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Meet the Instagrammers

They say a picture speaks a thousand words and, thanks to the camera phones we all pack in pockets, that’s never been more true. Instagram now has 14 million monthly active users in the UK who are logging onto the app 11 times a day. With data showing higher engagement rates and recall than many other social platforms, does your brand or business have an Instagram strategy yet?

For our latest Good Relations Digital Academy we explored opportunities with Gord Ray, Brand Development Lead for Europe from Instagram as well as London artist and Instagram influencer, Rich McCor, aka @paperboyo

So how do you start thinking about Instagram? Gord had three suggestions:

The visual vote

The human eye can recognise an image in 13 milliseconds so people are using Instagram as a rapid way to share passions. Their photos capture and share moments which are emotionally significant. There’s a reason the most Instagrammed city photo is Times Square rather than the Statue of Liberty, Gord explained: it’s because it’s a scene that evokes strong emotions despite not being the most iconic or beautiful part of New York.

Connect people to the world

Impressively, Instagram’s data shows people see images posted on the platform as three times more creative, imaginative and inspiring than on other platforms, including rival social platforms and print. That means there’s potential for really high engagement if you can find authentic ways to connect your audience with what you’re doing. For videos, grab viewer attention within the first three seconds and design video to be watched with sound off, which is how most people do it. And consider experimenting with exciting (and relatively new) formats like Hyperlapse, Layout and Boomerang – using them will show you speak the Instagram lingo.

Achieve business objectives

As with all social media, it’s critical to have a sound strategic reason for what you’re doing. You can then use Facebook’s sophisticated segmentation system (because Instagram is owned by Facebook) to laser target ads to your audience.

Meanwhile Rich showcased some of his fantastic images then gave his insight on how brands should be working with Instagram influencers. He stressed the importance of creative freedom (albeit within a framework) and that it always works best when both brand and influencer align around style and interest.

A point of view

Real-time relevance is always a big part of having a successful social media presence, whatever the channel. It’s easy to overproduce and overcomplicate production processes, and miss opportunities. At Good Relations we’ve now launched our own in-house Instagram Studio. It’s a dedicated facility with camera equipment and lighting, where we shoot bespoke for Instagram, rather than reuse ad content. It also means we’re quick and nimble, turning round imagery or animations in real-time, all of which is producing really high levels of engagement for our clients. Do you have an Instagram strategy? Contact me to find out how we can help.

Bite sized, easily digestible and very filling

This video from Gap is the latest I’ve seen to compress its story cleverly for the internet era. First, Vine launched with its 6 second format; then Instagram rolled out 15 second videos. Meanwhile, YouTube gives you 5 seconds to decide whether to skip its pre-rolled ‘TrueView’ ads. Short-form videos are fast becoming the trend of the moment – bite sized pieces of content that are quick and easy to consume as you scroll through a social feed. It’s a format that’s benefiting from the auto-play feature now incorporated into the likes of Facebook where videos trigger themsleves as you whizz down your timeline.

Short-form video is something of a cultural phenomenon, driven by our increasing lack of time and attention. We’re consuming more and more content, often on relatively small phone or tablet screens, taking a bite here and a bite there. There’s a place for long-form, and there’s massive opportunity for premium content, but short-form is taking off fast.

We’ve seen huge levels of engagement around short-form video; we’ve also seen impressive organic reach when it’s uploaded directly into Facebook. Shorter videos can also be cheaper and quicker to produce – but you still need a great idea. If there’s one content innovation to try in the next few months then make it short-form. 15 seconds could work out much more valuable for you than the traditional 30 or 60.

Cross-posted from my blog at Good Relations

Looking for Love? Why you need to open your wallet before you can open a heart.

[Cross-posted from my Good Relations blog]

Credit is due: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nohodamon/

Credit is due: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nohodamon/ Used under creative commons.

You might be blessed with good looks, witty conversation and irresistible charm but there comes a point when you’re going to have to reach for your wallet if you want a relationship. Whether it’s the first date or a golden wedding anniversary, at some stage love is going to cost you money.

In the world of online communications it’s the same deal. Flirting with your audience will only get you so far – it’s inevitable that you will need social advertising to extend the reach of your activity. It may seem counter intuitive that a PR agency tells you to buy advertising but that reflect the changing nature of both online communications and our agency. Let me explain…

More and more brands are producing more and more content in a world with increasing noise and endless distractions. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute; 6 billion hours are watched every month. Over on Facebook the average user apparently faces 1500 stories in their feed every time they log in – which is one of the reasons sites like Facebook have sophisticated computer processes (aka algorithms) which organise who sees what content, ‘optimising’ what’s presented to a mere 300 stories per user. The likes of Facebook and Google invest huge amounts of time and money trying to present their users with what they believe will be the most relevant content. Details of this optimisation are closely guarded commercial secrets but a whole industry tries to second guess them; there are nearly 16 million web entries covering the topic of algorithm changes.

Most brands have steadily been seeing the reach of their content decline. There’s so much content online now it simply doesn’t travel as far as it used to — and there’s only so much you can do to help people find your stuff. Earning views, likes or shares just doesn’t give you enough reach on its own. The way to ignite a campaign and boost content requires an integrated approach. Carefully targeted social media ads help grease the pole for editorial/earned, boosting reach and igniting a campaign by rapidly putting your content in front of the right people. New engagement ad formats are contextually relevant and much more compelling than traditional ‘push’ advertising.

So why not just give up on earned altogether and focus on the paid stuff? We know that people trust editorial, or something they’ve been told by a friend, far more than ads. Advocacy remains incredibly powerful. It’s just that paid media carefully integrated with an editorial programme hugely improves the chances that a consumer will see your content and that you’ll be able to recruit them. Putting your hand into your pocket to paying for love is nothing to be ashamed of, it’s just where necessity blurs the line between PR and advertising.

We’re running global social advertising campaigns now as part of our integrated approach to brand communications. This includes innovation formats like TrueView on YouTube and working with content creators on YouTube, as well as campaigns on Facebook and LinkedIn. Contact me to find out more.

Carrying the Cannes


Fascinating first trip to Cannes festival of creativity last week. Lots to enjoy and feed the mind but undoubtedly this was the slide of the show for me. Bringing more personality and entertainment to social is something brands really need to get to grips with. Doing it consistently, in real-time, in the earned/shared space, is a real challenge.

The worst architect in the world

Love the irony of the latest stuff from Old Spice — storyline as well as the lovely 80s style jingles