No, you’re not crazy: It wasn’t so long ago that Facebook and Twitter were the only real social media spots for business. Companies big and small, local and international, realized that customers were looking for them on both sites. But what many still haven’t realized? Instagram, the trendy younger sister of social media, has in time become a must.
Instagram, despite its simplistic layout, is pretty tricky to master. It started as a means for friends to share photos with each other, and users were initially very resistant to the encroaching presence of ad space and brand promotion.
But over the past few years, users have come to expect -- and even actively search for -- a major business presence on Instagram. After a rocky start, a number of brands have learned how to seamlessly fold into the Instaworld, and that’s in large part due to the rise of lifestyle bloggers and influencers.
Greg Forsythe, the Senior Director of Innovation and Brand Strategy at Deka Lash, has an acute understanding of what makes Instagram influencers “work.” It’s all about staying true -- or some version of true -- to the app’s original purpose.
Greg’s own daughter, he said, “knows [influencers’] personalities almost like they’re friends,” he explained. Yes, Instagram is no longer just for photo-sharing between friends, but users still want to feel that sense of friendship with the people they follow.
While beauty and fashion brands are the overall most prominent type of company on Instagram -- the app is ideal for beautifully spotlighting makeup, hair, clothing and the like -- you’ll find that just about every type of business is now on board. Sporting goods retailers, crafts stores, construction companies, you name it. There’s a lot of room for creativity, and when really optimized, the results can be big.
During our Business Impact Workshop, Greg noted that when pairing up with an influencer on Instagram, it’s often most effective to just let him or her do their thing. Influencers have an unbelievable understanding of what works on the app. They know how to frame photos and write captions that engage their followers -- and, ultimately, convince those followers to take an interest in your product.
That all said, influencers are only part of the equation when it comes to optimizing your Instagram presence. Take some time to get to know all the features of the site. Did you know you can livestream, showing your followers in real-time how your product works? How about the Story feature -- do you know you can run polls and Q&As to really peak customer interest?
So people seem to like your brand: Your products are trustworthy and you’ve trained your employees to have great customer service skills. You’re sure to switch up your posting technique based on each platform, but you still can’t seem to create a special connection between your customers and your brand.
And while they might spend money on your products and services, they aren’t talking about it.
To get conversations going about your brand, you need to be innovative and unique. It’s time to breakout the brand advocate.
Brand advocates are easily the knights of the branding chess board. Versatile enough to reach the audiences regular marketing can’t; they’re well worth the time and effort. Armed with a following, advocates can create a tidal wave of buzz for a brand with a singular post.
Consumers need a fellow shopper with an opinion that they can trust. These days, a good review is worth double its weight in marketing gold. In fact, 90% of consumers believe Internet recommendations are the most credible persuasion when purchasing a product or service.
Keep this in mind: the entire world can love your brand, but they don’t all have to be your advocates. In fact, faux influencers can harm your reputation.
Once you’ve engaged and engrossed potential advocates, you can start deciding who is worthy of being your brand cheerleader. Chose a couple influential members (with organic followers) to can reach your targeted audience with the correct messages.
Once the relationship is solidified, put together a program to thank, reward, and maintain your advocate. Don’t make this a campaign, campaigns don’t last; make this an ongoing program. Longevity is good for a relationship, after all. Have an entire plan for the program so that you can identify how you and your advocate will both get what you want for the entire length of the program.
An easy way to show appreciation is to display advocate-generated content on your digital signage. With Instagram and social media integrations, your advocates can become your models.
Interactive Kiosks are a fantastic way to keep your advocates engaged and coming back for more. Implement a reward system for exclusive offers that only advocates can access via the kiosks. Hashtags for reward points!
Donate to charity on behalf of your advocates. Create an ‘Advocate of the Month (or Week)’ system that will honor a select member. Then your brand can donation in their name to a nonprofit organization. Their picture and donation can be displayed on your digital signage.
Obtaining, choosing, and keeping your advocates might seem intimidating. Keep the content around your brand dynamic and interesting, and you’ll start conversations that will lead to recommendations.
To see how a modern retailers use brand advocates to widen their client-base, watch episode three of our Business Impact Workshop with Dekalash.