5 Killer Instagram Marketing Strategies You Need to Know

shutterstock_229799614

Ignore Instagram at your own peril.

Since Facebook’s acquisition of the channel in 2012, Instagram growth has exploded, with 300 million active users, 30 billion photos shared, and an average of 70 million photos posted per day.

People are engaging with Instagram posts on levels unparalleled by any other social network. According toForrester research, Instagram user interactions with brands is 400% higher than on Facebook and Twitter, delivering 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.

So how can brands start building an Instagram presence? And how do you start engaging with followers to drive sales?

Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Never Forget the Hashtag

Thomas Lashier, the owner of Freaky Fresh Marketing, says that hashtags are key to reaching prospects and customers on Instagram:

Companies can categorize their photos and videos using relevant hashtags, which will help their photos and videos show up in live feeds that their prospects are following.

By using hashtags, businesses can drive traffic to their Instagram profile, where they can use the profile link to drive traffic to their website or an introductory offer.

2. Find Your Influencers

Chris Paul Jensen Jr. of (W)right On Communications says that influencer marketing is key to growing your Instagram following. He gives the example of SHREDZ, a nutritional supplements company:

SHREDZ only made $90,000 in 2012, but after partnering with a fitness model, Paige Hathaway, the brand jumped to $5 million in gross revenue by the end of 2013. SHREDZ achieved these numbers with just a small team and digital promotion. At the beginning of the partnership, Hathaway had 8,000 followers; she has grown to over 1.8 million in a span of three years.

3. Integrate Your Contacts from Other Channels

Brett Farmiloe, founder of Markitors, has a unique way of building your Instagram following and maximizing engagement: Identify customers who are already on Instagram:

The first step is to export a list of all customer phone numbers and contact information from your database or CRM. Take that list and import them as contacts into your Gmail account. Then, import those phone numbers and contact info from Gmail into a smartphone and log into your Instagram account on your phone.

From there, use Instagram’s “follow all contacts” feature, which will search for any of your contacts on Instagram and then you can select to follow them.

4. Integrate Instagram Content with Email

Finally, Instagram and email marketing can be a really powerful combination.

If you embed live Instagram content around a brand hashtag, you can streamline that process by offering photos taken by customers to people who are considering a product or service. This makes the email more engaging and the product more appealing.

Hyatt, for example, has used Instagram in email campaigns to feature the latest Instagram photos from its properties to give new guests a glimpse into what they can do during their stay.

5. Going Where the Engagement Is

Instagram is the king of engagement. Through the power of hashtags, influencers, and more, it’s possible to turn Instagram into a powerful funnel for both lead generation and customer engagement. The best part is that all you need to get started is your phone and a great picture.

6 Ways Snapchat Plans to Revolutionize Digital Advertising

6 Ways Snapchat Plans to Revolutionize Digital Advertising

“These are the kinds of questions I hate, dude.”

That’s what Snapchat co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel told Bloomberg Business when asked about his long-term vision for the company.

Spiegel, just 24, has been notoriously secretive about his plans for Snapchat, which is valued at around $15 billion. However, despite his elusive answer, Spiegel used the rare interview to reveal some of his strong opinions about digital advertising and hint at what lies ahead for his social platform. We’re only halfway through “the year of the chat app,” and Spiegel has already made some huge moves that are primed to disrupt mobile marketing.

Here are the six most important takeaways you need to know about Snapchat’s future plans.

1. Viewing advertising as a product

Successful advertising starts with the right mindset.

“A lot of people look at Internet advertising as a tax on the system,” Spiegel said. “That’s sort of discouraging if you care about making new products.”

For example, many criticize Facebook for its advertising efforts, which place strict holds on brands and have privacy issues that concern users. Perhaps that’s why Spiegel turned down a $3 billion acquisition from Facebook in 2013. Instead, he’s been getting ready to offer a young generation of mobile users a completely new experience.

“Evan views advertising as a product, while most Internet founders view advertising as a necessary evil,” Imran Khan, former investment banker and Snapchat’s new chief strategy officer, added in the Bloomberg piece. Snapchat doesn’t have an ad chief yet, but Khan is overseeing the marketing strategy while the company searches for the right candidate.

2. Saying “no” to targeted ads

Part of building a new advertising experience includes staying away from personalized programmatic ads, which can sometimes feel overbearing and/or creepy.

“It’s definitely weird when a vacuum follows you around the Internet,” Spiegel said.

According to the Bloomberg article, Spiegel is actually opposed to most kinds of online advertising, and he’s also ruling out ads that involve inserting ads into any one-to-one messaging between users because he finds it too invasive. Instead, Snapchat is set up for people to come to the content because theywant to read it—not because it’s being pushed into their feeds. For that quality control, Spiegel relies on editorial resources.

