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Instagram Marketing – Telling Stories about Your Brand with Pictures and Videos

Instagram is the fastest growing social network site and is expected to have one billion active users this year (Mediakix, November 2017). As a result, Instagram marketing has really become “essential” when it comes creating a following for your brand.

People love Instagram. They find gratification by posting photos and videos for their friends to see and react to. Also, users consume photos and videos mostly by viewing a core page showing a “stream” of the latest photos and videos from all their friends, listed in reverse chronological order 4. They can also ‘like’ or comment on these posts.

Instagram marketing is valuable tool for retailers. This is evident because retail brands are prominent users of Instagram. They frequently use persuasion, self-efficacy, relational, emotion and symbolism strategies to get users to interact with the brand by ‘liking’ or commenting on the content 3.

The more ‘likes’ and followers a retail brand achieve on Instagram, the more will users become aware of the brand. However, in order to secure online sales, retailers should make the user’s journey from ‘awareness’ to ‘purchasing’ as smooth as possible.

About Instagram

Instagram is an online, mobile phone photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social network service (SNS) that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and then share them on other platforms 1. It also allows users to add hashtags and geotags, graphical stickers, Augmented Reality objects, as well as apply multiple graphical filters to alter photos. Instagram quickly became popular because it’s not only a handy photo-sharing app, but also a social network.

What is most powerful about Instagram is that it is geared entirely towards mobile use, allowing users a simple interface to upload photos that they have just taken or captured in the past. “It’s like Twitter with followers, only instead of real-time text updates, you provide photo updates” explained Zohra Ashpari for PC World in 2012.

Instagram user statistics (Hootsuit)

  1. Instagram has over 800 million active users.
  2. 80% of Instagram users come from outside of the U.S.
  3. Instagram is used by 38% of women in the U.S. and 26% of men.
  4. 59% of Instagrammers in the U.S. are under 30.
  5. Teenagers love Instagram.
  6. Facebook and Pinterest are Instagrammers’ other favourite networks.
  7. A lot of Instagram users have pretty deep pockets.

It took Facebook not long to purchase Instagram in 2012 for one billion US$. Maybe they did it because Instagram was potentially a threat to their other business (Facebook) 2. Furthermore, Facebook  owns the social media apps WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. The parallel that Zohra draw between the two social media apps then is happening even more today, as was pointed out in Redcode.

Kurt Wagner and Rani Molla write in Recode “The world’s most popular social apps are starting to look a little … similar. As companies like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap have evolved, they’ve started to borrow product ideas from each other in the hope of building an all-in-one experience.”

So if Facebook is similar to Instagram, and all the other social media apps appear similar to each other, how on earth can retailers decide what social media app to advertise their products with?

However, with more pictures and videos that are used to share stories and experience, retailers may first consider “how to market” rather than “where to market” on these social media apps.

Cadbury’s use of Instagram

Developing an Instagram marketing strategy

Instagram marketing is derived from social media marketing. Therefore social media marketing can formally be defined as “The utilization of social media technologies, channels, and software to create, communicate, deliver, and exchange offerings that have vale for an organization’s stakeholders.” 5

Alicia Johnson writing in SproutSocial.com suggests the following to create an Instagram marketing strategy:

Step 1: Determine Your Objectives

  1. What will Instagram allow you to do that other platforms don’t?
  2. Who is your target audience and which members of your audience are active on Instagram?
  3. How will Instagram integrate with the other networks in your social media strategy?

Step 2: Develop an Instagram Content Strategy

Content is the foundation of your Instagram presence. For that reason, many B2C businesses use Instagram to make their product the star of the show.

  1. Build content themes – review your objectives and determine what aspects of your brand to showcase in your Instagram content.
  2. Determine content medium and ratio – consider a balance of content types that will work best for the resources you have and the engagement you want from your audience.
  3. Set a (flexible) content calendar – to establish and maintain an active presence on Instagram, determine the frequency with which you will post.
  4. Curate user-generated content – it allows you to foster audience engagement and create an incentive for your audience to share posts.

Step 3: Establish Clear Team Guidelines: Style, Publishing and Workflow

On a visual platform, the need for a clearly defined aesthetic is key.

  1. Maintain a brand aesthetic – review the existing visual representations of your brand: your logo, website, graphics, stock photography and other collateral.
  2. Understand your brand’s composition – to create a sense of visual harmony when a user looks at your profile.

Step 4: Foster engagement and set guidelines for community management

Instagram offers huge potential for engagement.

  1. Optimize your bio and link – focus on what’s important about your brand. Your bio is also a good place to educate.
  2. Follow industry accounts and Instagram influencers – what kind of content do you want to keep a pulse on through Instagram?
  3. Use Instagram stories to test content – make this content easy to read, view and understand so users don’t skip you the next time you publish a story.

Step 5: Analyze Your Results

Tracking how well your content performs and your follower growth will allow you to adapt your Instagram marketing strategy over time. For that reason it allows you to deliver more content that your audience will respond to while helping you optimize for future campaigns.

Concluding

As digital communication technology improves, and we can communicate with speed and download quality images while moving, the visual content will become more import for retail brands. For that reason Facebook and Twitter are moving towards the business model of Instagram by incorporating more pictures and videos on the sites.

