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Are Your Ingredients Right for Instagram?

As 2014 pans out to be the year that Instagram gears up to transition from a strictly consumer focused platform to a more serious revenue generating tool, one of top five U.S. mega fast-food brands in the U.S. had a chance to get a taste of what other junk foods might be facing as they begin to advertise on this youth-heavy channel.

With Instagram being such a real-time, young and playful, yet highly valued branding platform, it takes a special kind of flavor for advertisers to be accepted on it. IG demonstrates a vulnerability for fast-food type establishments with a cause of backlash. With hand-picked stream of preferences, users aren’t used to seeing uninvited images of quick-fix foods to purchase as they scroll for picturesque sexy shots of friends, fashion and inspirational quotes. 

However, this hasn’t been the case for all foods being advertising on IG. Many indie and wellness brands have done tremendously well on this mainstream channel, as well as some bigger players. Ben & Jerry’s the epitomic brand of fun, quality and values has had huge success on this social channel and has received a different type of feedback from Instagram users when they ran their first campaign: the brand reached 9.8 million people and 33 percent of those who saw more than one ad remembered seeing a Ben & Jerry’s ad and were able to identify the advertised flavor. (Source: Sprout Social.)

The McDs sponsored post had 45,347 likes and 1,941 comments, most of which were negative from users who were ticked off by seeing a McDonald’s ad in their newsfeeds. (Source: AdWeek.) 

Coincidentally, Ben & Jerry’s alto proudly touts B Corporation and is recognized as the highest standard for social corporate responsibility. Incidentally it is also owned by a national global brand Unilever, which is quite rare for this scale of a product. Ben & Jerry’s brand evokes feelings of happiness from the way the flavors of their ice cream make you feel and also for what they represent. Being likeable with their audiences is a natural bi-product of the company, because they are selling more than goods they are selling values.Potentially just a few consumers speak out yet they are representative of an audience that says ‘something is not working’. Prior to showing a logo in the stream of unsuspecting users on Instagram this use case gives an opportunity for companies reevaluate where they stand for, what they represent, and if they really define the kind of direct and democratized environment that social media has facilitated for the consumer.

There’s tremendous opportunity for companies of that size to not only innovate, but to keep their place and stay relevant by keeping the doors open be reevaluating what it is they are really bringing to the table. Having a network of industry peers guided by experts may offer one way to stay resilient for brands in this time of great change, learning from more nimble community-oriented models becomes the solution du jour. ‘The churn of businesses in and out of the Fortune 1000 list is increasing as businesses fail to listen to and engage with their customers in the ways their customers expect ‘ as Brian Solis points out.

As more disruptive modern, well-adjusted companies move in, the old approach of strictly maximizing profit and passive customers is making way for companies who are are ready to embrace change that the use of new technologies permit, to dig deeper and to breakdown the ingredients of which they are made. For companies formed in the middle of last century that haven’t fully adjusted to the sustainably-motivated reality that we live in today can take a seat at a roundtable discussion with more conscious organizations and pave the way to approach their advertising from a totally different perspective in order to stay relevant.  

‘People are empowered by social networks, mobile devices, online marketplaces, and other new technologies. We believe this movement will have significant impacts to current business. We believe that brands can still have a place in this new ecosystem, which we call the Collaborative Economy’, Jeremiah Owyang Founder of Crowd Companies.

Traditional models of excluding the actual customers from decision-making process of output are becoming the way for a new way of doing business, not as usual, but on demand, customized to end-users needs, preferences and long-term effects. As we move in this rapidly changing economy and as trendy new social networks become available, to avoid having marketing efforts fall flat and receive a swarm of backlash, the opportunity presents for companies to approach business from a totally different perspective to bring a revived holistic brand experience to their patrons.

Main image credit: Rhino Foods Inc.

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