Brand guide for instagram

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How to establish your brand on Instagram...and why...

Text of Brand guide for instagram

by Kashem Miah and Nick Burd with Doug Platts, iCrossing

ICROSSING POV:

Facebooks recent acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion highlights the

importance of visual storytelling for marketers looking to build connected

brands with social and mobile. Text, links, and video have long been the gold

standard for awareness, visibility, and engagement. But the ubiquity of camera

phones and the enduring popularity of photo-friendly social platforms such as

Facebook and Twitter have allowed images to become some of the most engaging

and shareable content on the web. To build close relationships with their audiences, brands need visual

strategies, and Instagram is arguably the current leader in visually representing brand identities.

In this POV, well highlight the key takeaways, recommend next steps for marketers looking to visually

share their brand story using Instagram, and give an update on Facebooks acquisition of the platform and

discuss whats next in terms of advertising opportunities on the platform.

THE CMO'S GUIDE TO INSTAGRAM: WHY BRANDS MUST BE VISUAL TO GAIN VISIBILITY

WHAT IS INSTAGRAM?Instagram is a free photo sharing application that allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter, and then share it instantly. Sharing is enabled for a variety of social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare, as well

as Instagram's own network. It is also the biggest mobile social media network; the majority of its activities and community exist solely within iOS and Android mobile apps.

The fact that Instagram is primarily a mobile platform is particularly important, given the fact that people are increasingly

accessing the Internet via a mobile device. According to a recent study by the International Telecommunication Union (ICT), there are almost 6 billion active mobile subscriptions in the world, easily surpassing other access methods such as broadband

and dial-up. In fact, mobile usage has grown 45% annually over the last four years, ushering in what some are already calling the Mobile Age.

As with most social networks, Instagram allows users to follow each other; they can also tag other users, use hashtags, and like uploaded pictures that are shared within their stream from people they follow, which is now integrated with Facebook for greater

visibility and engagement.

Instagrams popularity is mostly due to the instant shareability, but also its ability to make photos taken with a mobile device look

more professional and stylized.

The application is compatible with any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 3.1.2 or above, and any mobile phone running Android 2.2 or above. It is a free app on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

THE CMO'S GUIDE TO INSTAGRAM: WHY BRANDS MUST BE VISUAL TO GAIN VISIBILITY

2 ICROSSING, INC., A HEARST COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

OCTOBER 2013

Instagram is extremely popular, with more than 5 million photos uploaded every day and 40 million plus accounts created since Instagram launched in October of 2010. As Instagram continues to grow, competitors such as Path and Dailybooth are hoping to cut into the overall marketshare with their own mobile photo sharing apps.

Of course, Pinterest is also a wildly popular site that brands are embracing as part of their visual content strategies. What makes Instagram different and also vital is its mobile experience. The Instagram ecosystem lives on mobile, which is increasingly becoming the consumption of choice for consumers. While Pinterest has a mobile presence with apps on Android and iOS, its desktop experience far exceeds that of the mobile apps. If brands want to target the always-on visual consumer, Instagram currently offers the best mobile experience.

WHY YOUR BRAND SHOULD BE ON INSTAGRAM

VISUAL STORYTELLING At its core, Instagram is about taking pictures, adding cool, professional looking filters, and sharing them across the Internet. But something else is also happening: Instagram is creating an active community of visual storytellers, unlike any other social platform.

Brands should be on Instagram to tell the stories of their products and allow fans to see their inner workings but also allow their customers and followers to share their own brand perspective with the rest of the community. Customer personalities can be a powerful tool for brands, and allowing them to express themselves visually can fuel advocacy and propel a brands image in a positive direction.

USER GENERATED COMMUNICATIONThe amount of user-generated content a brand can create is a great metric for measuring activity and engagement of a brand

community. Instagram provides brands the unique opportunity to solicit user-generated content through an activity theyre already performing every day: taking and sharing pictures.