But we need to be reminded about the value of text: “Whereas a single picture may convey a thousand words, a single word may stimulate vivid images that may move consumers to attend, prefer, or buy 6.”

Notes

1 Sheldon, P. and Bryant, K. 2016. Instagram: Motives for its use and relationship to narcissism and contextual age, Computers in Human Behavior, 58:89-97.

2 Andrew Apostola and Simon Goodrich, 2013. Taking Back Retail, Transforming Traditional Retailers Into Digital Retailers, ©Portable Australia Pty Ltd.

3 Hassan, A. 2014. Do brands targeting women use instamarketing differently: a content analysis, In Marketing Management Association 2014 Annual Spring Conference Proceedings, 62-64.

4 Hu, Y., Manikonda, L. and Kambhampati, S. 2014, June. What We Instagram: A First Analysis of Instagram Photo Content and User Types, In Icwsm.

5 Tuten, T.L. and Solomon, M.R. 2014. Social Media Marketing, SAGE.

6 Wedel, M. and Pieters, R. eds. 2012. Visual marketing: From attention to action, Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Images

Pixabay.com

Flickr.com (Ell R Brown)

Retail Customers use of Social Media Sites

Social media have created one of the most exciting and efficient opportunities for retailers to reach their customers. It also offer great opportunities for the owners of social media networking sites to get ‘pay per click’ income  when retailers post ads on the sites and visitors click on the ‘buy’ buttons to buy stuff.

That is why all popular social media networking sites such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter recently have added the ‘buy’ button to their sites. They did it to make online shopping easier for their users, and to make some money…

According to Anna Torres writing in the ChannelAdvisor, Twitter is backing off the easy-click purchase strategy. Maybe retail customers don’t like doing shopping on Twitter’s site?

How do retail customers use social media sites?

The customers of retailers visit specific social media sites for the following reasons:

  • Facebook – as of the first quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.65 billion monthly active users (Statista). So retail customers use Facebook because everyone else is using it.
  • Google Plus – is an interest-based social network that is owned and operated by Google Inc. Similar to Facebook, Google Plus allows customers to add events, invite people, and then share photos and media;
  • Instagram, owned by Facebook  is a free online photo sharing and social network platform. It is a fun and quirky way for people to share their life with friends through a series of pictures.
  • Pinterest was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp. It is a visual bookmarking tool that helps customers to discover and save creative ideas.
  • Twitter, founded by Jack Dorsey – is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages. Fifty nine percent of Twitter users turn to the platform to catch up on news.

Retail customers use Twitter  differently compared to what they do with the other social media sites. By mainly reading, listening to and viewing the latest news, they seem to have less appetite for shopping, avoiding Twitter’s buy buttons…

Visit eBizplan for help in developing your online retail business.

The Role That Social Media Plays In Driving Online Retail Sales

Social media driven retail sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other digital marketing channels.

The link between social media and retail sales

For millions of retail customers the social media has become an important part of their social lives. They use social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to generate content by reviewing companies and criticize or recommend products or retailers.

The fast growth in the number of word of mouth content on social media has provided customers with new sources of product information.  This trend is important for online retailers because their customers trust the opinions of peers in the online communities more than retailers advertising their products.

The role of social media in online retail

Cooper Smith in The Business Insider (India) discussed a recent report by BI Intelligence. He notes the following about social media’s role in online retail:

  • Social is driving much bigger increases in retail traffic than any other online channel. Social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile device users. Social media users are 35% less likely to share a brand’s or retailer’s social post on a mobile device than they are on desktop computers.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence for mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and events marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

How should online retailers react to social media?

The social media has empowered the customers of retailers. Many retailers see this empowerment as a threat to their businesses because they lose control and negative online content about their products or brand may hurt their reputation. The traditional marketing approach is not appropriate for retailers trying to communicate with their customers in social media communities.

Visit my website www.ebizplan.co.za if you want assistance with writing a business plan or a marketing plan.

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Use the Humanity of Facebook to Boost your Retail Sales

Facebook offers a number of opportunities to connect with literally millions of potential users or customers that may increase the number of visitors to your website.

The ‘humanity’ of Facebook

It is hard to comprehend the number of people that are connected to Facebook- 1.4 billion active users as of the first quarter of 2015. However, because we are human beings, the numbers should not surprise us.

The key to the popularity of Facebook may be best described by quoting Atul Gawande: “Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people.”

Your business needs to interact with other people.

Get friends on Facebook

You need friend to spread the message of your business. Use Facebook’s friend-finder app to see who you can invite to become your Facebook friend.

To make sure you get more friend requests and subscribers, be sure to share your personal profile link publicly on your website, blog, forums, and other social profiles.

Invite your personal Facebook friends to like your business page

Once you have established your Facebook friends, you should invite them to ‘like’ your business page.  A visitor that ‘liked’ your business page has an interest in your business and wants to hear more from you. Your friends on can invite their friends to like your page.

Socialize with your friends on Facebook by:

  • Wishing them ‘happy birthdays’;
  • Sending them private messages;
  • Participate in online social groups that your friends are members of;
  • Suggest your page to friends.

If you need assistance with your online business strategy or digital marketing strategies visit eBizplan.

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