Instagram Stalls, Time to get Worried?

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As Instagram rolls out it’s battle tank to increase revenue, usage statistics are tanking. Which is sort of ironic since the whole idea was to innovate and get more advertising money.

The dearth of technology is tied to innovation. Instagram has been slow to the finishing line since it was purchased by that behemoth, Facebook. People are sharing less on Facebook and for Instagram, people spend less time on it than in previous year.

Advertising on Instagram got a whole lot easier in 2016, namely, anyone with a Facebook account can buy adverts now on Instagram. It is basically the same way you buy Facebook advertising. No different except that you get to put your adverts up within a user’s newsfeed.

Not long ago, Instagram started to ditch its show me everything newsfeed to adopt a tuned algorithm. They will show you more of what you like….or suggest users that have similar post which you like and at the same time, take into account the number of likes and views of your particular post and tell the world where you stand. What do you make of it? Well, it is really to justify what you pay for. If your advert or post get shown to an audience, you get to see how many times it has been viewed. It cuts both ways.

Metrics are everything but results are a wee bit subjective.

Instagram is Spreading its Wings

If you happen to like posting stuff, Instagram now helps you to get discovered. Content consumers may not have an idea on who to follow so this clue might be helpful when users who have similar post you like are often suggested. Herein lies the problem.

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With 80% of its users now from outside the US, up from 75% last fall, Instagram’s growth has relied heavily on its popularity in overseas countries like Japan, Germany, France and Indonesia.

Marketing overseas got easier but not all of them speak English. So Instagram has introduced instant translations for post for users to read. 

This two prong approach sort of solves the problem but it doesn’t quite solve the engagement problem. People are using Instagram less as it is so yesterday, and this has gotten Instagram worried of course, and as a brand advertiser, you should be too.

If you don’t catch enough eyeballs, then where should you be?

Time to Get Worried?

Instagram has also hit 300 million daily active users. While 300 million is impressive, CNBC reported that Instagram usage has actually dropped 23.7% between this year and last . So even as Instagram is reaching a wider daily audience, its users are spending less time in-app. Less time means less revenue for Instagram and this is how it plays out.

The immediacy of an advertising campaign doesn’t mean you should be throwing more dollars at Instagram but to spread that reach wider on both traditional and online advertising and not rely on social media alone.

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That’s because the Daily Usage has tanked for Facebook and Instagram. People don’t post as much anymore or for that matter share or check their newsfeed to the point Instagram has to send you suggestions on who to follow and what to follow in terms of interest and pages.

Since the adverts are targeted, advertising can be directed at a particular profile but this will not stop ads from running meaninglessly when users scroll pass them. Do I recall what I just saw that was inserted into my news feed? Nope. Nor do I care since whatever advertising that was directed at me wasn’t of interest to me.

Videos got Longer on Instagram

Posting video is being extended to a whole 1 min. However Twitter has countered this allowing videos up to 140 seconds long with Vine. Wow. Would you be bored?

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The fight for video time is apparently getting longer for these two competing platforms but Twitter still lacks punch. Instagram is more social media while Twitter is more conversational. Even when Twitter can stand up on its own with the combination of Vine and Periscope, it can be a bandwidth hog if you’re not too careful with your mobile data.

This is what is keeping people from streaming on mobile. Data is expensive and viewers would rather watched the saved videos on Wifi.

Collective Engagement is the Key

The only reason why Starbucks would set up another shop a block down the road from the first one is location. If that is the case, then a collective engagement is what you are after should you have a social media strategy.

I find it pointless to pit Instagram with Twitter and Vine, or Google+ with Facebook. It is a collective engagement (the sum of its total) that you are interested in because duplicating content on all your social media platforms bores the hell out of people. Why should I follow your Instagram feed if you post the same stuff on Twitter? Or for that matter on Facebook or Google+.

Return on Investment Explained

ROI is very simple to explain in advertising terms. The aim is always thrice the amount of return on whatever you have spent in promotional activities.

The amount of time spent, and the effort put it has to justify the results. The rough advertising reach model is three times the cost in terms of ROI. So if you calculate all your social media time and effort to a daily rate, and if you multiply that in terms of dollar value by three times, this is the actual benefit you should be receiving from this collective engagement on social media for a weekly or monthly expense. If you are not getting that in ROI, then it is pointless to continue social media activities.

