Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook 6


Founded: October 2010 As of December 2012, Instagram boasted 130 million monthly active users. 40 million photos are uploaded per day. It took Flickr two years to reach the milestone of 100 million uploaded pictures; it took Instagram eight months. Instagram photos generate 1,000 comments per second. In June, 2013, Instagram launched video sharing. Instagram started out as a geolocation app called Burbn. When cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger decided to revamp the app, they stripped everything out except the photo, comment, and like functions. Instagram is another visual-centric social network. Like Pinterest, it has what I like to call “baked-in utility,” meaning that it’s really good at what it’s supposed to do, which is help you take better mobile photographs. Yet it is a vastly more challenging platform for marketers. Unlike Pinterest, where repinning is encouraged, users can only share their own Instagram photos. And whereas on Pinterest you can embed a hyperlink into your photo that with one click will direct users to your product or service page, Instagram is a closed loop. Anyone who clicks on your Instagram photo gets brought back to Instagram. Smart move for Instagram, not so good for marketers interested in sending traffic to a specific online location.
Given the app’s limitations as a business tool, why should brands scramble to start posting photos? For the same reasons they might post ads in Fine Cooking, Vogue, People, or even Traveler of Charleston magazine. After all, if you take out the editorial content in between the ads, a print magazine is, in essence, a small-format gallery of beautiful, provocative, or tantalizing images. It’s a consumption platform, and that’s all Instagram is, too. It’s a slightly more interactive experience than a print magazine, because users can like an image and offer comments. There’s also an element of shareability and distribution in that you can connect your account to Facebook and Twitter, thus increasing awareness around your product and promoting word of mouth. Also, users can follow each other, even if they can’t formally “regram.” But really, when you load photos on the service, you’re putting out content that no one can immediately do anything with, just like when you place ads in magazines. And you’re doing it for the same reason: scale. You advertise in magazines because you know you can reach a dedicated audience, measurable by subscription rates. Instagram has incredible scale, 100 million monthly active users as of the writing of this book. With one new user joining every second, it’s likely that number could increase by another 15 million by the time this book goes to press. If it’s worth it to your brand to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to place beautiful content in magazines, don’t you think it’s worth putting similar content on Instagram for free? It’s that scale at low cost that makes up for Instagram’s lack of social value. The app’s rapid growth rate proves that people are increasingly drawn to mobile, image-based content. As always, where consumers go, so should marketers. Consider Instagram as one of the great jabbing platforms, there to set the tone, tell your story, reinforce your brand, and build impressions. Not that it’s impossible to throw Instagram right hooks. Let’s remember that there was no retweet option in the original incarnation of Twitter. Before Twitter developed the function, pioneers, including some of my friends and me, would share other people’s tweets by cutting and pasting them into their own feeds. People are taking screenshots of photos they like on Instagram and reposting them, or using newly developed apps to the same end. There’s always a work-around if you want one. You can’t embed a hyperlink into your picture, but there’s no reason why you can’t insert a URL into your description. People aren’t dumb; they’ll know what to do. You could even tell people to go to your link and use the code “Instagram” to get 10 percent off your product or service (though as we’ve discussed, this call to action won’t overindex or drive business as much as if it were linkable). Should you do this often? No, inserting too many calls to action will feel like spam. But every now and then, in the midst of jabbing, a right hook is perfectly acceptable. In fact, with so few right hooks currently in play, your right hook might be a fun surprise. But only for so long, because as we know, marketers ruin everything. A FEW TIPS TO CREATING SUCCESSFUL INSTAGRAM CONTENT

