Over the years, social media marketing has become an essential part of any digital marketing effort. Most major companies now have social media departments, and it should come as no surprise that social networks have increasingly worked their way into the lives of consumers and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. It is essential to keep social media marketing efforts current by monitoring trends in the social media landscape. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook are now staples in the social media marketing repertoire, but two platforms with impressive reach and user engagement have recently begun to embrace advertising: Instagram and Snapchat.
As of December 2014, Instagram had more than 300 million active users and Snapchat was nearing 200 million. Both platforms are visual content based, which studies have shown to be incredibly effective for marketing efforts. Marketers that use visual content can expect an increase in social media engagement. Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram give brands the opportunity to better define their visual personas with the help of consumer engagement.
Instagram ran its first sponsored ad in 2013 for Michael Kors, and while the designer received initial pushback for using sponsored advertising, he gained 34,000 followers within 18 hours of running the ad. Brands have been using the platform for sponsored advertising ever since, and sponsored posts from brands regularly appear in the feeds of Instagram users. On Instagram, brands can market through their social media accounts, through sponsored posts and influencer marketing. Instagram is even set to overtake Google in the display ad business. A study conducted by eMarketer found that Instagram will earn 2.81 billion dollars in ad revenues by 2017.
Snapchat has only recently attempted to make the transition to an advertising platform. In June of this year, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel pitched his social network’s advertising potential to the Cannes Lions advertising festival. Snapchat marketed this potential with its 3V campaign: Vertical, Video, Views. Snapchat guarantees that ads will always be full screen, user choice, made for mobile and play with sound. Brands have the option to advertise in the new Discover channels in Snapchat, and in Snapchat Stories. It’s still early to tell whether Snapchat’s advertising gamble will pay off and brands express concern over their lack of ability to target ads. However, marketers cannot ignore the platform’s reach and potential as a visual content marketing goldmine.
How should brands market using Snapchat and Instagram? They must always keep two things in mind: context and content. Context in the form of audience, brand identity, and trending topics. Content in the form of visually engaging and compelling images and videos. Millennials can quickly identify and reject marketing efforts that are stiff and ill-suited to their audience and environment.
Instagram works with companies producing sponsored content to ensure that this doesn’t happen. Brands work directly with the platform’s ad team to create content that engages users rather than makes them scroll quickly away. Marketers creating content for both Instagram and Snapchat should keep this process in mind and always ask if their content is compelling and right for the intended audience.
Both platforms also lend themselves well to influencer marketing. Influencer marketing allows brands to tap people that already have the ear of audiences that brands want, incorporating them into the marketing strategy. Studies show that Millennials are more likely to trust a stranger that is also a consumer over a brand. Influencers have the trust and loyalty of millions of followers and know what kind of content works for their audience and offer a great way to build relationships with new customers. Brands should try to optimize reach and relevancy. Choosing influencers based on numbers alone is ill-advised because the audiences may not be right for the brand.
For marketers trying to stay relevant in 2015, Instagram and Snapchat may be the next big thing. Just remember to keep content and context in mind.