{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Instagram Influencer Marketing in 2019

In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie Robbert and Christopher Penn discuss the hottest forecasted marketing trend of 2019: Instagram Influencer Marketing. Learn how the Trust Insights team identified this trend, what tools, techniques, and technologies we recommend for working with Instagram, how the new API changes will impact influencers, and so much more.


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Christopher Penn
This is in your insights the trust insights podcast

in this episode of in your insights today we are talking about the ever popular and ever growing platform of Instagram influencer marketing is poised to be the hottest thing in 2019. According to our most recent research, we’re projecting it up to an 80% increase in the interest in Instagram marketing and influencer marketing on Instagram. So let’s start off today’s show by talking about what is this stuff and why does it matter. So Katie, from your perspective, you’re active on Instagram personally. And obviously the company is professionally when you think about the business impact of Instagram and the uniqueness of the channel being a highly visual channel, what are the things that come to mind for things you want to get out of your Instagram marketing for professional purposes,

Katie Robbert
for professional purposes, I want people to be able to very easily and quickly understand what it is that we bring to the table. And I think that that’s the interesting challenge with a platform like Instagram, it’s not text heavy, you have to be able to tell your story with visuals. And for a company like us a data science company. That’s, that’s tricky. That’s a challenge. And so, you know, it’s actually it’s, it’s fun for us, because we’re constantly trying to figure out well, what is on brand for us that belongs on Instagram, which is a very, I don’t want to say it’s lightweight, because Instagram carries a lot of, you know, power and it can be very good for your business. But in terms of lightweight, you know, like I said, it’s not very text heavy, it is all visual. So, you know, brands need to think about

what’s their story, and how can they convey their story without words. And that’s a huge challenge. And I think that that’s why they rely on other influence answers to promote their brand so that they have that spokesperson because a celebrity spokesperson or an influencer spokesperson, that’s someone you recognize instantly in a picture. So you’re going to pay attention to that.

Christopher Penn

let’s talk about some of the stats around the platform to because it is it is a massive platform. A lot of folks who think that it’s, you know, just just a kids photo platform are sort of mistaken. A billion people use Instagram, 500 million active daily users, something I didn’t know, 80% of them are outside of the United States. And the platform is slightly gender imbalance of people who’ve been identified by gender 40% of women, 30% are men, 30% of us, obviously, I known

Katie Robbert
I was going to say, what was the other one?

Christopher Penn
Yeah, it’s unknown. It’s a corporate account. There’s a plenty of brands on there. Now, one of the big changes coming up that it actually is very, very soon. But we’re recording this in December 2018. Instagram’s API is enforcing changes where a lot of the data that used to be able to get out of Instagram and is going away for personal profiles, only business pages will be able to get analytics and data out of the platform. We’ve seen this playbook before Facebook, force this on brands, and then once all brands have switched over to business pages, Facebook pulled the rug out and said, Okay, now you’re gonna have to pay to be seen, what do you feel like the sort of the, the, the insurance policy for brands to get around that?

Katie Robbert
Oh, that’s a great question. Um, well, obviously, having your business profile setup correctly, I think what you see is the people who are going to be affected the most are

those personal accounts that are trying to run as an influencer, you might see like, those are fitness folks, or even those pet flu answers where it’s a person running it for their pet, but it’s not a proper business account. So if they’re relying on you know, that to generate awareness or even revenue, then that’s going to have to switch over to a proper business account. And that might change the way that they run that account.

Christopher Penn
What about employee advocacy and employee use on behalf of the company? How do you see that fitting into the picture?

I think that’s going to be tough. I think that if

Katie Robbert
you are, so let’s say, you know, you and I are reposting on behalf of the company. So we go to an event and to get more juice out of the thing that we’re posting on our corporate account, much like Twitter. You’re sort of retweeting it, you’re reposting it on Instagram, I think that that’s going to have to become a little bit more of the process and procedure for employee advocacy programs, versus just posting something and tagging the business and it because we know that we won’t be able to get those analytics from a personal account anymore, huh.

Christopher Penn
Yeah. But we should still be able to get somebody tapping through on on to the links in someone’s bio.

Katie Robbert
Absolutely, if they’re tagged correctly.

