Instagram Stories Vs Snapchat: Putting the STORY in storytelling

There used to a time when famous tales of unmatched heroism and unshakable noble values created legends which found themselves entrenched in our inherent cultures. Whether the story was conveyed via pictures and engravings, or passed down orally from generation to generation, the STORYTELLING methodology has always determined the impact the story leaves behind. It is a fact that emotions are what can drive through that connection which is the desired result for all stories, after all we humans are a heavily emotional species and all metrics for communication account for this storytelling journey.

 

That being said, the storytelling experience has evolved tremendously since the days of traditional folk art and socio-cultural literary work. As a rapidly growing and evolutionarily advantaged species, constant connectivity among each other through varying channels of communication has always been an insatiable demand by the upwardly mobile masses culminating in the advent of the DIGITAL MOBILE AGE. We all know about social media and how it brought about a revolution in outbound and inbound communication, but in this article we plan to focus on the unique streams of content brought about by revolutionary storytelling platforms Snapchat and Instagram.

             

 

 

It is a well-known fact that Snapchat pioneered the concept of transcending text based content altogether and leveraging ‘Episodic Content’ to create a completely new track for updating your content feed. When we talk about episodic content, we’re talking about pictures and videos which would be shared by the user for their communities with a shelf life of only 24 hours. Beyond 24 hours you would no longer be able to view that content and your feed would get refreshed with ‘Newer’ content from the community you follow. This would indirectly encourage users to log on more often and keep up with their content feeds on Snapchat, lest they should miss it for all eternity after the 24 hour lapse period. In fact, Snapchat were so beholden to their approach of getting users to generate more content, ‘fresher’ content to keep their feeds active that up till mid 2016 users could not even save and view their own posts beyond the 24 hour self-termination limit. However this rule was amended by Snapchat in 2016 with the introduction of a native feature called ‘Snapchat Memories’ which allowed users to save their posts and post them in their storylines at a later date again.

 

Snapchat caught on, like the flu in a packed classroom, and was all the rage for a content hungry generation which quickly adopted this highly personalized and authentic stream of stories from a community they trust. But just because someone thought of and executed an idea well, doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be the naturally selected leader in that particular field for all time to come. An idea can just as easily be replicated and implemented better that the originators of that particular concept. This is where Instagram threw its hat into the ring of ‘Episodic’ content and set course for a social media rivalry which would see cut-throat one-upmanship and unabashed recourse to taking something from your rival’s stable and just making it better. If Instagram’s market lead was being quickly eroded by the growing popularity of Snapchat, it was only because they were lacking the unique storytelling features afforded to users in the form of ‘time-bound’ content which was ‘Fresher’ in every way. How does one get rid of a problem like that? Though ‘Tireless Innovation’ and the power of the infamous ‘Ctrl + C maneuver’, the world was introduced to Instagram Stories, your very own Snapchat on Instagram.

 

Photo provided by – socialmediaexaminer.com

Not that it’s completely wrong to borrow an original concept and polish it to present a better and more wholesome end product to the consumer, but some happenings cause enough disruption in the market to create two sides of the divide which fight for and against the changing order. Instagram stories was Instagram’s ‘Hail Mary’ move to counter the declining interest in their platform and the migration of user activity to Snapchat. As far as we can tell, the risky move worked and Instagram has successfully manage to stem the attrition on users to a rival platform and use its already dominant position to rally the collective desire to streamline a multiverse of social media platforms to its own advantage. And just exactly what are these advantages that Instagram would have over rival Snapchat is pretty plain to see.

 

It’s easy to understand just why Instagram would have an edge over Snapchat once the former made the native changes to its content stream with ‘time-bound’ content pieces just like Snapchat. However this feature was an addition to Instagram’s features, not a complete overhaul of the existing structure of the content feed. This fact gave Instagram a distinct advantage in the avenues for communication whereby a user who had only one distinct feed to rely on, now had two separate feeds with different approaches to storytelling. The time bound nature of Instagram Stories helped it retain its authenticity with its followers and now gave them TWICE the motivation to go ahead and check their feed more often, just like Snapchat. But now that both Instagram and WhatsApp have embraced the world of ‘Episodic’ content, does not mean that Snapchat will be resigned to the depths of social media failures. They still retain a fiercely loyal fan following who give credence to the originality of the brand and retain their love for the ubiquitous Snapchat Filters which are updated on a regular basis giving another dimension to picture communication. And even on the brand’s side, the smart use of Geo-filters enable them to generate highly relatable content without causing a major disruption to our content feeds, all important milestones for any social media platform.