3. Building an editorial network

Snapchat has already begun playing around with editorial features by inviting users to piece together “Stories” of their media and share them with friends. Earlier this year, the company invited brands and publications to get in on the action with the new Discover channels, which provide curated news from partners like the Discovery Channel, CNN, Comedy Central, and ESPN.

Snapchat is also producing its own content on Discover. To build out its publishing arm, the network hired away Ellis Hamburger from The Verge and Peter Hamby from CNN. Given Hamby’s political background, we speculatedhe was brought on to help Snapchat become the go-to network for coverage of the 2016 presidential election. And we weren’t off the mark.

Snapchat just started posting job ads for “content analysts” to help provide “24/7 coverage” of next year’s election.

4. Focusing on mobile

One of the most unique features of Snapchat—aside from the fact that all content disappears—is that it is solely designed for mobile use.

Because of this, all content created for Snapchat from brands like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are specifically formatted for vertical viewing on smartphones. With this policy in place, the user doesn’t have to interrupt the viewing experience by turning the phone sideways so the video fills the screen. It also prevents ad partners from taking ads off YouTube and Facebook to plug them right in on Snapchat. The content has to be specifically produced for the platform and the user, which will theoretically lead to a higher-quality experience.

In a sales document that Snapchat is sending to advertisers this month, the company claims its users are nine times more likely to watch an entire ad if they don’t have to rotate their phones.

5. Ditching the data

While every brand publisher is frantically searching for the right metrics to measure content effectiveness, Spiegel turns his back on big data.

“There’s a sort of weird obsession with the idea that data can solve anything,” Spiegel said. “I really haven’t seen data deliver the results that I’ve seen a great editor deliver.”

Perhaps this is why there are no options for commenting on snaps. As the Bloomberg Business article states: “While Facebook and Google focus on technologies that advance material based on what’s popular or useful, Spiegel feels he has a responsibility to show Snapchat’s impressionable young audience things that are meaningful, not just popular.”

Of course, not all of Snapchat’s prospective partners are onboard with this approach to data. If they’re dishing out a heavy chunk of change, they want to be sure they’re getting a return on it. To help assuage these concerns, Snapchat cut its rates down to $20 per 1,000 views, a fraction of its undisclosed original price.

Meanwhile, Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief at Cosmopolitan, is happy with the traffic she sees coming in from the publication’s Snapchat channel, which receives about 2 million views each day. “The traffic is good, and [users] read every story,” she told Bloomberg. “It’s a finite amount of content, which is a perfect snack.”

6. Banking on music

While we weren’t originally supposed to know about this, Spiegel seems to have some big plans for the digital music scene. When Sony’s email was hacked last December, an exchange between Spiegel and Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton revealed that Spiegel was looking to partner with music services Vevo and Spotify. He also discussed buying a record label and promoting artists on Snapchat. Regardless of whether those plans come to fruition, we can be quite sure that Snapchat will continue to surprise us.

“I don’t think anyone saw coming what they are building,” former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya told Bloomberg. “At worst, they are the next-generation MTV. At best, they are the next-generation Viacom.”

Exposing The Generational Content Gap: Three Ways to Reach Multiple Generations

With more people of all ages online than ever before, marketers must create content that resonates with multiple generations. Successful marketers realize that each generation has unique expectations, values and experiences that influence consumer behaviors, and that offering your audience content that reflects their shared interests is a powerful way to connect with them and inspire them to take action.

We’re in the midst of a generational shift, with Millennials expected to surpass Baby Boomers in 2015 as the largest living generation. In order to be competitive, marketers need to realize where key distinctions and similarities lie in terms of how these different generations consume content and share it with with others.

To better understand the habits of each generation, BuzzStream and Fractl surveyed over 1,200 individuals and segmented their responses into three groups: Millennials (born between 1977–1995), Generation X (born between 1965–1976), and Baby Boomers (born between 1946–1964). [Eds note: The official breakdown for each group is as follows: Millennials (1981-1997), Generation X (1965-1980), and Boomers (1946-1964)]

Our survey asked them to identify their preferences for over 15 different content types while also noting their opinions on long-form versus short-form content and different genres (e.g., politics, technology, and entertainment).

We compared their responses and found similar habits and unique trends among all three generations.

Here’s our breakdown of the three key takeaways you can use to elevate your future campaigns:

1. Baby Boomers are consuming the most content

However, they have a tendency to enjoy it earlier in the day than Gen Xers and Millennials.

