Marie La France, vice president of strategy, Dash Hudson
As Instagram has rolled out new features and capabilities, social media marketing strategies have evolved in tandem. Additionally, consumer preferences have shifted, pushing brands to pivot away from highly-produced visuals to content that feels approachable and real. Putting authenticity and short-form video at the forefront will capture attention on social media today, and this especially rings true for one of the top social media tactics: influencer marketing.
Instagram has met the rise of influencer marketing by introducing Reels, and the feature is a powerful solution for driving both discovery and engagement. Integrating Reels into creator partnerships provides a powerful opportunity to speak to new audiences, and brands must transform their approach to content creation to maximize these partnerships. At Glossy’s recent Instagram Strategies Forum, Kristie Dash, beauty partnerships manager at Instagram, put it simply: “let creators lead the creative.”
As social channels become increasingly saturated, new trends and content styles have emerged. Leading brands are ditching branded content for unpolished lo-fi photos and relatable videos—and as Dash Hudson demonstrates in its latest guide to influencer marketing, they are quickly seeing the impact on engagement and — most importantly — revenue.
Start with authentic creator partnerships
With 8 out of 10 consumers saying they’ve purchased a product after seeing an influencer recommendation, it comes as no surprise that influencers continue to be a crucial resource for brands to bolster their marketing on Instagram. However, changing best practices and consumer sentiment have pushed brands to pivot strategies to best benefit from these partnerships.
The success of an influencer strategy hinges on the relationship between the brand and the creator. Partnerships need to be built on trust and transparency to generate long-term results for both parties. Our research highlights the importance of building authentic relationships with creators and how they can translate to real revenue growth.
Engage new audiences with Reels: Prime real estate for brands on Instagram
Marketers have been spending big on glossy content creation since the dawn of advertising. However, now the trend on social media is toward relatable, simple and visually satisfying videos. This style of content is how brands inspire participation from the creator community, which in turn encourages consumers to create their own versions — catapulting content in front of new eyes and inserting a brand into the zeitgeist with little initial effort.
Instagram has recognized the influence of lo-fi video among younger generations of consumers, and continues to introduce new features to meet this demand, from IGTV, Stories and now Reels. At the recent Glossy event, Instagam’s Kristie Dash explained how each video feature should serve a unique purpose for brands. Stories is where behind-the-scenes content should live, IGTV is a place for long-form storytelling, and Live is best for intimate conversations. Leveraging a combination of these outlets helps brands foster stronger communities online and strengthen a narrative.
The ability to reach new global audiences with entertainment-driven content is what differentiates Reels from other features on Instagram. With a dedicated tab on the Instagram app and a global audience, Reels offers a persuasive value proposition for brands who want to expand their awareness.
While there’s no perfect formula for success on Reels, trends should be top of mind. By keeping a pulse on the latest video trends, brands can enter the space without feeling too commercial in a feed of community-created content. Striking a balance between timely trends and approachable content is key to inspiring consumers and creators to get involved.
Leverage creators to fuel Reels content
Reels provides a unique opportunity for marketers with simple content that is easy to recreate that will outperform polished videos and free up the marketing team’s bandwidth. Brands can bypass the learning curve and leverage the expertise of creators to quickly gain traction on Reels, and integrating Reels into creator partnerships allows brands to make an impactful first impression with consumers.
User-generated content (UGC) has quickly become one of the best ways for brands to integrate content into their strategies that feels authentic and showcases products in unique and relatable ways. This combined with the 90% of consumers who trust UGC to influence their purchase decisions makes it an optimal way to begin using Reels. Whether a brand partners with loyal fans or forms partnerships with seasoned creators, the value added to its reach and revenue efforts is unparalleled.
Creator partnerships have proven to be so much more than a tactic in social media playbooks. In the Dash Hudson guide to influencer marketing in 2021, a survey found that 40% of consumers have purchased a product after seeing it promoted by an influencer, demonstrating the powerful connection between creator content and conversions.
Shifts in consumer preferences will continue to allow more creativity
2020 was a defining year for social media marketing, with lo-fi video going mainstream, consumer preferences shifting and trend-driven content dominating Instagram feeds. The influencer landscape evolved to meet consumer expectations and new challenges. As more brands continue to adopt the new features offered by channels like Instagram, new trends and best practices will emerge throughout 2021. Brands are likely to move away from strict internal guidelines when forming creator partnerships, and allow influencers to lead the creative process. The ability to let trends drive content strategies will differentiate the industry leaders in the crowded digital space. Understanding the target consumer and what they care about will be more important than ever.
Whether new to Reels or seeking to amplify content, brands can benefit from being experimental, staying timely and nimble and from not getting caught up in a specific strategy. With insight into the leading brands’ strategies and KPIs, marketers can develop strategies primed for success in 2022.