Does your company really need an Instagram?

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Is Instagram a must-have for every company?

What was once a haven of vibrant food pics, sepia selfies and heavily edited outfits of the day is now prime real estate for brands to swim their way through the social media landscapes. As “the kids” leave Facebook for simpler, single-service platforms like Vine and Instagram and branded content begins to trump traditional advertising, it makes sense for any brand to go where the crowds are going — right?

The latest brand to wade into the hipster waters of Instagram? The delightful Canadian candy, Smarties. The goal is to find a new platform for various campaigns, such as the upcoming #HowDoYouSmarties campaign.

Now that Instagram is owned by Facebook and has gone the way of sponsored posts, branded content litters the heavily filtered feeds — subscribers to vegan and fitspo Instagram accounts have to deal with the occasional McDonalds pic popping up, while a streetwise follower of fashion blogs will just happen to also see rural travel photos from Travel Alberta.

It gets you seen, there’s no doubt — but does everyone need it?

Why you might need it

You know who loves Instagram? Rich teenage girls. You know what else rich teenage girls love? Buying things.

About 83 per cent of upper-income teenagers in the US use Instagram, and though the gender statistics have balanced out a little, it still skews heavily female.

Those aren’t the only statistics that work in someone’s favour. Most of Instagram’s users are urban or suburban as opposed to rural, the overwhelming majority are under 29, and users in higher income brackets have grown drastically in the past year.

It certainly makes a good case for Instagram as the new platform for brands. And despite the bare-bones interface, it allows for a great deal of interaction. People, users, consumers, they like things to be easy and contain as few steps as possible. So if you want to do some sort of giveaway or contest, for users it’s as simple as taking a picture — or even re-posting yours — and adding a hash-tag. Nothing to send in, nothing else to qualify them for winning.

If you’re a retailer or a restaurant, it’s basically the epitome of native advertising. You’re creating the content to simply talk about how cool you are — and to keep people in the know of what’s going on. What’s in your store right now? What’s on sale?

But what works for Taco Bell might not work for TD. What drives business for ModCloth might not for Maclean’s magazine. Here’s why.

Why you might not

You know who’s not on Instagram? People in their 40s and 50s. Older people who make more than $70,000 per year. Okay, that’s not to say that they’re not on it at all — but they are among the lowest demographics of users. And it’s unlikely that Instagram can really do all that much to appeal to them. It’s not built around what older people want — reconnecting with old friends, creating full albums, long conversations.

So if that’s not your target audience, there’s not really much you can do to bring them there.

There’s a bigger problem — logistically, Instagram is a bit of a headache to operate compared to Facebook, Twitter and company. You can only post from mobile. You can’t embed URLs in the photo captions. You can’t schedule posts. Its desktop interface is next to useless.

It’s a decent amount of work, so basically, it had better at least be effective. You can’t just treat your Instagram posts the same way you treat your Facebook photo posts — there’s Facebook for that.

It’s better to say nothing than to have a platform to communicate and not use it properly. It’s like that old cliché goes, what’s a good plate with nothing on it? Take a look at NBCTV’s early fails with Instagram — there wasn’t really a point, nothing new brought to the table.

You have to think of social media the way you think of any campaign — what are your objectives on a small scale, and how do they relate to those on a large scale? This isn’t a “just because” kind of thing.

Basically, just because “the kids” are all doing it doesn’t mean you need to.

The 10 best pieces of business advice we’ve received

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We've received business advice from countless industry pros

One of the best parts about working in corporate video is that we get to meet a lot of inspiring and powerful people. Whether it’s through the big personalities we profile in our work or the elbows we brush with at events and conferences, we’ve happened upon a lot of wisdom that we like to pass on to anyone — no matter who you are or what you do.

1. You succeed by putting others first.

2. Take pride in being an outlier. You can’t be a leader if you don’t step out from the crowd.

3. Whether you win or lose, experience is always valuable.

4. You can’t blame your circumstances. Who you are and what you do will always be the game-changers.

5. Being judged is inevitable. But the only judgment that matters is your own.

6. There is no substitute for a genuine human connection.

7. Stop undervaluing what you do.

8. Don’t be turned off if some people hate you or your ideas. It’s great to be polarizing. It means you stand for something.

