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Episode 5: Using Instagram to Drive Awareness and Purchase Intent

Instagram might be known as the food, fashion, and famous locales app. But it’s also become one of the best places to drive awareness and purchase intent. Leslie Green joins to talk about the different types of content you should prioritize, what we’re working on here at HubSpot, and why you need to consider the entire buyer’s journey.


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Episode Transcription

Hi. I’m Matt Brown from HubSpot, and this is Skill Up, the show where you’ll learn how to take your sales, marketing, and service skills to the next level.

You and me, we’re on the same page by now, right? We got a rapport going. We’re in episode five. Basically best friends at this point.. Right? Ok, good.

So that makes me think we’re swimming in the same brain space about Instagram, the photo app taken under the Zuckerberg Facebook Farm of social dominance. Instagram is all about fancy foods, pet influencers, and travel photos from that place we’ll probably never go to.

[LESLIE: The gram, the gram. No, that's not true. I mean, those things exist. Every interest you could ever want to explore exists on Instagram.

That’s Leslie Green.

[LESLIE: My name is Leslie Green and I'm the social media campaign manager at HubSpot.]

And while Leslie might concede that there are in fact those very same things on Instagram, it’s also so much more.

[LESLIE: Instagram has become widely adopted, 1 billion active users to date a 25 million business accounts on the platform. So way more than just cute pets. It's a really powerful marketing tool for businesses of pretty much all sizes.

Do you like cute pets though?

[LESLIE: Oh, I love the cute pets. I've met a famous dog from Instagram in real life, and it was a really special day for me.]

So before we get into how you can drive awareness and purchase intent for your brand on Instagram, let's send a raven to Old gods and the New, for a little segment music.

[cue segment music]
I wanna mix it up a bit. Instead of a direct definition, I’d like to ask why? Why should brands invest in Instagram?

[LESLIE: I think you get a lot of pushback that Instagram is a frivolous platform. But in terms of just scale, like we said, already a billion users, there's obviously an audience to be had there. But it's a really powerful tool to build an emotional connection with your audience.

There are so many aspects of the platform that allow businesses to really have direct communication with either their consumers or potential consumers. Again, with that scale, you can reach new audiences, which is awesome. There could be people out there who may not have ever been able to discover you, but through your content and through other people sharing your content, they find you.

So brand growth in general, and that awareness is. kind of my big reason why I tell people to get on it.]
[cue end segment]

There are a few different types of content on Instagram, including live video and a slew of ad formats. But the two you’re likely going to be using most for awareness and purchase intent are posts in your feed and stories.

Posts are to Instagram what Linda Hamilton is to Terminator -- You may be my moon and my stars Emilia Clarke, but you are NOT my Sarah Conner! Posts will forever be how Instagram is known. But stories, well, they’re here today, gone tomorrow.

[LESLIE: Yeah, I mean, stories are still the baby of Instagram. I think they're coming up on their fourth birthday next year, which is weird that I know that, but not surprising.]

Any like any content strategy, working with Instagram stories takes consistency.

[LESLIE: Getting in the habit of producing content with stories every day. I mean, they've got a 24-hour lifespan, even if it's one or two frames. It's a production, like anything else within a business, but there's, you're taking a missed opportunity if you don't slowly show up for your audience every single day.]

Just think about the tray of stories at the top of Instagram’s feed. Alongside the scrolling field below, these stories are one of the best ways to be noticed by your audience. So if you’re looking to drive awareness, you can’t go ignoring the opportunity that Stories brings.

[LESLIE: And if your stories become one that they're consistently watching, you will show up more often in that feed. And you can actually see how you can actually store it in your followers by like most engaged and least engaged, which is really interesting because Instagram has never allowed that to happen. And you want to be in the most engaged one. You know, that's the goal, right? Like you want somebody to like your content enough to be watching it every day.]

[cue music break]

When you’re looking to find a customer’s purchase intent, you're gonna need to dig into their buyer’s journey. Right? Sort of sounds like a previous episode.

Well, the same is true for Instagram.

[LESLIE: We one time did this graphic on Instagram that explained it really well, where somebody may follow you on Instagram, they might search you on Google, and then they might make a purchase. Somebody might make a purchase directly from Instagram, and that's happening more and more.]

In fact, entire companies have started to crop out using this model -- lookin’ at you Glossier, Outdoor Voices, Cureology.

And, hey, maybe your direct sales model won’t exactly revolve around purchase through Instagram. But don’t count the ol’ food and pet photos app out just yet.