  1. Make it “Instagram.” People love Instagram because of the quality of the content that has up until now been made available there. No one is going to Instagram to see advertisements and stock photos. Native Instagram content is artistic, not commercial. Use your content to express yourself authentically, not commercially. 2. Reach the Instagram generation: Learn to make Instagram work for you—it will be your gateway to the next generation of social users. The kids will be on Instagram (they’re already there); their parents will still be on Facebook. I believe this as strongly as I believed back in 2011 that Facebook would buy Instagram. They did, in the spring of 2012, for a billion dollars in cash and stock. I justified the buy on Piers Morgan the next day, explaining that if you looked at the evolution of content from Flickr, to Myspace, to Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest, it was clear that pictures were gaining in importance and were going to rule the social media world.* When Instagram started building massive momentum in 2011, there was no way that Facebook could ignore it. Despite everything Facebook had—News Feed, pages, ads—this service built on mobile and pictures posed a real threat to a company that wanted to be the best photo-sharing service around. In fact, it posed the only threat Facebook has ever faced. They had to buy it. I said that I thought the billion dollars Facebook paid was a steal, and I was ridiculed. But go figure— no one is laughing now. 3. Go crazy with your hashtags: Hashtags matter here, maybe even more than they do on Twitter. In Twitter, the hashtag can sometimes be the sprinkle—a dash of irony, a smattering of humor that you use once, maybe twice per day. On Instagram, hashtags are the whole darn cupcake. You can’t overuse them. Putting out five, six, or even ten hashtags in a row per post isn’t a bad way to communicate. And if you don’t want hashtags to clutter your post copy, no problem. Put your hashtags in a comment on your photo and it accomplishes the same thing. One click on a hashtag brings a user to a whole page of other images with the same hashtag. There is no better way to earn more impressions and gain followers. Hashtags are the doorways through which people will discover your brand; without them, you’re doomed to invisibility. 4. Become Explore-worthy: The most gorgeous, evocative content on Instagram gets streamed into something called the Explore page, which exposes your content to all of Instagram, not just users who have chosen to follow you. Instagram swears that the number of likes that content receives isn’t the only deciding factor as to what makes it into the Explore tab, but it’s surely an important one. It’s a phenomenal way to build impressions. Most small businesses and even Fortune 500 brands will most likely never find themselves in this exclusive club, but any celebrities reading this book should take note of the huge opportunity.
    COLOR COMMENTARY BEN & JERRY’S: Sharing the Love

Ben & Jerry’s micro-content is the perfect flavor for Instagram—spare and sweet. Their product delivers such a visual pop, they have no need to insert the logos that are normally an essential part of a good Instagram jab. It’s always great when a big national brand highlights one of their fans. A Swede who saw fit to post a picture of her snack prep provided this image. You can see the exchange where Ben & Jerry’s reaches out to her to compliment the photo and ask permission to post it on their account at Instagram.com/ebbawallden. The only way this could have been improved would have been if Ben & Jerry’s had added a virtual wink by lining up the bowl with the heart that appears when a fan likes a post.
GAP: Getting the “Social” Behind Social Media

Check out what can happen when you do your friend a favor. He works at the GAP and asks if you would use your awesome pumpkin-carving skills to carve the GAP logo. You oblige. You post a photo of your artwork on Instagram. A week later, you remember to add the appropriate tags: #pumpkin, #gap, #logo. Sure enough, you get a message from GAP asking if they can share it on their Instagram feed. With this content, GAP shows that it really gets the “social” behind social media, and specifically, knows how to recognize material that is native to the Instagram platform. Holiday-themed content usually receives high levels of engagement, and GAP would have been crazy to skip this stellar opportunity to jab GAP fans, as well as engage with a fellow
Instagram user that promoted the brand.

GANSEVOORT HOTEL: Storytelling for Love

This is a clever, artistic photo and a tremendous play. It’s the kind of image that catches the heart and evokes an instant emotion in anyone going through his or her feed. Where it gets ridiculously brilliant is in its native storytelling. When you double-tap the photo, the heart shows up almost exactly in the same location as the heart on the beach. It was probably even cropped in a way to enable that action. With its smart hashtags, this is classic, fun storytelling, the kind of thing that people want to share.
LEVI’S: Blind to the Possibilities

If the goal was to permanently blind Levi’s Instagram followers, this could be considered a strong right hook. Otherwise, it’s really hard to tell what Levi’s was trying to accomplish. It was supposed to be a creative holiday-themed piece, but holiday themes overindex because of the sense of wonder, nostalgia, or anticipation they evoke. This content doesn’t evoke any emotions, nor does it tell a story, engage its fans, or do anything to
enhance the Levi’s brand. If this were a lightbulb company, or an electricity company, the post would make sense, but what has it got to do with a jeans company? It feels like someone got a hold of a stock photo and did what they could to make it appropriate for the holidays. This was a surprising disappointment from a business that usually does a lot to reinforce its brand.
OAKLEY: Making the Wrong Sacrifice

