Virtual Branding Re-imaged
“Seeing is believing” brings more than a new outlook towards life. According to The Power of Visual Storytelling, The surge in Instagram popularity prompts more user interactions and engaging content in comparison to all other social media outlets (Walter). With more than 200 million active users per month and millions of photos being uploaded daily (Leverage), brands and companies are joining Instagram, posting images and video content and using this social media tool to expand and reach their target audience.
This mobile tool does what most traditional PR strategies and some social networks cannot do. Instagram is a multifunctional tool that brings customization to brands and organizations, allowing them to create a visual story. A brand using this photo sharing app has countless opportunities to post pictures, upload 15 second videos, content that is traceable through the use of hash tags and other monitoring tools, and through Instagram’s unique layout and framework, users can simply like, comment on, search for and follow posts and other users. The simple user interface (Engague), humanistic appeal (Walter) and mobility makes this app the most influential branding strategy.
What’s PR’s Response?
The PR Industry is fully engaging in Instagram and using its functionality to reach, captivate and connect with people around the world. The layout primarily allows PR practitioners to use the Elaboration Likelihood Model theory to capture the attention of Instagram users. In order to process information on this app, people use the peripheral route to pick up on visual cues. Brands like Levi and Gucci can instantly put out images of an outfit or a collage of photos from a fashion show, and through using brand recognition, followers will like and comment on those featured photos. No thought or extra time is spent on analyzing themes and over-conceptualizing the content. If followers like it, then they will double-tap the brand’s or organization’s photo with ease. With every double-tap a person makes, the explore tab will tailor itself with similar photos and videos that are deemed “suitable” for each user. This system works fluidly, enabling followers to connect with people of similar interests. These interests, which reflect the work of various organizations, businesses and corporations will then be spread over the social media platform.
Instagram also enables PR practitioners to really expand on persuasion techniques and strategies. Persuaders often use framing to tailor messages to attract and convince audience members to believe a certain message (Larson). As well, emotional appeals and different needs are threaded through the message to connect with people. These factors are very similar to the key approaches and tactics embedded into Instagram. The captions associated with each picture is one way to use emotional appeals and proofs such as ethos, pathos and logos. The language and word choice can include strategically-placed themes that resonate with followers and fans. Plus, corporations and organizations use Instagram to add more of a humanistic quality to their reputation and brand. Seeing that visual depiction of employees working or designing a product or experience will place followers in specific moments of time. Those relatable experiences, whether witnessed directly or vicariously, bring people together and create positive associations with that brand (Larson), ultimately furthering the goals of PR.
Finally, Instagram is a necessary tool that provides PR several opportunities to create news ways to revamp old methodologies of the industry. This social media network pushes organizations to expand normal ideas and thing more creatively in capturing people’s interest. Normal press releases and marketing campaigns get tweaked and transformed into photo challenges and contests. Plus, the invention of social media press releases bring limitless ways to approach product launches and initiatives. Online customs like “throwback Thursday” provide simple ways to engage with daily messages while Flipgrams and short videos can announce new products. Additionally, PR practitioners can connect with niche journalists and bloggers, thus expanding their network of collaborators. In conjunction to lunches, breakfast meetings and brief meetings, connecting via Instagram will show true interest in a person’s content and enable user to user promotions. To top things off, there are very nifty ways to research and analyze data from Instagram. Software programs are available for PR professionals to translate things such as likes and comments and reveal them into usable figures and statistics for a brand or company. A few programs include
Klout: a measurement of influence and power over the internet
Piqora: Assists people in tracking Engagement and ROI
A Practitioner’s Approval
The benefits and ideas discussed argue one simple point: Instagram is a multi-functional app with tangible and customize features that are useful for PR practitioners. According to Walter and Gioglio, 67 percent of major brands have Instagram accounts. The brand discoverability offers instant connections and rapid responses, especially when “50 percent of likes occur within the first hour of a photo being posted”, according to the Piqora’s Marketing Guide to the Visual Web (Piqora).
With Instagram being coined as the “King of Social Engagement” by PN Connect (Thilk,) this social media app proves to be a prominent tool in Public Relations. Studies showing the average per-follower engagement rate for Instagram being 4.21 percent delivers brands and organizations 58 times more engagement for followers than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement for follower than Twitter provides (Thilk). These statistics clearly express the success rate that PR professionals have with Instagram. As a PR professionals, this social media tool can add and supplement current skills and talents. The proven success rates are a sign that information is continuous and as a PR practitioners, we have to get key messages out to the key publics. Instagram makes that process easier, one photo story at a time.
Expand the horizons of a company’s brand and fully utilize the tools incorporated in Instagram. Monitor the use of hash tags and comments and develop that raw data into power figures, unveiling the to companies and brands alike that Instagram is the new brand management tool.
Social Media Infographic. (2014, April 25). . Retrieved June 20, 2014, from https://leveragenewagemedia.com/blog/wp- content/uploads/2013/12/Social infographic_2014.pngfile:///C:/Users/Owner/Downloads/Marketers%20Guide%20To%20The%20Visual%20Web.pdf
Walter, E. and Gioglio, J. The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to use visuals, videos, and social media to market your brand