Visual marketing is one of those buzz terms that’s being thrown around a lot at the moment and its thanks in large parts to platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest which have seen phenomenal growth throughout 2014 and this looks set to continue in 2015. Research from Forrester in 2014 showed that on average brands on Instagram have a 4.21% per-follower engagement rate, 58 times more than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter. Instagram has now amassed over 30 million monthly active users (as of December 2014) and on a daily basis sees 70 million photos being shared and 2.5 billion likes, a huge audience for marketers to go after right?! Here’s my top marketing tactics that brands should be utilising in 2015 to see the true value and power of Instagram.
1. Hashtags (but not too many at once)
An obvious one to start with, brands should definitely be using hashtags on Instagram to ensure their content is being seen by new audiences. Although Instagram will let you include up to 30 hashtags I wouldn’t recommend using more than five as a maximum as you then run the risk of looking spammy. Best practice is to search for hashtags you’re considering using first to see how well-used they are, you can do this by going to search, clicking on hashtags and typing in your hashtag where you will see the number of posts with that hashtag. For example #bbloggers is a commonly used hashtag standing for beauty bloggers but also used by beauty brands and we can see 880,723 posts with that hashtag. #ootd is another common hashtag used by both bloggers and brands to showcase outfit posts with over 48M uses of the hashtag.
Hashtags can be a great way of unifying a campaign across channels as they now work across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, making reporting and measurement much easier for marketers. For example throughout January Forever 21 are running a fitness campaign with the hashtag #F21FitnessChallenge primarily on Instagram but this also feeds through to their Twitter and Facebook as well.
2. Shoppable feeds
Increasingly we’re seeing both brands and influencers monetizing their Instagrams by making their photos shoppable. New marketing solutions such as Like2Buy and LiketoKnowit make it really easy for Instagram users to shop their favourite photos simply by registering with the platform, liking the photo on Instagram which is then stored for them to access and buy from the retailer when they log back in.
A search for the #liketkit hashtag brings back over 176K posts. Other brands not utilizing these services are still seizing the opportunity to make it easy for customers by including product codes with their photos.
3. Encouraging Advocacy
Another great tactic brands should be utilising on Instagram is celebrating brand advocacy and crowd sourcing their content. Brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Millie Mackintosh Collection do this well by reposting photos their customers have shared wearing their clothes with their followers. With the permission from the customers in the photos brands can also start using these photos on other channels and the website to further promote their product range.
Another way we see brands encouraging advocacy on Instagram is through engaging with influencers (both celebrities and ‘social media stars’) to promote their products on their feeds. A search for the hashtags #ad or #sp shows the number of influencers already cashing in on this.
Finally, like any social channel, Instagram provides brands with opportunity to really connect with their customers and the best way to do this is by sharing exclusives and behind the scenes (BTS) content that customers wouldn’t normally get to see. It might be a sneak peak of a new product range, behind the scenes footages of the latest commercial or simply exclusive tips from experts at the brand. This kind of content consistently performs well and encourages brand loyalty. An example of a brand that does this really well is Victoria’s Secret who frequently share behind the scenes shots of their models on location at photo shoots and of their new adverts before they’re aired. Instagram introduced its advertising service for select businesses last year with Disneyland and GoPro some of the first brands on-board, this looks set to roll out even further in 2015 meaning plenty more opportunities for brands to leverage the opportunity that Instagram presents.