Christopher Penn
Yeah. Now, in terms of data science, one of the interesting things about Instagram is that there’s such a ridiculous mismatch between what people type of their captions and what’s in the actual photo. I’ve used this example, in one of my keynotes

data, scientists have a tendency to extract just text data out of Instagram, like, Hey, this is the caption that was with this photo URL. But we’ve all had that friend. Well, maybe unless you have like, really boring Friends of the person, you know, they’re on a beach somewhere, there’s a beverage, there’s a, an umbrella, ocean and stuff. And then the caption says, Well, this sucks. And one of the greatest limitations that I don’t think people realize with their data is that if you’re just minding the text, and you don’t understand the context of that caption with that image, you’re going to score that that post incorrectly, you’re going to go badly tag, it is like a negative sentiment post. And so as you approach Instagram analytics, and 2019, one of the things do is to make sure that you have image recognition capabilities within your machine learning pipeline, so that you are taking into account this is, well, this is probably sarcasm, but this is most assuredly is a picture of somebody on the beach in terms of your content creation. We’ve talked a lot in the past about, hey, here’s how you blog and create topics for blogging and stuff. How would you how do you approach that for Instagram terms of what photos should you be posting, should you not be posting

Katie Robbert
I think it depends on your brand. Um, you know, I think, you know, photos aside for a sec, just for a second, I think actually, the better strategy might be looking at the hashtags. So people tend to hashtag every single word, I actually have someone on my Instagram feed, who rather then write a full sentence,

hashtag, I hashtag m hashtag, whatever the thing is that they’re doing. And I personally don’t understand the point of that. Because for people like us who are doing the analysis, we’re not going to be looking up the hashtag, I the hashtag. And we’re looking up specific keywords. And so I think the way to approach the content strategy is,

you know, if you want to stand out from the crowd, versus just falling into everything, you need to be a little bit more strategic and figure out which hashtags matter. And that’s where some of those

Data Analytics tracking tools come into place. And some predictive analytics, perhaps, around what hashtags are going to be the most popular when, but also making sure that they make sense for your brand, you know that. And again, that sort of goes back to something that is a challenge for you. And I would trust insights, what photos what photo story what narrative makes the most sense for a brand new like ours. And so that’s going to be charts, that’s going to be graphs and visual representations of data that’s going to be when we’re out on the road at events and speaking and demonstrating what it is that we know, unfortunately, it’s not going to be pictures of my dog, as much as I love to, as much as I love pictures of my dog. It’s not on brand for trust insights. And I think that that’s a mistake that a lot of brands make is they tend to forget that, yes, there might be a person running the brand account, but that person’s personal interest might not align with the brand account.

Christopher Penn
Right? That makes sense, the tough part is a lot of companies do use Instagram for to sort of showcase culture, employment and things like that. And as a virtual company, there’s only so many photos of me sitting in my basement.

Katie Robbert
Well, and, you know, that’s a really good point, you know, having Instagram to show the culture is a useful tool, but get it depends on the kind of company, you know, for a PR agency, you want to be able to demonstrate the culture, but just showing people sitting at their desks isn’t really a compelling

Instagram picture, Instagram story, because every other company in the world has people sitting at their desks or in their basement, you know, what it what is it about your company culture that’s super unique. So every Friday is silly hat day, or funny Shirt Day, or whatever the thing is, and it needs to be authentic, because people can tell right away when you’re just sort of like,

I guess, framing up the picture to make it look really artistic and compelling, like, candidates are great, make it compelling. But capturing culture is tough. And I think that I think that it’s I think it’s something that a lot of brands are trying to do, and they’re not doing it well, because you just have a bunch of people standing around a table in front of in front of some food. And that,

to me, is just, that’s not super interesting. And it doesn’t really tell me much about the company,

