How to Not Visually Scream ‘Marketing!’ on Instagram

Kira Clayborne, Church's Chicken
Kira Clayborne, Church's Chicken

Instagram is so big now that not being involved should qualify as PR malpractice. It's time to get posting in earnest, but before you do, recognize that Instagram is a unique platform that calls for unique content.

We tapped Kira Clayborne (manager, digital marketing & media at Church's Chicken) to speak in a session called "Visualize Your Organization’s Mission and Messages with Instagram" at the upcoming PR News Visual Storytelling Boot Camp in Huntington Beach, CA. Below, she shares some of the guiding principles that will inform her talk in the form of five steps for starting out:

  1. Know your demographic on Instagram, taking every variable into account (age, gender, race, interests, etc.). This necessitates being aware of who you are and what your brand stands for, as well. Church's Chicken, as a brand that sells lots of family meals, focuses a lot on moms, and often seeks to imagine as its target a 27–39-year-old woman who has a lot to do and not a lot of time. Get inside your target's head and think about the purchase journey. When are they thinking about your brand? What kind of Instagram interaction will be meaningful?
  2. Make sure your content fits the platform. Sometimes, the marketing mantra "stand out" isn't the right advice to follow, and Instagram is just such a situation. If a customer is scrolling through photos taken by his friends and a piece of content that visually screams "marketing" comes up, it stops the experience cold. People do not want to be marketed to on Instagram, so make sure your content fits within that realm. One way to achieve this is avoiding graphical overlays and photoshopped logos. Any branding should be embedded within the image; if you want your logo to appear in your post, take a picture of a real-life object with the logo on it.
  3. Don't forget that trends happen on Instagram also. People immediately associate hashtags with Twitter, but as the Instagram userbase has grown, hashtag trends, especially those with a more visual focus, have taken off. For example, browse #organized or #oddlysatisfying and you'll understand how users follow these trends to scratch an OCD itch. It's easy to hop on these and add to the conversation (and tell your story at the same time).
  4. Forget about selling, it's all about connecting. Let the image do the talking. No flowery copy, no selling people on the price of your product. Again, people don't want to be marketed to; they get enough of that in the advertisements peppered through their daily experience. Instagram is their safe haven from that, where they actually like to be. Just be there with them, inhabiting the same space and treating them as humans.
  5. Think about the platform holistically. Remember what you posted before. Think about what you'll post later. What you post today is just a link in the chain. You want to tell an ongoing story, and if you're successful on Instagram, it might be a never-ending story.

The PR News Visual Storytelling Boot Camp, Huntington Beach, Feb. 25, will feature Kira Clayborne and speakers from Walt Disney World, IBM, Weber Shandwick and many more.

Follow Ian: @ianwright0101

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    乙未年(羊)腊月十一 2016-1-20