[Editor’s Note: Several crowdsource suggestions referred to tips and ideas for using social media to engage with consumers and tell brand stories. In an Instagram story in our Aug. 24 issue, Charlene Macielag, a member of FedEx’s global services media team, described how FedEx is using Instagram, largely to post photos and content that consumers have supplied. “We’re a firm believer that user-generated content (UGC) is the way to go,” she told us then, adding, “We’ve nearly quadrupled our Instagram audience in the past nine months after switching to this strategy, going from 7K followers to 26K followers.” For this current story, we asked Macielag for additional Instagram tips and insights.]
1. Share Behind-the-Scenes Content: We love inserting the “FedEx story” wherever we can, especially on Instagram. Sharing facts about the company and mission has resonated with our fans. It puts what we do in perspective. Getting a package from point A to B seems easy, so we let fans know that FedEx sorts approximately 4 million packages daily. And that we sorted through 22+ million on our busiest day this past winter. By feeding these stats into our captions and videos, we help fans gain a better knowledge of our company and grow brand affinity.
2. Be Real: At FedEx, we show two things on Instagram: the “best of reality” and our business through the customer lens, using UGC. The former describes our process for selecting UGC photos. While we avoid images that reflect negatively on the brand, we understand authenticity is the most important standard. In that sense, we use the best of reality. We know it’s more important for us to be true to reality than post perfect photos that aren’t genuine to our audience.
3. Work With Affinity Groups and Sponsorships to Tag You in Their Instagram Posts: Make phone calls, work it into contracts—do whatever you can to make the most of these relationships. For companies with limited budgets, look at these groups as influencers. Being a B2B company affords you a great network of businesses you can ask to tag you in their photos. Perhaps you can supply them with information for a caption that helps educate their audiences on the importance of their business using your B2B brand.
Pitfalls to Avoid
4. Quantity Over Quality: As with every platform, but especially with Instagram, which demands a higher level of aesthetic, it’s all about quality over quantity. If you’re low on content, restrain from posting an image just to post one. And avoid over-hashtaging and over-posting. Most brands, including FedEx, post 7-9 times/week. We believe posting once a day is best. In addition, hashtags are great to give extra context to a post and provide a way for audiences beyond your community to find your posts; however, limit yourself to 4 hashtags/caption. At FedEx, we use 1-2 hashtags per post—and mostly for contextual reasons. If we feel the need to add more, we comment on the picture directly after posting it, under the original caption. This way, the additional hashtags are buried when other users comment on the picture.
5. Stay the Course: It’s tempting to look at what other brands are doing and have a desire to emulate their actions—such as using filters or photos that obviously are Photoshopped, etc. We avoid using filters on our original content. They don’t align with our visual identity or guidelines. It seems ironic to be on Instagram and defer on using a core set of its features, but it would be even more ironic if our company jumped on Instagram and began acting in a way that is foreign to our identity.
Thank you to Mitch Lubitz, East region media relations leader, Humana, and Ashleigh Whitby, interactive Web designer/producer, Georgia Department of Econonmic Development, for suggesting this story.
This article originally appeared in the Sept 28, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.