Instagram

The Blurred Lines Between Advertising and Social Media

When Ronald Reagan’s Chesterfield cigarette ads premiered, did we really believe that he smoked a pack a day? Probably not, because we knew it was an advertisement. When we see pictures of Kylie Jenner posing with her FitTea on Instagram, do we think that she drinks it every morning to maintain a healthy weight? Maybe.

The introduction of social media has blurred the lines of advertising and real life significantly. Before we had Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, we were able to recognize advertisements easily. Now, it’s difficult to determine if our favourite celebrity really does like Coco White Teeth Whiteners, or if they’re being paid to say they do.

Influencers on social media have thousands of people following their every move, so it makes sense that companies would want them to advertise for them. The problem is, a lot of influencers are not informing their followers that they are being paid to post. As a result, Ad Standards Canada has revised its rules regarding advertising with blogs, celebrities, and social media influencers. Bloggers are now required to include statements in their posts that acknowledge they are working with a company to advertise a product, and social media influencers will be required to include hashtags like #sponsored or #ad to ensure the public knows they are being paid to post.

After working in the marketing and communications industry for over 20 years, I am able to spot an ad on my social media feed easily. Unfortunately, a lot of other Canadians are not as media literate and are therefore feeling tricked after they have purchased a product discretely advertised on social media.

One of the main functions of marketing is increasing brand loyalty. Customers are unlikely to purchase a product or stay interested in a brand when they find out they have been lied to. Customers look for authenticity in the brands they follow, so acknowledging that a celebrity is being paid to promote your company is just better business. While famous celebrities might not actually use your product in their everyday lives, if your overall marketing strategy is strong enough, people will want to buy your product.

If you or your organization is considering social media advertising with an influencer, make sure your customers know they are being marketed to. Having a celebrity face is a great way to increase interest in your product, but honesty is key to maintaining customer loyalty.

Advertisements

3 Ways to Leverage Instagram for Your B2B Business

1115_instagram_365_244colo-24-42-70-10Over 400 million people are on Instagram these days. This creative, visually led social network is rapidly becoming a place where people engage with brands and share content. Yet, many B2B companies dismiss Instagram as not being right for their brand. Instagram doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of B2B marketing, but there are huge opportunities to promote your brand values.

Storytelling has become a great way to give B2B brands a personality. Storytelling is about connecting with your audience and moving away from the self-centred, sales-orientated advertising that just doesn’t work for B2B brands anymore. The key to leveraging Instagram as a marketing tool for B2B brands is to not think of it as a marketing tool at all.  Instead, you want to think about Instagram as a way of telling your story as part of a larger online marketing strategy. Here are three ways that Instagram can help you tell your brand’s story:

  1. Establish long-term connections

B2B brands need to embrace the fact that marketing on Instagram is less about selling the benefits of your products and services, and more about establishing deeper connections with people including industry thought-leaders, employers, and prospective clients. Instagram is about building and maintaining awareness of your brand. Think of Instagram as a way to grab the attention of industry influencers and potential clients at a time when they’re not really in work mode, as they’re not going to be interested in being sold to.  This is your chance to seamlessly integrate your brand values into their Instagram feed.

  1. Humanize your brand

Another way you can give people an insight into your company culture is to use Instagram to offer a behind-the-scenes look, as people love seeing what goes on in other offices. It can be as simple as snapping a quick photo at your company’s event, or taking a photo of one of your employees to publicly wish them happy birthday. B2C brand’s social media channels thrive on being relatable and yours should be too.

  1. Contribute to the conversation and be part of the community

As well as interacting with clients’ photos and comments, responding to big news stories, industry developments and trending hashtags can be a great way to engage your followers and show the world that you have your fingers on the pulse. Give your brand a personality through comments and thoughtful posts in the public space.

Take the time to understand the benefits of using Instagram to communicate your brand’s values to potential clients and industry influencers, if you’re looking for new ways to engage with your B2B community.

This visually led social channel might have its roots in B2C marketing but, with over 400 million subscribers, you might want to take a look to see if this platform is right for your B2B business.

Marketing Resolutions To Keep for 2015!

HNYWith the New Year upon us, most of us are taking the time to reflect on the past year and look towards the next. Everyone will soon be talking about how 2015 will be the best year yet – without it actually having happened yet! But it doesn’t have to be all talk. Here are four resolutions to keep in your marketing plan for the coming year:

  1. Check out the competition: See where your competition is spending their money, you could learn something! Are they focusing on branding themselves? What keywords do they use on their website? Knowing this information will inform your marketing strategy and will help find ways to help you stick out from your competition.
  2. Explore your social platforms: Find what platform works best for you and engages your target audience the most. If your subject matter is image heavy, don’t be disappointed if you’re struggling with success on Twitter – it may not be where your best audience is. Try Instagram instead!
  3. Invest in measurement: Whether you’re looking to launch a national campaign, book an ad in a magazine, or start a blog, make sure that wherever you choose to spend your marketing dollars on has the best ROI.
  4. Increase your curiosity: Never stop trying and testing new campaigns or messaging! You will not only keep your content fresh, but over time you will refine messages to your current target markets, and find new ones. Digital advertising is one of the most flexible mediums for messaging and testing new content. Get out there!

