With Pinterest leading the charge for more visual content, and Instagram being used by 71 of the top 100 brands, more companies are looking at how they too can benefit.
In this interview, I chat with Curalate CEO Apu Gupta. Curalate has helped companies like Neiman Marcus and GAP succeed on the visual web with its suite of marketing tools.
It’s really a great time for the visual web, and Pinterest for example has been show to help drive a lot of traffic. How else can businesses benefit from using such social networks?
Businesses need to stop placing marketing, advertising, and ecommerce in silos! Forward thinking brands are taking cues from social, including visually-driven platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, to benefit not just digital marketing, but other business-wide objectives.
This is all thanks to the data currently available across social. It’s greater and more valuable than ever before, especially on this new visual web where consumers are doing more that just simply interacting or “liking” at a brand level.
Instead, they’re revealing the individual products they love within a brand, including the size, color, style, etc., via ‘pinning’ or sharing product usage on Instagram and Tumblr. Businesses that understand the value of this data are tapping into consumer intent and insight that help them understand their customers like never before.
As a result, these brands are further personalizing marketing/advertising efforts, optimizing the ecommerce and in-store experience with more effective merchandising, and building better relationships with fans.
Ultimately, brands can benefit from using social by gathering the right metrics and sharing them with various internal teams, whether it’s marketing, advertising, or ecommerce, to impact various facets of their business.
In your opinion, which companies are killing it and how so?
The brands that are killing it on the visual web are thinking cross-channel and running tests/campaigns that involve connecting social and ecommerce or social and offline.
Neiman Marcus, for example, wanted to experiment with offering a very specific reward to fans on a single social platform in order to generate awareness for a new product and create a sense of exclusivity around the launch. Ultimately, they chose Pinterest as this platform, given users’ demographic and extreme purchase intent, and released a product that was made only available to consumers via Neiman Marcus’ Pinterest account.
This test worked, as the brand added 3,000 new followers during their campaign and pinning from their ecommerce site increased by 20%.
In another example, Ben & Jerry’s took to social in order to leverage their customers’ affinity towards their brand for an advertising campaign. Ben & Jerry’s asked customers to share photos of themselves enjoying their product with the #captureeuphoria hashtag. The brand then hand selected photos to include in a national online/offline ad campaign. The results? Ben & Jerry’s increased their Instagram following by 22% during the campaign and their fans ate this up – roughly 15,000 photos submitted. Additionally, the photos used in their ad campaign generated 70 million media impressions.
Notice a common theme here? A combination of images, creativity, and fan-rewarding.
What are some of the common misconceptions about Pinterest or Instagram?
Early on, there were grumblings regarding Pinterest’s demographic, which skews heavily towards females, and some male-focused brands considered it unworthy of their efforts. While it may be true the site is dominated by females, it’s naive to think there isn’t an opportunity for brands who are interested in targeting men. Women commonly curate wish-list themed boards for their boyfriends, husbands, and children.
They’re browsing Pinterest looking for gift inspiration and male-related content. Retail brands like Bonobos and publications like Men’s Health are identifying this opportunity early on, engaging with the female demographic, and taking an early lead on competitors in this space.
A common misconception about Instagram is that it lacks a direct ROI. It isn’t possible to hyperlink a URL in photo descriptions or make a direct ecommerce/website connection when posting brand-related products or content. As a result, social and ecommerce teams aren’t yet seeing referral traffic or revenue directly tied to Instagram, but forward thinking brands are putting those ‘Instagrams’ to work.
For instance, Urban Outfitters is leveraging Curalate’s Fanreel solution to collect their fans’ brand-related photos from Instagram, displaying them on their ecommerce site, and making that UGC shoppable by connecting those images to product pages. Their team is now able to put a direct ROI on Instagram by showing the amount of click-throughs and purchases driven by their on-site gallery.
What benefits will Instagram Ads or Pinterest’s Promoted Pins offer over other advertising?
The visual web has been built around products and things, as opposed to people and places. As a result, when browsing sites like Pinterest and Instagram, users’ mindsets are more likely to be in purchase mode.
Additionally, the visual nature of Instagram and Pinterest lends itself to a less intrusive advertisement (aka “native”). And for Pinterest specifically has something that may become even more important: purchase intent. Pinterest knows the exact products users want, which may lead to opportunities in retargeting, whether on Pinterest or across the web.
How do you see the visual web evolving?
We’re going to see additional visual platforms emerge and current platforms get even more visual. Recent image-driven updates to Twitter–including image and video previews automatically appearing in users’ timelines and Facebook, which revolve around larger image ad-units–speak to the increasing shift to the visual web.
The visual web continues to rapidly grow. Just today, more than 400,000,000 images will be shared across Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. Add in Pinterest, Twitter, Polyvore, etc, and this number soars. It’s clear consumers are speaking a new, image-driven language and brands that sit on the sidelines during this visual explosion will be left behind.