A new year means new trends in the ever-changing world of social media content marketing. Last year, we honed in on how brands and companies could employ Instagram for building loyal communities, boosting brand awareness, and driving traffic and direct sales. And in 2019, as 80 percent of users follow at least one business account on the platform, Instagram’s content marketing potential continues to soar.
With new features and capabilities like longer video posts and IGTV meeting the internet’s never-ending demand for visual content, marketers are thinking of innovative ways to engage their visual-hungry audiences.
Let’s take a look at how three top brands are capitalizing on the platform’s newest upgrades in 2019.
Generating Leads with Stories Ads
Over 400 million accounts use Instagram Stories everyday and 45% of the most-viewed Stories come from businesses. Those kinds of numbers are a potential goldmine when it comes to converting would-be shoppers into followers and customers.
Luxury fashion brand, Ted Baker, tested the waters with eight Stories-specific vertical video clips for their autumn/winter 2018 collection. The videos take on a range of quick cuts, dreamy fabrics, and visual effects to entice viewers while accompanying product-focused Carousel Ads (two additional pieces of media within the same Stories). When it comes to new releases like this, “Instagram has become Ted Baker’s go-to platform for building awareness for key brand moments,” according to Digital Commerce Director Craig Smith, with particular success found in creating “bespoke content designed for Stories, which [has] fueled a notable uplift in both brand consideration and conversion metrics.” That’s 3 points in consideration, 8.2 in ad recall, and 22% more in website conversions among 18-24-year-olds as compared with the previous season, to be exact.
The results make sense when you consider that studies predict video will account for 82% of all IP traffic by 2021, though a strong call-to-action by the “Learn More” arrow is essential in getting people to swipe up and delve into more of your content – or view a product page. And depending on your brand and tone of voice, widget stickers like Questions and Polls offer a way to interact with your audience right inside Stories. Holding a contest, announcing a sale, or letting people know about a free giveaway can boost engagement even further; existing followers get something to be excited about, while newbies are bound to be easily drawn in.
Consider: Track your Stories traffic separately from the links in your bio – new shopping capabilities mean more opportunities to generate interest and drive sales through Stories specifically. Start analyzing the engagement and conversions that vertical video provides. “With our Instagram content, we take elements from the full campaign creative to produce multiple, shorter edits that we can seed out over a period of time,” says Natasha Nutt, Ted Baker’s Senior Paid Social Executive. “With Stories, we want to immerse new and existing audiences… through creating attention-grabbing creative that [reflects] an overarching concept.”
Engaging New Audiences with IGTV
Last summer, Instagram unveiled IGTV, a feature that makes it possible to upload and share up to an hour’s worth of vertical video – a format that tends to work well for portraiture and highlighting people as the main subjects of a clip. Forward-thinking brands have been quick to jump in with all sorts of live and prerecorded content, with Chipotle among the first to make a move with a quirky unboxing video.
The video garnered over 10,000 views within a week of its release last June, and while that might not sound like a lot for a brand with over 633k followers, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom says, “It’s a new format. It’s different. We have to wait for people to adopt it and that takes time.”
Meanwhile, other companies have started experimenting with all sorts of content creation on the platform, from episodic video and serialized stories to long-form pieces as well. Warby Parker seems like an old pro with content that covers illustrator interviews, just-for-fun clips, and an engaging series called #WearingWarby. The brand has managed to weave client stories — case studies, at the end of the day — into a highly watchable program revolving around Warby Parker’s most impressive and interesting customers, including Franklin Leonard, founder and CEO of The Black List, and teen activist and author, Marley Dias.
Of the six videos in the series so far, most are about 10 minutes long and have amassed between 2 to 5,000 views, while the episode on illustrator, Sophie Chung, has been seen by over 23.5k (potential) pairs of spectacles.
Consider: IGTV is a great place to get creative and connect with customers, both new and old. “Because we don’t have full-text search, and you can’t just search any random thing. It’s about the creators,” says Systrom. “I think that, at its base level, personality-driven and creator-driven mean that you’re going to get really unique content that you won’t find anywhere else. And that’s the goal.”
Building Clout Online with Offline Experiences
Benefit Cosmetics recently set up a pretty-in-pink pop-up shop in Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of two new products – a liquid eyeliner and a waterline pencil. The effort was the first of its kind for the makeup brand, which partnered with OpenTable to offer reservations for the first few days of the event. The immensely Instagrammable 50’s-inspired Roller Liner Diner stayed open for about a week more, welcoming guests and influencers to a world that gave new meaning to beauty bar, with a slew of carefully planned photo ops like a (dog-friendly!) antique motorcycle and sidecar, retro jukebox and wall phone, and (free!) cones and ice cream sandwiches with purchase from The (ultra-trendy!) Milk Shop.
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Best time at @benefitcosmetics Roller Liner Diner🍦💞✨ 👁 Liner: Roller Liner in Black 💧Waterline: Roller Eye Bright Pencil ✨ Brows: Goof Proof Brow Pencil in 2 & 3D Browtones in 4 #RollwithBenefit #Benefit #Makeup #LinerDiner #RollerLiner #EyeBright #LA #melrose #losangeles #hollywood @benebeaudylan @maggiefd
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Benefit covered all their bases in anticipating what would delight their fans and followers — and get the most leverage on social media. All that planning and production made for some happy customers and taught a valuable lesson to other companies, no matter their industry: in our increasingly digital world, audiences still crave real-life experiences and brands are perfectly positioned to deliver them. Marketers are creating immersive, visually stunning events to attract journalists and influencers, along with the rest of us, to whatever it is they’re trying to sell or communicate.
It’s a no-brainer for PR and social, and a great way to create in-person and online engagement while driving interest and even sales. Plus, the stronger your influencer partnerships are, and the better they sync with your brand, the bigger the impression you stand to make across the web — and on ROI — from creating offline experiences.
User-generated content from the event.
Consider: Depending on budgets, the sky’s the limit to what these gatherings, stunts, or pop-ups can entail. Just make sure all the elements you decide to include work in tandem to tell your brand’s story and inspire visitors to share their experience on social while focusing on what it is you have to offer. Think outside the screen and dive deep into the passions of your audience to forge more meaningful relationships, both online and off. How can you activate your brand, product or service in a way that engages people in real life, as well as digitally?
Anastasia Dyakovskaya is a NewsCred Contributor.