24 October 2016
Hong Kong Tourism Board has posted traditional dragon dance pictures (L) on Instagram while OpenSnapHK has images of colorful sandwiches. Credit: Instagram
Hong Kong Tourism Board has posted traditional dragon dance pictures (L) on Instagram while OpenSnapHK has images of colorful sandwiches. Credit: Instagram

The power of visual storytelling

Billions of people suddenly have a powerful phone and camera in their pocket. This is creating a profound shift: Images are replacing words. People are communicating visually and using images to experience the world around them. With 80 million photos posted to Instagram every day, we can say that if something is happening, it’s likely being captured on Instagram.

We announced last September that Instagram has reached a milestone with over 400 million monthly active users globally — up 100 million in just the past nine months. Among the last 100 million to join, more than half came from Asia and Europe.

With such scale, Instagram is a powerful mobile platform built on the power of visual storytelling. Since the early days in 2010, brands have been early adopters of Instagram, using the platform as a creative canvas to tell visual stories related to their business.

Last month, we also announced that businesses of all sizes have access to advertising on Instagram and this presents exciting possibilities for marketers, as well as the huge number of small and midsize businesses that power the economy.

Much of the growth on Instagram is taking place in Asia Pacific, where markets like Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea already lead the world when it comes to smartphone adoption.

By 2017, research firm IDC predicts that Asia Pacific will make up over half of the global mobile payments market, estimated to hit US$1 trillion. Instagram truly opens a world of possibilities for brands.

We’re seeing signs of this rapidly evolving marketplace all across the region, where Instagram is empowering people to start their own online business and connecting buyers and sellers like never before. A simple search of hashtags like #Instashop or #InstaSale shows up virtual shopfronts selling everything from designer shoes and bags to jewelry and vintage clothing.

In Hong Kong, brands like Hong Kong Tourism Board (@discoverhongkong), OpenSnap (@opensnaphk), P&G Vidal Sassoon (@vs_sassoon_hk) and Sony Mobile HK (@sonyxperiahk) have recently launched campaigns on Instagram.

While one of every five minutes spent online is on Facebook or Instagram, it’s also important to note how people use both platforms in different ways. Facebook is used mainly to stay in touch with friends and family while Instagram is the place people go to discover and be inspired by photos and moments.

Brands looking to engage audiences across both platforms will find the same targeting capabilities — such as gender, age and geography — available through Power Editor, making it easy to run an integrated campaign and reach the right people. Marketers already investing in a video or creative campaign on Facebook can also leverage them for Instagram.

Since we started running brand awareness ads on Instagram in initial markets almost two years ago, businesses have seen impressive results, with 97 percent of campaigns generating significant lift in ad recall.

We’ve learnt that the most successful brands on the platform share images that tell a story, create an emotional connection and don’t look out of place in a user’s highly curated photo feed. That doesn’t mean marketers always have to spend big on a photo shoot or production. Thousands of small business owners and hobbyists are already creating well crafted, compelling content with the help of simple photo editing and filtering tools, all on their mobile devices.

Here are some tips to achieve your business objectives on Instagram:

Start with a clear goal and creative concept: Compelling ads on Instagram have a strong concept tied to a clear objective. Whether it’s driving brand awareness, website clicks or app installs, creative concepts need to align with the campaign goal.

Celebrate the brand’s look and feel: Maintain a strong brand consistency across campaigns by establishing connective elements across images and videos – like an identifiable color palette, composition or photographic style – to make the brand more recognizable.

Focus on visual storytelling: The key factor that is important to driving engagement with the Instagram community is visual storytelling. Brands love telling a good story and Instagram provides simple tools like Carousel to bring this to life. Strong images and videos will amplify the outcome and fit within the native experience of Instagram. Look at your Instagram feed as a big picture and view your account as a whole rather than lots of separate images. Follow a theme or style that suits your brand purpose.

Any small business can essentially run an Instagram ad campaign in the same way that it is done on Facebook. Instagram advertising solutions are now available and easily purchased through Facebook Power Editor. Like Facebook ads, Instagram ads use Facebook targeting, support both brand awareness and direct response objectives, including website clicks, mobile app installs and video views.

Instagram’s advertising solutions include:

Image ads: Businesses can tell their stories through beautiful imagery. Whether it’s inspiring people to see your brand differently or to take action, they offer a clean, simple and beautiful creative canvas. Landscape photos and videos now allow greater flexibility to capture just the right visual message.

Video ads: Video ads offer the same visually immersive quality as photo ads on Instagram – with the power of sight, sound and motion. And now businesses can share up to 30 seconds long and in landscape format.

Carousel ads: Carousel ads bring an additional layer of depth to image ads. People can swipe to see additional images and a call to action button takes them to a website to learn more, shop more or download an app.

Marquee ads: This is a new premium product that will help brands drive awareness and expanded reach in a short time-frame. A high-impact single-day campaign, Marquee guarantees impressions and placement, ensuring that the brand story is at the forefront of the Instagram experience. This can be used with images, videos, link ads and carousel ad formats.

For marketers new to the platform, now’s the ideal time to set up an account, start posting content and start exploring. The best way to understand the community is to observe it, engage with it and then contribute to it.

The Instagram community reveals fresh ways of capturing images and videos, and can serve as the best inspiration for a brand to develop impactful and appropriate content for its audience.

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