 

Overall, in our opinion we would give a slight edge to Instagram as a whole as compared to Snapchat primarily due to the ‘double feed feature’ which gives users more options, and the User is King!! But we can never rule out the pioneering spirit of Snapchat which is bound to find a way to innovate its way to the top of Social Media Pantheons.

 

10 Native Advertisements People Really Liked

In our previous segment, we had talked about the ‘Power of Native Content’ and exactly how native advertising will change the landscape of marketing in the future. But all this hoopla around what the ‘Experts’ have to say stands for nothing if the audience seems to absorb this form of native content without any disruptive patterns while they are being engaged.

Here’s our list of 10 EXCELLENT examples of native advertising which were very well received by the intended audience:

  1. When GE landed with Supercompressor

Thrillist media group’s popular online tech and gadget mecca joined forces with industrial powerhouse General Electric or GE and came out with an innovative concept for native content which yielded better that ever results. They started a series of articles called the “11 Things You Didn’t Know About the Apollo Missions” in the hope of guiding their loyal fan base towards the enormous contribution Industrial titan GE towards the greatest achievement of mankind, sending a man on the MOON.

The gamble paid off!! A special edition of GE sneakers with space age tech launched on Thrillist Media’s e-commerce site Jack Threads and sales blasted off, straight through the roof. Now that’s what we’d call a smart play

 

2. When IKEA went to bed with Telegraph

IKEA is known for its ingenious solutions for making your home a better place to live in. They decided to extend this innovative streak and branch it out to their marketing department and partnered with Telegraph to create “A-zzz of Bedroom ideas” online quiz

Image from: Ikeabedrooms.telegraph.co.uk

Based on your questions you would get personalized sleep advice which would help you ‘Improve your bedroom life’

Image from: Ikeabedrooms.telegraph.co.uk

A user could even view all 26 different Tips to improve their bedroom life. Towards the end the user is gently nudged via an underlined link which would re-direct a user to the IKEA e-commerce section for bedroom products. Subtle, yet Incisive!!

Image from: Ikeabedrooms.telegraph.co.uk

 

3. When Microsoft fed off Buzzfeed’s Popularity

Buzzfeed has a fiercely loyal fan following and they ensure that their native engagements stick to the pattern which its followers are used to. So when Microsoft decided to create a little ‘Buzz’ of its own, they followed the path leading towards internet humour came out with the post “10 Struggles of Teaching Your Parents How to Computer”

Image from: buzzfeed.com

With the gentle push towards the end, Of course!

 

4. When Wells Fargo decided to start with a clean Slate

Financial behemoth Wells Fargo decided to form an alliance with Slate.com and went on to do a feature piece on the Lavell School for The Blind and Visually impaired. The content went on to feature the students from this school who attend the B.E.A.T. NYC’s music and beatbox classes. The impaired friendly content in the form of audio commentary from teachers and video of students performing seems to have made a major connection with the audience of Slate. Well done, Wells Fargo!!

