Ten Octobers ago, when Instagram was born, little did the world know how much cultural and marketing influence this app would wield.
With one billion users, the Facebook-owned social media platform is now the veritable hub of influence marketing, a vital strategy for brands now. Not surprisingly, Instagram in India marked its anniversary by launching a campaign centred around influence marketing. The campaign, called ‘Love Runs Deep’, focusses on furthering the interaction between brands and creators.
Sandeep Bhushan, Director and Head of Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook India, calls this partnership between Instagram, brands and creators “a lovely triumvirate”. He describes how the effort of the platform is to help brands gain their sales and saliency objectives by equipping them with more tools, even as it nudges the creator economy to get more expressive. “Instagram is a community built on passion,” he says.
According to Bhushan, in an effort to discover and grow more creators, the platform launched a programme ‘Born on Instagram’ late last year which also helped Instagram extend its reach into smaller cities. For instance, with his Rasode Main Kaun Tha track going viral, Yashraj Mukhate, the 24-year-old Aurangabad based composer became a national talking point.
However, for influencer marketing to work effectively, Bhushan says brands should be able to define the scope of campaigns. Earlier, the power lay in the hands of the influencer. Now, he says the reach and frequency can be according to the brand’s desire and not just restricted to the influencer’s catchment of followers. This is thanks to a set of tools that allow the brand to widen the push of the content. “The creative expression remains fully democratic but the tools are programmatic,” explains Bhushan.
Is Instagram cannibalising Facebook’s growth? After all a quarter of the social media giant’s revenues reportedly came from Instagram last year. Bhushan asserts that all three –FB, Instagram and WhatsApp — continue to grow and have different purposes.
There are linkages for brands as well. For instance, if brands use Instagram to create awareness at the top of the funnel, then they can use WhatsApp to complete the journey. “If you put a picture of a product on Instagram and the bottom says ‘click on WhatsApp’, you can carry forward the conversation with the customer. Assisted sales are a higher way of closing the sale,” he argues.
But even as Instagram was celebrating its 10th anniversary party, along came a blot in the form of the horrendous threat that cricketer MS Dhoni’s wife received on the platform against their child.
This again put the spotlight on the problems that social media platforms face in checking negative elements.
Bhushan says the platform was quick to react and removed the account. He also points to the new features the platform is testing that automatically hides comments similar to those that have been reported. Nudge Warnings are issued to people.
While social media platforms are undoubtedly powerful engagement vehicles for brands, there is no denying that these are also minefield. Look at how Twitter exploded over the Tanishq ad. Instagram may be the darling of marketers when it comes to influencer marketing, but going forward its growth will not only hinge on how quickly it reacts to new trends, but also its governance standards.