[LESLIE: For HubSpot, like they're not probably buying our software right off of Instagram. But you know, when we announced free tools, we saw a lot of people sign up for our free CRM through Instagram.

And so, you know, that's the first step in them having awareness about our product, getting to know our product. And so I think you just have to make that decision as a brand, like where Instagram fits in within that journey to just try to decide if it makes sense to try to drive purchases from it.]

[cue music break]

So Leslie I want to talk a little bit about what we’re doing here at HubSpot and how we approach using Instagram.

[LESLIE: I mean for us, with our Instagram, like it's really aligned with our larger content strategy that it's increasing brand awareness and reputation of HubSpot. Instagram is really a tool for us to share our brand values, relevant, timely news, and just educational content to get our audience learning and thinking and kind of build that trust with our audience. So that's kind of what we're thinking about.]

This might sound similar to your company’s approach. Not exactly direct sales, but part of the larger content awareness strategy. And to really pull that off, takes two things: Content and Measurement. Could you just feel me about to say “Let’s break it down?” You know me so well.

First up, content.

[LESLIE: We do a lot of engagement in our polls. Like, what do you want to see more of? And we try to translate that into our content. Also, knowing that we're trying, you know, whom we're trying to reach, but also respecting some of those ideas. Um, we also do things like customer delight boxes, which are really fun. We want to give shout outs to our fans who are just always trying to connect with us and let them know that they've seen and heard.

And then basics of community management, just replying in a timely manner and trying to answer questions and field questions where they need to be put. Because you know, sometimes there might be an emergency or sometimes there might be just a simple question that we can help answer. So, and that also builds trust with other people who maybe aren't a part of those comments, but are seeing HubSpot going in there and saying like, Hey, check this out.]

And like Swayze to Keanu, Cage to Travolta, Mary-Kate to Ashley, the best content needs well-informed measurement.

[LESLIE: For metrics in general, I mean, with Instagram, we really try to encourage people to look past sort of what is called vanity metrics. Just those kinds of just plain likes, comments. And we're all, as a team, looking more at your reach rate, your engagement rate, which is better kind of quality metrics to show like over time, especially, you know, talking about engagement rate, um, you're able to show how frequently your followers are actually.

Engaging with your content, not just like, okay, this one-off post. You can actually see over time how your content is performing and then reach how much of your audience is actually seeing your content. I mean, it's usually a very small percentage, but if your followers aren't really growing and your retrait is just tanking, you know something you're doing is wrong.]

Another way HubSpot measures awareness is through comments. And I say that, making sure to leave out likes. Not because no one likes them. Nailed it. But in recent months, Instagram started to ditch that factory of mental health issues. It‘s still being rolled out, but it signals to companies that likes are nothing more than a vanity metric.

[LESLIE: It kind of puts the importance back on comments for social proof rather than just likes. I think comments are way more valuable, I think. I mean, there's not really, there's always like the black magic of like, Oh, comments are better. But I mean, it just takes more effort and somebody's going to be more invested if they're taking the time to comment.

To the Instagram algorithm, if Instagram is seeing your posts generate comments as well as people saving it, people sharing it, like those are really good integrate indicators to the algorithm that it is resonating. So the likelihood of it being presented to more of an audience is more likely. If it's doing well, they want to show it to more people, right?

They want more people to stay on their platform for longer. So they want to deliver good content. So if yours is doing that in the algorithm's eyes here, you're in good shape, [MATT: then you want us to pay for it.] Yeah. And you don't have to pay for it. Free reach.

[cue music break]

So to recap: Instagram’s far exceeded its reputation as a haven for food, pets, and aspirational lifestyle. It’s where companies can communicate with audiences, and not only build their brand awareness but, when considered as a valuable part of the buyer’s journey, can help drive purchase intent.

You’ll want to focus on the content and measurement of your Instagram work. Try some polls to see what your audience likes, and look more closely at things like comments, reach rates, and overall engagement to better understand your audience. Does that about cover it, Leslie?

[LESLIE: Think about what are you putting into your community management? If it's. 10 minutes a day, you're not going to get much out of it if you're expecting all these people to just come to find you.

It's the same thing with networking, right? I mean, it's like a weird kind of parallels, like you can't just expect people to come to find you, like you have to be going out there, kind of putting yourself out there, putting your tone in your voice and comments and engaging with other people to hopefully attract them to come back.

It's that attraction, kind of like dating, I guess. I don't know.]

Next week, I take our skills roadshow to the other side of 1 Hacker Way to start talking Facebook and how you can advertise and optimize your content. So until then, hey. I’ll see you there.