And, we’re seeing some brands using Instagram in all sorts of interesting and interactive ways with their customers.
That’s what I want to talk about today: The interesting new executions brands are implementing to use Instagram to interact with their audiences.
According to this Mobile Marketer post, Nordstrom used a visual of an Instagram post featuring a 55-foot dress on its corporate headquarters in Seattle. They then took video/photos of the installation via drone and then shared those pics and videos on Nordstrom social media channels. All to promote a summer sale. Fun, smart way to promote a sale that most likely happens every summer.
Interesting concept here from whiskey-maker, Ballantine’s. The Insta-zine! One part Instagram project, one part digital magazine. Users are encourage to click on each photo (and its tag) from its @w_issueone account to dive into deeper digital stories on whiskey. Not sure if this is the future of Instagram, but it’s an interesting concept. And, kudos to Ballantine’s for giving something new and different a try (I may dive into this one in greater detail in a future post).
Leave it to the Bullseye to use Instagram and Facebook data to build the perfect dorm room! Yep–that’s what Target it up to this fall. Interesting way to use the DATA from Instagram to point customers to products that work for them.
Not sure I’m really buying the effectiveness of this tactic, but it is different. And, it is a creative execution. Essentially, what Forever 21 did was create a 2,000-pound, 11-foot high “thread screen” that turns pics posted by customers/friends with the #Forever21ThreadScreen tag into complex-looking mosaics. The weird part: The “thread screen” sits inside the agency’s office that created it (Breakfast). It does create the “thread screens” and post them to this site: http://f21threadscreen.com/. But, I can’t get over the fact that it’s sitting inside the agencies walls–and NOT in or outside a Forever 21 store. Seems odd.
In May, TOMS started the #WithoutShoes campaign (nice recap over on Jay Baer’s blog here). It’s goal: To give away 1 million shoes to children in need by asking people to share a pic of their feet and tag it with #WithouShoes. For every pic posted with the hash tag, TOMS will give one pair of shoes to a child in need. Outstanding cause marketing campaign. And, judging from the 358,599 pics using the #WithoutShoes hash tag on Instagram, I’d say it was a smashing success!
Gap started what has been described as a “micro-video series” between Jenny Slate (Marcel the Shell creator) and actor Paul Dano (no idea who that is, but I’m sure he’s famous and hits their target market). It’s an interesting approach–much like those “webisode” series’ that were so popular a few years back (PSFK has a nice recap here). Since the series is somewhat built on the cliffhanger model, it encourages viewers to check back each week–nice way inspire repeat views. And, each video features a different style or item from the Gap spring line (not surprisingly, of course). Interestingly–just glancing at Gap’s Instagram account, the video series’ generally generated LESS likes/comments than those “everyday” posts in its feed. Hmm….
Land Rover created two new Instagram accounts (@solitudeinsawtooth and @brotherhoodofwonderstone) that attempt to give followers an “epic panorama” (as described by Fast Co.writer Dan Solomon in this recap post of pretty fantastic outdoor environments. Creative? Yes. Effective at advancing key marketing goals? That one I’m not so sure. I’m still not sure I understand why Land Rover made the panoramas in landscape view. The only way to see the whole thing is by visiting either one of the main IG pages. It is cool to see the whole panorama–I won’t lie. But, since it’s in landscape view, you have to turn your phone. And, the videos leave MUCH to be desired. They seem disjoined and provide little context to the bigger picture. And, of course, all the little pics that make up the big pic provide ZERO value or context. Again, seems like a big “creative agency project” to me.]]>
According to my research, the “experts” will tell you the list looks something like this:
Sharpie (accounts dead, btw)
As I continued to dig in, I noticed a striking trend. All these brands that people were lauding as having great “brand voices”–they were all snarky, hip, young, energetic voices.
They all involved witty–and oftentimes–funny language.
They all involved a degree of humor.
They all were fun, light and airy.
