On the decreasing value of Instagram followers…

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It seems like all any brand wants to talk about these days, is growing their Instagram follower numbers. So many are caught up in that vanity metric and are losing sight of some of the more important elements such as engagement, reach and the emergence of the platform’s awesome Ad’s platform.

If you are growing a follower base of highly engaged users who want to hear about your brand, that is great. The problem is that most of your followers aren’t even seeing your content these days as Instagram constantly adjusts its algorithm and more and more brands and users are publishing content. It is just very difficult to get your content in front of those user’s eyes.

Many experts predict that the platform is also most likely going to migrate to a real pay to play model next year, (remember, they are owned by Facebook who did the same years back) whereas you will need to pay for content to be seen by targeted audiences. As a marketer who is well versed on their ads platform, I think it is great as they are teeing up very affordable ways to target super specific audiences.

If/when this happens, your follower count will be as irrelevant as your fan count on Facebook. If your metric for success on Instagram is follower numbers then you are swimming against the tide here. You should be focused more on your ability to reach audiences with your messages, and less on aggregating that follower count number on your own account.

We are big fans of Iconosquare here at Sircle and they just released some new tools to help you delve deeper into your Instagram metrics and performance. One standout is their reachability report, which we screenshot and added below:

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This is from a client of ours with over 30,000 followers on Instagram. As you can see, about 45% of their audience is deemed “rarely reachable” or “unreachable”, meaning their content is almost never seen by almost half of their audience.  Upon deeper investigation you can see their average reach per post and average reach rate below:

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The image on the left shows the average number of people who have seen one of their posts in the last 30 days. The image on the right shows the average reach rate per post, which is the number of people who have seen the post divided by their number of followers.  Both are in the 20% neighborhood which means 1 out of every 5 followers.

For this same account, we currently average $4 CPM’s with IG Ad’s.  That means that for $24 we could hit 6000 users and those would be more targeted and valuable than their follower base, which has been collected over the past few years. Also, when we gift and/or collaborate with influencers in the 50-100K follower range, we see similar exposure too.

The bottomline is that while Instagram follower count growth feel nice, it packs much less of a value punch than most think. As brands contemplate the ROI and value of social media and start planning for Q4 and/or 2018, they might want to revisit that as a KPI or at least move it way down in the pecking order.  If it is targeted reach they are after, there are better options and they don’t even need to leave the Instagram platform.

#Facts

 

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On understanding digital, for your business…

Almost every single meeting I go to these days, involves a conversation around brands wanting to grow their own e-commerce, so they have more margin control and customer data that is truly their’s, rather than a partner like Amazon’s. The problem is that most founders, brand managers and even CMO’s lack the digital chops to get it done. That is not an insult, just an observation from the field.

Truth is there are plenty of great branders and marketers out there who never had to learn digital, especially this current landscape we live in. Nowadays many are just a bit outside of their comfort zone. As a result, they either try silo’d tactics with shiny platforms like Curalate, HubSpot, Mixpanel, Bounce Exchange etc., that ultimately fail because they are not part of a bigger, more strategic plan OR just sit on the sidelines and don’t actually do what they know deep down needs to be done.

We created a product called The Digital Deep Dive a couple of years back to help brands change that trajectory and get a handle on their digital footprint. With each passing month the need gets stronger and the ecosystem becomes more diverse and difficult to navigate. You must be looking under the hood to assess if you are doing things the right way and that you are setup to win. It is not a complex concept and the impact is a powerful and meaningful one for any online business.

Ready to get serious about content, analytics, email, marketing and conversions?  Just DIVE in!

 

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On seeing the light with dark posting…

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If you are not deploying Facebook Dark Posts into your paid social efforts, you are missing the boat. As a reminder, Dark Posts are News Feed style ads that look just like regular fan page posts, but actually go unpublished to your page. So they don’t show up on your Timeline or in your fans’ feeds organically. They are essentially dark to your page and only visible to the targeted audience you choose to show them to. They can only be created in the Power Editor, which means you need more that a layman’s level skillset to bring them to life. It is important to take the time to start learning how to do them or find a partner who can execute them for you. #facts

They are great tools for A/B testing creative and copy, especially if you want to really speak directly to a specific subset. Let’s say you post on your timeline and want to promote a protein product. When creating the post, you need to have the asset and langue be universal and applicable to all viewers so you don’t alienate parts of your audience. With a dark post though, you can go very specific (i.e. Are you a woman in your 30′s who likes to shop at Whole Foods?”) which as you can imagine is highly effective at capturing the attention of users that fit that profile.  The possibilities are endless.

One highly effective usage case we like to deploy for our clients, is promoting retailer relationships. First off, that is a mission critical component to the success of the brand, because if they don’t help massage velocity reports at their retail partners, they could end up off of their shelves. Buyers these days will ask brands about their social presence and will often look at follower counts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook as a proxy for their brand’s social prowess. To be honest that is the wrong metric for success in this equation. It is irrelevant how many followers they have, what matters is how many people they reach. If a brand can show a buyer that they have figured out how to support their orders with hyper local and narrowly targeted ads, that facilitate awareness and foot traffic, then they really pique the interest of those buyers, most of whom have never heard of dark posting in the first place.

Below is an example of a campaign we created for our client Kidfresh Foods, to support one of their biggest retailers, Walmart. We targeted fans of Walmart and added in some other qualifiers too (can’t share it all with you here) who live in specific geo-targeted areas. We then made sure the copy and asset had the retailer’s name most prominent so we could capture the attention of those users, on the back of their household name. We included the two most important brand messages; the fact that they are tasty (they really are BTW) and that they can be found in the frozen aisle. These are two key messaging hurdles that the client feels are most important to convey via social and we put them front and center with this Ad.

The post was a real success. It reached 40,000+ people and earned a ton of engagement, including a lot of shares and comments, which were almost entirely super positive. It served up a number of opportunities for us to go in and answer questions and/or strike up a real dialogue with our fans and local consumers, which is the whole point of social media in the first place.  Added bonus: this one dark post created a nice audience of “people who recently engaged with our page” that we can specifically target with additional messaging now too.

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We then took these findings (with proof of concept in hand) and ran them back against all of their key retailers. We also gave their sales team a real weapon to show to new prospects and buyers out in the field.  This is a real winner when it comes to converting those types of sales and helps the company grow.

If you aren’t pivoting, learning and adjusting to the new ways of marketing and using tools like Dark Posts, then it could be lights out for your brand.  See what we did there? ;)

 

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