Use of Instagram for news consumption across all age groups has doubled since 2018 and will probably overtake Twitter during the next year, reveals the new Reuters Digital News Report. Already, news consumption on Instagram almost equals Twitter.
According to the research, 11% of survey respondents across 12 countries turn to Instagram to obtain news. That compares to 12% who get their news on Twitter. Not surprisingly, younger people prefer Instagram more: 26% of those aged 18-24 use it keep up with news. In the US, 47% of those surveyed found news on social media, and 60% watched television news, highlighting the ongoing importance of promoting brands on TV and TV news monitoring.
The growing popularity of Instagram for news has important implications for public relations and online reputation management. More brands will likely place a higher priority on PR and marketing and media monitoring and measurement of brand mentions on the network. Marketers will be more concerned with brand reputational damage if their ads appear near unsavory content.
Recommendations for Instagram PR & Marketing
Create mobile friendly content. Make sure your content is interesting and actionable, relatable and customized for the platform. Users prefer short content: 36% prefer videos less than 15 seconds, according to Facebook research.
Instagram Stories offers an incomparable PR and marketing tool. It’s an almost essential marketing method for brands targeting customers in their 20s. The Instagram Story feature lets you share photos and videos, but posts vanish after 24 hours unless added to your profile as permanent “highlights.”
Work with influencers. Celebrities and influencers play an outsized role on these networks, Reuters notes While many brands pay influencers to endorse their products, some also take an earned media approach and win product mentions in return for free samples, or through other strategies such as inside peeks at events, previews of products in the works, or financing influencers’ travel. Micro-influencers with smaller but highly engaged audience are often more receptive to such organic outreach efforts.
Combine paid and non-paid strategies. Brands can take advantage of tools available to marketers. The app’s “branded content ads” allow marketers to promote influencers’ sponsored posts beyond just the influencers’ followers.
Add a photo to your profile. If you don’t, the ghost-like image appears every time you make a comment. “A missing profile pic is a perfect symbol of lackadaisical attitude. It plainly means you are not very keen on growing your user base. Forget about attracting new users; you’ll lose out on the existing ones if you keep your profile pic blank,” warns Jini Maxin, senior writer at OpenXcell, on the Single Grain Digital Marketing blog.
Add hashtags. Hashtags bring increased interactions more than on other networks. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. However, stuffing posts with irrelevant hashtags can backfire. Add at least five hashtags and stick to relevant words and phrases, Maxin recommends. Local businesses benefit from adding location-based hashtags.
Do it on desktop. Although Instagram is a mobile app, you can create and edit graphics on a desktop computer faster than on a mobile phone, advises Alfred Lua, a content crafter at Buffer. Instagram scheduling tools save time transferring graphics and images from desktops to mobile phones.
Share others’ content. Sharing user-generated content can be an outstanding strategy. First identify content to re-post through social media listening. Obtain permission to share from the original poster. Take a screenshot on your mobile device, crop out unneeded parts of the image, and add your own caption.
Think visually; focus on images. Instagram marketing is clearly image based. Some businesses may wish to hire professional photographers and designers. According to Sprout Social, 93 percent of buyers cite visual appearance as the main reason for their purchasing decisions, and 85 percent say color is the main reason they bought a specific product.
Don’t overwhelm followers. Post regularly, but don’t overwhelm followers with posts. Holding contests, sharing user-generated posts and asking questions can help you gain followers and attract interest. Post from different locations. Users tend to interact when they see others posting in their area. “As a starting point, I would suggest posting twice daily, alternating times of the day to find out when your highest engagement occurs,” advises Jonathan Long, founder of Market Domination Media, in Entrepreneur. Then start to experiment to find the optimum posting times and frequency.
Engage with others. Follow notable figures and other brands in your niche or geographic area and engage with them. Like and comment on their photos and respond to comments on your posts. “It’s especially important if you’re a relatively obscure brand just starting out,” says marketing consultant Neil Patel.
Partner with other businesses. Treat other businesses as allies rather than competitors. For example, two local restaurants could post images of one another’s dishes. “This kills two birds with one stone because it not only helps each restaurant boost their visibility but also reinforces a sense of ‘localness’” Patel says.
Track results. Take advantage of the network’s analytics tools. Similar to Facebook’s tools, the app’s “Insights” provide valuable data about your followers’ demographics and performance of your posts. Important metrics to track include likes, comments, hashtag mentions, volume of engagement and engagement rate. For more advanced measurement that includes the full range of social media networks as well as traditional media, organizations need a social media monitoring and measurement service.
Bottom Line: The growing popularity of Instagram for news consumption creates both new opportunities and risks for brands. While brands may gain better prospects for promoting PR and marketing messages, they face greater risks of reputational damage. Those expected changes underscore the need to monitor brand mentions and other keywords on Instagram.
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William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.