9. Recognize and celebrate your little wins, even if they’re little. That means progress is happening.

10. Finish the job, even when you‘re failing. Don’t leave things half-done.

Throwback Thursday: Krinkles the creepy clown

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Do you experience Coulrophobia? Does American Horror Story: Freak Show fill you with peril? Did you ever find yourself muttering, “Can’t sleep, clown’ll eat me!” as a small child? Does the laugh at the beginning of “Wipe Out!” send a shiver down your spine?

Then you might not want to watch this 1956 cereal commercial.

Whether or not you suffer from a legitimate phobia of clowns, you have to admit that there’s just something naturally creepy about them. And this clown really takes the creepy clown cake.

Now, maybe good ol’ Krinkles comes from the day before killer clowns both fictional and non-fictional (not naming any names here) kind of ruined clowns for everyone. Maybe the whole creepy clown trope didn’t really exist before, and we’re looking at Krinkles through really jaded eyes.

But c’mon, there’s something unsettling about him. Maybe it’s the way he’s trying to push those Kinkles on us so insistently. We don’t want your bowl of honey rice, Krinkles! Put your eyebrows down!

Beyond simply being creepy, Krinkles the Clown (Krinkles the Klown?) is just plain annoying. Eight instances of the word “krinkle” in approximately 58 seconds? That’s one “Krinkle” every 7.25 seconds. That is far too frequently to be saying any word besides “the,” in our opinon. What is a Krinkle? Well, according to Krinkles the Clown, it is a breakfast cereal, an adjective and a verb. Impressive.

This now-discontinued Post cereal obviously couldn’t hold a candle to Rice Krispies. Why? Well, maybe between the sugar coating and the honey, Krinkles probably should have been re-named “Diabetic shock in a bowl.” And people complain about the sugar in cereals today!

Sometimes when we watch these old commercials we mourn longingly for a simpler time. In this case, we’re not exactly hoping that clowns suddenly make a triumphant return to commercials where they peddle sugary products to little kids.

Your low standards will destroy you (and everyone else)

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Your low standards don't just affect  you.

One thing that really drives our quest for greatness is an utter hatred for mediocrity. Recently, we released a thoughtful — but admittedly harsh — slideshow on what exactly we mean when we talk about mediocrity.

The first deadly sin of the mediocre? Low standards.

When it’s just you

One thing about low standards is that even when it’s just you with those low standards, it’s never really just you. It usually ends up bringing everyone around you down.

As a half-assed member of an otherwise hard-working team, your inadequacies usually end up being compensated for. But it usually doesn’t take long for people for people to notice how little work you’re doing. And the smaller or tighter the team, the harder it is to hide your incompetence.

What does this result in? Well, for one thing, no one’s going to like you all that much. And that might not seem like a big deal, but trust us: it’s better to have friends than enemies. You can’t expect people to ever help you out if you’ve continually screwed them over.

Aside from everyone hating you, there’s also the chance that your terrible habits are contagious. According to Psychology Today, when others sense loafing in the group, they too will start to slack off. When mediocrity is rewarded or goes unpunished, it’s hard for anyone to want to bother even putting in basic effort.

When push comes to shove and your job is on the line, no one else is going to fight for someone who keeps bringing everyone else down. So either start giving a damn now, or be prepared to kiss your job good-bye.

When the picture is bigger

When you start to look at low standards on a larger, corporate scale, the definition of standards shifts from personal work ethic and quality to things like overall product quality, ethics, customer service. And with the Internet creating a generation of speculators, doubters and whistleblowers, there’s increasing pressure to live up to those standards.

Nike, for example, has been called out for failing to live up to its own code of conduct after multiple controversies about the wages and working conditions of its factory workers. After being repeatedly called out, Nike claimed to be raising its standards, but couldn’t even meet them.

And nothing gets the public riled up quite like sub-bar customer service standards. Facebook’s plummeting rating for customer service is paralleled with a dip in popularity in the last two years. Now, it’s widely known that Facebook’s customers are their advertisers, not their users. But you’re only as good as the product you sell, and when you piss off enough of your users, there goes your product.

