Does your brand have the right ingredients for Instagram?

With Instagram being such a real-time, young and playful, yet highly valued branding platform, it takes a special kind of flavor for advertisers to be accepted on it. IG demonstrates a vulnerability for fast-food type establishments with a chance of backlash. With a hand-picked stream of preferences, users aren’t used to seeing uninvited images of quick-fix foods to purchase as they scroll for picturesque, sexy shots of friends, fashion and inspirational quotes.

However, this hasn’t been the case for all foods on IG. Many indie and wellness brands have done tremendously well on this mainstream channel, as well as some bigger players. Ben & Jerry’s is a brand that has had huge success on this social channel and it received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Instagram users when it ran its first campaign. The ice-cream brand reached 9.8 million people and 33% of those who saw more than one ad remembered seeing a Ben & Jerry’s ad and were able to identify the advertised flavor. (Source:Sprout Social.)

By contrast, McDonald’s sponsored post had 45,347 likes and 1,941 comments, most of which were negative from users who were ticked off by seeing a McDonald’s ad in their newsfeeds. (Source: AdWeek.)

Coincidentally, Ben & Jerry’s also proudly touts its status as a B Corporation which is recognized as the highest standard for social corporate responsibility. Incidentally it is also owned by a national global brand Unilever, which is quite rare for this scale of a product. Ben & Jerry’s brand evokes feelings of happiness from the way the flavors of their ice cream make you feel and also for what it represents. Being likeable is a natural by-product of the company, because it is selling more than goods, it is selling values.

It might just be a few consumers who post negative comments about a brands, yet they are representative of an audience that says ‘something is not working’. Before showing a logo in the Instagram feeds of unsuspecting users on Instagram, each brand needs to reevaluate what it stands for, what it represents, and if it can really flourish in the direct and democratized environment that social media has facilitated for the consumer.

There’s tremendous opportunity for companies of that size to not only innovate, but to stay relevant by re-evaluating what it is they are really bringing to the table. Having a network of industry peers guided by experts may offer one way to stay resilient for brands in this time of great change, learning from more nimble community-oriented models becomes the solution du jour. As Altimeter Group principal analyst Brian Solis says, “The churn of businesses in and out of the Fortune 1000 list is increasing as businesses fail to listen to and engage with their customers in the ways their customers expect”

As more disruptive modern, well-adjusted companies move in, the old approach of strictly maximizing profit and passive customers is making way for companies who are are ready to embrace change with the use of new technologies to dig deeper and breakdown the ingredients of which they are made.

‘People are empowered by social networks, mobile devices, online marketplaces, and other new technologies. We believe this movement will have significant impacts to current business,” says Jeremiah Owyang founder of Crowd Companies. “We believe that brands can still have a place in this new ecosystem, which we call the Collaborative Economy.”

Traditional models of excluding the actual customers from decision-making process of output are becoming obsolete and are paving the way for a new way of doing business, not as usual, but on demand, customized to end-users needs, preferences and long-term effects. To avoid having marketing efforts fall flat and receive a swarm of backlash, the opportunity presents for companies to approach business from a totally different perspective to bring a revived holistic brand experience to their patrons.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, connect with me on Linkedin or on Twitter @vkholostenko

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