Neal has been in Japan these last few weeks, and he’s been thinking a lot about the power of mobile. This week Neal is talking about the social network that you can only engage in from mobile: Instagram. It’s important for businesses to find their visual voice and be original and organic on this platform. The beautiful thing about Instagram is it’s power to connect with people. So remember, don’t go for the hard sale on Instagram - instead, focus on personality, engagement, and authenticity.
[00:53] My Thoughts on Instagram
[03:47] Every Company Needs A Visual Voice
[05:50] A Case Study of A Company Doing Well With Visual
[08:57] Why Your Visuals Should Be Connected to Your Brand
[09:11] Quote Images
[12:04] Posting Event Images on Instagram
[13:47] Videos As Part of Visual Voice
[15:27] Popular Tactics
- So as I like to say, whenever I speak, every company needs a visual voice. And that visual voice is is the visuals that are going to represent you in Facebook, Twitter, and obviously, you know, any social network, but on Instagram and on sites like Pinterest, they're going to become your primary source of visual.
- And as I like to say, social media was made for people, not for businesses, so as a business, you're always going to be at a disadvantage. Therefore, the more organic you can become with your visual voice, I believe, the more effective the more successful you will be.
- If you have visual content, I don't think it's a challenge. The challenge is, for those that do not have a visual aspect to their product. And this is where you really need to think about how you're going to represent your brand on Instagram.
- It was because we had to post things that catch people's eyes, in order to grab their attention, get engagement and increase edge, and it was a tactical tool. You don't need those tactical tools on Instagram.
- So, yes, they are eye catching, those beautiful visuals are eye catching the quote, images are eye catching. But are they true to your brand? Right? Is there a more effective way of saying the same thing with a different image with a small number of words, and with more in the description that truly differentiates your brand from the others, because if not, your quotes are going to be lost in the sea of quotes are out there.
- A lot of people, a lot of businesses want to be on every social network. But does it make sense to be on every social network?
- Get people to connect with you on a personal basis. And then from there, once you see success by posting more business oriented visuals once in a while, you can then take the next step and start a business account. But I really think twice if you don't have a visual product.
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Welcome to maximize your social actionable advice on how your business can maximize your social media presence. Now, the host of maximize your social, social media author, speaker, consultant, founder of maximize social business, their social media center of excellence, and the social tool Summit, Neal Schaffer. Everybody this is Neal Schaffer, welcome to another episode of maximize your social today I should, should have started this podcast by saying Konichiwa. Because I am in Osaka, Japan, I'm actually looking outside. And we are in the middle of Typhoon number 11, which is wreaking havoc on this part of Japan where I am. Needless to say it is cloudy, it is rainy, it is windy outside. So I'm going to stay inside. And instead give you a few thoughts as to what I've been thinking about while I've been in Japan, Visa V social media and how your business can use it. I want to talk today about Instagram. And you know, in the United States, we use mobile, but it's nothing like the way mobile is used in Japan, probably any statistic you can find on mobile, like, you know, 40% of the time, when we access the internet, it's on a mobile device. So you know, probably Japan 10 years ago, was already at 40%. You have to remember, this was the country that brought us i mode, which although we had something called whap, way back in the days gave us an easier way to access the internet. And because of the mobility of the Japanese people, a lot of people need to travel, you know, an hour each way to work. And they're using public transportation, whether it be buses, which obvious a lot while I've been here, or the subway, it gives people a lot of chances to be on their mobile device, you see a lot of iPads of people reading from iPads and iPad minis on the train. And obviously, a lot of people with smartphones here that are using mobile. So it's no surprise that when I talk about mobile and social, I first think about Instagram. Now it's true that Facebook and Twitter and these are both popular here in Japan as well. And they're often used or accessed by a mobile device. But I think it was already a year or two ago where it was reported that Instagram was already beating Twitter, Twitter mobile views. From a user perspective, there were more people that were accessing Instagram, from a mobile device, because that's the only way to access Instagram, compared to Twitter and Instagram, remember was made for mobile, you can't? Well, you can view your Instagram account on a PC, right? But you can't post to it from a PC, you have to post to it from a smartphone, although you can engage from a PC. And that's probably a topic of another podcast to talk about how to efficiently manage an Instagram account once you have it. Now in September, I'm going to be doing my first Instagram for Business webinar with my friends at experts connection. I've done a number of webinars with them. It's also content that I'm creating for the upcoming launch of Social Media Center of Excellence. And it's something that while I've been in Japan have been able to spend a lot of time on being that I've been in a mobile environment. So Instagram only mobile in only visual right now. It's interesting because when I talk about only visual back when I wrote maximize your social, I talked about having a there was a need for a visual voice Bob Geller, the content marketing contributor for maximize social business that a great part of that chapter on leveraging the visual and social, we've really if there's one chapter from that book that I would rewrite that would be it on visual social, because we've seen how far it's progressed. So