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Blowing the Filter Off Instagram

Not all social media channels are the same. Facebook is still the giant, Twitter is still the one that makes people ask “why?” and Instagram is the one everyone is trying to figure out because that’s where the younger generations are headed. At the November Social Media Club of Kansas City breakfast, Instagram was the featured platform. Three marketers from three distinct organizations shared their tips on the platform, sharing their stories of how they started in the channel and what they’ve learned along the way.

Katy Zimmerman, the Social Media Coordinator for Bread & Butter concepts was up first. Zimmerman’s job is to get bodies into her restaurant concepts. To do this via the Instagram channel, she shared the 5 things she does when thinking about what she’s going to post on Instagram on behalf of her concepts.

  1. Re-imagine Product – or, more simply, play with food. Zimmerman deconstructs recipes, shows the ingredients in different ways and arranges food to catch the eye.Slide with Instagram image of DAD spelled out in food.
  2. Utilize Surroundings – pulling the restaurant’s atmosphere into photos. Bringing the ambiance of the restaurant into the photo inspires thoughts of dining with friends, not just consuming food.
  3. Don’t be afraid to stand on chairs (or tables!)- Creating a different angle for her photos gives potential guests a perspective they might not see for themselves while dining. A shot from above the table shows all food, while a typical consumer view might only be focused on the food in front of them.
  4. Bring in human elements – People connect better with the product when they can visualize themselves in the picture.Slide with Instagram image of someone eating food of another person's plate
  5. Get Your Staff Involved – Gives guests another connection point when they visit the restaurant to see a person in real life who they have seen online.

Duane Hallock, a Marketing Strategist for the Red Cross presented as both an employee of Red Cross, but also talked about his personal use of Instagram. His two pieces of advice to begin: start somewhere and surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Hallock’s first pictures of a coffee cup and taco bell condiment packets show how far he’s come, both from a composition and concept standpoint. He shared seven tips for consideration when using Instagram:

  1. Shoot lots of pictures Slide with saying" Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst"
  2. Focus more on the art rather than the hardware – Hallock uses a small point and shoot camera and a free editing app called Snapseed.
  3. Avoid photo clichés like the plague – if you have seen it a million times already, don’t take it. Just…
  4. Try something different – for that same photo everyone else does, is there a different angle?
  5. Never compare yourself with other photographers – look to them for ideas and inspiration.
  6. Deliberately blend personal and professional – Hallock follows the guidelines set forth by the Red Cross because he knows he is always representing their brand, even when posting on his personal channels.
  7. Have fun: If it isn’t fun, don’t do it – This speaks more largely of any social channel in general, if you don’t WANT to be on the social channel, maybe you (or your brand) shouldn’t be.

The final presenter of the morning was Marianne Gjerstad of Barkley. Gjerstad began her portion of the talk discussing the “Why?” of Instagram. In a nutshell, it’s where the millennials (especially the younger ones) are. The platform is all about discovery and inspiration and reaches people differently than other platforms. For her clients, Gjerstad considers the following:

  1. Is the post discovery not disruption?
  2. Does it feel like part of the native user experience?
  3. Is it relevant and share-worthy?
  4. Is in consistent with the rest of the images shown? Gjerstad and team only use 3 filters for a brand
  5. Is there a strong focal point? Is it not too busy?
  6. Is it really different than the other channels and not just re-purposed? Gjerstad’s advice if content must be used across channels is to start with content for Instagram and then apply it to other channels. Copy on the Instagram channel is different, as is engagement.
  7. Are we engaging with purpose? Have to pay attention to the numbers and not creep on people. Think about the brand channel from a user perspective.
  8. Does it have subtle cues to drive action?
  9. Are hashtags being employed to enhance brand discovery? Gjerstad recommends no more than 5 hashtags and suggests only ones that are purposeful or trending.
  10. Will tagging the location increase engagement? Gjerstad says test it out.
  11. Does the caption tell a story? Caption content on Instagram can be longer and tell a story differently than other channels. If used to short captions, try longer ones.

Before Gjerstad concluded her portion of the talk, she explained a bit about paid Instagram. The biggest takeaway she noted is that there is no longer a minimum ad buy necessary to sponsor a post on Instagram. Through testing, Barkley also knows Instagram ads have an impact.Slide with info on Paid Instagram. Sell by telling great stories. 97% of campaigns have generated significant lift in ad recall, 16pt average ad recall lift, 2.7x ad recall higher than Nielsen norms

To conclude the event, the panel was asked a few different questions:
When asked about garnering a bigger following, Hallock advised posting Instagram content to other channels such as facebook and twitter. He did note when he pushes content to facebook, he puts hashtags in the first comment of his Instagram post instead of in the original caption because he doesn’t employ hashtags on facebook.

When it came to videos on Instagram, but Zimmerman and Gjerstad commented that they still use more still shots on Instagram than videos, but if videos are going to be used, they have to have an enticing first one to two seconds to be engaged with and have to take risks not seen in normal videos.

A question was also asked about whether to use polished images or rough images. While Gjerstad has a team of creative behind her ready to create the stylized images, her final note was on Instagram, the most successful images were the ones taken on the fly, on a phone.

Instagram is a different channel, with its own opportunities. Its differences are why it earns a different audience looking for something different.

*All slides were taken from the deck shared at the Social Media Club of Kansas City’s November breakfast.

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate