News has it that ‘no one is on Facebook’ (well, yes and no) and that if you are a design, beauty, food, lifestyle, fashion, etc business, then the only place to flex your digital brand muscle is on Instagram.
So… you spend hours curating your feed, ensuring a rainbow of lush colors, perfect product shots; and even feed pattern blocking. Added to this are lots and lots of hashtags (the bigger the hashtag numbers the better). Now there is nothing wrong with this type of effort and it reflects what we’ve initially come to understand ‘success’ to mean on Instagram. But the landscape keeps changing… algorithmic tweaks along with the more seismic impact of ’stories’ are altering the ‘rules’ of engagement.
But for a second forget all of that and let’s step back… regardless of whether it’s the right platform, a good platform, or there are changes that make it harder or easier to be seen, there is no accounting for not communicating your brand in only the way YOU can. We often see clients who are too focused on what they think ‘works’ on a platform such as Instagram; completely overlooking the fact that you need to communicate your brand right no matter the channel.
Get the brand communication and personality right and you can figure out how to leverage a platform’s base and even take advantage of its paid opportunities down the line.
Here are a few things we often see:
Not enough personality. Regardless of whether you sell shirts, pants or fancy widgets, you need to identify with your brand’s personality. For many of our clients, they started their business because of a personal passion. But then they resist infusing this point of distinction or personality this into their external communications.
Are you funny? Do your clients or customers love to see your travel or parenting adventure? Are you committed to giving back? Do you have a compelling belief or story? Even if the answer is no, no, no. A platform such as Instagram is voyeuristic and what users love is seeing real people and real stories. So don’t hold back from being you. Just because everyone else is posting in a certain way, it doesn’t mean it works. What do you like to see? Use that to start rethinking what works.
Too much curation. The pain of color blocking or weaving themes or images in an artistic way is taking up way TOO much of your time. If we can’t convince you that it doesn’t matter, then consider how Instagram stories has made Instagram ‘messy’ – out the door is curation and in now is spontaneity and immediacy. Even if you don’t feel as comfortable with this new way of thinking about the platform, it’s unavoidably altering the landscape.
No cadence. If you look at your favorite accounts there is a rhythm, a bit about product, yourself, your life. It’s measured and balanced. Too much product and it’s boring, too much of ‘you’ and it’s too personal. Take a look at your favorite accounts and see how they balance the mix. This doesn’t mean contrived, it’s just about keeping things interesting.
Too many hashtags. Hashtags, tagging, it should all fall naturally into the rhythm of what you say. Mention someone… add their account. Think there is relevance… add a hashtag. Call us rebels but we don’t think following a perceived protocol means it’s effective. The dots then a million and one hashtags is particularly onerous. And arguably doesn’t work. The most effective hashtags are not those where you see large numbers after the tag, but instead the ones that are smaller and more targeted. Try it and you’ll see how effective having the right conversation can be.
And finally, forget obsessing over followers. There is more to be said about social media advertising (and we’ll come back to you on that), but the above holds true even when you are paying for ads. The important thing is to be bold and consistent and know what your brand is about. From there it doesn’t matter the application, it’s about what you have to say.