Instagram

Insta-Game Changer

Today Instagram announced the long awaited confirmation of the beta rollout of Checkout on Instagram. There’s been rumbling in the industry for months about Instagram’s desire to push in-app ecommerce sales and it’s finally becoming a reality.  A select list of top brand partners will now allow users to shop right in the app. This tactic is a win for everyone involved and has been much sought after.  Providing in-app checkout is a great way for brands to encourage shopping with the ability to customize content based on user profiles. It also allows Instagram users to keep scrolling longer, eliminating the need to leave the platform for additional product information or purchases.  But most importantly, it provides a more personalized experience for the users while simplifying the shopping experience.

So how does it work?  The new checkout option will be an extension of the existing shopping tags already in place and will now include a “Checkout on Instagram” button in the post,  allowing for purchase completion within the platform. User information will be securely stored on Instagram to make future purchases for any participating brands that much easier.  Although this is only being extended to select brands while in beta, it’s definitely a play to become more competitive in the ecommerce space while leveraging the growing audience already in place.

The continued push for social ecommerce has the potential to be a big revenue driver for both Instagram and businesses.  With Instagram users expected to reach 113.3 million US users in 2019, according to eMarketer, it only makes sense to provide in-app conveniences to users which keep them engaged.  Since Instagram is personalized according to your interests, retailers have access to detailed user data that gives them significant advantages in what products or services they promote and to which audiences turning casual viewers into loyal brand shoppers.

Integrating social and ecommerce is the match we’ve been longing for.  In a market where consumers expect personalization at every interaction and have been conditioned for immediate gratification in their online experience, this pairing is sure to resonate with users.  

Leveraging Platforms for March Basketball Hysteria

Basketball viewing during the March tournaments used to be restricted to only the game(s) that were playing on cable at the time. Now, fans have the ability to watch multiple games on various devices while staying up-to-date with bracket-busting news via social media.

Social platforms alone have become a hot spot for hoops hysteria.  During the 2015 tournament, there were 350 million impressions on Facebook and Twitter, according to Koeppel Direct. In 2017, March Madness Live (MML) brought in 69.1 million live streams. All the excitement is prime opportunity for brands to leverage the influx of users streaming the live action and catching up on the day’s wins and losses. To help your brand slam dunk its campaign, we’ve provided some strategy tips.

Facebook

Facebook profiles are full of customer-specific data, including a user's college history and location, which provides ready-made segments for your ads. This presents a variety of strategic campaign options to appeal to various audiences.

A company selling sports gear, for example, can create Syracuse Orangemen ads for Syracuse alum, or a travel agency can create an ad for a Final Four trip aimed at fans vying for the chance to see the games in person.

Instagram

Instagram has access to Facebook data allowing for similar segmenting of users.  It also presents the opportunity to leverage trending hashtags around game excitement.  Adding a relevant hashtag to your message can tie basketball and your brand together. The searchability increases your brand presence when used correctly.  For example, Acme Footwear asked users to pick the game winner by combining the predicted winning team name with its company name for responses like #dukeacme. Fans love to show their team fandom and get excited to be a part of the celebration.

YouTube

To get the most bang for your buck, consider launching a campaign via YouTube during the tourney.  With audience-specific targeting available, you can show ads to users who have watched a specific video or tournament related content.  You can also leverage remarketing capabilities to further your reach.

Digital Video Ads

With people now watching sports via live-streaming channels at all hours, digital video ads are a great way to stay in front of consumers.  This spans platforms, increasing opportunity for exposure. Facebook, for example, will interrupt a live stream with breaks for ads. Since viewers are already engaged in the game and ads are limited, you have a captive audience who are more likely to remember your brand and product.

The hype surrounding bracket success, or the sleeper team that’s sure to be a bracket buster, presents a great opportunity to reach consumers with fun and memorable ad experience.  Fans are engaged and playing into the excitement is sure to be a marketing win.

How to Use Instagram to Grow Ecommerce Sales

Instagram sees engagement from over one billion active users every month, offering brands a unique opportunity to interact with potential customers right where they are. Instagram's visual-heavy platform can be harnessed to boost ecommerce sales driven by social engagement. These five methods can help your business develop an Instagram strategy that increases conversions, drives sales and creates loyal customers. 

Create a Business Account

If your business is still relying on a personal Instagram account to drive ecommerce, it's your first priority to make the switch to a business account. Instagram's business accounts have access to advanced features such as Instagram Insights, promoted posts, and the ability to include contact information.