Brands like Starbucks and The Today Show regularly ask users to submit pictures from their daily activities to specific events they attend. In doing so, those brands provide great examples of crowdsourcing, where consumers share ideas with a brand for campaigns or social activity. Connecting with users through a visual aid helps brands create a strong bond with their audience, one that separates Instagram from other social networks, where brand publishing approaches sometimes feel like a one-way street.

SOCIAL SHARING = SEO BENEFITS Instagram has the ability to share pictures across multiple social networking sites such as Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare. Now, due to increased consumption of visual imagery on social networks, Facebook and Twitter no longer only include links on the

wall to individual Instagram photos they show the entire image, heightening Instagrams visibility even more.

Another social capability that Instagram boasts is hashtag functionality. Brands can use hashtags in connection to a specific campaign or contest. Brisk Iced Tea was one of the first brands to use hashtags for an Instagram campaign. At SXSW 2011, they asked fans to tag their pics with #briskpic for a chance to get their faces on a Brisk Iced Tea can. Brisk received thousands of pictures within a day. Finally, Instagram also allows you to tag friends and followers using the @ symbol, a feature most commonly found on Twitter and Facebook.

Instagrams social sharing capability is also a great facilitator in providing SEO benefits through amplification of the images, captions and hashtags. As images get pushed across multiple social networks, the amplification of this content will also reach authoritative influencers, who can then further share with their audiences to increase visibility and awareness for any brand. Doing so can drive further links and social signals to a brands website, therefore building a stronger equity for the site and aid in it ranking more

competitively in search.

Granted, Instagram is popular with consumers. But why should brands be on Instagram? Here are a few reasons to join the largest mobile social network on the planet.

THE CMO'S GUIDE TO INSTAGRAM: WHY BRANDS MUST BE VISUAL TO GAIN VISIBILITY

3 ICROSSING, INC., A HEARST COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

OCTOBER 2013

INSTAGRAM BEST PRACTICES

SHARE INTERESTING IMAGESEvery brand will need to decide on its own whether its Instagram strategy should focus on product-related images or photos

that convey the brand lifestyle. No matter what they choose, brands should keep in mind that Instagram is first and foremost a creative platform where the unexpected and authentic are equally encouraged. Photos that only showcase products or corporate messaging may feel out of place among photos of users friends Instagramming their fun weekend activities.

Brands should also remember to address relevant topics other than explicit mentions or images of their brands and products, whenever posting on any of their social properties, including Instagram. Every post in the Starbucks feed doesnt necessarily have to be about coffee; and the Gucci or Marc Jacobs feeds can feature much more than shots of clothes or accessories. Why not feature a photo of a gorgeous summer sunset? Or the adorable corgi that an employee brought into the office?

If highlighting products is indeed a priority, consider General Electrics approach: sharing pictures of their jet engines in an artistic, visually appealing fashion that is appropriate to Instagrams sensibilities.

POST OFTEN AND CONSISTENTLYSimilarly to most social networks, followers will abandon a brand if updates arent frequent, but brands also shouldnt clog an

audience members feed by sharing too many images within a short period of time. There needs to be a consistent balance.

For example, Good Morning America shares pictures during the morning hours of the show. The regularity of the posting schedule gives followers rich content to look forward to every morning.

Getting started on Instagram is easy, but sustaining long-term engagement takes dedication. Here are a few best practices for brands to keep in mind when engaging with a new audience on a new platform through a unique approach to social media publishing.

THE CMO'S GUIDE TO INSTAGRAM: WHY BRANDS MUST BE VISUAL TO GAIN VISIBILITY

4 ICROSSING, INC., A HEARST COMPANY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

OCTOBER 2013

On the other hand, Liptons Brisk ice tea channel stopped sharing images on Instagram for a month and followed up with 13 in one day, which annoyed many users. To sustain relationships with its audience, brands should create a publishing plan that establishes reasonable expectations for consistent post timin