behind-the-scenes fun. The slideshow format of stories helps in presenting different aspects of any event as a series.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/weddingsutra/
  • Feedback: Instagram stories polls are great to gather some quick opinions and feedback from your users. While audience-reach wise, it can never match up to Facebook but these polls are easy to use, fun and visually noticeable.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/snowberrydesignco/
  • Topical Communication: If you’re a brand that communicates about kinds of stuff like daily outfit suggestion through #ootd or some contests & offers that are valid only for 24 hours, stories might be the platform worth giving a try. Considering stories last only for 24 hours, there is this urgency to view it and it’s good for topical communication or promotion
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/harpercollinsin/
  • Shoutouts: It’s a great tool to tag your partners or give shoutouts to your fans. Tagging in stories ensures additional reach apart from your feed by sending your stories to the tagged account via DM.
Image Credit: https://www.instagram.com/amul_India/

So, what are the other methods in which you’re using Instagram stories? Would love to know how it’s been working for you so far? Do let me know in the comment section below.

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Photos Credit: Links to the awesome Instagram accounts of the brands whose work I like mentioned below each photo.

4 quick tips for Influencer-gramming

Image Credit — Pixabay

On an average, 1 out of 3 or 4 posts on my Instagram timeline is an influencer plug these days. I did a quick check on if I am following influencers more? No, these are pretty much my own contacts who are doing brand plugs now. Looks like brands have become quite active with influencer marketing especially on Instagram and there are many brands that are opting for influencers as against ads on Instagram.

Influencer marketing works well for many reasons but if I have to quote one reason, it has to be the following blink from the book — Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini:

Observing people similar to us can greatly influence our choice. We comply with people we like and it is easy for some people to make us like them.

So damn true, it’s just so easy for some people to make us like them and once we like someone, we get influenced by their behavior and choices. While many bloggers and social media personalities are open to do brand collaborations but how many are actually capable of influencing your users with authenticity? And no, it’s not a number game only. Influencer marketing is as much an art as it’s about science and numbers.

There are many resources available for you to check in case you are starting with Influencer Marketing on Instagram but for those who are already doing it, here are 4 quick suggestions from my side that are based on my own experiences of running campaigns and practical observations of some other live campaigns on Instagram these days.Read More

If Instagram would have been a place

Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/@aows

Just because it’s easy, let’s do it and just because it’s cheap, let’s plaster all over the media. We have seen this happening earlier with other digital channels and we can see this happening now with Instagram too. It’s quick to start and pause, so why to spend time in planning or thinking? When I see these poorly shot or awfully cropped pictures in a sponsored post, I cringe. When I see the messages so long that you need to zoom or a sponsored posts that only speak of X% discounts, I wonder why? I understand the general impulse of — “Instagram is popular, let’s do a campaign there”, but considering it’s a sponsored post and that too with such high frequency, I am assuming there is money being spent with some business objectives in mind. Then, why not spend some time in understanding the platform and engaging with your audience accordingly?Read More

Pinterest, love you but now craving for more :)

In this bed-ridden phase since last two months, I have been trying to divert my mind to things that I used to love to do but haven’t been able to pursue due to paucity of time. And one such long lost love for me was— painting. There was a time when I was very passionate about colors and canvases, have tried to experiment with different forms of art on my own, always wished to learn it properly but like many other things in life, this one also never moved up in my priority list of to-dos ever.

This time, I thought to bring this passion back to life, at least till I don’t go back to the same old routine of work and child and home and etc. etc. etc. Though physically it’s very difficult for me to try painting these days but resource wise it’s just so easier and simpler. Thanks to technology, learning anything new is possible anytime, anywhere with tonnes of ideas and inspiration available all over internet.

Read More

It’s all about photos

Photo Credit — https://unsplash.com/@jaywennington

Out of all the work experience that I have, almost half of it has been into photography industry now — a category that has really exploded in last decade, a category in which you literally have to be on your toes in case you want to make a mark, a category that has gone through unimagined consumer behavior changes at an unimagined pace. We all are clicking, clicking all the time, clicking anything & everything!

My work also involves meeting photographers and consumers who are looking to hire photographers on a regular basis and at times the kind of insights that I get by just observing or casually interacting with them is mind blowing.

The trend of getting life events photographed or preserving our unique moments as photographs has been existing since centuries but there is something now because of which photographs and photography are as much part of our lives as food and sleep.

Thanks to social media, it will be safe to say that now we humans literally eat, breathe and live our lives through photos. This is something that we all know of but at times certain incidences just make this realization starker!Read More

Facebook Advertising — Customise, Connect, Change

Image Credit — https://unsplash.com/@carlheyerdahl

Love me, or hate me, but you can not ignore me — Sincerely Yours, Facebook!

Even if certain set of users won’t agree to this statement but considering Facebook & Instagram are still dominating the charts of most downloaded and most used apps, it would be better to accept that Facebook is one of those beasts which marketers can’t ignore if they’re going for a paid digital campaign especially for a consumer product category.

I know there are enough pro and anti Facebook advertising arguments all over the internet but this post is not about whether to go for Facebook advertising or not, it’s more about when you are doing it, do it right. No point in spending money without fixing the basics first.

