The face of marketing is changing. With billions of images being shared everyday and image driven platforms providing the highest engagement rates among millennial consumers, brands need to reimagine their approach to visual content.
Come along on a ride, as we explore key changes to the nature of visual content, and then dive into how brands can scale their acquisition of high quality content, and put that to work in an effective, measurable way that monetizes.
PART I. THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF VISUAL CONTENT
1. There’s SO Much of It
People are sharing 80m photos to Instagram everyday, often engaging with brands by tagging and hashtagging. The challenge for brands is to be able to easily see, at a high level, what their fans are saying about them and how they are being featured, while at a more micro level, discovering and getting access to the highest quality content featuring their brand (user-generated content).
Warby Parker crushes it on Instagram. We took a look at the #warbyparker hashtag and found that it had been used 112,925 of times. Peeps love their Warbys, and not just the Nouveau Bros. We also looked at the number of times Warby Parker was featured in a photo (photo tagged) or mentioned (comment mention) over the past month, and found that they had organically reached an audience of 8.5 million. Our algorithms then pulled out the highest performing content over that time. Here it is.
2. Creative Is Now Distributed
The highly editorialized, expensive studio photo shoot is so passé. The combination of burgeoning, liberalized platforms for creative talent (Instagram, VSCO, etc) and the incredible increase in mobile photography has resulted in a mass distribution of quality images and artistry.
Where a standard photoshoot would take months to organize and cost upwards of $100k, brands are now producing campaigns and lookbooks at a fraction of that cost and leveraging the content they acquire across platforms and channels.
Jeanne Grey (@thegreylayers) is a fast-rising fashion Instagrammer. Jeanne’s photos are shot almost exclusively on iPhone by her photographer. The ability to create content of this quality in an organic, distributed way, sets creators like Jeanne apart from the pack. Would you rather have your brand featured in a gorgeous photo like below, or in a stale indoor studio shoot? It's clear that consumers respond far better to this new, more organic apporach, as photos like the one below get up to 300% more engagement than a standard, editorialized studio photo.
3. It’s Very Clear What Works and What Does Not
Our creative and strategy teams look at dozens of brand accounts every day, and analyze many of the major influencer campaigns being run each week. It is very clear based on the data what type of content works and what type of content does not.
From a photo composition perspective, we’ve written about the types of influencer photos that do really well on Instagram. We’ve also seen that audiences don't respond as strongly to more traditional head to toe blogger-style photos. Choosing which content creators/influencers you work with based on their visual style is what's critical, as well as being clear on the creative direction, all while allowing for the talent to be their natural selves. Authenticity is what wins every time.
We love discovering Instagrammers who have mastered the content mix. The lovely @chloehollywood (interestingly, she's French) recently popped onto our radar and we fell instantly in love – she mixes organic content styles seamelssly and leaves us wanting more.
4. The Bar is High
The bar for great content is getting higher. Audiences now expect their favorite brands to have high quality, engaging Instagram feeds. A survey of consumers by Dash Hudson showed that almost 60% of millennial consumers go to a brand’s Instagram feed before going to their website for the first time. Having a great feed is not a luxury, but a critical part of being relevant as a brand. It is the windowshop that people view before they decide to enter your store.
Brands like Reformation and Everlane focus on creating beautiful feeds that tell their brand story while engaging fans. This is done by mixing original, found and user-generated content. Reformation focused on influencer engagement as well as original and user-generated content from the outset, which made Instagram a key driver of its early growth.
5. Discovery and Creation Need to Scale
It’s a weekly and sometimes daily battle for the digital editorial team to ensure that their content bank is full and editorial schedule complete. For brands who manage their feeds on a day to day basis, it becomes even more challenging to ensure consistency of posting and post quality.
For large and small brands alike, it’s imperative to have the ability to scale both original content creation (by influencers and photographers) and user-generated content acquisition. Dash Hudson provides the tools to do this through our influencer marketplace and premiere UGC discovery solution.
Versace is one of the leading global luxury houses, adored by 3.2 million people on Instagram (adding about 10k new followers a day, NBD). We analyzed Versace’s Instagram content and found that what garners the most likes are photos of adorned celebrities like Caitlyn Jenner and Miley Cyrus. Second, we found that photos featuring Versace in a post (photo tag, comment tag) helped them organically reach over 50m people in the last week alone. Mega.
6. Measurement and Monetization are Critical
Distribution of organic lifestyle images through owned, earned and paid channels is now a critical part of the brand marketing mix. As sales and marketing collide on social, it’s becoming more and more essential for marketers to have the tools to properly measure and monetize visual content.
The Dash Hudson Likeshop lets brands make their Instagram feeds shoppable in about 30 seconds, with no integrations. In addition to driving traffic directly to brand product pages, we provide data on which content is converting best. These types of insights should be standard for any e-commerce brand marketing on Instagram. We provide a suite of advanced, beautiful analytics so you can truly understand and optimize your performance.
PART II: HOW TO PUT GREAT VISUAL CONTENT TO WORK
The world of visual content has changed and there is now tremendous pressure on brands to get an edge by having the ability to engage and convert a potential customer at any point on their journey. There are four important things to know as you move forward with building out your plan.
1. Follow a Process (Collect, Distribute, Measure)
It's critical to follow a process. Visual marketing on Instagram is more than just creating social engagement, it is also a massive opportunity to grow revenue. We recommend following a process of Collect, Distribute, Measure: collect original or user-generated content, distribute through owned, earned, or paid channels, and measure the full customer journey.
2. Focus on Quality
Focus on working with great creators, who create great content. It needs to stand out and really draw in your audience. Great content trumps great distribution every time, so laser in on creating something beautiful.
3. Leverage Content to Maximize Value
Great content deserves to be seen. We have seen brands work with tastemakers to create photos that were distributed to both their feeds, paid channels, as well as used in a lookbook. The smartest brands milk all the potential from their content.
4. Balance Staying Organic with Monetization
It's tough, but stay focused on engaging before converting. Following a give, give, get mentality is a highly intelligent process used by one of the most successful brands we work with. Keep giving to your audience, and you'll get it back, often in spades. Focus on your goals while using sophisticated, organic methods for engaging and giving your potential customer the opportunity to discover the things they want.