Consumers don’t spend as much time thinking about brands as marketers think they do. Marketers often operate as if their consumers are just waiting around to engage with the brand. Yet the way many brands communicate isn’t that engaging.
Last year I had the opportunity to go through Instagram advertising bootcamp while consulting with a brand. The brand was one of a few that had been picked by Instagram to help pilot how Instagram should approach paid advertising. Instagram was wary of introducing commercial messaging. We spent a lot of time getting indoctrinated into the Instagram community and discussing how brands could advertise without coming across like they’re advertising.
Instagram is part of Facebook and our meeting was on the Facebook campus. But we talked in detail about how Instagram is not like Facebook, particularly in relation to advertising. We were instructed to bring a different mindset — that advertising on Instagram is about brand building, not triggering a direct response. And that brand messaging should be about the audience (particularly the conventions of the Instagrammer audience), not about the brand.
I’ve been thinking about that Instagram bootcamp recently when Instagram started opening the advertising floodgates more widely, first with multi-photo carousel ads in March and soon with more traditional direct-response ads. Ad Age summarized Instagram’s ad strategy in an article this month titled “Instagram’s Ads Are About To Get More Facebook-y.” It will be interesting to see how Instagram manages this transition, and the tension between brand building and direct response.
We’re in an awkward adolescent stage of social advertising, as brands find the right way to connect with consumers in all of the new channels that are available. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to create ads that are actually worth engaging with the brand.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)