To switch, log in to your Instagram account and go to settings. Tap “Switch to Business Profile.” Here, Instagram will prompt you to connect to your business Facebook page, choose a category for your business, and fill in your contact details. You'll be able to start running ads and obtaining audience insights immediately.

Curate Your Instagram Aesthetic

Instagram is a visual medium, and it's important that each image or video shared is artfully crafted individually and displays a cohesive visual theme for your business account.

Drive ecommerce sales by portraying your products in their best light, in ways that appeal to your customers. Curate an artistic vision for your brand by including posts and images that aren't quite so promotional as well. An aspirational photo or conversational post can encourage customer engagement with the brand.

Tag Products Within the Instagram Post

The ability to tag products within an Instagram post is a major benefit of converting to a business account. With product tagging enabled, your customers have a direct path to purchasing the featured product on your own website or via Facebook's Catalog.

 To use Instagram Shopping, you must first connect your business profile to a Facebook Catalog. Products that have been added to the Catalog can then be tagged in an Instagram post, up to five per single image or video.

 Research and Target Hashtags

 Similar to keyword targeting for search engine optimization, Instagram hashtags allow your content to appear in searches by potential customers on the platform. Researching these keywords takes a familiar path towards identifying the topics your customers are searching for and targeting trending social media hashtags.

Utilize Instagram Advertising

Instagram offers its business accounts a number of ways to advertise to potential customers. Within the Ads Manager, your business profile can set up, run, and track campaigns using the same targeting tools offered on Facebook.

Instagram ads appear directly in user feeds, either as an Instagram Story, a photo, or a video up to 60 seconds in length. A highly integrated Collection Ad can combine video and images to allow potential customers to browse your product catalog from within their Instagram feeds.

Whether your business invests in Instagram advertising or takes an organic approach to driving traffic, it's clear consumers enjoy being inspired by brands within their Instagram feeds. You can help your customers complete their purchases by using Instagram's business account tools for driving ecommerce sales.

2018 Review - The Year in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing had a tumultuous time in 2018. Technology moved into new areas for growth over the past year that affected the way we shop, communicate, and live. From the growth in artificial intelligence and automated voice systems to live video and changes in Facebook’s algorithms, it was clearly a year to remember in digital circles. Let’s take a closer look.

Facebook's News Feed Algorithm Changes

This year started with a shock when Facebook announced changes in its feed algorithm to promote more content from local news sources, friends, and family for “more meaningful social interactions.” Facebook also wanted to lessen the number of publishers’ news items in feeds, and the company may have wanted to thwart the rise of hackers and bots as well. Regardless, the January move by Facebook threw a wrench into marketers’ plans for the year, creating a period of adjustment. This link shows all of Facebook’s algorithm updates over the years.

AdWords Grew Into Google Ads

In mid-year, Google announced it was switching the nearly 20-year old brand “AdWords” to the simpler “Google Ads.” Google said the change reflected that its ads are all over the digital landscape now in web display and video ads, text and shopping, and even in app installations; ads are not just words on search platforms. Today’s web advertisers with Google can now run ads on Google’s search platform, on apps and websites, in Gmail, and on a variety of YouTube offerings. The name change represents a shift in digital thinking for marketers, and one that will likely pay big dividends to Google in the years ahead.

AI Technology Growth

Another huge trend in 2018 was the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology by marketers across our data streams. Increasingly, companies are using smart systems, chatbots, and devices for more accurate customer segmentation and improved customer interactions.

We all contribute to the increase in AI when we personalize our recommendations on services like Netflix and Hulu. Other brands including Hilton, Levi Strauss and Co., and Nordstrom are using AI in chatbots to customize sales interactions with customers. Look for this digital marketing category to expand in 2019 and 2020.

Smart Speakers and Voice Search

In just two years, smart speakers have invaded our homes. Today, nearly 50 million Americans own a smart speaker, and that number will likely increase as people get more comfortable with sharing their living spaces with these devices.

Voice search is also growing fast. Web research firm Comscore predicts that more than half of all searches by 2020 will not be done by type or text but by voice. You are already seeing more people at work talking into their devices on search requests. It has become as commonplace as our desktop searches were a decade ago. Marketers will have to adapt to reaching consumers on smart speakers in the home.