2014 wouldn’t have been the kind of year it was for CreativeWorks without my incredible clients! Thank you. Your businesses inspire me and I look forward to working with you in 2015.

To those of you following this blog or engaging in my discussions on LinkedIn who are not my clients, thank you for your interest and engagement. In 2015, I will continue to bring you hands-on, thought-provoking insights and case studies based on my personal experiences as the owner of a Canadian marketing agency.

On behalf of all of us at CreativeWorks Marketing, I wish you and your family the very best for the holidays and New Year!

Are there any topics you’d like me to write about in 2015? Please share your questions and comments below.

Case Study: Scotiabank’s Social Media Strategy

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 9.47.25 AMCMOs and business owners are always asking to validate not only the effectiveness of social media, but also the necessity of having a social media strategy. This week I wanted to highlight an unlikely social media channel and how it has been able to target and grow its engagement amongst its key audience.

Enter Scotiabank. Its recent success with their social media strategy using Instagram has helped them specifically target university-aged students 18-24, an audience often touted as the most difficult demographic to engage.

Instagram is often thought of as the photosharing app used for family and friends only, but things are changing for business applications as Instagram now boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook, Twitter or Google+. What was once a simple photosharing app is now being used as a key sales channel.

In the world of social media, Instagram is relatively new and as an emerging channel, it enjoys the same cache with younger Canadians that Facebook enjoyed several years ago.

With this in mind, Scotiabank, in a strategic yet bold move, launched its Instagram channel in 2013 and has garnered 897 followers to date and is still growing. The channel is unique in that is allows for the ability to tailor content to any kind of youth-oriented theme.

The decision to use this channel was based on the need to use a relevant and extremely flexible platform to reach their target audience. Scotiabank feels their decision really gives them a lot of opportunity in terms of their messaging and making their brand unique by being on the forefront of providing content in a medium that is relevant to them.

The ultimate flexibility of this channel allowed Scotiabank’s Instagram channel “Scotia_gram”, to introduce a series of “life hacks” for students headed back to school. They included tips such as storing necklaces in straws to avoid tangling, and using an old cardboard box to create a shirt folder.

As a result, “likes” for Scotia_gram’s posts have increased just over 99%, and comments have jumped 22.3% since the “life hacks” were first introduced. The account has also gained just under 300 new followers in the same period.

This case study is a great example of how sometimes we need to think a little bit “outside the box” in terms of choosing channels to deliver our strategy to specifically target our audience.

After reading this case study would you consider using Instagram for your business, and if so, how? Do you feel Scotiabank is on to something here, or would another social media channel have been equally successful for their strategy?

A case for Instagram for Business

instagram2

What kind of social media tools do you utilize for your business? Many companies use a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and even Pinterest as platforms to communicate their message and each of these social mediums have their distinct benefits and unique audience niches.

If you have been keeping yourself up-to-date on social media trends, you would have noticed that Facebook recently admitted that 2013 saw a loss of a significant amount of active daily users in the 13-24-age bracket. While most of your direct consumers would not fall in this demographic, this age group will grow into your target audience in the coming years and are big influencers of the older generation.

If you’re looking for a new and fresh outlet for your company to engage with your audience, perhaps Instragram, a newer platform which launched in 2010, is the answer! With over 200 million users, Instagram is a photo-sharing application where users share their up-to-the-minute activities with their followers. B2C companies have used the app to feature their products, new arrivals and even used the video function to share 15-second demonstrations.

You might be asking how you would use Instagram as a B2B enterprise, and so you might be surprised to discover there are interesting ways to use this tool in your business:

  • Highlight your brand’s history by posting old photos and facts (Pro tip: Engage with a popular hashtag on Instragram #TBT or “ThrowBack Thursday” where users post old photos of favourite memories and past moments)
  • Text and graphics: use text and graphics to create short and snappy messages to your followers, like how to enter a contest or an interesting fact.
  • Blog posts: Reference your company blog with your Instragram account with a photo and a link
  • News: Post pictures of industry or corporate news that your followers will find interesting

Which of the above suggestions would work well for your business? Have you seen Instagram used in any other creative ways for businesses? I look forward to your thoughts below.