When a business or corporation holds itself to low standards, it’s usually because they can afford to. In that case, it’s up to the public to influence this — through their wallets. So we need to stop rewarding companies for low standards.

Raising your own bar

Is fear of failure enough to get you to raise your standards? Well, it might be a better motivator than the idea of rewards and recognition. Why? Well, sorry to sound harsh, but it’s a bit unrealistic to expect to be lauded with praise and rewards for every right move. You’re not going to get a promotion just for doing things up to standard. So maybe you have to scare yourself a little into not allowing yourself to slip into the perils of mediocrity.

Because everyone’s coasting period ends at some point. There comes a day when everyone suddenly becomes immune to your charm and starts to look at the actual work you do (or don’t do). And, of course, you will face the inevitability of your low standards pulling others people down. And who saves you then?

Understanding target audience in video

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The Target Audience shouldn't focus on ages and genders but on motivations and needs.

Almost every time we ask a new or prospective client who their target audience is, they think we mean in terms of demographics. In other cases, they don’t have a target at all, and think that targeting to “everyone” is the best bet.

We have a different approach for thinking of target audiences, and it’s always good to understand that approach along with understanding your video objectives — which we talked about last week. After all, who you are speaking to is just as important as what you are trying to achieve — because what’s a good message if you’re not saying it to someone who cares?

Forget what you thought

First of all, let’s eliminate the idea of “anyone” or “everyone” as a target. We’ve said it over and over that trying to be all things to all people rarely works. The only case in which this approach makes even the slightest sense is in a branding campaign — but if you’re more corporate than commercial, then even that is best to stay away from the general.

Secondly, let’s explain why thinking of target audiences as a demographic breakdown is a real progress killer. Thinking of target audience in terms of demographics assumes that all people within that demographic share the same wants, needs, goals and pain points. However, anyone who has their own business or oversees a field like marketing, sales or even customer service knows that this isn’t always true. It’s an unsophisticated approach to assume that all white males age 28-35, for example, have the same priorities.

Think of your target audience in terms of adjectives

The first start is to think about what “kind of people” you are appealing to — remember, that doesn’t mean age, gender, race or class. Start with a list of adjectives. Maybe you’ve created an app that helps gamify working to allow people to focus on their task and hand and they “lose “if they do something else, and you want to introduce your product. Your target audience would probably be working people. It would probably also be unfocused or hyperactive people. There are a few other things you could keep in mind: committed or dedicated (to getting a job done well), competitive, prideful, a huge number of things.

Regardless, notice how despite the relatively easy-to-link adjectives, these could still be different demographics of people. They could be people in their 30s working in an office, or they could be high school and college students trying to study. They could even be trying to meditate or focus on an art project. Either way, those adjectives will far more greatly influence your video’s tone and writing than the titles.

There will still obviously be some common demographics. If you’re an insurance company explaining a new group benefits model, you don’t have to worry about marketing to children and teens, or unemployed people. If you’re an automotive manufacturer, you don’t have to worry about people who don’t drive. This much is obvious.

We’re just saying that demographics aren’t everything.

Understanding market segmentation

Your target audience will always be divided into smaller segments. For established companies, you have the people who already like or love you, and you don’t need to worry about getting them on the hook. Of course, that’s not to say that you don’t have to worry about keeping them there. So a video should be made with those people in mind, while maybe not catering to them first.

Secondly, there’s the segment of people who could be clients, but aren’t yet — or even those who used to be but moved on to someone else. They’re someone with a need for what you do who may have found someone to suit those needs better. Or, they just don’t care enough to actually buy what you’re selling, to use what you’re offering. So the challenge then becomes making them care, differentiating yourself from the competition.

Then there’s the third segment of people who are not likely to ever care. While it is possible to convert them with a message that inspires belief in what you do, you often can’t tackle this segment with the same kind of messaging that would normally target the former two.

Your new approach to target audience

Now that you know that “target audience” probably doesn’t mean what you thought it meant, it’s all about applying that to the plan for your next video. Hopefully, last week you were paying attention when we talked about strategic video objectives (if you weren’t, how convenient — it’s right here!) because these principles go hand-in-hand.

You now know the “who.” You also know the “what” and “why” at this point. Now comes the actual production — the where and when, and, most importantly, the how.

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