Tag: instagram

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Is Your Content the Exception or the Rule?

As a marketer you should always be trying to figure out which content is connecting with your audience best. Once you find successful content, you want to recreate those desired results as many times as possible. However, when you content goes viral, you have to be careful how you attribute that success. Is your content’s success the exception or the new rule thumb. 

I recently had the good fortune of being chosen by @Instagram as the feature image for the #Manhattanhenge highlight. An exciting event that flooded my phone with notifications. The results were 1,500+ likes on my photo, and a doubling of my modest following. Residual effects were more likes on other photos in my account and some blog traffic. And just for bragging rights, the “regram” that Instagram put up of my photo on their account received the highest number of likes in their most recently shared photos.

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However, these “health metrics” – amount of engagement and following and other metrics – are not always an indicator that the content is good! The notion that a lot of likes and reach is an indicator of good content undermines the real work behind influencer programs and viral content. So, when you have a “success” stop and ask, “Is this success a true indicator of how interesting my content was or how interesting one popular person thought it was?” When your content becomes popular mainly because a single profile shared it, the content itself may not have played a roll it in at all. The people who engaged with it may be taking actions only because it was shared by someone they like, rather than the content being intriguing to them. You would not be doing yourself any justice to continue to create similar content, without first properly testing that content again. You must also be sure that your current audience engaged with and enjoyed your content and not just a bunch of new followers.

Sunsets, food, and animals are the the bread and butter content on Instagram. But my image did not become popular because it caught fire with my followers and was shared over and over again. The photo became popular because one popular profile thought it was interesting. It was a perfect storm of a topical hashtag and a committee at Instagram that pushed it to a greater audience – a non-replicable circumstance; an exception. This does not mean that all my future photos should be sunsets from the city, or sunsets in general for that matter. It is the perfect example of why your intermediate successes should not become the rule by which you select your content.

Proper diagnosis of the cause for your content’s success in addition to the “health metrics” is how you should determine your future content choices. Which content is resonating with your current audience, and helping you attract new fans? How are you building stronger connections with those new followers? 

Instagram vs Twitter

Instagram releases video, for better or worse?

Instagram released the ability to share videos on June 20th in the wake of Vine. There’s a lot of mixed feelings with this launch, but let’s first break down the features before we get out of focus.

Vine, owned by Twitter, launched early 2013 as a specialized app that gives users the ability to record and share 6 second micro-videos.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, originally a photo sharing app, released the ability to share 15 second (not so micro in comparison) videos.

Instagram Video UI

The interface looks very similar. With Vine you must press the screen to record, and Instagram has one big button for recording. Press to record and release to pause recording. Vine has a solid completion bar at top, while Instagram has a bar below the recorded image. Instagram’s completion bar is not solid, and instead shows the length of the individual clips you record. These very distinct UI differences become more prominent when discussing functionality.

Once you complete 2.5-3 seconds of a Vine video, you can continue to post your video without recording the full 6 seconds. Instagram also has a minimum length of about 4 seconds. After you record your Vine, you must click “next” which then takes you to preview that Vine. You either have the option to post it, or go back and start over with recording. Instagram’s functionality on the other hand allows you to review the video you’ve recorded, but then go back to continue recording – assuming you haven’t used the full 15 seconds. From there you also have the option of deleting the most recent scene in your Instagram video. You can delete all the way back to the beginning of you like. However, you cannot delete intermediate scene, just the last available scene. You can preview your Instagram video, and return as many times as you’d like to get the scene just the way you want! last available scene. Vine allows no editing of your videos. Instagram also offers 14 filters your videos in the final publishing phase.

Instagram Delete Scene and Filters

Both networks use hashtags to tie in content themes and discoverable content. Having posted a few videos already, the hashtags “video” and “instavid” seem to be explored quite a bit by other users. Vine’s sound is turned off as a default, but all videos autoplay. Instagram has a setting to turn off autoplay, but unless your phone is muted, sound will be on! Most interestingly, Instagram’s videos stop after they play, whereas Vines continue to loop. The loop feature is an attribute that creates a very unique type of video, as users keep in mind what the bookends of their videos look like and may fit together. It will be interesting to see how Instagram’s abandonment of looping will affect the video content.