 

 

5. When Netflix had a fling with the New York Times

The New York Times is a fairly recent entrant into the world of Native content (2014). However being the publishing powerhouse that they are, they soon adopted it as one of their standard forms of advertising and led the way in coming up with native innovations. So when Netflix wanted to do an informative content piece with NYT, they did an entire sponsored feature ”Women inmates: Separate but not equal” discussing the problems faced by women who are incarcerated. This was done keeping in mind the upcoming second season of Netflix TV series ‘Orange is the New Black’

 

  

6. When Nike worked out with SB Nation

When it comes to sports marketing, few brands do it bigger and bolder than sporting goods giant Nike. So when Nike decides to partner with a brand already steeped in sporting glory like SB Nation, you know you’re in for a campaign which would really connect with their audience. SB Nation stared a featured section called “First & Long” which featured Nike Brand Ambassadors from the Superbowl who visit their High Schools to train with and motivate their juniors to keep pushing the limits

 

7. When MasterCard decided to gel well with Mashable

MasterCard has been ahead of the advertising curve, and keeping with this tradition MasterCard came out with this master stroke of marketing by allying with Mashable for a graphic heavy content piece. This feature Article titled “Mobile Minded” talked about how our relationship with our mobile devices has evolved over time and how we can make the most our this new relationship dynamic, placing heavy emphasis on MasterCards digital payment system

Image from: Mashable.com

 

8. When Toyota Fuelled up at Forbes

Forbes has taken the lead when it comes to publishing native content for brands who are looking at partnering with one of the most powerful publications in the corporate world. Similarly Toyota teamed up with Forbes and came out with the “Fuelled by Skepticism” campaign which chronicled some of the most historic achievements of mankind along with the severe criticism which preceded that momentous occasion, like so:

After the going through the chronicles and taking a brief quiz the conversation effortless drifts into the Hydrogen Fuel cell push in the industry and Toyota lets in a subtle mention of it being part of this ‘vehicular revolution to save the planet’

Images from: Forbes.com

 

9. When Hennessy raced into the lead with Vanity Fair

When Lifestyle and Cognac icon Hennessy wanted to pull a marketing coup, it couldn’t choose a better publication than the lifestyle centric Vanity Fair. As a tribute to the unending ambition of men who have pushed themselves to the edge, Hennessy partnered with creative agency Droga5 to produce a behind the scenes video of Sir Malcolm Campbell, ‘The Fastest Man on Earth’. Malcolm had broken the then land speed record of 300 mph way back in 1935 and the following snapshot is a fine example of some of the best native content pieces out there

 

10. When Warner Bros decided to tell-all with Fortune Magazine

As a hard hitting preclude to the upcoming Batman Vs Superman box office hit (it actually bombed at the box office) Warner Brothers decided to partner with Fortune magazine in a brilliantly thought out but fictitious interview with Joseph “Lex” Luthor

In addition to the above interview, which also happened to go viral on social media (15k shares), Warner Brothers took the unprecedented step and created an official Twitter account for Lex Luthor with his first tweet being the interview with Fortune Magazine

 

The above represents some of the native content pieces which stood out from the crowd for us. The growing number of digital media consumers and their strict demand for anti-disruptive forms of marketing compel brands to innovate and adapt to consumer who may be resistant to change. This flurry of innovation has led us to some of the most genius marketing content ideas and we can’t wait to see what the future of Native Content has in store for us.

Native Content (Or is it advertising?) – The power of borrowed credibility

 

First of all, let’s dispel with some common misconceptions revolving around Native Content. Native Advertising, as is the accepted industry nomenclature, is often misconstrued to be a part of Content Marketing. This cannot be further from the truth as Content Marketing is an essential aspect of your brand’s overall marketing strategy with the primary objective of deriving some kind of profitable responses from users engaged in the content being circulated by you. These actions are initiated across various platforms which would include your own platforms like your website, social media platforms, YouTube channels etc. The dissemination of content across your own platforms is a rent-free mechanism to acquire and engage with your target audience. The desire to go beyond the limitations and reach of your own platforms is where the advertising aspect of content marketing comes into play. Marketing 101, if it’s a pay and play model for running your content on other platforms, it will be called advertising. But in the interest of not scaring away the dithering masses from the word ADVERTISING, we will continue with the usage of the term NATIVE CONTENT for the remainder of this article.