Christopher Penn
right. I mean, that the sort of the default, one of the other interesting tax I’ve seen people take, particularly for those who are sort of in the documentation as a as a strategy is, is just having a ton of stuff, you know, excerpts and things from meetings and things. Probably the, the biggest cheerleader on that front is guy van der Chuck, and, you know, posting 70 to 90 times a day on Instagram of just various things that happen during the work day. And as long as it’s benefiting the customers saying, like, Hey, you should be doing this with Instagram, we should be doing this with Facebook, it seems like a a reasonably workable strategy, if you have the budget and the staff to back that up. One thing I’ve seen be very useful if you’re working on Instagram is having a desktop app for it, instead of trying to do everything with from your phone for a couple reasons. One, it’s a little easier to secure and to it allows you to put a little more thought into the editing of the photos and things rather than trying to do everything on your phone. And the app that we use is one called flume that allows you to just drag and drop photos. Like I drag and drop photos right out of Google Photos and into Instagram, you know, tag them and put them on the company account because Google Photos lets you index all your photos and uses AI to auto tagging categorized. So if I need a photo of a whiteboard, very good type in whiteboard to Google Photos, it’ll bring up all my whiteboard esque photos, and then I can edit and drag and drop right into into fluent and post op. So certainly a good way if you are if you’re asked special especially to got a lot of people on staff asking people to to contribute photos, get them into Google Photos, and then use flume to selectively edit.

Katie Robbert
And so for those who aren’t familiar, that’s f Liu, m e F l o m

Christopher Penn
Yes, it’s flume, like the log, right. And in fact, I believe you go to trust slash flume you can, it’ll take you straight to the download page disclosure, we do receive a very, very small commission if you’d buy if you buy it itty bitty.

Katie Robbert
But one of the things that we’re always trying to do is make our workflow a little bit easier. And I I wholeheartedly agree that the Instagram UI on desktop is terrible. They’ve built it specifically so that you won’t use it that way. But now there are other programs like flume to help you get a more useful desktop workflow because trying to do everything from your phone if you’ve ever been at a conference or even just out with your friends trying to get everything loaded up on your phone is a pain and you know you often see people posting later like later Graham hashtag later gram of something that was happening right there. And then

Christopher Penn
Yep, the other thing you can do if you really if you must be on a desktop top, or you don’t have a trusted device, because again, you’re giving your company’s account possibly to somebody you know, some companies make the mistake of giving to the most junior person at the company. There are a number of emulators from the gaming world that will let you run an Android tablet or an Android phone in software mode from your desktop. So you can run Instagram inside this virtual environment, and drag and drop stuff from your desktop and run it that way. I want to go back to something you said earlier about hashtags. Oh, because the reason for hash tagging everything was that was for years the strategy for growing more followers Instagram’s changing that with the API change, so bots will no longer be able to search hashtags. And bots will also no longer be able to auto follow or auto auto engage on posts. So I would expect after this API change to see Instagram’s engagement rates dropped drastically, but it will drop drastically from the mechanized perspective. So what’s left will be the actual humans

in terms of the types of photos what how much should a brand spend on Instagram? Do you should should we all be National Geographic and and have a core of 500 professional photographers roaming the world? I mean, they are the most popular brand on Instagram for good reason they have a core of first going out and spending years like tracking this elusive llama.

Katie Robbert
Well, you know, it’s something that we always say it depends. It depends on your brand. It depends on your company. It depends on your goals. But I think that your point about having a central repository for images such as Google Photos, or Flickr, or whatever it is that your company chooses to use, even if it’s just a Google Drive

is a really great way to have a lot of people contributing, you don’t need a team of 500 professional photographers, unless you are National Geographic, if you are like us, a very small company who maybe imagery isn’t your thing, or you don’t think it’s your thing, then just start collecting all of those different photos that you’re taking. And then you have a repository of stock images, your own stock images to help you tell your story. So to your point, Chris, about, Okay, I need a whiteboard for this, well, then we’ll go find a picture of a whiteboard, we don’t have to, then right there, and then go out and seek a whiteboard and take a picture of it. So I think that’s a really great strategy for companies who are trying to figure out what their narrative is, is take a lot of photos of a bunch of different random things, take pictures of your staff, take pictures of the building, you know, anything related to the business and just stick stick it all in a folder. And then as you’re trying to tell the story, you can pick from images

and then you start to find out, okay, what’s working, what are people engaging with, what aren’t people engaging with, do more of this, do less of this. And I think, you know, that sort of brings us to another tip for people is, make sure you’re measuring. Make sure you’re collecting your analytics, it’s not enough to just post something on a social platform, cross your fingers and hope for the best. You also have to measure what you’re doing and make sure that you’re constantly adjusting because as these software programs because that’s what they are their software programs as these platforms change, you have to adapt with them. Something that Instagram recently introduced within their stories is the ability to have your stories only go to what you qualify as your close friends. And so something I want to ask you Chris is so a lot of people rely on those Instagram stories to tell something that’s a little bit more linear. But now if people are getting cut out of that story, or if people are choosing to only send it to their close friends what do you think the impact of those metrics are going to be

