MM Awards

Explore - With Caution

David Murphy

As Instagram adds Stories to its Explore tab, Chris Hall, founder and CEO of branding automation firm Bynder discusses why brands should only use new marketing opportunities when they have clear brand guidelines and collaboration processes in place.

Chris Headshot smallWhen Instagram Stories was introduced in the summer many said it was copying Snapchat Stories. Instagram Stories posts are rolling and disappear 24 hours after they are posted, which is exactly what happens on Snapchat.

Now the feature is being added to Instagram’s Explore tab too, which is used by 100m Instagrammers each day who are looking for inspiration from people they don’t follow. No social platform currently makes discovering new content this easy, so it is a huge advantage against other players.

It’s reported that there are two reasons for Instagram adopting the discover feature. Firstly, to encourage more sharing of photos and videos across the platform and secondly, to compete with Snapchat, which has a strong hold on the young consumer market.
Instagram is now offering a more effective way for users to discover new content. However, whilst the Explore function is being presented as a game-changing feature for users, the picture is more complicated for brands.

Opportunity presents risk
At first glance, it appears brands will be able to reach new and wider audiences more easily. Their content will have the opportunity to go much further, creating yet another powerful channel for marketers.

However, they should also treat new marketing opportunities like this with caution. With the opportunity to tap a much wider proportion of the 2.3bn social media users around the world, comes heightened risk if you haven’t got your house in order.

In the digital landscape that companies thrive in today, communication and branding efforts tend to move faster than ever before. More channels mean more touchpoints for both marketers and consumers. While we are more connected than ever, this means that there’s more chance of inconsistency or error in communicating your brand and its value.

Brands will often overlook patience and strategy and haphazardly jump to be a part of the latest trend. This then creates opportunities for a brand to be hijacked by confused consumers or more strategic competitors.

Build brand rules collaboratively
Marketers cannot treat Instagram Stories as an ‘add on’ to their current campaign; they need to carefully consider the audience there and adapt their communications strategy in line with that. This can only be achieved with solid brand guidelines in place. Doing so ensures a brand’s identity remains cohesive, no matter how many channels it is communicated across.

Creating successful brand guidelines starts with communication and collaboration. In the past, a company’s branding was represented solely by its logo and tagline. But, today, the goal of successful branding goes beyond visual aesthetics to align with all of the company’s assets, channels and the entire brand experience.

The approach can no longer operate in silos, but instead must be cohesive. Having a strategy in place enables a business to be more agile when pushing out products or services to a global market across new channels. In contrast, inconsistent or fragmented branding practices can harm consumer trust, which can have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Digital collaboration
Beyond having a faster go-to-market approach, the benefits of digital collaboration also mean that your team is armed with the appropriate content for consistency and authenticity. While brands have been highly targeted with their content on Instagram to date, engaging those who are following them directly, they will now be found more easily by people who are not necessarily fans of their brand. To appeal to new audiences, brands need to ensure that they communicate in a way which speaks to the everyman, whilst remaining true to their own brand values.

According to the CMO Council, more than a third of CMOs say that digital marketing initiatives will account for 75% or more of their global spend within the next five years. As we see brands investing money in new channels, if they don’t have a consistent marketing strategy, then these brands are setting themselves up for failure. Working in the cloud or with the latest collaboration tools allows a business to get off the ground faster and ensures cohesive branding across all platforms.

The marketing team must be able to adapt quickly to a constantly-changing landscape and that includes features like Explore within Instagram Stories. A brand can no longer sit on the side-lines. By having the right technology and systems in place, the CMO can be the hero who responds successfully to new marketing innovations and ensures that communications are not disrupted by the challenges a new platform presents.

Chris Hall is founder and CEO of Bynder