As overwhelming as those numbers can sound for brands hoping to forge their way into relevancy through social media, standing out IS still possible. While there is no magic pill to turn you into the top dog on social media, our team has compiled a handful of tools to help your brand break through the digital clutter.
1. Prioritize One-on-One Connections Through Direct Messaging
Follow this exercise with us: Go into your personal Instagram Direct Messages (DMs) and see how many times you have sent or received an Instagram post. For me, it’s mostly memes and restaurants to add to my list of must-visits, but this exercise shows that so much of the conversation on social media platforms are happening within private messages.
This isn’t a new revelation — just look at the uprising of more intimate forms of social media communication like Snapchat, Messenger and WhatsApp (or, more casually, the phenomenon of “sliding into” one’s DMs as a way to isolate a private conversation).
As much as this is a peer-to-peer activity, there’s growing merit and opportunity for brands to engage via DMs, as well. For TBA Outdoors client frogg toggs, countless partnerships, brand ambassadors, pieces of shared content and opportunities have been born out of either proactive or reactive Instagram Direct Messages.
Consumers catch on quick — after constantly hearing from brands to “message us details” about an experience or issue, they are now programmed to skip the step of publicly addressing their concerns, instead going directly through social media messaging to seek restitution. As someone who manages online brand reputation, this is a welcome consumer adaptation.
Why else should you focus on a direct messaging strategy? Because like its counterparts Facebook and WhatsApp, Instagram is likely to follow suit in introducing sponsored messages and ad placements there.
This inevitable integration could be a major advertising opportunity — and a major time-saver for Instagram marketers. The more ad space, the more places to reach users — and the more diverse the digital-advertising opportunities.
2. Go Where Your Competition Is NOT
It’s simple: The less crowded the space, the more opportunity to shine and OWN that space. While just what this “space” is may vary from brand to brand, the concept is easy to grasp and identify with a little bit of digging on your competition.
The amount of free/inexpensive competitor tracking available at our fingertips is mind-blowing. For TBA Outdoors, we enlist a competitors report tool to get a pulse on competitors’ habits, post frequency, most engaging content and more. By examining such reports and stalking competitor actions within native social media platforms, we’ve been able to glean valuable insights and identify new opportunities to make a splash on social media.
To further gush about frogg toggs, we noticed that a handful of our direct competitors were not utilizing Instagram Stories to its fullest potential, nor publishing exclusive content to their IGTV channels. With this in mind, we beefed up our strategy to include daily Stories and launched the popular frogg toggs Outdoor Television series to not only YouTube, but to IGTV, as well, to get more eyes on our content. Since most brands aren’t making the most of IGTV yet, brands that do will have less competition for views.
From 2016 to 2017, the number of people using Stories across all social networks grew 15 times faster than news feeds. Now, Instagram Stories boast over 500 million active users … daily.
“We expect Stories are on track to overtake posts in feeds as the most common way that people share across all social apps.” — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Instagram Stories are not only a headlining way to show an authentic view of your brand, but also another avenue toward monetizing the platform. Make use of product stickers, swipeable links, countdowns, @mentions and more directly within your Stories to extend your brand message far beyond pretty photos — and make some money doing it.
3. Invest in Platform-Specific Asset Creation
Let’s face it — if your photos and videos look amateurish, your brand will be associated with mediocrity. Prioritizing ongoing high-resolution content development, you’re not only crafting one hell of an Instagram feed, but you’re also building an evergreen arsenal of assets for use on your brand website, in email marketing, in paid placements, etc.
In this same vein, while creating this beautiful content, ensure that you are crafting photos and videos to fit each platform’s specs. Keep it horizontal on Twitter. Keep it square or vertical on Facebook and Instagram. The internet has plenty of social media spec sheets, so if your content is not scaled appropriately for each platform, the only excuse is laziness.
Additionally, it’s important to realize that people who are following brands on multiple platforms are not doing so to see the same content posted verbatim to each platform. Each platform you enlist for your brand should showcase different content, offers or messaging. Give people a reason to expand beyond that Facebook “like,” and get them consuming your awesome Tweets or buzz-worthy Instagram shots.
4. Segment Your Diverse Audience for More Personalization
The more popular your brand gets on social media, the more diverse your audience becomes. With Facebook’s robust targeting tools, it’s easier than ever to tailor paid placements to each individual consumer. While brand reach on Facebook is increasingly becoming a paid world, there are still ways to zero in on target audiences with non-paid efforts.
One way to segment your messaging through organic Facebook efforts is to introduce unpublished posts to your strategy. Unpublished posts (or “dark” posts) do not require additional budgeting but still allow you to tailor messaging to specific audiences using demographic, location and interest indicators. The “unpublished” part of this equation means that the crafted Facebook post will not be published to your brand’s timeline or the newsfeed of your audience at large; it will instead only serve impressions to those within your identified targeting parameters.
I’m big into examples if I haven’t made that clear yet. Here’s a scenario to make practical sense of an unpublished post application:
Your brand is attending a small trade show in North Carolina next month. Do your 3,000 Facebook fans who live in Seattle care? Possibly, however it’s unlikely that they will make the cross-country trip to be in attendance, so blanketing your ENTIRE Facebook audience with a message to “come see you at the booth” isn’t the best use of your time or precious newsfeed space. This is a case where your brand can use unpublished posts to promote your trade show attendance only to the venue’s drivable markets for a better return.
Another tactic brands are getting on board with is creating specialized Instagram profiles for different disciplines under the same brand umbrella.
Whoops — another frogg toggs mention: In January 2019, we created @froggtoggsfish and @froggtoggshunt Instagram channels to fuel these specific passions within our audience set. We understood that our audience was made up of casual and avid hunters and fishermen, hikers, outdoor lovers, soccer moms, kayakers, adventurers, etc. Though WE may love images of turkey corpses, moms who rock frogg toggs’ rainwear at youth football games or are searching for hot-weather accessories don’t need to see turkey spurs taking over their feed for three months of the year.