Growth in Instagram Stories and Live Video Outlets

Another trend we saw in 2018 was the rapid rise in the use of live video and Instagram Stories. The number of users who create live video on their mobile phones and share with the world rose dramatically in 2018.

Google’s YouTube is the frontrunner in live video, dominating the amount of time spent by users watching video online.

The number of daily active users on Instagram Stories rose to some 400 million, Instagram reported in August. That’s from a universe of over a billion active monthly users. By contrast, Snapchat finished the third quarter with just 186 million daily active users.

Marketers are following those numbers, too. eMarketer noted that 86 percent of marketers use Facebook and almost 70 percent of marketers use Instagram. Only 28 percent of marketers use Snapchat. 

Personalizing the Consumer Experience

A growing trend in 2018 was the increase in personalization in many of our customer experiences. With our mobile devices and search immediacy, we are able to move quickly between purchase considerations and actual purchases. Increasingly, our expectations have risen across all our customer experiences. The winners will be those businesses that can deliver on the personalization process.

Marketers recognize this and have advanced to using SMS messaging, mobile apps, social media, and voice automation to personalize their communications with us as consumers. It’s a world in which we’re becoming increasingly comfortable, and we anticipate more of these personal customer journey touchpoints around us in the coming year.

Boosting Social Media Marketing Efforts With IGTV

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In June, Instagram marked two peaks in its 8-year history. The popular social media site reached a new milestone of one billion users, and it announced the launch of Instagram TV, or IGTV. Described by some as a hybrid between Instagram Stories (the circles of your friends at the top of your feed) and YouTube, IGTV offers plenty of new marketing opportunities for advertisers who use Instagram in their social media marketing strategies.

Advertisers and publishers have moved quickly to explore IGTV over the past month because it provides a much wider canvas on which to work. One reason for the fast attraction is that IGTV's time lengths for videos have been extended. Before, branded videos on Instagram were kept simple, adhering to the platform's 1-minute limit. Now, IGTV offers everyone a 10-minute minimum time limit — and for some premium advertisers, a 60-minute time limit on videos.

As Advertising Age points out, this may lead to experimentation by brands to take full advantage of the 1-hour time length with off-the-wall videos, like the one the article features of teen star Cole Sprouse eating a hamburger for an hour.

What Is IGTV? 

IGTV is a new platform from Instagram dedicated to videos. It gives brands and everyday social media influencers the opportunity to expand brand presence on Instagram TV. The new TV format is designed for viewing on your mobile phone.

How Does IGTV work?

To get started on IGTV, go into your Instagram brand account and click the TV icon on the top right. Follow the prompts in Instagram to set up the channel. You don't get to pick a new name—the channel is the account name. When you are ready to shoot a new clip or upload an existing clip, use the "upload video" prompt that appears. Note that you can upload from a desktop browser at Instagram.com. Here is a step-by-step guide to the IGTV upload process.

Remember, this format is geared toward seeing original vertical videos. Brands that have hundreds of horizontal videos can still upload these clips, but users will have to turn their smartphones sideways to watch them.

If you're looking to make the most of your social media marketing efforts on this new platform, here are some IGTV tips.

Offer brand-related tips or use your IGTV video to share a key point about your brand or product. Keep it simple, funny, or unique. Try different ways to grab people's attention, because a swipe right will happen faster on IGTV than with a remote channel switcher.

Teach viewers how to use products. Why not offer tips for viewers on how to use the product or service? Show the product or service in action, in its actual environment. Let viewers see some things they might not know about your product. From home and garden items to software essentials, showing how your product is best used is natural for marketers using IGTV.

Interview experts or tell personal stories. Another way to experiment with IGTV is to use the brand channel to tell personal stories that can relate to the brand (or not). Invite some of the brand team experts to share their favorite stories about working with that particular product. Or you might choose to interview the brand's CEO to talk about how the product is created. A behind-the-scenes view of a top brand is always an interesting view.

Display brand culture and products with crisply edited videos. Show your brand culture and products using high-quality, professionally produced videos. Mixing these high-quality productions with mobile phone clips from your phone can help to balance the feel of your channel.

As of mid-July, IGTV is not showing any advertising. This is an opportunity for brands to upload their previous ads to their IGTV channels to give it that traditional TV experience that we know and love. You can also contact Adtaxi if you have any questions on using IGTV. You can bet there will be more developments in this fast-moving niche.