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February 12, 2014 (Updated: February 3, 2023)
If Instagram includes your brand in its ad handbook, you must be doing something right.
Back in November, the photo-sharing app started working with brands to place sponsored stories in the timelines of users. They’ve seen what works and what doesn’t and have compiled a physical book with advertising best practices.
The book highlights eleven brands that have had massive success on Instagram. Most aren’t surprising: @Disneyland, @Chobani, etc. The books also features a few iconic hashtags like #ThingsOrganizedNeatly.
Instagram made it clear that the book isn’t easily accessible and is releasing the content in a series of blog posts for businesses to learn from (example of repurposed content, anyone?). Brands that pay for posts might get their hands on it, but the rest of us can still take advantage of Instagram’s blog articles.
Let’s be honest, the tips offered by Instagram to marketers are hardly revolutionary. I mean, they’re a good start for beginners, but it’s not like Instagram is rewriting the content marketing bible.
The five points of advice laid out in the beginning on the series are:
Like I said, it’s good advice, but it’s also really well-known.
It’s in Instagram’s best interest to set brands up for success. The social network explained in an earlier business blog post that the brands chosen to have the first paid ads were already active in the Instagram universe. Ben and Jerry’s and Levi’s already had a strong, highly-engaged following. Users joined a community, they didn’t just follow a brand page.
Furthermore, Instagram didn’t focus on social metrics like comments, followers and likes to determine the success of paid campaigns. They focused on awareness, ad recall, and reach. Instagram reported that, “marketers achieved a high impact with a very low average frequency of ad impressions per user.” This means that users were more willing to interact with ads because they haven’t developed ad blindness due to over-saturation (like on Facebook).
When brands start using Instagram’s ad platform and follow the five guidelines above to create awesome content, then their ad recall and brand awareness will increase. This is what translates into followers, more engagement, and a stronger community.
It seems like a great deal of hand-holding, but Instagram needs to walk advertisers through the whole process or else the social network will become stuffed with low-quality ads and users will be turned off. Instagram is protecting its value.
While it’s fun to daydream about the day when your brand name is said with the same reverie as Disney, the little guy can be successful and go viral on Instagram.
A perfect example is Bart Van Olphen, a Dutch chef who is using Instagram video to give cooking advice and talk about sustainability. In Fish Tales, “The world’s shortest cooking show,” Van Olphen offers the basics for creating various fish dishes. It really seems as if anyone can do it.
Through his videos, Van Olphen follows all five tips left by Instagram. He’s true to his brand – a Dutch chef with a passion for sustainability – he finds beauty and creates an experience by cooking in unique locations, and knows that his audience will follow him on other channels to get the full recipes.
All of those points are leading to viral organic success, and could transition into a successful paid campaign. He’s not bargaining for likes and comments, but rather spreading a message that cooking with sustainable seafood is fun.
Most importantly, all of these brands are having fun with their posts, and that’s what Instagram success drills down to: creating content that your audience would enjoy seeing and find cool, helpful, or unique.
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