The above discrepancies in terminology is not entirely unfounded as we come to understand the very nature of native content. Native content was an earth shaking innovation in the advertising industry which saw it’s true potential being realized somewhere after 2010. As we all know regular advertising, which has been around for eons, had the sole purpose of driving the attention of potential customers away from their competitors and towards themselves through catchy phrases, attractive visuals and magnetic brand personas. Although these have proven time and again that they work, they had one apparent flaw which didn’t always curry favour with the audience that they were to be consumed by, they were DISRUPTIVE in nature. Not every user was pleased to see a pop-up ad while surfing their favourite website, or a TV commercial break in just before the climax of the movie you were watching. In fact the phenomena of ad bombardment drew away millions of people away from the concept of advertising all together which resulted in a negative trend in consumer behavior.

Enter NATIVE CONTENT!!! Native content was specifically designed to blend in with the overall content experience and stylized parameters of various platforms it pops up in. So when a user is navigating his/her way on a website, the paid content which is being pushed through from a non-native brand must strictly adhere the content structure and layout. This is done specifically to avoid user ad-fatigue on the host platform, and in many cases, completely doing away with the perception of any generic advertising on the platform altogether. The very reason many of the brands went ahead with native advertising instead of other mediums like banner advertisements is because if the user consumes the content from their trusted platforms in a seamless and NON-DISRUPTIVE manner, the brand recall and content retention will be stronger without the taint of it being a PAID advertisement. Even though paid content is specifically mentioned as being so, if the stream of information is relatable and relevant for the user, the chances of breaking through to the potential customer greatly improves and the chances of achieving the primary marketing objectives.

Native content comes across in many forms and can range from the time testing marketing vehicles like Advertorials, to the hot and happening avenue of INFLUENCER MARKETING. To many users who may not be acquainted with the subtleties of native content, the underlying tones of profit seeking marketing goals may just completely escape under the aegis of genuine content from their trusted platform. To help familiarize users with the different kinds of native content, here are some prime examples of Native Advertising across different platforms:

ADVERTORIALS:

  

 

 

 

PROMOTED LISTINGS:

                                    

INFLUENCER MARKETING:

 

PROMOTED TWEETS AND FACEBOOK POSTS:

         

PAID SEARCHES:

The above are just a few examples of paid content which is showcased and projected to the user with minimum disruptions in the content flow. With the business mandated requirement of generating revenue and the credibility retention necessity to maintain their current user bases, native content has given tremendous flexibility and power to the media owners of today ushering in an era of brilliant marketing innovations and creative convergence of ideas. With the advent of the mobile platform and digitalization of most content, there has never been a more opportune period for native content

 

SEO & Content – The blurry correlations

In a deliberate attempt to smoothen the absence of context for the uninitiated, we will be delving into the intricate world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how the quality of content immediately affects your content platform’s ‘visibility’ among the billions of Google search results for users. A fairly rudimentary explanation of SEO would entail the steady improvement of various factors that would give your platform a higher placement in a localized Google search by a user. This so called ‘ranking’ system (albeit ranking is a wrong analysis of SEO placements) is determined by highly evolved algorithms which crawl though trillions of pieces of content on the World Wide Web and displays them to a user in a top-down results order. This order is decided by the numerous factors imbedded within the algorithms which make decisions based on ‘Keywords’ inputted by the user, quantum of content, content relevancy, engagement levels and many more other such factors. For the sake of brevity we will be focusing on only the aspect of ‘good content’ and its effects on SEO.

 

The marketing adage of ‘content is king’ is often wrongfully construed by many as a mandate to go ahead with a quantitative approach instead of a qualitative approach towards their content strategies. With Google’s recent tweaking of their ranking algorithms, the relevancy of the former is seeing a steady decline as users are drifting more towards quality content which is more purpose driven and adds value to their area of interests. It will suffice to say that the old approach of content bombardment and pushing more and more content to your existing user base will have a negative impact on your user base ultimately leading towards user attrition towards competing platforms. This reorientation towards a more ‘User is King’ line of thinking by the big players like Google belies the shifting attitudes towards content consumption and why we as marketers need to focus on user experiences to gain or maintain relevancy in this clutter of online content.

