A weekly wrap-up of valuable insights from the world of visual content, social media, and influencer marketing.
Under the Insta’lence
This week was Advertising Week in New York, and if you’re like the us here at ShareIQ, we spent a lot of time listening attentively to panel discussions and attending patiently to our cocktails. After all of the deal-making and thought-leadership-ingesting, it’s now a great time to ask yourself: How much do you love businesses? If you’re on Instagram, chances are it’s a whole lot. At the festival, Kristina Monllos of Adweek, spoke with their COO, Marne Levine, and it turns out that 80 percent of people on the platform (there are 800 million monthly users) connect to a business voluntarily.
Since launching business profiles for brands last year, Instagram has seen how it helps brands and consumers communicate. “In the last month there have been 180 million interactions with businesses, with consumers asking how to contact them, asking them about a certain product, to give an idea, feedback, phone number, whatever it is,” said Levine. “I think there’s so much more that we can do in this area.”
The company is also looking at “ecommerce and trying to learn and understand about how people shop on the platform,” said Levine, adding that Instagram wants to figure out how it can make the shopping experience more accessible.
Echoing the siren song of the ‘Gram, Aaron Luo, CEO and co-founder of luxury bag and accessories brand Caraa, emphasized in Digiday the value his brand finds for connecting and commerce. “Because it’s [Instagram] ‘free,’ we double down on the storytelling through the platform. We find Facebook [to be] not that effective. We did have a Snapchat, but have focused solely on Instagram.”
We here at ShareIQ have had a LOT to say about finding the ROI of influencer marketing, strategies for engagement, whether you should work with micro-influencers or celebrities and so on. This is because it’s clearly top-of-mind for marketers who are looking for the real value in their visual content engagement strategies. Luo, as well, found that when the rubber met the road, it made sense to go with what actually pays off for his brand: “We have definitely not pursued relationships with ‘high-profile influencers’; however, we find that even though through them we would get higher distribution, we get a similar engagement rate through micro-influencers and can develop a lasting relationship with them.”
Fickle Fashion Follies
For quite a while, the fast-fashion category has been a bright shining light in a somewhat gloomy retail sector, taking a growing piece of the US $220 billion fashion industry. As we found in a recent analysis of content performance and engagement, H&M has been a clear leader in the space, outpacing rivals such as Uniqlo and the Gap with smart marketing strategies.
That doesn’t mean that even the mighty are immune to fickle -- some would surmise millennial-led -- shifts in retailing. Now comes word from Bloomberg Businessweek that there may be something rotten in the state of Sweden (close enough to get a point for the pun, right?). In the fight for retail survival, H&M will join the rest of the known world following their customers where they want to browse and purchase: online. “Lots of fashion retailers struggle with the dramatically changing fashion market,” said Andreas Inderst, an analyst at Macquarie Capital. “H&M can’t escape that. Their physical store networks in established markets like Germany are exceptionally large and as customers shift demand to more online that has negative implications on footfall and store productivity.”
H&M’s online sales are growing and already account for more than a quarter of sales in some markets, the company said. It’s expanding online shopping to new markets like the Philippines and Cyprus. E-commerce is expected to grow by 25 percent or more for years to come, with digital sales surpassing those in stores before 2030.
With a greater bulk of sales moving online, we’d expect to see the big Swede double down on the investments they’ve made in dominating online marketing, especially their smart Instagram and Pinterest visual content strategies.
It’s fairly well-known in marketing-land that discovery -- and steering a prospect from learning about your brand through the purchase path -- is one of the key digital nuts to crack. It’s something we spend a lot of time working on (and thinking about, and speaking about) to help the brands we partner with.
We’ve long known, and their execs have known as well, that Pinterest is an ideal platform to help crack that discovery nut. This week, Sarah Perez reported in TechCrunch that the social network is working with Target to integrate its visual search technology known as Lens into Target’s apps, and later its desktop website. The deal, which represents the first time the company has integrated Lens into a retailer’s app, will allow Target shoppers to snap a photo of any product, and then find similar items available for sale at Target. The technology is meant to catch users at the moment of discovery, then push them into the buying cycle via Pinterest, instead of say, Google.
The visual and the audible are going to be the future paths for navigation -- and discovery -- of basically everything around us. As we’ve been seeing with Alexa integrations et al, retailers are quickly getting a start on pushing consumers along this path to purchase.
The Best of the Rest