This justification is what doomed Facebook’s stubborn approach to organic reach and would happen the same way to Instagram if it is not careful. If an advertising or promotional effort is costing more than what it returns to brands and businesses, then the money would be better spent elsewhere.

 

 

 

How Facebook is spamming you…on your Newsfeed

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Everyone at some point would like to buy girl scout cookies to support the outfit. Imagine if you did, then automatically a whole bunch of them would descend on your neighbors to ask them to buy into it as well.

This is what is happening with Facebook’s new Newsfeed algorithm. During the conference, a warning shot was fired on the new Newsfeed algorithm where you are shown content from which your friends have liked. What they didn’t tell you was that the liked items were in fact sponsored adverts.

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The powers that be in Facebook decided that well, we need to target these sponsored adverts and here is a great way to do it, asking you directly if you would want to see it in your newsfeed. As these are adverts and not content, you get the idea where they are coming from.

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When I read the Improve your News Feed content box, I was actually thinking, hey, maybe there are some contents that I missed since I don’t want to see so many adverts on the time line. It is no secret that Facebook tracks the cookie trails left from your visit to Amazon, Aliexpress and any shopping portal and targets you with adverts.

So each time you see an advert on your timeline with the same item which you had searched for on a shopping site, you know it is them.

 

Facebook monetizes you as a commodity. So only advertisers will be spammed to your time line each time you click a preference of the sort of adverts to show up on your newsfeed. To avoid this, click at this spot to give them the run around.

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How to deal with Adverts on your Newsfeed

Each time you see an advert on your newsfeed and scroll pass it, Facebook algorithm thinks you may have missed it. So it keeps popping up over and over again. To banish them, you should do the following.

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When you click on HIDE ADVERT,  a new pop up box appears.

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All you have to do is click any of the advert options. I usually selected the third as I find it offensive that Facebook is showing me adverts on my timeline.

Adverts are now OVER Whelming!

It is high time users demand useful content versus paid ones. The sidebar is already full of adverts in the PC browser window. The migration of users to mobile apps is what made Facebook turn to Newsfeed adverts.

Over 80 percent of any FB Page views are now on Mobile devices, and if you don’t claw back some of that space from your newsfeed, it will get worse as more and more adverts will start to appear on you FB mobile app Newsfeed, so that means you see less and less of actual content.

Actual content are those which takes you to the article hosted on a news or blogging site. These Facebook Newsfeed adverts just takes you to another shopping site.

If this case, bloggers and content creators are no longer needed since Facebook already started testing out Instant Articles, which may give some bloggers the eyeballs but not necessarily the traffic you need to sustain your blog. This clandestine way or selling adverts to FB users is another nail in the coffin for bloggers and content creators.

Content creators are being squeeze out of the picture while users of Facebook have to bear the brunt of increasing data traffic to your timeline that are….adverts.

So let’s all put a stop to it before it gets any worst.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackhat Tactics of Using Instagram

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You would have heard by now that Instagram is open for advertising. Mom and Pop stores are all ready to take the plunge but the folks at Instagram isn’t opening a rate card for advertisers when they said they were taking promotions. Why?

How User Experience is important to the User

Facebook is a good example of something that is spinning out of control when it comes to advertising and promotions. Every nook and corner is being used to show you some advertising and they now appear on your mobile feed as well. That is probably one reason why the app got so bloated that they had to take out the Messenger functions and put it into a separate app.

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Instagram will stand to lose users if there is an advert appearing in your feed all the way. This is why they are only negotiating with big brands with between US$500,000 to US$1 million to spend monthly on Instagram advertising.

This sort of advertising will appear in your Instagram photo feed as a ‘sponsored post’. So if you suddenly are seeing Ben & Jerry’s adverts in your photo stream, hey, you probably used the hashtag #icecream a little too often.

Besides, Instagram sponsored post are location targeted. So if your Ukrainian hryvnia can’t buy enough dollars for an Instagram campaign, what are you gonna do?