as I like to say, whenever I speak, every company needs a visual voice. And that visual voice is is the visuals that are going to represent you in Facebook, Twitter, and obviously, you know, any social network, but on Instagram and on sites like Pinterest, they're going to become your primary source of visual. So first of all, if you are a consumer face brand, if you have a brick and mortar store, if you sell a visual product, that obviously becomes a lot easier. But we all know that nobody wants to see a visual that is merely an advertisement. And when I look at the Instagram feed, probably people that I was following that I shouldn't have been following. I see a lot of posts that are simple ads right now, you wouldn't post a ad a blatant ad in Facebook or on Twitter. I don't think they would get acceptance. And in fact, for those of you that have lived through EdgeRank, you understand that you need to create engaging, resourceful, and things that people would really like in order to get exposure. Well, you don't have to do that on Instagram, right? Instagram like Twitter does not have an edge rank type of algorithm. You see everything that everyone that you follow posts. And in fact, compared to Twitter, you tend to see more sponsored tweets. You see very few of these and Instagrams so far, I do expect these to be an increase. But, you know, if you wouldn't post it on other social networks, why would you blatantly post ads on Instagram? You wouldn't, right. So that's obviously not your visual voice, your visual voice is visual content that represents your brand, right? So getting back to, you know, if you have a visual product, it becomes very, very easy. What we're finding, obviously, is the ads, although some people may click on it, right, if if something is shoved in your face, you may click on it. So if you want to experiment with it, you still want to do that you can try and you know, see the data, I just think you're going to be a lot more effective by showing the essence of your brand through visual. Now, if you have, you know, there was one great case study I found of a company that is doing very, very well in social, they're a clothing boutique, based in Georgia. And what they found was, instead of just you know, taking pictures of their clothes, they had actual student models from local universities where they were in Georgia, and that was their target audience that would actually model their clothes. And I think, you know, what we're finding is that the more natural environment, people are wearing those clothes, or that you're showcasing things in, the more well, the more organic looks, right? I mean, Instagram is all about taking organic photos from a smartphone, and posting them in real time. And as I like to say, social media was made for people, not for businesses, so as a business, you're always going to be at a disadvantage. Therefore, the more organic you can become with your visual voice, I believe, the more effective the more successful you will be. So when you think about it, that way, it's less about stock photo type images, and we all know that those aren't as effective and social, as with images in real life from a smartphone, maybe they're a little bit out of focus, maybe they're a little bit off angle. That's okay, right. Because most people's pictures probably are in a lot of cases, I know mine are, I'll always have to adjust that horizon to make sure that my pictures are flat, always seem to be at an angle and posting photos. So, you know, if you have visual content, I don't think it's a challenge. The challenge is, for those that do not have a visual aspect to their product. And this is where you really need to think about how you're going to represent your brand on Instagram. Now, I've seen a lot of companies, especially a lot of small businesses, do a lot of different things, obviously, in some businesses focus on the people of the organization, and taking pictures of the people that have you that's very organic and authentic, don't know how engaging that is, unless those people as people are engaging, right? I've seen people post, you know, beautiful photos, right now, once again, because Instagram does not have edge rank. And because basically, when you look on a screen, you get access to one full photo per screen, if you were to stop on it, you could really catch someone's eye. But remember, okay, the reason why people posted engaging photos and social media was because of Facebook EdgeRank. It was because we had to post things that catch people's eyes, in order to grab their attention, get engagement and increase edge, and it was a tactical tool. You don't need those tactical tools on Instagram. And in fact, you know, Facebook has already said, well, although it doesn't pertain to these sorts of visuals, if you have a visual with, you know, wording in it, that's an advertisement, we're just not going to, we're just not going to show in the newsfeed at all. It's also the reason why even for advertisements, a maximum of 20% tax, they don't want social media images to become your ad. So this is sort of a follow up to our was talking about not just posting blatant ads and Instagram, but visuals, they have to be connected to your brand. Otherwise, they have no meaning you catch people's attention, right? And maybe some of them will read the description. But who are you as a brand that is not a visual voice. That is a tactical way of trying to be in people's faces. And the next sort of thing I see where businesses are trying to be in people's faces is sort of a pet peeve of mine. For those that know me is the quote image. People love quotes. It's almost become a formula of oh, just post lots of quotes in social media get lots of engagement. And once again, it has to be about your brand. Now, I know people when I was recently in London, England, I met people who you know, Instagram is their number one social network, they find a lot of success on it. Okay, one person, just post quotes, but that's her brand. Her brand is, you know, motivational quotes for certain demographic, that's sort of the name of the account. It's sort of a pet project first, not her main business, something she just enjoys doing and paying it forward. So that's great, right? And I know okay, even myself off posting quote images before and I know that A lot of people