By looking at these lists and case studies, one would think you’d HAVE to be young, witty and funny to establish any kind of successful brand voice on social media.
But, we know that’s simply not true.
However, it does appear to be a myth under which many people are operating (the recent Chevy product launch seems to be a perfect example).
Clearly, not all brands need to have a snarky, witty and/or humor-filled voice on social media to be effective.
A good, consistent brand voice should be a reflection of your brand and your brand values.
It should be your brand personality described as an adjective (I read that somewhere–can’t find the source right now, so this isn’t my line, but I like it).
Really, your brand voice should be boiled down to a few simple words.
For example, I think Tiffany & Co. has a great brand voice on social.
I would describe it as: Simple. Elegant. Refined.
Notice the brevity in the text. Notice the simple product shot. Notice the white space. Notice the words they use.
And, notice what they’re NOT. Funny. Witty. Snarky. Targeting 20-somethings.
Or, what about Life Time Fitness?
Here’s a brand (love to pimp my friend Tony Saucier’s work) that’s voice can be summed up in two words: motivation and inspiration.
Again, nothing overly witty or funny here. Sure, Life Time’s voice is light-hearted in spots (they are a fitness/wellness brand, after all!). But, I’d hardly put it in the same bucket as Oreo. Life Time Fitness appears to be more aligned with its “real life” brand–which focuses on wellness, motivation and health.
Or, what about Hilton on Twitter? It’s @HiltonSuggests account’s voice can be summed up in ONE word: Helpful. Not funny. Not cute. Helpful.
Nothing fancy going on with Hilton’s voice here. They’re all about helping the customer–and using language that’s clear and effective. Not language that’s “on fleek,”
So, I’m here today to stand up and say, you don’t need a cute, fun, witty voice on social to be effective.
But, you do have to be your own brand. Aligned with your mission. Speaking in a tone and style your customers will appreciate and understand.
That’s what makes a good “voice” within the social media world.
But LinkedIn? That’s a different story.
“Sponsored updates”, as they’re labeled, on LinkedIn are a bit less ubiquitous than its Facebook brethren. But, according to many, they can be more successful (if used right).
However, when I started digging into how companies are using Sponsored Updates at this time, I came away feeling uninspired and unimpressed.
As I reviewed the Sponsored Updates in my feed, I started to group them into a few key buckets:
So, from looking at the types of Sponsored Updates I’ve seen on LinkedIn, we can glean one thing: Brands are looking to SELL on LinkedIn.
Think about that for a minute.
Now, let’s reflect upon why actual human beings use LinkedIn:
* To research people and potential employers
* To research and find jobs
* To network, nurture and build relationships
* To learn and get smarter
Nowhere on that list do I see “buy stuff.” Nowhere.
Yet, that’s where I see most of the companies focusing their attention–on selling.
I didn’t see a single post that was focused on promoting open jobs.
I didn’t see a single post that was focused on building relationships with human beings on LinkedIn.
And I didn’t see a single post that showcased a company’s employees as a way to stimulate interest in a job.
This is why I was uninspired and unimpressed.
Why aren’t more companies using LinkedIn for what it was intended to do?
Why aren’t more companies using LinkedIn to meet the needs of users?
Why aren’t more companies using LinkedIn for recruiting and retention purposes?
I’m so confused.
But, it’s also a huge opportunity for brands that are savvy enough to realize this and take advantage.
And I look forward to watching that evolution.
As we mapped out our approach, we considered folks who might be “influencers” in the niche we were targeting (for purposes of this post, let’s just assume we’re talking about the music industry).
Who are the music bloggers in town?
Who attends concerts regularly and tweets/records/Instagrams? (Hello Kyle Matteson!)
What media are talking about music?
The basic, run-of-the-mill-type questions (by the way, these women up top here? I have no idea who they are. But, don’t they just look like influencers!).
Then, we stopped and thought: Wait, why are we limiting this to just “music influencers?” After all, just because you don’t have a blog or work in the media, doesn’t mean you’re not an “influencer” of behavior in a certain sector.