Black Hat Techniques

There are only a few which you can take advantage of. The reason is simple, you can’t post active URL links unless it is part of your profile. So that limits the amount of spamming, but spamming can still happen.

First, you need to have an active account where you post a regular feed. Don’t be lazy on this as people who eventually follow you want to know if you are one of those fly by night entities where they post a whole load of stuff for one day and then silence is all they hear. The rest of the work is detailed down here.

#1 Use the Follow4follow Method to grow your followers

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Getting followers without paying for them is very hard. What’s more it makes no sense paying for fake followers as they don’t convert to anything meaningful.

So get down to the basics, search for hashtags of things which are related to your business. If you are an online shop, so much the better as the world is your oyster. You can start adding people from all over the world. Add the #follow4follow or #followback tag. This will help you get even more people. Once you have those #f4f fans, you can grow it even more by going through their own followers to add them to your account.

This is a lot of leg work but that’s what you have to do when you don’t have a million dollars to spend on Instagram advertising.

#2 Use location tags to find followers to add follow

This is a little more tricky but it can be done. Look out for tags of locations within your sphere of business. If you live in a city like NYC then look out for #nyc or #newyork. Problem with this method is that there are a lot of cities in the US which have similar names to cities in Europe. So do your homework, add those by checking their feed using Iconosquare. This site lets you see stuff on their feed and know the relevance. If that person is just visiting a place of your business sphere, chances are you have to add them to find out if they would be interested in coming back.

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Restaurants, cafes and even retail shops should use this method to best optimize their reach without having to pay a cent.

#3 Use that one link available to you in your Profile

Think of this as your one phone call while in jail. Nothing else matters. So think very hard on where you want this to lead.

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If you had to put a link that says something about your business or service? Will that be an impressive site that you spent time on? Or just another template website to bore the hell out of people? Think very carefully about this as people do not want to click on a link to a sales pitch.

#4 Use hashtags to find followers of similar Interest

If you sell waffles, of course you would follow people who post waffle pictures. Engage them if you like, and hopefully they will return a favor.

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For example, I post pictures of drones used in aerial photography and Instagram users who use that hashtag often will follow you base on that. This is also where the ball gets rolling and as long as you add more, then people will follow you back in kind as you have the same interest.

This can also be a branding exercise, if say you are pushing out your own special brand of toys or for that matter drone related accessories. Just with those drone pictures alone, I have people asking me questions on where to buy them or if I can sell them one. Now that’s what I call a sales lead without even trying very hard.

#5 Bait your comments to an Instagram Feed

This is the last trick in the book. People know that user accounts are clickable. What you do is to insert a secondary Instagram account that is nothing more than your product catalog. Link baiting is something Instagram cannot avoid as these are they are users. Some companies create entire catalogs on Instagram, This was how Ikea for Russia created the catalog.

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By citing the @useraccount in the comment section of a post to any of your followers, you are actually baiting them to come take a look. This eyeball method is what you basically need to optimize traffic. Sometimes you can follow a celebrity and do the same thing….it’s called link baiting by Facebook, and by posting something like that on a celebrity who has a million followers, you could slide your product catalog in on the sly.

The Last Frontier of Social Media

Social media campaigns and marketing is a lot of work. Do not think for one moment that you can spare the dime and do the time. Many will eventually give up because it is a full time affair posting, creating and crafting content for Instagram.

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However Instagram is relatively free of interference from its owners, Facebook. There are certain blocked hashtags you can’t use on Instagram but you can always get around this to find similar minded users by browsing their feed. This manual method of identifying of customers is what builds your followers. And once you do that, you can engage with them directly.

The outright sales pitch is probably not very useful. You can of course use Instagram for branding as well. Contest wise, it’s less visible as the web site Iconosquare is the only place that let’s users engage with brands provided they bother to user the site to log in.

Right now, there are no real third party apps which can access Instagram APIs fully on a mobile app. Some allow you to browse your feed but not manage your post. It is probably this stage of Instagram which is not yet regulated makes it a real challenge for mass market spammers.

The idea behind the instagram black hat strategies is not about spamming but chosing your content to market to like minded folks. This, takes time and the rewarding part is seeing your content post do its magic without having to part with a million dollars for Instagram advertising.