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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.

Twitter changes — for the better?

The changes to Twitter announced yesterday really help make the platform easier and more accessible for more people and more brands.

The flipside is it’s easier for brands to spam users, upload more “push” content or shamelessly retweet themselves. It’s called social media, not antisocial media, and the PR nightmare begins when brands broadcast the wrong type of content in the wrong way.

[From comments I made to Gorkana]

From Storytelling to Truthtelling

They say truth is the first casualty of war and similar accusations have been levelled at PR in an age of spin and spam. Selective presentation, murky off-the-record briefings and non-recollection are favourite spin doctor tactics. Meanwhile, the trouble with storytelling is that ‘stories’ can sound like they’ve been made up – fiction.

People have fallen on the sword of truth before but we‎ now know truth sells. Studies show authentic brands and businesses are enjoying greater levels of recommendation and ultimately sales. Even political party leaders have been holding their hands up to the truth in recent election debates.

We’re entering a new era of ‘truthtelling’‎, which is why the PR industry is its strongest ever position. We’ve always been experts in finding compelling and creative ways to make true stories contagious — truths that will earn their place in the cultural psyche. The truth is on our side.

Based on comments I made to PR Moment

Cyber Monday (and How Online Retail Could Open Hearts in 2015)

[cross-posted from my blog at Good Relations]

Are you planning to bag a bargain online today? If you believe the hype then it sounds like just about everyone in the UK will be searching out some online retail therapy before the clock strikes midnight. Experts predict £650m will be spent online over the course of 24 hours – hitting over £450,000 a minute.

Some consumers like shopping online, others prefer finding their discounts in a physical store (even if it involves wrestling in the supermarket over a 65 inch telly). But it’s always interesting to imagine “what’s next” for retail. I think the emerging tech to watch for in retail in 2015 is Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) proximity sensing – Apple’s version of which is known as iBeacon. It basically enables a physical location or installation (for example, a shop) to track the exact position of your phone within a contained area. The retailer can then “push” to your phone very specific content, like offers or product information, when you’re standing in front of that product on the shelf.

BLE is something that’s been around for a while but hasn’t really enjoyed mainstream adoption yet, for a variety of reasons. The video above shows one way it can work. I think next year we may well see the online and offline worlds merge thanks to this type of technology. This coming together of the physical and virtual is something that brands will need to embrace as consumer habits evolve.

Anyway, Cyber Monday is just the warm up– already looking forward to “Manic Monday” 8th December, which is expected to be even busier…

Put the day on hold

Video of the week!