So, we widened our search and started thinking about people who were socially active, but also that had shown a solid interest in music. And, those who interacted often with our target audience.
Then we thought–why does it have to be an “A-list” influencer? What about “B-list” influencers (i.e., everyday people)? What about the next level down? Don’t those people still have influence? Just because they have 2,000 Instagram followers instead of 50,000 doesn’t mean they’re not influencing purchase behavior.
And, who’s to say the person with 50,000 followers is influencing the people you want (as a brand) and in the states/country you want (remember these follower counts don’t discriminate)?
We started thinking differently about our list.
We started thinking about approaching those regular people who talked about music from time to time.
Sure, we’ll still go after some of those media and blogger-types. But, maybe not as many.
Maybe we’ll go after these everyday influencers instead?
Why does this make sense? Think about it.
* The everyday influencers aren’t getting pitched as much–if at all. A thoughtful pitch will go a LONG ways.
* Their influence might be even more genuine and lead to more lasting brand relationships.
* Since they’re not getting pitched as often, and not doing hundreds of sponsored posts each month, people may actually trust them! (have you SEEN a lifestyle blogger’s blog lately?)
* If we were to go down the sponsored post/influencer route, we may not have to pay as much as we would to the A-list group (who again, may not have the trust you think because of all the sponsored stuff they’re currently doing). In fact, depending on the “ask”, we may not have to pay anything at all.
Makes too much sense, right?
Yeah, maybe we’ll probably just pay some mom blogger $25,000 to promote our concert instead.
photo credit: LE WEB PARIS 2013 – EVENT – WOMEN INFLUENCERS DINNER via photopin (license)]]>
It’s a familiar story.
Person starts publishing on LinkedIn out of curiousity. Person published one story that nets thousands of hits. Ego is stroked. They publish more. And more. Until, they are basically blogging on LinkedIn, as I like to call it.
And, most importantly, these folks who are publishing on LinkedIn are seeing real business opportunities, as a result.
Sure, there’s no direct line of sight to ROI. There’s no links to sign-up forms. No e-newsletter sub links. Nothing like that. After all, that’s what blogs are for, right?
But, I’ve heard this same story over and over again for the better part of the last 6-8 month.
I heard it from Shel Holtz the other day on our Talking Points Podcast. Shel made a great post in Feb. defending the internal/employee communications function. On his blog, the post had 7 comments, 29 likes, and 92 retweets. Not bad, but nothing crazy for a guy like Shel who’s been blogging for years and who is widely considered a thought leader in our industry.
Then, he cross-posted to LinkedIn. There, the post garnered 1,247 views, 126 likes and 24 comments. Not bad.
Again, this isn’t a new story.
So, why aren’t we seeing more company leaders using LinkedIn publishing as a tool to drive awareness and leads for organizations?
We’ve seen a few–notably a lot of “LinkedIn Influencers” (I blogged about this before).
And, after Target CMO Jeff Jones brilliantly used LinkedIn publishing to share the company’s perspective on a culture-issue last year, I really thought we’d see more.
But, we really haven’t.
And that perplexes me.
Clearly, LinkedIn publishing is a tool that holds great value and promise for people that use if often and well.
Clearly, it can lead to developing new relationships and nurturing existing ones (think: employees for company leaders).
Clearly, it can also lead to new business. After all, LinkedIn is still THE social network for the business world.
Yet still, many leaders aren’t publishing that often.
My hunch: Three factors are at play.
1: Time. Most company leaders simply don’t have the time. That’s legit. But, who said they have to write the posts? Corporate communicators have been penning memos and messages from company leaders for YEARS. How is this any different? I mean, what are the chances Jeff Jones wrote that message last year all on his own? (I’ll take that one–nil and none).