A visit to Oakley’s Instagram profile reveals a collection of slick photographs that show off their extensive lines of sunglasses and other sportswear. But someone dropped the ball when they posted this piece of junk. And it’s a shame, because the storytelling opportunity here was phenomenal. Oakley teamed up with 2012 Masters tournament champion Bubba Watson to create the world’s first hovercraft golf cart. It’s an amazing piece of machinery, gliding effortlessly across the fairway, water hazards, and even sand traps, all without leaving a mark, thanks to its extraordinarily light footprint pressure. The video created to show off the invention, called “Bubba’s Hover,” was viewed more than three million times and received an avalanche of attention from the media. Naturally, Oakley wanted to make sure its Instagram fans didn’t miss it, especially as the 2013 Masters approached. I’m guessing—and it really is a guess—that Oakley would measure the success of this piece based on the number of views it brought to the video. That’s why they lost. You can’t hyperlink out of Instagram, and very few people were going to bother to highlight a link and paste it in their browser. Because Oakley was more worried about getting views of the video than crafting great content, it didn’t respect the youth and creativity of the Instagram demo. They could have storytold in a way native to the platform by commissioning a cool picture of the hovercraft, maybe taken from an unusual angle, or coming up with a creative photographic teaser to entice Instagram users to make their way to the Oakley Web page featuring the video. Instead, Oakley put up a crappy still shot from the video. They got hearts, but their flat-footed execution surely meant they left a lot of engagement on the table.
Circumventing Instagram’s Weakness with Strong Calls to Action Right hooks are harder to land on Instagram because you can’t link out, but they are possible. The key is including some really provocative storytelling in your copy to get people to respond to your call to action. The Meatball Shop understood this and made it happen. Here’s how it played out.

Start with a clever business idea: gourmet meatballs. Get famous for said gourmet meatballs. Take advantage of a crazy-but-true holiday: National Meatball Day. Post an appropriately Instagrammy picture. Include a hashtag and gamify your content by urging followers to submit photos of their favorite meatball moments in exchange for the chance to be featured on the restaurant’s Instagram and Twitter feeds, and receive a Meatball Shop grinder hat. See about 1 percent of your followers engage, which is a lot for a small business with a small base. Receive praise for a supremely well-executed Instagram right hook in a book,* which leads many more people to become aware of the shop. And to crave meatballs.
BONOBOS: Smart Cross-Pollination

Bonobos started out as an Internet-only fashion brand, so with their roots firmly planted in digital soil it’s no surprise that they show tremendous savvy when it comes to exploring
the possibilities inherent in new platforms. Cross-pollinating between platforms is a great way to build brand awareness across the board, and here Bonobos shows tremendous savvy as it throws a right hook by inviting followers to preview its fall-winter line on Vine. See the proper use of and engagement with hashtag culture. See the subtle branding of including the Vine logo in the bottom right corner. See the sparse and arty look of the photo. By paying attention to all of the details, Bonobos not only threw a successful right hook, but also perpetuated its image as a hip, creative, innovative company.
SEAWORLD: Sloppy, Sloppy, Sloppy

Sometimes when you’re good, it’s more noticeable when you step out of line. SeaWorld usually offers some strong, engaging content on Instagram, but not this time. You’d think a theme park would have an interest in making sure that their event seems unmissable, but this post makes it look as through attendees are in for a night with about as much entertainment and excitement as a college band reunion concert. The picture is hazy, the dates on the poster are cut off—what was SeaWorld thinking? It’s bad to throw a sloppy jab, but it’s even worse to throw a half-assed right hook, which is what this is. Truly, one of the worst I’ve seen.

Think about the park near your home. Would you ever believe it could become a dominant presence on a social media site? Unlikely, right? Yet here’s a park that is building brand equity by nimbly jabbing on its Instagram account. By regramming pictures taken by Tulsa, Oklahoma, residents and visitors to the park, Guthrie Green is acting like a real person, which makes it part of the community, and thus gives it clout. It’s a brand born in social and because of that genesis it has the ability to act social. I love showing off an organization that really gets it, but more than that, I love getting a look at the future. This park will soon not be an anomaly. Every start-up, new business, and new celebrity in the future will be a native creature of the social web.
COMEDY CENTRAL: Bringing Community Together

It’s a shelfie. Get it? That’s freaking funny. I’ve bashed others for low-quality pictures, and this one isn’t spectacular, but the content as a whole is so good I’m willing to forgive. Though the quality of the photo is poor, it is highly authentic—nothing about it feels scripted. The viewer feels privy to a random, spontaneous bit of cosmic hilarity. What elevates the picture, however, is the single hashtag “#shelfie,” a hashtag that plays off the mother of all hashtags that dominates Instagram, “#selfie.” The pun is funny, clever, on voice, and reinforces the brand. It’s the kind of content that gets shared, and shared a lot. Comedy Central really gets the power of Instagram. No matter what else may be going on in the world, Comedy Central successfully uses the platform to create a moment and bring its community together for a
shared laugh. That’s priceless. That’s the magic made possible when a brand truly understands a social media platform.
Questions to Ask About Your Instagram Content
Is my image artsy and indie enough for the Instagram crowd?
Have I included enough descriptive hashtags?
Are my stories appealing to the young generation?6+

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