The first ads hit Instagram this winter. Did you notice? Hopefully not.
There’s a lot of buzz surrounding how brands should use Instagram ads and if “favorites” or “followers” actually translates into dollars. I think I have déjà vu…Do you remember when people asked if “likes” or “retweets” meant anything? Then people started to realize that brand loyalty and customer engagement across social platforms measured up to business expectations. In my opinion, especially on Instagram, the answer is yes…”favorites” and “followers” mean that a consumer is interested. Instagram offers brands a very unique opportunity – the challenge to be thought provoking, genuine and strategic with the end goal of followers seeking them out in the marketplace (after they see the photo/video featuring the brand).
Now, users have a different opinion. The big bad advertising giant has once again infiltrated another social media platform. “Why can’t there just be something that doesn’t have advertising?” Little do they realize, they’ve engaged with advertising on Instagram for quite some time now. Think about this…
Some of the top 10 followed brands on Instagram are:
Before November, these brands were sharing photos/videos of their latest products using artsy filters and clever descriptions…just like everyone else on Instagram. These brand images received thousands of likes and people openly (without any thought) engaged with the brands.
Interestingly enough, four out of the five Kardashian sisters (Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie) fall within the top 10 people followed on Instagram. For quite some time, the Kardashians have shared numerous updates about themselves, the clothes they wear and the makeup they love…all conveniently part of their brand empire. See the connection?
Lastly, users are walking brand posters on Instagram. Look at the 43,017 posts for #michaelkorswatch or the 400,241 posts for #gap. People like to flaunt their favorite brands, which their followers see, favorite and wish they had. Furthermore increasing the brands awareness and engagement.
So, where do Instagram ads fit into this? Brands need to continue using the platform for what it’s for – sharing likeable, desirable, eye-catching content. The only difference is that these photos/videos now show up in targeted user’s feeds even if they aren’t following the brand. That’s the challenge. Brands need to approach Instagram in the way users do. When people see an ad, they shouldn’t notice it’s an ad. They should think: “I want that!” “Who sells that?” “Cute!” “How do I get that?” And (if the content is genuine), just like their friends sharing photos of their latest birthday gift or overseas adventure, users will “favorite” brand content will feel like they are “in the know” and hope that someday they can have __________, too.