By Jamie Jackson
I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).
Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).
Use brightly colored and well-lit photos
An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.
However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.
Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.
Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.
No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:
Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.
You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta
If you use Instagram, actually USE it
Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.
Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.
By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.
Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.
While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.
Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.
By Kristina Keeling
Trends in social media come and go, and the big trend right now is live streaming. So how are we, as PR professionals, supposed to know if we should jump on the bandwagon or let it run its course? This week, we take a closer look at the live streaming trend to see if this is something we should take seriously.
Life On Air released this mobile live streaming app in February 2015. When you start recording, it sends an automated tweet telling others that you are live via Meerkat. It was a huge hit – for the first few days – and then twitter decided to pull the plug on its Application Programming Interface (API). Without this software, Meerkat couldn’t integrate Twitter’s social graphs. So what does this mean? Well, when new users joined, they weren’t automatically connected to those they followed on Twitter. This hinders Meerkat because users won’t be automatically notified by the app when friends are broadcasting unless they manually build their followers. This, in turn, means people will not be on the app.
In response to Twitter’s decision to block access to their API and social graph, Meerkat’s CEO, Ben Rubin, told Yahoo Tech, “We are definitely going to start our own network. We are already starting to decouple the social graph.” In the meantime, the app released an update to help users connect, so now users can search for others by their Twitter username.
Why was Twitter so intent on shutting down Meerkat? Well, with a quick Google search, I found out that Twitter bought a competitive app, Periscope, in March 2015 – just after Meerkat launched. Periscope works similarly to Meerkat in that it allows others to know when you are live streaming via tweets and notifications. Twitter pulled their API and made it harder for Meerkat to be integrated with the platform, thus making Periscope the only live streaming app that is seamlessly connected to Twitter.
A quick breakdown of the apps
The layouts of the two services are different, but both are user friendly. When you open Meerkat you are brought to a “landing page” where you can let your followers know what is happening. In Meerkat you are able to schedule live streams, so you can let your followers know that you will be live in the near future or that you are talking about a topic right now. When you scroll down on the landing page you can see who is live now, and further down you can see what is scheduled.
When you open up Periscope, you see who on your followers list is live, followed by featured live streams and your followers’ most recent live streams. Periscope also offers a world map and a list view of who is live.
In short, both apps offer attractive features.
Which one should I use?
In terms of popularity, Periscope is definitely winning the race between live streaming services. Each app, however, has its own advantages and disadvantages that may suit your personal preference. Personally, I enjoy the world map on Periscope seeing who is live streaming around me, but I do like how you can schedule live feeds on Meerkat. Since I downloaded the apps, I have definitely checked Periscope more often, as it has the advantage of notifying me when the people I follow are live streaming.
Live streaming is definitely still in its infancy. I was expecting to see more people I personally knew using the apps and was surprised at how few used them. I do think that live streaming will gain more popularity when major events, such as pro baseball and football championships roll around. Live streaming apps will have an advantage because they will allow people to feel like they are really at the event. Celebrities and major influencers in the social media world will be able to live stream the backstage experience, or other things at major events.
“The Sleeping Giant of Live Streaming”
Periscope and Meerkat might soon have some competition in the live streaming realm, as YouTube recently released its own live streaming capabilities. YouTube will likely target different audiences for its live streaming services, though. Right now, YouTube live streaming is popular with the sports and gaming audience. Once more YouTube “creators” jump on board the live streaming trend though, YouTube may be the go-to destination for live streaming.
I think that live streaming is here to stay – for a while, at least. It is a great tool for instant news and entertainment. What do you think? Is live streaming here to stay? Comment below with your thoughts on Meerkat, Periscope and YouTube Live, and don’t forget to follow IPR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
by Erin Robinson
Millennials. We have all heard the term, but do we understand its meaning and importance? Before exploring the challenges of marketing to millennials and some helpful ways to overcome them, let’s take a look at who millennials are and why marketing to this generation is so vital to the success of companies and brands.
Who millennials are and why they’re important
Millennials are individuals born from 1977-1995 and they represent 25 percent of the US population, according to Barkley’s report, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.” There are millions of them, over 82 million to be specific. They spend money, with an annual purchasing power at $200 billion. Lastly, they are making gateway purchases, which Bulldog Reporter Editor Talia Sinkinson defines as, “choices that can influence brand allegiance for the rest of their lives.”