A major concern in my mind is that Instagram’s huge popularity was based on its simplicity. It did one thing and one things only, pictures. As a specialized app the network grew rapidly and the user experience was seamless. When Vine launched as a specialized app for video it followed a similar path and it also grew rapidly. It is simple and straight forward. Recently Vine links on Twitter surpassed Instagram links and continue to rise, which implies that Vine is a more active network – as it should be, we as humans have a natural tendency to explore new apps heavily in the first couple months. Despite video being a fairly complex piece of content to create as it requires forethought and arguably more creativity and time, Vine has still thrived – with a little help from Twitter blocking Instagram picture previews on the network.

Vine Surpassed Instagram

Instagram, whether it was planning for video before Vine or not, now has to deal with the level of complexity that video production brings with it. Users who are not be on Instagram may be attracted to it now that it has video and pictures in one place, but current users may be discourage as their simple app has its first bell and whistle. Secondly, 15 seconds is actually a very long time! Although you don’t need to record the full available time, there is a certain feeling of underachievement when you don’t use all of the allotted time.

What do you think of Instagram videos? Is 15 seconds too long?  Do you fear it will detract from the Instagram experience? Like your looping videos better?

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Is there a future for Pinterest?

Like any new start-up, Pinterest is being pulled in multiple directions. Everyone wants something specific from the platform, from the users who log in to share to the brands that use it to influence. While many claim that the addiction of Pinterest is a habit that is impossible to break, others are saying their explosive growth will soon come to an abrupt halt. Even Pinterest itself needs to think about its future – how it will grow and how it can be sustained. So what does Pinterest have in store for its future?

Brands will tell you that Pinterest has incomparable SEO qualities, and SEO companies will back them up. It’s been recorded that the platform has twice as much purchasing power in your sales funnel than Facebook. That’s a pretty good punch for any retailer, small or large. The implications of Pinterest referrals have been so great that businesses are being built around it. Companies like Piner.ly have built analytics platforms that track “Pinterest Campaigns” and allow you to schedule pins to drive traffic. If it were up to brands, Pinterest will be around for a long time.

However, regular Pinterest users – the majority of whom are women – are the ones who made this photo-sharing platform popular and an industry-driving force before brands bothered to take notice. Pinterest’s rapid growth spurt in January 2012, and the thousands of images that are now being shared daily, are all directly correlated to the addiction of its users. As it turns out, users that joined in 2011 are nearly three times as likely to make purchases online or offline after pinning, and they pin twice as often.

Quickly scan the blogs and you’ll see that users are looking for ways to optimize their time on this addictive, time-sucking network. Others, however, criticize that the crafts and DIY activities never turn out the way they are depicted and its all a sham. Enter the blog Pintology, which rates crafts and products on a series of qualifiers, giving users the inside scoop on which pins are the best. Users are instinctively providing their own solutions to the Pinterest “problems.”

Although it leads the way in photo-sharing websites, Pinterest still has competitors. Without a strong mobile experience, Instagram holds its ground for the on-the-go camera-phone photographers. Niche sites like Wanderfly and Gtrot have sprouted for those specifically looking for photo-based travel solutions, and male-targeted sites like DartItUp and Manterest have muscled their way into the market. These niche sites, despite their small market share, are making waves with users.

Still, Pinterest has their own interest in mind. It is a business, after all, and businesses need to grow and make money. It already has an explosive user base, so it can readily turn its attention to raking in revenues. Pinterest already makes an estimated $9 million a year in affiliate links to products, but it may benefit further by building a purchase solution into its platform. And what about adjusting to users needs? Well, the crafty site could also build a pin rating system to gamify and add value to the users’ pins. Above all, Pinterest needs to work on its mobile experience. The app and mobile bookmarklet falls way short of the web-based platform and seems to discard the mosaic, hyper-discovery of content the browser version – and seriously, is an Instagram doppelganger really a solution? It is Pinterest’s turn to make the next move and only time will tell if it will be a part of our future.