are inspired by them. But they have to be true to your brand. And there's a lot, I believe better authentic and engaging ways of saying the same thing without a quote, image, but with an image that you actually took, right? Maybe with a few words on it, but with, you know, in the description, how you want to inspire people. And I believe that just a more authentic and engaging and organic way of doing it, don't know, I've seen some businesses do it, it's something really to consider, because anybody can just throw up a lot of quote, images. And, you know, I know myself and a lot of others have seen their streams be inundated just with, quote, images, and when you see one after another, and they come from random accounts, and that's all they post, well, Instagram has just become this, you know, it's become a dump, for images that people are posting just to get some sort of tactical advantage, which you don't need an Instagram. And by the way, you know, they do grab people's attention. So when I recently posted a quote image that says sorry, for unfollowing you but I really don't like seeing all these quote images. In my newsfeed. A lot of people, you know, commented, some for some against which is okay, but a lot of people said the same thing. They really catch my eye. So, yes, they are eye catching, those beautiful visuals are eye catching the quote, images are eye catching. But are they true to your brand? Right? Is there a more effective way of saying the same thing with a different image with a small number of words, and with more in the description that truly differentiates your brand from the others, because if not, your quotes are going to be lost in the sea of quotes are out there. So that's just you know, another way of looking at your visual voice or maybe you know, the quotes are from your own company, your own founders, your own people, there's a lot of different ways to think about it. But don't use it as an automatic thing in Instagram, because remember, Instagram was made for posting photos that you took from your smartphone on the spot. And that, I think, is the golden rule. So concerning your company concern, what you do, what sort of photos can you take on the spot? Well, I think events, any type of event that you do is a great way of posting something visual on Instagram, of people of people checking out products, whatever it might be, especially if these other people are on Instagram. And this raises another point. Okay. A lot of people, a lot of businesses want to be on every social network. But does it make sense to be on every social network? If people are going to click through a link on your bio? Is it going to go to a responsive page built for mobile, where they can perform an action that has some meaning? Is your target demographic, even using Instagram? We know that, you know, Instagram tends to geared towards the younger, although I do believe that's changing, as Facebook has become sort of old people's territory. I do believe that's happening with Instagram, but it's still a young in general young demographic. So is that demographic crucial to your doing business? Or are you just having fun on it, it's just fun. You don't need to build a business brand, build a personal brand, and build your business from there, right? Get people to connect with you on a personal basis. And then from there, once you see success by posting more business oriented visuals once in a while, you can then take the next step and start a business account. But I really think twice if you don't have a visual product. And we could sort of say the same about Pinterest, I'd really think twice about sort of jumping into the Instagram boom. Now, there's some other tips and tricks for Instagram outside of this visual voice. And you know, I could probably keep talking about the visual voice. And some of you hopefully, are not still scratching your heads about what you should do. But you really need to think about it in terms of the visual right now. There's another type of visual, which is videos. And I've seen some brands, you know, do really, really well by creating these Flipagram type of 15 second videos, where they have a mixture of text overlay by showing a demonstration of something, you know, showing you know how to cook a recipe is one example that I saw recently that I thought was really well. So video is also part of your visual voice. If you do as a brand YouTube videos, you could potentially bring that over to Instagram as well. But once again, it's a small screen, it's a mobile screen. People want to experience something differently than just watching a YouTube video. But for some companies, maybe the video is more effective. I mean, you know, when when I think back about Blendtec and with a blend, would that have been a cool 15 second little video on Instagram that would have gotten a lot of engagement. Absolutely. So, you know, if you can't think of the visual in terms of static photography, maybe video is the way you should think about it. But going above and beyond that, for a lot of brands that I know Instagram is about brand awareness if you look at the marketing funnel, there is a need for brand awareness. And in social media marketing, there is a need for you to be where your customers are where your target audiences Which is why a lot of brands utilize Instagram as part of their general social media marketing for that brand awareness. But obviously, there's some people want to measure everything, and not just measure engagement, but measure actual leads. So you do have one link that's in your bio. And I do know of companies that will change that link regularly, according to whatever campaign that they're doing. Another popular tactic is if you really want to get people to click on your link, is to create a location where you say, click on my link in my bio For more information, which will appear right under your name, where normally the location would be. So it's sort of a hack to make use of the real estate that Instagram has given you. In order to get more people to click on your link by whenever you posting and saying, Hey, you can click on my link for more info, they still have to go to your name and go to your profile to see it to click on it. But that's another thing that you can do. But obviously, that link that you put in your bio, has to be mobile