The human mind creates shortcuts and associations to quicken our understanding. Reading takes time and has to be done from start to finish to fully grasp what message is being conveyed but fewer words alongside images fulfil people's need for entertainment, stimulation, and learning, and this can create great content for social media.
As far as social networking sites go, currently, some of the most popular are photo/video sharing networks such as Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. Consumer brands are signing up and gaining thousands of followers by ensuring that they upload eye-catching, memorable, relevant and interesting content for social media in order to engage consumer interest. Photos on social sites such as Facebook receive the most engagement by “Likes”, “Comments” and “Shares”. Photo posts actually account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook. According to Kissmetrics, photos get 53% more likes, 104% more comments and 84% more click-throughs on photos than text-based posts. So, there is no better way to send a message, evoke emotion or bring a brand to life than through the impact of an image.
Today, it is an important objective to establish trust between a brand and its customers. This is a generation of technology and it has never been so easy to build trust among consumers. Just giving them a sneak peek behind the scenes is enough to start building a great customer relationship, as customers start feeling more involved with the brand. Engagement is about feeling as opposed to seeing. A promotional image should strike a cord with the customer as they feel like they need the product and/or service being advertised. Visuals need to provide a brand message and a way to connect with the customer on an emotional level, where the customer can relate to the image in some way. Gain focus on the extraordinary; your images and videos should tell a story that speaks to your customers.
The use of social media may be a relatively new thing, however, this does not necessarily mean that all content has to be “new & fresh”. Dig into your company’s past and share images from the archive on Instagram, which can be given a different look simply with the use of filters. Filters can be added to pictures to enhance certain colour’s, make an image appear old or black and white. Content for social media such as photos don’t have to be new to be of value to the customers, it could be photos of a historical event. Interesting content will always be of value to a consumer, despite its age. This has been done recently by NASA who have newly created an Instagram account to coincide with the take-off of NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. They attracted more than 60,000 followers to their Instagram page within the first 48 hours.
This image taken 20th July 1969, from NASA's Apollo 11 lunar landing mission shows the Earth rising over the moon. The image was among NASA's first posts on Instagram. (NASA)
Content for Social Media - Instagram Campaigns
The use of content for social media is all about gaining exposure, and this can be done very simply. The use of hashtags is a fantastic way to make it easier for users to find you. Using hashtags to run contests has also become increasingly popular.
Singer/Songwriter Jason Mraz launched a contest alongside the release of his single “I Won't Give Up”. He wanted fans to post photos using the hashtag #IWONTGIVEUP to see how the song translated into different visual interpretations. He received nearly 10,000 entries, which was a huge success.
In order to see how hashtag campaigns are used and how popular they can be, I decided to enter a competition myself and review its success throughout the campaign and the final results. I entered a competition, which was launched by Red Bull Racing entitled “Make Your F1 Mark”. Red Bull asked fans to wish Mark Webber farewell from the Red Bull F1 racing team. The task was to submit an Instagram photo or video via Instagram and twitter using the hashtag #MakeYourF1Mark, Red Bull are then going to select the best and most creative photos/videos and create a collage and video reel, which they presented to Mark Webber at his final race on 24th November in Brazil.
In my entry, I decided that, as Mark Webber has been part of the Red Bull F1 racing team since 2007, I would incorporate images from his some of his best races over the last 7 years.
(2007 Japanese Grand Prix, 2008 British Grand Brix, 2009 German Grand Prix, 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix, 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix, 2012 Monaco Grand Prix and 2013 Japanese Grand Prix)
Throughout the duration of the contest, I was able to review its popularity through the use of Statigram and Twitter. Both platforms provide accurate, up to date entries and use of the hashtag. This data is also visible to anyone, meaning that anyone can view every entry and every use of the hashtag. This is invaluable to review how the hashtag has been used, whether it was used as part of a contest entry, mention of the content, or if it has been misused through an unrelated post.
The competition was successful, receiving 100’s of photos and videos each individually expressing appreciation, good wishes and farewell to Mark Webber. Red Bull Racing already has a huge fan base with over 65,000 followers on Instagram alone; therefore, it was not necessary to build brand awareness prior to the launch of the contest. However, they were conscious of ensuring that the contest was promoted across all possible platforms such as their Facebook page, twitter and official website.
Creating your own Instagram campaign
Considering running your own photo campaign? Well here are some tips on what you should do.
Ensure that you’re consistently active on Instagram. Try to maintain an average amount of photo posts, for example, one or two photos per day and share them across other social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The frequency of your posts will help to build brand familiarity and consequentially increase your fan base.
Selecting a hashtag
There are no rules to creating a hashtag or how you use them. Some may feel that rules should apply regarding how many hashtags can be used per post as they can become slightly chaotic from time to time.
- Keep your hashtag short and sweet; try to ensure that your desired hashtag is no longer than 10 characters.
- Make your hashtag unique so when people search for your hashtag they won't be bombarded with off-topic posts.
- It helps when a hashtag is easy to remember, so if you're not using a familiar single word, try to find a catchy phrase or intuitive abbreviation for your topic like the one used in the Red Bull competition. #MakeYourF1Mark was easily memorable and was a good play on words.
- To determine if the hashtag you are contemplating using is already being regularly used, check out some of the third-party tools for researching hashtags such as hashtags.org
Dependent on what you are aiming to achieve with your campaign will also affect your decision on the duration of time it should run for. The #MakeYourF1Mark competition ran for just under 4 weeks which I think was a suitable amount of time as it allowed the applicants time to think and capture their desired results.
Ensure that you market your campaign across all possible social networking. Try to share regular updates relating to the competition. For example, if you are running the competition over a number of weeks, update your Facebook status at the end of each week to remind your potential applicants that there is still time to apply. If you are running a large campaign where you expect to receive a sizable amount of entries per day/week, then you could also pick one photo and share it as a ‘fan photo of the day/week’ throughout the duration of the competition, this could be shared across all channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Not only will this create awareness of your campaign, but it will also provide a great way to drive traffic to your website.
Since the Facebook acquisition of Instagram, and with more than 100 million users, posting 5 million photos every day, it seems only logical that more businesses will integrate Instagram into their marketing strategy and social media outreach.
If there’s one thing we know about social media, it’s that everything changes rapidly. These platforms may not be popular in five years, but for now, embracing platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can give your business a new way to communicate with customers while making it appear modern and trendy.
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