2: Skepticism. Despite the stories I hear, and the stats from LinkedIn, I still think leaders have a healthy dose of skepticism about the platform and tool. And, despite anecdotal claims that it can lead to business, I’m sure ROI is an issue. It’s hard to measure. Sure, I can look at those impression/like/comment stats. And those are great. But, is it going to move the business needle? That’s what leaders are probably wondering.
3: No/Limited LinkedIn profile. The sad reality is many corporate leaders (especially at the C-level) don’t even have a viable LinkedIn profile. Brian Cornell, new CEO at Target? No profile. Doug McMillion, CEO at Walmart? A ghost of a profile. Mark Fields, CEO at Ford Motor Company? No profile. Now, I know we’re talking about the biggest of the biggest companies, but you see similar results at lower levels. Pretty tough to publish on LinkedIn when you don’t even have a profile.
I’m hopeful we’ll see corporate leaders use LinkedIn publishing more in the year ahead. I continue to think there’s a HUGE opportunity here from a recruiting and retention. But, other opportunities exist from a business perspective. Think about Walmart’s recent news on wage increases. Wouldn’t that have been a perfect opportunity for Doug McMillon to share that news on LinkedIn (especially since they so deftly used a create integrated model to share that news)? It would have–if he had a LinkedIn profile. See #3 above.
Guess we have a ways to go…]]>
As I prepped for this presentation, I was refreshing myself with a few clients I’ve worked with in the last 2-3 years, and the Facebook ad campaigns associated with those clients.
One thing they all had in common: Building the SIZE of their Facebook community by acquiring “Page Likes.”
But, then I got to thinking. Does the Page Like even matter anymore?
And I came to the (somewhat) surprising conclusion: No, it doesn’t.
Here’s the thinking.
In the “old” days of Facebook, your approach usually looked something like this:
* Build your page by acquiring “page likes”–typically you’d have to pay for these through Facebook advertising.
* Since organic reach hadn’t completely plummeted, you could post content and those existing fans (the ones you attracted via FB ads) would see that content.
* And, if there was a post you really wanted ALL your existing fans to see, you amplified it with a little promoted post.
That strategy worked. I saw it work first-hand with a few different clients.
But then, Facebook started changing the rules.
First, organic reach started to plummet.
Then, you started seeing more brands paying to promote content. Some even went as far as to say Facebook was now ONLY an advertising platform (and you know what, they’re RIGHT!).
At the same time, Facebook expanded its ad options, so you could promote posts to fans outside your existing fans.
So, rules kinda changed. Landscape changed.
And now, I would argue, the Facebook Page Like is dead.
You don’t need it anymore. It’s a complete vanity metric. And, some could argue it’s been a vanity metric for a while now.
Let me walk you through my thinking.
Let’s say you’re a midsized business with a page of 30,000 page likes. Not a huge community, but not a small one either.
Let’s say your goals with Facebook are to raise awareness for your brand and to drive traffic to your corporate web site (fairly common goals, I would say).
I would argue you can achieve both those goals now WITHOUT acquiring more Page Likes.
You could easily still drive awareness by running a number of Facebook page post ads each week targeting your key customers using Facebook sophisticated ad platform. Target by age. Zip code. Interests. You can do this no matter if you have 10 page likes or 1.5 million. No difference, as far as I can tell.
You could easily still drive traffic to your web site by running ads against posts that include links to your site. You could use promoted posts (and target fans outside your existing fans) or run page link ads, which are typically successful in driving traffic. Again, you could do this if you have 10 page likes or 1.5 million. No difference.
OK, so why do we need the page likes?
Good question. Vanity, maybe? From what I’ve observed over the last year, that seems to be a possible reason.
Some are merely infatuated with the page like, and haven’t kept up on what’s happened with Facebook.
For others, it’s a competitive thing. Our chief competitor has 1,00,000 likes–we have to get 1,000,001 likes!
I don’t get it, but I think that’s largely what’s to blame.
But, brands will wise up. And I believe they’ll wise up soon.
Because folks, let’s face it, the Facebook page like is officially dead.