 

To stay ahead in the game, there are several things which we must factor in while formulating our content strategies for the upcoming year:

  1. Content creation must have a goal oriented approach where specific goals that a user may have while consuming your content must be met without leaving any open ended queries which may require a follow up.
  2. Accessibility of content is a huge factor for the user and we must ensure that our content reach is in no way impeded by non-conformity with different platforms like mobile devices etc. The user will always remember a pleasurable experience and plays into the user retention aspect of our content strategies.
  3. The on-demand generation of today does not like to wait. The extremely harrowing experience of waiting for a site to load or painstaking pace of an unevolved user interface severely cripples the chances of your platform ever making it to upper echelons of search engine results. Even brilliant content will not have the power to push through your rankings and as a result you will see an exodus of consumers of your content.
  4. Social media will undoubtedly become one of the biggest factors in SEO in the approaching times. Even though other factors still outrank it in the SEO priority scale, social media is still an excellent mechanism to push through your content to highly evolved users. Tailoring your content for social media intake should be a priority for achieving your SEO objectives in the long run. Pro Tip – Google +, despite being a minnow in the eyes of B2C brands, it plays heavily on your SEO rankings. An engaging Google+ profile will surely give a boost to your SEO goals.
  5. Lastly, one needs to be absolutely sure that you are better than the competition. As important as having your own distinct vision for your brand, it is thoroughly important you keep up with what the competition is doing. A disgruntled user will have no qualms about looking out for an alternative source of content, and the best way to avoid that situation is to follow the above approach to maintain your lead over your competitors and doing your job better than the competitors.

Overall, content will be the overriding factor for Google to bump up your SEO standings. As algorithms further evolve and become smarter at gauging user experience, good content will be the trigger factor for more engagement surrounding your content, which will in turn greatly enhance your brand’s chances of achieving their SEO goals. A long term strategy towards showcasing good content will produce results which may surprise your team and derive a more organic and self-sustaining growth for your brand.

Influencer Marketing: From the Sidelines to the Frontlines

There was a time when pop-up advertisements were the thing, banner advertisements ruled the roost and e-mailers were always part of your marketing budgets. Then came the age of social media and as sure as your mother’s cooking, it caused the biggest revolution in communication since the invention of the telephone. It changed the entire landscape of social communication and how we share multiple streams of information with each other, for eternity. It has reached a point where billions of people across the globe are now connected to each other over social media platforms at all times, thanks to the advent of mobile phone technology. With ready access to this humongous database of ‘consumers’ for the plethora of products and services, there has never been a more opportune period for marketers to cash in and derive a more concise and ROI driven campaign to get the right results, through the right avenues.

 

Riding on the successes of content centric campaigns and organically derived ‘media-miracles’, ushered the rise of a socially mobile and highly engaging group of brand ambassadors called INFLUENCERS. Not only did they create another avenue to hone in on a highly targeted audience, but also leveraged their personal popularity to set up an entire eco-system for furthering branding campaigns. 2016 is largely considered as a watershed moment in the fairly infantile lifespan of ‘Influencer Marketing’, mainly due to the coming of age of highly personalized and influential content on social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. From celebrities to CEOs to bloggers to marketers, anyone who was willing to utilize their ‘social statuses’ to push a certain agenda, whilst maintaining their auras of credibility and content structures, jumped onto the ‘Influencer Bandwagon’.

 

The elevation to the level of being an influencer is not just relegated to mere grandstanding and one-way communication, but a path ridden with smart long-term approaches and sustained engagement in one’s inherent interest areas. 2017 holds some very interesting prospects for influencer marketing which will see an upward trend in brands looking to immerse themselves into including a wide range of influencers targeting specific groups of users. A renewed vigour among traditional marketing firms and agencies has initiated an acquisition/diversion of dedicated resources. This will explore more and more intricate avenues to increase consumer engagement through the use of influencers. That being said, in this ever evolving age of digital revolutions, influencers should not bet against the future by sabotaging their own eco-system through excessive interests and sub-contextual content pushes.