optimized, I talk about Twitter, and about putting potentially a Twitter landing page for that link that goes to a certain page in your website that specifically welcomes people in 140 characters or whatever it might be to recognize that they're from Twitter, well, you may want to consider doing the same thing for Instagram. But obviously, that link is also going to go to whatever call to action you have, whether it's to sign up for something, what have you. But remember, Instagram being that it's only on the mobile phone, the mobile phone is for most people what's closest to our hearts, if something were to happen to our house, there was an earthquake of fire, what's the first thing you're going to do first thing you're going to take maybe outside of your wallet, when you go running outside, it's probably going to be your smartphone. It's how you communicate with your friends, your closest friends, through text, chat, whatever it might be. And therefore I believe in order for you to really succeed at Instagram, you need to recognize that and make sure that when you're posting, you're not going for the jugular here that you're offering? Well, you're offering visual value by sharing lots of things that other people want to see, you're engaging with others, right. And what I love about Instagram is even though I follow I think I have like 6000 followers now and I follow I don't know 5500. But because of weeded out people and brands that just post, quote, images, or maybe images that they didn't take themselves, I can now organically and authentically engage in a few minutes, I can go through all my photos that were taken in the last 30 minutes. Now think about that if you were to post everything people posted on Facebook, or Twitter or other networks, and if you follow you know, 5000 people, what have you, it will take you a long time to go through on average 30 minutes a data, not an Instagram. And it's because people are only posting something when they have something interesting to post. So when we think about a frequency strategy, right? And I'm the same way, right? When you're at home, and you're not doing anything special, you might not have anything to post on Instagram for a few days until the weekend, right? But then when you go traveling overseas, you might post 10 times a day. And I think that's the way a lot of people use Instagram. Because if you have nothing to say, Why would you say it. And I want to say the same thing for brands, don't take that same frequency strategy you have that says three tweets a day one Facebook post and and think you need to do something on Instagram every day only do something, when you have something of value to add to the conversation. It doesn't mean you can't be engaging with other people's posts, with your fans posts with your employees posts to maintain your engagement and your presence. But recognize that Instagram has the most personal social networks and engage with others in that way. And I think you can make a deeper connection because of that and Instagram than you can on any other network. And I think that really is the holy grail of Instagram marketing, that when we find businesses that have been really successful. Now most businesses that have been successful on Instagram have a visual product. And oftentimes they have an e commerce Store. We've seen something similar with Pinterest where people can click on a link and order a product. But you know, for a lot of businesses, I know that's not the case. But you can build a deep relationship you can build such a deep relationship that I through the power of Instagram have been able to meet and network with and even become virtual friends with fans of my favorite Japanese singer called Jada he told me just through the power of Instagram that I think in this day and age, you know, I also comment on whenever she posts on our Facebook page. But on Facebook it's hard for a lot of people still to make new friends. Twitter I guess it's easier but Twitter people are you know, people might not be talking about your subject. I just happen to found that Instagram was the magical network for me to actually meet these people in person and to now have sort of a trusted network of friends that the next time after a live concert we can go out for a drink or you know, chat or what have you. So that's really the power of Instagram and that's sort of the final message I want to leave you with when thinking about Instagram and remembering that social was made for people. You know, don't go for the jugular, don't go for the hard sale that you might on other networks. You know, think of Instagram the same way you think of any other social network, but add a little bit more personality, add a little bit more engagement. And I think that you'll do really, really well, if you have any questions about what your company should be doing. And obviously, a 15 to 20 minute podcast is not the webinar I'll be doing. It's a 90 minute webinar, right, where I'll go through some tools and some tricks and some other things. But if you have any questions about Instagram, let me know, comment on this blog post on maximize your social calm. As always, I appreciate your ratings and comments on iTunes and SoundCloud or wherever you might be listening to this. It means a lot to me. I'm looking forward to being back in the United States next week. And well, that's what's on my mind today. Instagram marketing, if you've been thinking about it, too. I'd love to hear your experiences, what's been working for you what's not been working for you. But until next time, everybody. I'm going to try to weather through this typhoon looks like it's sort of heading out of Osaka now. So should be able to go outside soon. But wherever you are in the world, stay dry. And as I always say, make it a great social Day, everybody. Till next time. Bye bye. Thanks for listening to maximize your social. We appreciate all of your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you would like to appear on the show or recommend content, please contact Neal Schaffer at Neal at maximize your social calm. Please also make sure to check out Neil's new community, the Social Media Center of Excellence at social media ce o e.com. As well as Neil's social media conference, the social tools Summit, which will be in San Francisco on October 27 and 28th.