Are you using Instagram wrong?

The head of Nomad Logic explains why brands are missing out on the full power of the king of social engagement.

At last week’s EventTech social media and tech conference in Las Vegas, Jean-Sebastien Lessard, president and CEO of experiential marketing agency Nomad Logic, gave a keynote presentation that not only covered why Instagram was the best way to reach consumers on social, but tried to give those in attendance a wake-up call about how they were using it.

“Right now, Instagram is not used by brands at its full potential because it’s not well understood, even though it’s not complicated,” Lessard told strategy following his presentation. “There’s so many efficient ways to use it to get your message out there. There’s a lot of opportunity, and it doesn’t require a big investment, it just means being smart and thinking about it differently.”

The main problem Lessard sees is that many brands are approaching using Instagram the same way they approach other platforms, namely pushing out their own content rather than involving the user, and not providing the right incentives for users to get involved.

In 2014, Forrester Research studied over three million interactions with 2,500 brand posts across social networks and found that while overall engagement with branded content was low, Instagram’s 4.2% engagement rate per follower far exceeds those of its competitors, with Facebook sitting at 0.07% and Twitter at 0.03%. However, a year later, Instagram’s engagement rate has fallen to 2.3%, showing that, while it is still on top of social media engagement, brands need to alter their approach if they want to make the most of the platform (Forrester’s research is based on the U.S. market, but Lessard says Instagram’s engagement rate compared to other platforms is similar in Canada, just on a slightly smaller scale).

“The traditional way of trying to capture and communicate on social media doesn’t work,” he says, adding that the thinking needs to be around how consumers can be encouraged to take the extra steps required to post content capturing a brand experience. “Taking the photo, uploading it, hashtagging it, that’s just a few extra steps but you still need to offer something to get them to go through with it. You need to go through the consumer, not to them, and give them a reason to talk about your brand specifically on Instagram because we can see that’s the way to get the best reach and impact on social.”

Even though those principles could be applied to in-retail installations or even mass marketing, the major benefit of Instagram is apparent at live events. As an example, he mentions an event Nomad Logic executed for haircare brand John Frieda, where participants could not only get a hairstyle done by experts, but a bag filled with $75 worth of samples of the products used to create it if they shared a photo of the new look with the proper hashtag. Consumers participated in the event  because of a pre-existing affinity for the brand, but it was the added incentive that encouraged them to create and share the exact content the brand was looking for.

Lessard says doing these kinds of things is best suited to Instagram because it was built with a younger, mobile-first consumer in mind.

“Sure, when the app stores came along, [Facebook and Twitter] had an app to access it on mobile, but Instagram was designed and developed to be used on mobile, and that really impacts the way consumers use it,” Lessard says. “There’s not too much clutter. You’re just posting an image, or a short videos, with a short caption, and maybe a hashtag and location. It’s quick for consumers to post content but that also makes it quick for followers to consume, which makes it very effective.”

Image courtesy tulpahn/Shutterstock