There, I said it.
photo credit: JeepersMedia via photopin cc]]>
I mean, really? Stock photography AND a product sell job?
On the other hand, when I looked at my Facebook and Instagram feeds last Friday, they were FULL of creative, interesting and downright funny Halloween get-ups and wishes.
Why can’t brands pull off that same level of human-ness and creativity during the holidays?
Short answer: They can.
And, I’m going to give you/them a free idea.
It’s based on my costume idea this year: The Instagram frame!
Now, keep in mind, my wife and I aren’t the craftiest people. In fact, we’re not crafty at all. But, when it comes to Halloween, we like to have a little fun. And this year, since our kids had store-bought costumes, we decided to do the homemade thing ourselves.
So, naturally, I came up with this Instagram idea (full disclosure: this definitely wasn’t an original thought :).
It would have been REALLY fun to take to a party, but we spent a low-key night in our neighborhood with our kids and a couple friends (a few people asked me why I was dressed up as an iPhone :).
But, I got to thinking–wouldn’t this be a great idea for some aspiring brand?
Couldn’t they create their own Instagram frame, complete with their own details (note the “Hale-Page” location at the top of my frame)?
Couldn’t one of the marketing folks take this frame around the company on Halloween and grab “selfies” with employees and post those to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter wishing customers a happy Halloween?
Wouldn’t that “meta” moment be MUCH better than the stuff brands are posting now?
Free idea for 2015! Of course, by then, Instagram and the selfie may very well be passe.
But still, give it some thought brands. And, you can send me that check whenever you’d like]]>
Just look at their Instagram account. It’s a perfect mix of fan content (lots of #regrams lately) and not-over-staged brand photography.
And, that last part is the key: “not overly-staged.”
When it comes to visuals on social, most brands seem to use the same visuals they use in catalogs, in ads and on billboards. Think car companies. High-end jewelers like Tiffany’s.
But, Starbucks takes a different tack. They almost seem to have a separate visual tone for their social media pics and photography.
And I’m quite certain that’s purposeful.
The question is: Is it necessary?
As usual, the answer is, “it depends.”
For a brand like Starbucks, it works, since they have the option to lightly stage and capture so much great photography right in their stores. Or, using their products (coffee) in creative ways. Not every brand has that luxury.
But, I also don’t see why brands need their social visuals to sync so tightly with their more traditional visual brand imagery. Why can’t their be wiggle room? Why can’t you employ the same concepts, but take a little different approach given the audience and characteristics of the platform?
That’s what Starbucks pulls off so well.
They know stilted imagery won’t work on a platform like Instagram. It’s just too jarring to the viewer, who’s seeing pics of friends with kids, on vacation and at coffee houses in their feeds.
But, a close-up image of a iced caramel latte no a table in front of a computer? Heck, that’s an image I would share. In fact, it IS an image I have shared! So, that kind of thing feels right at home on Instagram–Starbucks has always seemed to inherently “get that.”
Yet we see so many brands forcing their stilted stock or overly branded photography on us via Instagram.
And I’m just not so sure it works.
So, I guess to go back to the question I posed in the headline: I think maybe more brands than you think would benefit by having a separate visual tone or look-and-feel via social channels.
When I think of branded experiences and holiday promos, I think of this:
So, when I heard Target was creating a virtual trick-or-treating experience on Instagram earlier this week, I was automatically skeptical.
Man, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Target’s virtual trick-or-treating experience on Instagram is a stroke of genius. Essentially what they’re doing is using Instagram as a virtual idea-starter for parents and others around Halloween goodies and DIY crafts (two areas of “interest” for a giant retailer like Target, who just happens to sell all of the items that go into said goodies and DIY crafts).
Here’s what Target’s Instagram account looks like on the Web:
On your phone, here’s what one of the Halloween trick-or-treat images looks like:
If you click on the @_trick_15 link in this post, you are directed to this DIY craft idea:
Then, you would click on each image below to get a step-by-step breakdown on how to create this craft:
If you click on @_treat_15 you would get the following image:
Each of those images then features a spooky treat, which of course can be made using ingredients and food found at your local Target store.
