The Brand vs. Instagram

So I’m probably going to be one of many bloggers out there to comment on the whole Instagram frenzy/debacle/catastrophe or what have you not circulating throughout social media over the past few days, but I thought I’d put my two cents in…. not talking exactly about whether I agree or disagree with the changes, but more specifically, touching on how much power social media apps have over the way businesses operate and do marketing online. 

By neglecting the feed’s chronological order and changing it to show posts that Instagram thinks are of most interest to the user, many small business and young entrepreneurs run the risk of losing their established, follower-base and forego the possibility of becoming #instafamz. But is this what they should really be concerned about?

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@pityreally

Despite their statement on Twitter saying no changes were to be implemented for the time being, the negative response from many users speaks volume about the importance of attracting followers through engaging content both within Instagram and extending beyond to other platforms such as their own branded applications. After all, without this function (i.e. the instantaneity derived from chronological feeds), businesses have only theirselves to rely on. It therefore holds true that, good content = greater reach. Brands must keep in mind the importance of relevancy, and Kaplan’s (2014) four I’s (individualise, integrate, involve and initiate) provide critical advice on how they can uphold that.

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Like many other fashion brands, the Australian online fashion retailer The Iconic generates involvement by hosting the occasional photo contest and encouraging users to post/hashtag/tag. This creative process often creates excitement among followers (particularly when ultimately there is a reward waiting in the end) and initiates the creation of user-generated content. The holy grail for mobile social media.

In 2014, the brand was awarded “Best Mobile Commerce Application” winner at the Oria awards, based on great feedback from customers. Their app provides easy integration into user’s lives by allowing customers to scroll through and purchase clothing items instantly through a fast and secure checkout, anywhere at anytime. It is also somewhat individualised in the sense that users are able to sort through clothing based on their needs and interests (i.e. filtered by brand, colour, price, size or whether it is a sale item).

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The Iconic App

Adding to all the hysteria, just a few hours ago Instagram also put forth an announcement stating they will officially be updating their video function which will allow users to record for up to 60 seconds (a jump from the current 15 secs) and create videos with multiple clips from your camera roll. So how exactly will these changes to mobile social media technology affect marketing? This will provide more creative opportunities for businesses and force them to rethink their video marketing strategy. However, at the same time they must ensure what they post is captivating enough to hold the viewer’s attention as most often it takes only a split second to decide whether or not to continue watching.

Other sources: 
Kaplan, A. (2012). If you love something, let it go mobile: Mobile marketing and mobile social media 4×4. Business Horizons, 55(2), 129-139.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2011.10.009

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Kayla Itsines: A Marketer’s Dream

Pretty recently I’ve made the life changing decision to put all my lonesome gym equipment to good use in pursuit of perfectly chiseled abs and the ultimate Kim K booty (well maybe not completely Kim K, but getting close ‘cos let’s be honest… that shit cray).

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And who to turn to none other than the all-time Ab Goddess/Workout Queen formally known as Kayla Itsines *cue heavenly music*

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Now, if you’ve never heard of Kayla before ya’ll must be living under a rock because as of today she has over 5 million likes on Facebook and 4.5 million followers on Instagram and still counting.

Kayla is a qualified personal trainer from Adelaide who studied at the Australian Institute of Fitness. After graduating she worked at a “women’s only” personal training centre where alongside her usual PT practices, she began to develop her own set of workouts and nutrition guidelines to help clients who were unsatisfied with their own bodies. On her website she states:

“Before I knew it, I had developed workouts and cardio techniques, mixed with nutrition planning that achieved a certain result: a bikini body confidence… My clients saw amazing results in 12 weeks or sometimes even sooner, and began to tell their friends and spread an amazing positive message. I soon realised that this was becoming bigger than I had imagined, and I needed a way to reach more women..”

And indeed she has. The Kayla Movement is growing every single day (even minutes) as more individuals aspire to live healthier and happier lifestyles.

There are, of course, other fitspo internet sensations (such as Amanda Bisk, Emily Skye and of course the controversial Ashley Bines) who have also secured an online presence with many followers, however, greater success can no doubtedly be attributed to Kayla Itsines and her program.  But how exactly has this movement gained a cult following and become so well-liked?

One word:

 C O M M U N I T Y.

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Community unites. Community brings meaning. Community brings value to those around. This is not only important, but vital to a brand’s business model and strategy if they are to succeed.

According to Dessart, Veloutsou and Morgan-Thomas (2015), engagement with the online community and the brand can translate into increased loyalty, more specifically when there is an exchange of positive experiences, content and information (Vivek et al., 2012).

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Instagram: @kayla_itsines

Indeed, there has been copious amounts of shared experiences and support circulating on various SNS (Facebook and predominately Instagram) through what is known as the “BBG Community”, which is named after Kayla’s popular “Bikini Body Guide”. Many of the followers who actively take part in the program often create BBG-specific accounts to track their progress and to be-friend, support and train with others part of #kaylasarmy.

Despite the movement having originated from Kayla’s Instagram, there are more likes on her Facebook page in contrast. Perhaps due to the nature of Facebook and it’s greater flexibility in providing different forms of content that appeal to the different interests and behaviours of users within the online community. A lil something for errybody. Thanks Oprah. I mean Kayla.

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In an article by Hodis (2015), she describes four distinct segments which provides a framework for how marketer’s can increase consumer engagement (pull rather push strategy):

(1) The Entertainment Chasers – escaping the shackles of their boring, no-good lives. Soz, that escalated quickly.

Plenty of smoothie bowls (much aesthetic), nutrition facts, work-out vids and the occasional feature of her cute pup to keep these peeps entertained.

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(2) The Attention Seekers – those who want it all. 

Part of the BBG Community is built on hashtags, progress shots and account features on behalf of Kayla and many other users. Despite a pursuit that may not even be exactly narcissistic, these peeps have the opportunity to talk about/show off their smokin’ bods and clean eating to the wider online community.

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(3) The Devotees – if the Entertainment and Attention Seekers were to have a lovechild. Dis b it. 

These users may need to go through SNS rehab at some stage in life (just u wait), but their need for high levels of consumption and creation would indeed be satisfied by the amount of community support and involvement – from being able to share and post comments to the many entertainment posts.

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(4)  The Connection Seekers – all for da comunicación.

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Considering the true motivation of connection seekers is to hang out (Hodis, 2015), Kayla’s Boot Camp World Tour gives followers of the community the chance to work out together and socialise on all things fitness. Additionally, the level of involvement from the overall community provides many opportunities to engage and connect with one another.

Despite being a social network platform, Instagram operates predominately as a photo-sharing/video-sharing app. What this means is that although it has also been successful in engaging users through being visually satisfying, it’s functions are in some ways constrained. Users cannot see what events their friends are attending, or how many other users of the public may be also be going. It might also be difficult to target these different segments as Instagram does not present a bundle of various content in the same way as Facebook does and, therefore limiting the users’ selectivity.

Can you guys think of any brands or companies who are great at connecting with their communities? Comment and let me know!