By Hannah Monds, Managing Director EMEA at BCMA member, Tagger Media
Instagram and its parent company Facebook have been beta-testing huge platform updates behind the scenes, and marketers should start planning now for full implementation down the road.
Over the past few months, there have been three notable changes to Instagram’s and Facebook’s platforms that will absolutely affect the direction and efficacy of brands’ marketing strategies. Here’s how marketers can prepare ahead of time to minimise their adjustment period to these major platform updates and maximise ROI.
The first major change came at the end of last year with Facebook announcing its plan to hide likes from the public.
Users have long sought ‘likes’ as a status symbol, but beyond personal gratification, brands use likes to calculate engagement and determine how much to invest in an influencer marketing campaign. Knowing this metric will be hidden from public view completely changes how members of the social media marketing industry should approach paid partnerships, and measuring KPI’s.
When this change goes forward there will be a significant shift from focusing on ‘likes’ to focusing on ‘impressions’. With public-facing actions like views and likes being hidden, reach, impressions and accurate social listening will be the new anchors of social media marketing.
The second change of note came mere weeks ago with the announcement that Instagram will be introducing Direct Messaging via their Desktop app.
With Instagram now running ads in user’s feeds, Explore tab, and Stories, only IGTV and Direct Message remain the major features lacking monetisation (more on IGTV below).
The success rate of Direct Message marketing via Facebook’s messenger app has proven to be extremely high for both brands and businesses. So, it’s a natural progression for Instagram to adopt a similar business model.
Until now, direct messaging has only been available via Instagram’s mobile app. But recently, a small percentage of users have been given access to direct messaging via Instagram’s desktop platform.
The ability for brands and influencers to send messages at scale from a computer keyboard rather than a phone (and vice versa) will allow for greater volume and accuracy of communication. Users will also be better able to handle direct communications like customer service enquiries and influencer relationships.
Looking at Facebook’s success, it’s a natural conclusion that paid Direct Message marketing for Instagram isn’t far behind. And this is great news. Desktop DM’s will create a more affordable direct-to-consumer marketing option that we anticipate many brands, as well as lower and mid-tier influencers, will jump to take advantage of.
The third upcoming update is Instagram’s testing of IGTV Ads so creators can monetise their long-form videos.
Instagram recently confirmed it has prototyped a Partner Program that will allow creators to monetise their content on IGTV. This is an exciting new opportunity to earn income via the platform, and influencers and marketers alike are taking notice.
IGTV, Instagram’s long-form video platform-within-a-platform, has long been trying to encourage creators to post high-quality content via Instagram rather than diverting traffic to other platforms.
The new Instagram Partner Program gives creators an increased incentive to post on IGTV, allowing them to earn money by showing advertisements in short “ad breaks” in their videos. Notably, this would be the first step in monetising the platform itself.
This is a huge update not only for creators but for marketers as well. We should be thinking ahead about what kinds of ads would best fit which audiences via IGTV. Start planning your strategy now and be among the first adopters when this update goes platform-wide.
Anticipate platform changes & stay ahead of the competition
One of the most effective thing brands, agencies, and creators can do to increase ROI is pay attention to social media beta programs that will inevitably lead to major algorithm updates, and eventually change how a platform is most effectively used.
These three major updates, so close on each other’s heels, might I add, absolutely suggest major algorithm and platform shifts. Understanding how the tide is turning by looking at the big picture, rather than reacting to each update as it comes, is the key to sustainable success in influencer marketing.
Hannah Monds is the Managing Director EMEA at Tagger Media. She is an experienced cross-media sales professional with 12 years of experience in the International Media landscape, with a proven track record of new business development and revenue generation. She currently resides in London.