 

In the divergent world of influencer marketing where global icons exercise influence over swathes of cyberspace,  the hyper-local social media ninjas who giving a new avenue of precision targeting for local businesses, brands have never been bolder in their approach towards exploiting the ubiquitous desire for self-generated content. Overall the prosperity of the influencer marketing sector will hinge upon a continuing desire to keep up with the latest trends, and inputs of self-regulation to avoid over-inflationary tendencies which negatively impact ROI for the brand in question. All in all, we as a part of this eco-system of mutual dependency must sincerely work towards fine-tuning all aspects of campaign approaches, so that the CONSUMER in each and every one of us derives genuine value from the content displayed in front of us.

 

 

 

 

Here’s presenting our fortnightly video series. We call it The Fortnightly Show.

It came, it saw, and it left us with a withering sense of self which forced us into deep introspection and wonder. 2016 gave us a bucket load of memories which we will remember forever (read scarred for life) and the impact has been so profound, we are duty bound to present some of the most contentious, preposterous and downright insane happenings from the year that was 2016. Watch Abhishank Babbar (our local communications specialist) take apart issues ranging from ubiquitous ‘Sonam Gupta’ to the batshit craziness of the November ‘DEMONitisation’, and get down and dirty with the ‘Year that misbehaved’. Follow us on YouTube for more such ‘inspiring’ and ‘engaging’ videos. Don’t forget, Episode 2 is just around the corner.
 

Here’s What Every Content Marketer Should Keep In Mind In 2017

It’s official! The amount of time people are spending on different media platforms, especially social media, doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As a direct result of smarter platforms and precision guided targeting, content will retain its crown as the king of marketing strategies in 2017 and the foreseeable future.

The deviation from the past tactics of ‘Content Bombardment’, which emphasized continued presence in the audience’s fields of interests, has led a near revolution in the way the target groups will be engaged and fed content. The ability to personalize your content streams across different platforms makes for an opportune period for content marketers to access the attention of their audience and ‘seize the opportunity’. 2016 has been more like a watershed moment in the ‘Advent of the Social Age’, but like most trends which come and go some are sure to stick around touch new heights in 2017.

Here’s what we think are some of the things to look out for content marketers in 2017:

  • Videos will continue to rally and maintain their lead in the world of content marketing. We already saw the robust acceptance and usage of the ‘Live Streaming’ and ‘360 Degrees Videos’ in 2016 and there is no reason this will slow down in 2017.
  • With more segmented content tailored to your specifications, the User of 2017 will see an uptick in engagement activities thereby encouraging the prospects of content marketers out there.
  • We’ve always thought of email marketing as a dying tool in this varied marketing environment. However due to the personalized settings of many email services, the actual value derived from an e-newsletter is going up along with the ‘email open rates’ increases in certain instances. This is good news for email marketers.
  • Purpose is the often the key for getting it right for marketers across the globe. Purpose driven content has bridged the gap between User problems/issues and remedial measures which in turn creates a symbiotic relationship between the content and the audience. Watch out for more ‘How to……’ content in the year of 2017.
  • The general acceptance of mobile friendly formats will leap into the realm of ‘necessity’ rather than its ancillary nature in the past. With 65-70% of all internet activity projected to emanate from mobile devices, it is only imperative that designers start building mobile friendly interfaces from the get go.
  • With the changing of the rules of post reach by many media powerhouses like Facebook, the ability to achieve a purely organic growth and reach will become more and more difficult. Advertisers will have to spend more money and innovate more with online marketing strategies to achieve the desired visibility.
  • We will also see a greater emphasis on Storytelling aspect of various strategies in 2017. With a saturated viewer who has access to a growing content pool, the story board will become a primary focus for many marketers who seek to engage with the audience in a more value driven format. Virtual Reality is just one aspect which is providing major players with an engaging and thrilling content to keep the user engaged, albeit this technology is still capital intensive which makes this an expensive proposition for small and medium players.

 

These are just some of things which we can expect from content evolution in 2017 using 2016 as a Launchpad for our projections. However in this mad dash for content supremacy, we sure can expect many surprises from 2017 in the world of Content Marketing which can’t be quantified today. We hope you’re content with our attempt at predicting what lies ahead. Please do write to us if you’d like to share your thoughts about the same.