Overcoming millennial marketing challenges
While every company may have different challenges in its efforts to market to millennials, I am going to focus on a few of the most common from my own perspective as a millennial.
#1: Grabbing millennials’ attention
We are exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day, so creating something that is going to stand out in the clutter and remain in our minds is no easy feat.
Fix: Make us feel like a part of your brand, use visuals to engage us and inspire us to take action. Do what hasn’t been done. We like new and bold.
#2: We don’t like when you try to blatantly sell us things
Millennials can sniff out an advertisement from a mile away. We are so inundated with advertisements that we begin to resent them all together and we find ways to block them out any chance we get.
Fix: Sell your story rather than your product. Find a way to relate your brand to us personally and tap into our emotions a bit. We love a good story and want to support things that make us feel good about ourselves. When companies or brands find ways to engage us without yelling “BUY ME!!!” we appreciate it.
#3: Keeping up with us isn’t easy
Our world is constantly changing, especially when it comes to technology. We are also always connected, so we are aware of what is going on around us.
Fix: The companies and brands that keep up with changes and trends in technology and adapt their marketing messages to what is going on around us will be the most successful. Pay attention to what we are talking about and find a clever way into the conversation.
Moral of the story
Marketing to millennials should be at the top of companies’ priority list and will benefit them tremendously if done the right way.
by Jonathan Haile
There aren’t a ton of people who have $1,500 to drop on Google Glass. No matter how steep price, it’s going to be strange seeing people walk around with it on. Equally as strange as it looks, hearing someone say, “Ok Glass, record a video”, is going to be an adjustment for those who aren’t wearing it. Google, however, seems optimistic that Glass will be a hit, and I must admit, there are things about it I find very appealing.
Even though the Glass probably isn’t in my future anytime soon, I think it has some benefits once you get over it’s oddity. Instead of looking at computer screen while you “hangout” with someone on Google, they appear in the heads up display and can see what you see. Giving them your perspective allows you to share the experience. That’s why I think Glass and future examples of wearable technology have huge potential in the world of public relations and marketing.
Demos, How-Tos, Etc.
I’d never thought of product demonstrations, walkthroughs, or how-to videos as parts of PR until my first internship, which required me to blog a ton for various companies, their customers and followers. If you can, somehow, get over the price, Google Glass has to potential to be a great asset for demos, giving the customer or viewer the perspective of the demonstrator. It could create a more personal experience for those who want to learn how to do something. Maybe using a toolkit to fix something is made easier when you see it done from a first person viewpoint. Similar experiences can be seen through the lenses of GoPro cameras, which are becoming more popular every day.
Likewise, companies that are trying to sell experiences and locations could use Glass to show the product from a potential customer’s perspective. What will a tour of Paris be like when you visit France? Well, let a French travel company show you. And say you’re pitching an idea to a company. You could use Glass to show that the experience will be like. I’m not going to say there are limitless possibilities for wearable tech, but the number of uses in PR could be big.
Wearable tech isn’t limited to glasses
Wearable technology isn’t a new idea, but it’s finally starting to take off. We’re seeing Google give a lot of focus to it with the Glass, while Samsung and Apple prepare to square off in the smartwatch arena (basically watches that do everything smartphones do). Applications, marketing campaigns, demos, and so much more for these devices are going to give PR practitioners and marketers a lot more responsibilities. There might even be social media-related contests centered around this tech. And don’t expect Apple and Samsung to be the only ones involved. Wearable tech startups are going to see growth as well.
Imagine these wearable devices being able to monitor your health, your heart rate, and your fatigue. That’s what it’s coming to, and any healthcare-related entity is going to be in a very good position once they grasp that concept and run with it.
The future is wearable
For marketers, advertisers and communication professionals, getting people’s attention is becoming more difficult. It it isn’t enough to show a commercial on television or place a print ad anymore. It’s about creating positive experiences, sometimes fun experiences, for the publics that matter to us the most. Wearable technology will allow us to continue creating new experiences. It will also be a fun to see how it influences social media in the future.