Because social media is evolving so quickly, it's to be expected that even Facebook - the king of social from a business-building or marketing standpoint - is inevitably going to experience some growing pains. Earlier in April, they admitted they were worried about the decline in original sharing, while their growth chart from 2011 to 2014 shows they're not doing as well with current high school-aged kids:
Two companies with close ties to Facebook - one that it owns (Instagram), and one that it considered buying (Snapchat) - are fast becoming the new darlings of the social block, and as such, it's becoming increasingly important that businesses understand how they can leverage these platforms for their outreach efforts.
I'll divide this overview into three categories: 1) Concepts that apply to both platforms, 2) Snapchat Marketing best practices, and 3) Instagram Marketing best practices.
1. Concepts that Apply to Both Platforms
Snapchat and Instagram are both, at their core, about the power of the visual, individual brand. This is important to understand, because oftentimes when we say 'content marketing,' people assume we're discussing written materials like blogs, case studies, manuals, brochures, flyers, etc. In reality, visual forms of content are equally, if not more, important. Consider this infographic:
As you can see in the top line, the human brain processes images 60x faster than words, while 92% of consumers want ads that feel like a story. There's also a whole section here on the power of storytelling in terms of impact on your brain.
What we can take away from this is:
- Storytelling is crucial for reaching consumers
- Visual storytelling is extremely powerful and processed faster
Both Snapchat and Instagram are enable brands to leverage these two factors.
And here's the other important aspect of both platforms: you can leverage other brands' and events with your content by telling a compelling visual story within the context of trends, thus becoming part of the wider discussion, which can deliver big benefits for your brand. This is most directly demonstrated with Snapchat's Stories, where a brand can post from an event or around a topic and get immediate traction by being included in the wider Snapchat discussion around it. The same is possible on Instagram, especially since the release of their curated collections of topical content, which was launched in June last year.
And one final crucial aspect applying to both platforms: there's a massive opportunity for creative professionals to become 'brands' themselves by telling a daily visual story. I talked about this recently on the Business of Art podcast. But think about it: Lily Singh parlayed her work on YouTube and Snapchat into a deal with Coca-Cola, for example. Joey Graffeca started on Instagram as an attempt to escape bullying, and now has 2.4M followers and a book deal.
2. Snapchat Marketing Best Practices
There's been a lot of writing in the last year about how older users are confused by Snapchat (which may be somewhat true), and similar writing about how it doesn't make sense from a branding standpoint, since Snaps only exist for 10 seconds at a time (and 24 hours, max, within a Story). In reality, though, it makes tremendous sense from a brand standpoint - since messages only exist for 10 seconds, and users know that, their full attention is paid to the messaging as it's being presented. That's a huge deal, because in standard messaging/advertising, the end user might not be fully engaged. Because of this immediate, live, quick and focused interaction, brands and individuals can do a lot to creatively leverage their position with a user. One of my colleagues, Ted Rubin, has repeatedly called Snapchat "the most social" of the social networks, and I'd agree. It's such a direct, quick, focused commitment around content - and features like lenses and geo-filters allow for so much creativity and fun, keeping users consistently engaged. You don't always see that with Facebook, even though the potential reach is significantly bigger.
3. Instagram Marketing Best Practices
Instagram isn't for every brand, and that's an important place to start. If you sell something that isn't visually appealing (or is hard to make visually appealing), you're better off focusing on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms - relative to your core business/service.
Instagram's been huge for leveling the playing field in areas such as design, DIY, clothing, jewelry, fashion, etc. Artists of all kinds can gain influence and new fans/customers simply by sharing something beautiful or a story around its creation. People will respond and tag their friends; this happens every minute on the platform. Limelight Extensions, a salon in Michigan, regularly posts pictures of employees with zany hair extensions. One post - just one - led to about $10,000 in sales, by their estimation.
The key focus of both Snapchat and Instagram is that they're visual platforms, but they're also organic ones. Users want to see creative, different concepts, they don't want to see the same old ads and ideas they see on more mainstream social platforms or on other websites they visit (such as publishers). If you can leverage creativity and organic 'conversation' around a visual story, you can be successful on these two platforms - and that's crucial for brand-building, whether it's individual or for an organization.
I welcome your comments and of course to engage with me directly in social media. In fact, I would love to hear your own Instagram and Snapchat stories. How you have you leveraged these powerful social networks to drive customer engagement?