Instagram is made up of 1 Billion users. 60% of them report discovering products on Instagram, and 75% report taking an action (like visiting a site) after viewing a post.*
Pinterest is made up of 250 Million users. 77% of weekly Pinners have discovered a new brand or product on Pinterest. 82% of weekly Pinners have made a purchase based on content they saw from brands on Pinterest.**
IS YOUR BUSINESS CAPITALIZING ON THESE NUMBERS?
When I started out on my (ongoing) mission of becoming a Pinterest + Instagram subject matter expert, I vowed to leave no stone unturned. I took online course, read the recommended articles + guides, listened in on Webinars hosted by the gurus. I went all in. Instantly I began learning a wealth of beneficial information on how to use the tools properly to see a financial return on my efforts. Just as quickly I realized how much information there was to digest + weed through. It was intense! But well worth the exercise with learnings that resulted in the direct growth of my business.
In the spirit of starting out the year armed for success, and knowing just how financially valuable the proper use of Pinterest + Instagram can be for a business, I decided to create my own crash session on the basics of owning these critical marketing platforms and standing out in the busy but lucrative crowd. These are the fundamentals to getting it right.
Here’s the Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Honest Truth on Owning Pinterest + Instagram.
The Beauty + The Curse.
Pinterest + Instagram, as recently widely adopted mainstream modes of marketing, have opened up incredible, never before possible, ways in which a business communicates with their customers. Simultaneously they have also created a hinderance to success that most businesses, specifically the small to medium sized ones, don’t even recognize.
The beauty, Pinterest + Instagram provide the opportunity for direct + intimate access to a target audience. You can speak to your customers directly + monitor the ways in which they listen. You can see what content they connect with + how they respond to it. You can test concepts before launching new products. You can build anticipation for the release of a new collection. You can play like the big boys without the 50 man marketing team and massive amounts of marketing dollars.
Now here comes the curse and the mistake so many small to medium sized businesses make. The misconception is that because a business has easy, free + direct access to their customers, they can DIY (or put into the hands of any otherwise unqualified resource with an iPhone X) the whole lot of it. The truth + in practice, if you want to reach your business’ full potential you have to invest in the professionals. Whether that be commercial photographers for your images, and/or consultants who understand the business in posting, the investment is essential to making the most of these modes of direct to customer marketing. That’s not to say that you won’t see success if you stick to iPhone pics + witty captions. Because you likely will. But you certainly won’t maximize the potential.
This Is Not a Short Term Play. This is An Authenticity Play.
#sorrynotsorry. Because it’s true. Real, long term success on Pinterest + Instagram will require time. There is no quick fix. You can’t buy their love. The direct, immediate access to customers that these platforms grant you comes with a responsibility. That responsibility? To build authentic relationships. Today’s customer is smart + demanding. They expect more than just products + services from the brands they support. They want to be inspired. They want to connect. They want a relationship. That will take time. No shortcuts.
Here’s the how-to on building an authentic audience for your brand.
Act the brand part and post content that represents you in a voice your audience will connect with.
Use high quality, creative images that: 1. reflect your brand aesthetic, 2. connect on a lifestyle level that matches that of your target audience and 3. that stand out in their busy feeds.
Post at least once daily + consistently. Your audience is watching + waiting. Don’t disappoint or you’ll lose them.
Where you make a change to your visual content strategy, recognize that the building of a new audience will take time.
Don’t make the mistake of buying followers. That will only prevent you from being able to monitor the true success of your visual content plans, ultimately stopping you from being able to build on what works.
Create a conversation. Engage with genuine responses to all comments you receive on your posts + do so in a timely manner.
Build your own community, following people your brand + your product / service relate to. Pay attention to what’s happening in your community, the conversations that are proving popular among the mass audience and create content, in your brand aesthetic, featuring your products, that take part in those conversations.
The Hard Sell Won’t Work. You’re Going to Have To Work Hard for The Sale.
Following from the point of building an authentic relationship with your followers, while promoted sales, campaigns + contests are expected and welcome by the Pinterest + Instagram communities, constant selling at will garner no success. In fact it’ll see you lose followers + engagement.
Pinterest + Instagram users have expectations. They want to be engaged with, entertained + inspired. Make sure your visuals reflect a well blended mix of content that matches these needs. Talk to them like you would talk to your personal circle of friends. And think of the process as the ultimate friend referral program. Pinterest + Instagram audiences respond to brands + products they can trust and have a lifestyle affiliation to, often a lifestyle they are still aspiring towards (read – you can be that key player in them getting what they want). Your visual content should put your brand + products into the genuine + relatable context of your audience’s daily lives, into their seasonal events (Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc) and life moments (new home, new baby, etc.). It’s all about the soft (and yes, slow) sell. Once you’ve achieved your position as a brand that aligns to the needs of your target audience, and one they can trust, you will become part of a short list they turn to every time they have a buying need that matches your product or service offering.
Creative Visual Content is Key. Your Phone + Flatlays Can Only Take You So Far.
I know the temptation to use iPhone pics is huge. It’s free content after all. And while these pics have their place in your overall mix of visuals, as does UGC (user generated content), these types of visuals should not make up the majority of your content if you want to position yourself as a genuine brand looking to grow.
The mass of your content should be controlled by you. It should be standout + creatively charged. It should strictly keep to a consistent aesthetic that your audience will immediately recognize when it pops up in their busy feeds. Make no mistake. The competition for attention on Pinterest + Instagram is fierce. There are A LOT of companies + people creating + posting phenomenal content. Don’t see all your hard work + efforts go to waste by running with visuals that look like all the rest, or those that are substandard. You’ll get lost in the mix. But if you do it right, if you post creative images that speak to your brand, capturing something your audience truly cares about (big or small inclusive), you’re guaranteed success.
The Coles Notes.
CREATIVE + COMPELLING VISUAL CONTENT THAT CONNECTS ON AN AUTHENTIC LIFESTYLE LEVEL = SUCCESS.
That’s what this all boils down to. Pinterest + Instagram collectively make up a noisy marketplace and owning them can seem like a daunting task. But given the size of the audiences + the fact that users regularly turn to these platforms to aid in their buying decisions, you simply can’t afford to ignore them.
Here’s to an Amazing 2019!
Owner + Creative Director, Style + Swoon
Stat Sources: *Hootsuite - October 2018 + **2019 Pinterest Seasonal Insights.