Christopher Penn
we know that from Facebook’s was q2 earnings call that the whole reason for stories was not because Facebook wanted to give people a new way of expressing themselves. It was because they ran out of inventory to show for advertising. And so stories gives them basically another channel for inventory. So from a from a business perspective, one of the things I think is probably important for people to keep in mind is make sure that your stories take advantage of the story format. If you’re going to be running sponsored stories, make sure it’s an actual story.

And if people are using close friends, it’s a really good idea from a user perspective because that encourages more people to use the stories feature which puts more eyeballs into the stories feed which puts more in available users up for inventory The thing that I think it’d be cautious about is be thoughtful about what you post the story because what you post as a sponsored story because there’s nothing like watching something buddies you know very very personally expressive and intimate story and seeing some brash is just comes across wrong. So I think part of the thing that to be aware there’s if you if you as a user are seeing your friends, close friends stories take note of what kind of stuff people are sharing what their close friends and then use that to inform like, How thoughtful should we be in our messaging in our spots a story so that we don’t come across as you know, a complete jerks in the sponsored stories.

Katie Robbert
So the last question I have for you as we start to wrap up our conversation on Instagram and influencers is

do you think that people have a misunderstanding of who Instagram is for? So we ran into this with Facebook, where brands really feel like it’s a b2c platform, do you think that brands are still thinking that Instagram is b2c only and that it’s not for b2b brands.

Christopher Penn
unquestionably, even though 71% of us businesses use Instagram and 80% of users follow at least one brand on Instagram, there is still that legacy perception, just like there’s a legacy perception about Snapchat or YouTube or any of these platforms. And the answer to that comes back to what you were saying earlier, which is testing out and measure it. And if you get no response, it could be that your users aren’t there or could be that your content is crap. One of the two but more importantly, look at the rest of your competitive set and what’s available to you when you look at things like retargeting. retargeting is a fantastic way to remind people that you exist and that you have something worth and paying attention to, because they were there already. But you have to also give some consideration to how do you express, hey, come back and visit us in a visual way. what you were saying earlier, how do you say that in a way that’s on brand?

Katie Robbert
Exactly. And I think that that’s something that hopefully people will start to get a better understanding of, where regardless of who your market serves, who you serve as an audience there, you can use software platforms such as Instagram. So in 2019, we know that Instagram and Instagram influencers are going to be even more popular than they are now, which is a little frightening. But

well, it makes sense though, because if you’re trying to reach a wider audience, having someone who already has that reach is a great way to go about doing it. So brands you need to get on Instagram. Regardless, if your b2b or b2c, you need to think about what it is you’re trying to tell. What’s your story? Why would you use a platform such as Instagram, start gathering a lot of different images around your company around what it is you do around your daily life whatever the thing is, and start thinking about telling that story testing out messaging and and making sure that you’re using programs such as flu, FL U of M. E, and

getting the rest of your team involves making sure that it’s not just one person’s voice

Christopher Penn
I think one final hack I want to toss in there just occurred to me is not everyone is as influential on every platform so if there’s somebody who is influential on another platform like LinkedIn or Twitter or whatever but they’re not on Instagram that may be a great way to to back channel to get access to that person so hey this person’s got 100,000 followers on Twitter but only 500 followers on Instagram they’re much more likely to see your direct message on Instagram so look at your influencers regardless of the channel there on figure out what channels are on and maybe do some outreach on the channel where they’re at least popular and see if you can help them grow their for listening any interesting insights still a co worker or their followers so I guess the podcasts Apple podcasts out wherever you listen to that concludes the This

podcast is

frosty today.

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