Although we found striking similarities between the younger generations, the oldest generation distinguished itself by consuming the most content. Over 25 percent of Baby Boomers consume 20 or more hours of content each week. Additional findings:

  • Baby Boomers also hold a strong lead in the 15–20 hours bracket at 17 percent, edging out Gen Xers and Millennials at 12 and 11 percent, respectively
  • A majority of Gen Xers and Millennials—just over 22 percent each—consume between 5 and 10 hours per week
  • Less than 10 percent of Gen Xers consume less than five hours of content a week—the lowest of all three groups

How Much Time We Spend Consuming Content

We also compared the times of day that each generation enjoys consuming content. The results show that most of our respondents—over 30 percent— consume content between 8 p.m. and midnight. However, there are similar trends that distinguish the oldest generation from the younger ones:

  • Baby Boomers consume a majority of their content in the morning. Nearly 40 percent of respondents are online between 5 a.m. and noon.
  • The least popular time for most respondents to engage with content online is late at night, between midnight and 5 a.m., earning less than 10 percent from each generation
  • Gen X is the only generation to dip below 10 percent in the three U.S. time zones: 5 a.m. to 9 a.m., 6 to 8 p.m., and midnight to 5 a.m.

When Do We Consume Content

When it comes to which device each generation uses to consume content, laptops are the most common, followed by desktops. The biggest distinction is in mobile usage: Over 50 percent of respondents who use their mobile as their primary device for content consumption are Millennials. Other results reveal:

  • Not only do Baby Boomers use laptops the most (43 percent), but they also use their tablets the most. (40 percent of all primary tablet users are Baby Boomers).
  • Over 25 percent of Millennials use a mobile device as their primary source for content
  • Gen Xers are the least active tablet users, with less than 8 percent of respondents using it as their primary device

Device To Consume Content2. Preferred content types and lengths span all three generations

One thing every generation agrees on is the type of content they enjoy seeing online. Our results reveal that the top four content types— blog articles, images, comments, and eBooks—are exactly the same for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. Additional comparisons indicate:

  • The least preferred content types—flipbooks, SlideShares, webinars, and white papers—are the same across generations, too (although not in the exact same order)
  • Surprisingly, Gen Xers and Millennials list quizzes as one of their five least favorite content types

Most Consumed Content Type

All three generations also agree on ideal content length, around 300 words. Further analysis reveals:

  • Baby Boomers have the highest preference for articles under 200 words, at 18 percent
  • Gen Xers have a strong preference for articles over 500 words compared to other generations. Over 20 percent of respondents favor long-form articles, while only 15 percent of Baby Boomers and Millennials share the same sentiment.
  • Gen Xers also prefer short articles the least, with less than 10 percent preferring articles under 200 words

Content Length PreferencesHowever, in regards to verticals or genres, where they consume their content, each generation has their own unique preference:

  • Baby Boomers have a comfortable lead in world news and politics, at 18 percent and 12 percent, respectively
  • Millennials hold a strong lead in technology, at 18 percent, while Baby Boomers come in at 10 percent in the same category
  • Gen Xers fall between Millennials and Baby Boomers in most verticals, although they have slight leads in personal finance, parenting, and healthy living
  • Although entertainment is the top genre for each generation, Millennials and Baby Boomers prefer it slightly more than than Gen Xers do

Favorite Content Genres

3. Facebook is the preferred content sharing platform across all three generations

Facebook remains king in terms of content sharing, and is used by about 60 percent of respondents in each generation studied. Surprisingly, YouTube came in second, followed by Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, respectively. Additional findings:

  • Baby Boomers share on Facebook the most, edging out Millennials by only a fraction of a percent
  • Although Gen Xers use Facebook slightly less than other generations, they lead in both YouTube and Twitter, at 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively
  • Google+ is most popular with Baby Boomers, at 8 percent, nearly double that of both Gen Xers and Millennials

Preferred Social PlatformAlthough a majority of each generation is sharing content on Facebook, the type of content they are sharing, especially visuals, varies by each age group. The oldest generation prefers more traditional content, such as images and videos. Millennials prefer newer content types, such as memes and GIFs, while Gen X predictably falls in between the two generations in all categories except SlideShares. Other findings:

  • The most popular content type for Baby Boomers is video, at 27 percent
  • Parallax is the least popular type for every generation, earning 1 percent or less in each age group
  • Millennials share memes the most, while less than 10 percent of Baby Boomers share similar content

Most Shared Visual ContentMarketing to several generations can be challenging, given the different values and ideas that resonate with each group. With the number of online content consumers growing daily, it’s essential for marketers to understand the specific types of content that each of their audiences connect with, and align it with their content marketing strategy accordingly.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all campaign, successful marketers can create content that multiple generations will want to share. If you feel you need more information getting started, you can review this deck of additional insights, which includes the preferred video length and weekend consuming habits of each generation discussed in this post.