30 Mar 2020
Today we’ll be talking about the main trends we can expect to see on Instagram this year: what content followers will need, where to get traffic for our accounts, how much it should cost, and how to measure advertising effectiveness. This will help both businesses that attract customers through corporate accounts and individuals developing their personal brands.
A maturing market
The market is getting wiser and more experienced. Advertisers are setting more requirements for the work of SMM specialists, especially with regard to results.
Old-fashioned KPIs expressed in terms of number of followers, which led to major fraud, are going out of fashion. But today mass following is dying out, and fraud is getting more expensive (after Instagram introduced fines, the price of fraud services skyrocketed, rising by a factor of 5-10). As time goes on, these approaches are being used less and less often.
You can no longer just pump up your number of followers by mixing in leads from mass following and bots. Now you need to use traditional targeting and work with bloggers, and advertising specialists finally need to learn to use these tools.
We see a huge trend in terms of education: there’s already a huge variety of courses and schools for marketing, SMM, and targeting, and this is leading to the emergence of more qualified specialists (and they’re starting to cost more).
One indicator that professionalism is on the rise is the emergence of clear KPIs and effectiveness indicators. We no longer measure the effectiveness of advertisements on the basis of fake followers, focusing instead on ER (Engagement Rate) and ROI (Return on Investment). These are clear indicators for both marketing and for a business as a whole.
Businesses need customers, not followers
Of course, we’re not saying that followers are no longer important, but there’s absolutely no point in running around trying to get hundreds of thousands of them.
Number of followers can be a more or less important metric for personal blogs; here the goal is to monetize the account, and for that to happen there needs to be an audience. Only then will advertisers be interested in the blog.
If we’re talking about the Instagram accounts of businesses (restaurants, beauty salons, stores, services and their brands), our goal is to understand that quantity is good, but what we need is quality. Sure, followers periodically turn into customers, but there isn’t 100% conversion. Our task is to invest in expanding our coverage so that as many people as possible find out about our brand and make contact with it.
Of course, for that to happen, first we need advertisements, after which we can assess their effectiveness. What we don’t need are cheating and giveaways; these are being left behind as obvious examples of favoring quantity over quality.
Understanding how budgets are created
SMM is often just one of several channels for attracting traffic, and it’s important for us to understand where we get the budget from, how we distribute it, and in what volumes.
Don’t pluck figures out of thin air! Always keep in mind the average check, the number of customers, and the segment. If you want to sell yachts, jewelry, luxury goods, or premium-class services, you’ll have to pay a commensurate amount to attract customers.
An approximate formula applies for most niches: the cost of attracting one customer can range from 20% to 50% of the revenue that they’ll bring you (measured by, for instance, the average check). If your customer has a certain LTV (lifetime value, the total profit you get from the customer over the entire period of your relationship), then the cost of attracting them can be 100% of the value of the first visit or purchase.
This doesn’t mean that ads are working badly. You attracted the customer, got a payment from them, and provided them something in return. Now your task is to provide high-quality services, get the customer’s contacts, interact with them, offer a loyalty system, and provide bonuses – that is, “work them over” properly. Then the customer will come to you 2, 5, or 10 more times, giving you their LTV, so it’s fine if attracting them cost as much as the first purchase.
Coverage continues to fall
Organic coverage is continuing to fall for every social network, and it’s not going to magically start growing again. Scaling viral processes is practically impossible. You can no longer rely on organic traffic for growth. It’ll only provide a small portion of total traffic, from 10% to 30% of your total followers. If you want to grow and expand, you’ll need to invest in advertising. As well as understand that if you just release content without hashtags, targeting, and bloggers, no one will see it.
It’s safe to say that UGC (user-generated content) will be one of the year’s key trends. Its main advantage is that it’s free.
Starbucks provides a good example of such content: signature cups, attractive presentation of drinks, and names written on drinks make the brand perfect for photos. For that reason, it gets a huge number of mentions on social media around the world.
Of course, we understand that Starbucks is a major company, and not everyone is able to reach the global scale. Still, remember that your customers are the best advertisers for your product. You’re not paying bloggers to advertise you; your customers are paying you because they consciously choose your product. Encourage the generation of such content. Create a separate feature in Stories and put similar content on your feed so that other users come to trust you. After all, this kind of content is as lively and sincere as it gets, and that’s what inspires trust.
Even content that isn’t generated by users needs to feel natural. Less Photoshop, more life. People have had enough of pretty, heavily processed pictures. You need to maintain a certain balance; avoid both trashiness and perfectionism. You don’t need to color-coordinate everything in your feed anymore. It’s alright to be a little messy. Or try to use a unified style for the content on your feed but film a live story to get people interested in interacting with you. People are living their lives, and they want to see that you’re just like them—genuine. Show them your employees, what goes on behind the scenes, what you do outside work.
By the way! More and more users are watching stories and ignoring feeds. The main rule you need to remember is this: take photos and videos vertically. That’s Instagram’s preferred format. It’s always better to crop a vertical image or video than to stretch a horizontal one so it fills the screen or to leave it tiny and indistinct.
Responding promptly and sales scripts
Instagram is a channel through which traffic arrives and gets processed, and your work with it needs to be as efficient and thoughtful as your work with other channels. For instance, when sales reps are working for us, we give them scripts to follow. It makes sense to do the same thing with Instagram.
Example. Some stores respond to user comments bluntly and drily. “How much does this dress cost?” a follower asks on the Instagram of a clothing store. “120,” the admin replies. That’s it.
We consider anyone who’s interested in a product or service a lead. Our task is to “work them over” to the full. Introduce scripts for handling comments and direct messages. Don’t wait three days to respond. The ideal time for reacting to a question is 15 minutes, before the person has time to choose something else.
Remember that you’re not the only one on Instagram, and if a user didn’t get a response, failed to find something, or wasn’t able to get an answer, they’ll go somewhere else and make a purchase there. Give an expansive answer, engage a user into the conversation: “This dress costs $120. Are you interested in this design in particular? If you like, I can show you some other colors.” Engage the user in dialogue so that they want to respond to you.
Advertisements are starting to resemble each other, using identical illustrations, designs, and fonts. Our task is to create inventive banners, to work with the feed and stories, statics and videos. Statistics show that videos do better than text. Try to use UGC content in advertisements (for instance, reviews): rather than you telling people how great you are, your customers tell people that you’re cool. Such content leads to good conversion rates.
You don’t need to polish your banners until they sparkle. Practice shows that the “ridiculous” your banner, the more off-kilter it seems to you, the more likely it is to bring in much more revenue than a pretty banner. Just don’t overdo it: test out various options and choose the most clickable one.
Nano- and micro-influencers
Nano-influencers are bloggers with 1,000 to 5,000 followers; micro-influencers have 5,000 to 50,000. They have undeniable advantages:
- Fraud still isn’t encountered among this category of bloggers (or very little).
- They haven’t been spoiled with a lot of advertising integration and offers, so they don’t try to overcharge; you can barter with them (if both sides are willing, of course).
- They’re more active and take more initiative. They often propose banners and ideas. A major blogger who has advertisers lining up won’t try so hard, but nano-influencers want you to like them.
As for payment: a fixed fee plus CPA is becoming more and more popular. In this model, we pay a fixed sum plus a commission for each sale or registration. More and more advertisers want to use this approach. Many advertisers want to use CPA alone, but it’s tough to make such an arrangement work. Sales are a consequence, after all, but promotion on social media is primarily about recognition and reach.