It’s 2017 & why I am still talking of basics of Facebook advertising? I mean, even a school kid knows how to advertise on Facebook? What’s the big deal about it when it’s just so simple and easy to set up a Facebook campaign? Well, that’s the exact problem — it’s just so easy! And almost everyone is setting it up without much effort or thought put behind understanding the platform or learning the best practices.

And when something is very easy, it’s also easier to mess it up. Isn’t it?

In last 15 days I have met four startups who are spending big money on Facebook advertising and three of them have digital agencies managing their accounts. While we discuss CPA and efficacy of the medium, there is this general sigh that CPA is not coming down and the effectiveness of their campaign is decreasing with time. I got a chance to analyze their campaigns and surprisingly, I found the problems common across — ignoring the basics and one-size-fit-all campaigns.

And all it takes is 3 simple steps to fix the same.

Customize

So startup A, with whom I was interacting recently, is a food company with a potential target audience that could range in between any age group, i.e., teenagers to even 50+year old ones. Their agency was running a digital campaign for age bracket 18–45 years with same messaging and same creatives. Their logic — after all it’s a food category and anyone could potentially be a customer for this category. True, absolutely true. But what happened to the basics of marketing known as segmentation and customizing the campaigns according to each segment? The more granular we go with customization, the more effective the outputs are in digital medium. For e.g., in this case it took us a day’s exercise to go through each product variant and try to figure out the star appeal of each variant. The moment we were ready with product feature matrix, it was getting clearer to the founders that perhaps each variant needs to be targeted to a different segment, customized with a different messaging. And that’s what we did — instead of one master campaign showing different products in different units of carousel, we configured multiple campaigns with messages and visuals tailored to different audience type. Going granular and customization upto the last level was some task for sure but the results were obvious and in a week’s time the acquisition numbers were moving northward within the same budget.

Customization takes time and effort but it’s worth it. Just go for it. Go granular, go microscopic.

Connect

Are you targeting your ads to those who have liked your page as well? Of course, the logical brain tells you why do you need to especially when you have limited money? The ones who have liked your page are already getting to see your updates, so why not use the money to target new audience and acquire new customers? Start up A, B, C & D — all four had done the same. And earlier, even I used to do the same. But then after experiencing the diminishing organic reach of Facebook posts that perhaps is not even in the range of 2 to 5% these days, I had changed my targeting strategy. And I was surprised with the improvement in the conversion rate.

So, next time when you are trying to sell any new product or targeting your users for repurchase, connect with your existing base first, you’ll be surprised with your acquisition percentage and more importantly, your CPA. The rationale behind this is pretty simple — the ones who have liked your page are somewhat interested in you, the chances of them buying your product are much higher than the new ones.

When you have limited money, it’s all the more important that you prioritize it on targeting the interested ones first. Connect with your existing fan base, it works.

Change

Startup D had spent some decent money in getting their products shot beautifully. The campaigns were doing well initially but with time, the CTR had reduced. On asking, when was the last time the images were changed, the answer was almost three months back. To add to that, all the good pictures were used in first burst itself. But then why do they need to plan for second or third bursts when the first one was doing so good? Well, simply because users get bored of seeing the same thing again and again. To add to that, this phone era has reduced our attention span to 8 seconds which is perhaps lesser than that of many living creatures. And the only method to grab attention these days is through striking visuals. Visuals attract attention and new images give a fresh perspective to your ads. Be it digital or any form of advertising, a good visual evokes emotions and enhances the consumer connect. This has been tried and tested since ages in all forms of advertising but is especially true in this digital era where we literally breathe and live our virtual life through images.

Change your ads frequently, especially the images. Even if you are advertising the same product or service, just change the visuals and see the impact on your CTR. In one of my last campaigns, it moved up by 3x.

Customize, Connect & Change — that’s it. Focus on these and your basics will be in place. And if basics are in place, we all know rest can be managed, enhanced and improved 🙂

Twitter launches “suggested users”

Today morning when I logged into my twitter account, I found this new tab “suggested users” in find people section. It has to be a development between yesterday to today as it was not there two days back when I had clicked “find people”. But what is interesting is that there was no formal announcement or whatsoever on twitter main page about it, quite a silent launch of a new feature from twitter! Though there are lots of external tools and apps for twitter but twitter on its own has hardly launched anything in recent times. So, when twitter launched something on its own I must say I was having somewhat high expectations from it but when I used this tool I didn’t find it much useful. In fact I can’t understand the logic of this recommendation at all. So, is twitter recommending these users to me based on my profile or my friend’s list profile or the nature of my updates? The algorithm is not at all clear. And to add to that what disappoints me further is that I am getting quite common suggestions for my both accounts – I maintain two accounts, one my personal account and second on behalf of my company where I work. There is hardly any similarity between these two accounts, neither in terms of following / follower list nor in terms of updates or profile. So, how come the users suggested are having so much similarity? So, is it just a set of some users which twitter is recommending to everybody in different permutations and combinations??? And some of the other recommendations are absolutely bizarre, have a look on the two scrnshots:

twitter1