There’s a lot to like about this execution, like I said up top. Here’s what I found interesting:
They’ve done it before (using Jeff Jones LinkedIn profile to share corporate messages, for example), and they’re doing it again. Taking calculated risks and pushing the digital marketing envelope when it comes to communicating and marketing to customers via social channels. This really isn’t all that risky, but it’s radically different than most holiday-based executions we see from brands via social these days. Kudos, Target.
This Instagram execution is just one part of Target’s overall Halloween marketing campaign which focuses on fun, “fright” and being economical. And, according to this AdAge article, DIY is a theme Target sees throughout Oct. leading up to Halloween–why not capitalize on that trend in a different kinds of way?
Moms are a key demo for Target (alert the media, I know). And Moms are a crafty bunch. They’re also always looking for ideas to have fun with their kids during Halloween (I should know, my wife and I face this same challenge each year). What a great, fun way for Target to give parents (Moms) exactly that on a platform where they may not be expecting it. Like Dustee Jenkins, VP of PR and social media at Target said, “We really wanted to think outside of the box for Halloween and come up with something that would surprise and excite our guests at the same time.”
One area where brands continue to struggle is coming up with content that’s USEFUL for consumers. We just saw a study from Edelman released this week about the value trade-off between brands and consumers–and how consumers feel they’re getting the short end of that stick. Then, here comes Target creating content like this that’s inherently useful as parents and others seek creative ideas to celebrate Halloween.]]>
Including LinkedIn. Predominantly, LinkedIn, actually.
The new tagline: If you can dream it, you can be it.
Fans could follow Barbie on LinkedIn for business inspiration (don’t laugh), news about her company (what?), and social media updates (I can’t wait to hear what Barbie has to say on social media!!!!!).
I’m hardly alone in my skepticism–see what Forbes had to say about Entrepeneur Barbie.
The whole thing had a huge campaign feel to it. And, according to Barbie/Mattel, since Entrepeneur Barbie was going to be all over LinkedIn now, I should expect a steady stream of content from her, right?
The business inspiration.
The company news.
For God’s sakes, the social media updates!!!!!!!
And what do you think happened?
Not more than two months in and we’ve already seen Entrepeneur Barbie’s content bubble burst.
After a flurry of posts in late June/early July, Babs has only posted three times since then.
And those posts have been pure PR playing up media stories Barbie has been featured in lately.
Oh Barbie, how you disappoint me.
Where is the business inspiration?
Where is the company news? (OK, ONE piece of company news)
Where are the social media updates?!?!?!!??! (I want to know what’s up with you, Barbie!)
I know we’re only a couple months into this, Babs, but the whole thing wreaks of agency campaign approach to me.
Let’s recap, shall we:
* Big, splashy launch. Did I mention Barbie was everywhere in late June?
* Extensive media coverage. Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider. The list is long.
* Big content push. Barbie made 16 updates on LinkedIn in those first few weeks.
Sounds like a campaign launch to me. And, that’s fine. In fact, Mattel did a great job with the launch–again BARBIE WAS EVERYWHERE!
Except, we didn’t see or hear much from Barbie AFTER the campaign launch.
And that’s too bad.
Companies like Mattel put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a launch like this, only to let the momentum slip away month by month because the long-term content strategy dried up.
Now, there are probably a host of reasons for this type of behavior. Money dried up. Lack of long-term vision. Competing priorities internally (or changing priorities).
Regardless, feels like a missed opportunity for Mattel. And, sadly, a movie we’ve seen a number of times before.
So, the next time you’re planning that big product launch, or big content push, take a few moments to think about the long-term content effect for the brand, and your team.
Where are we going to come up with the content?
Who’s going to produce it?
How often are we going to post?
Toward what specific and measurable goal?
I can’t believe I’m saying this. It’s 2014 folks. Haven’t we learned by now?]]>