The era when brands can achieve organic reach on Instagram is rapidly coming to an end. Brand Networks, one of Instagram’s official partners, announced yesterday that it served 13 times more ad impressions in December than August. The ad network generated 670 million impressions in December – impressive growth compared with August’s 50 million.
While that’s good news for brands with substantial budgets, those that lack the wherewithal to compete in ad spend may need to alter their social media strategies. Luckily, emerging platforms such as Snapchat and Periscope offer significant opportunities.
On Snapchat, brands can create free accounts that work the same way as those of consumers. Adoption remains relatively sparse across categories, opening opportunities for brands that get in early. L2’s Intelligence Report: Social Platforms finds that even in Sportswear and Autos, two of the sectors that command the most engagement on Instagram, less than a third of brands have Snapchat accounts.
In the past year, Snapchat has intensified monetization efforts. Advertisers can sponsor Live Stories, embed advertising within live stories (for example, VS PINK placed ads within a Live Story called “Sorority Bid Day” in an attempt to target young female consumers), and design sponsored lenses. As these efforts continue, brands without significant advertising funds could find themselves at a disadvantage. However, given that brand participation on the platform is still low at 46%, it may be a while.
Brands might also consider Periscope. Used strategically, the live-streaming platform can add an innovative spin to a brand’s image. Half of 18- to 34- year-olds report interest in live-streaming, suggesting high potential for engagement. Similar to Snapchat, brand adoption rates remain low at 14% across categories.
Yet the time-sensitive nature of live-streaming can also make it a tricky proposition. Nearly half of Periscope users report watching live-streams at night, but brands might have difficulty producing content outside of regular work hours – hindering their reach.