Why use Instagram and Facebook for business?

Lee Carlin, co-founder and director of The Intern Group explains how his firm is using Instagram and video content to spread the message to users.

Instagram and Facebooks are social networks that consumer-facing businesses can’t really ignore.

With 500 million active daily users, Instagram, the Facebook-owned networking site, allows brands to connect with users with its Instagram stories feature and its ever-updating news feed.

And with overall time watching video on Instagram up 80 per cent year on year, brands are putting more money into the site, with its advertising base also doubling to 2 million year on year.

We spoke to one business who is using Facebook, Instagram and video content effectively to spread its message to users.

Instagram traffic growing

Lee Carlin, co-founder and director of The Intern Group, which employs six marketing staff, says that Facebook was a major driver towards its sales growth in 2017. ‘(Using Facebook) led to a massive increase in application numbers and a 52 per cent arrival growth across our global programmes’, he said. ‘With our demographics being 18-24 years old, this has always been a hugely effective marketing channel for us.’

‘However in the past 12 months, we have began to see a significant shift of traffic coming to our website through Instagram.

Our demographic are clearly turning more towards Instagram and this has proved a business challenge and an opportunity for us.

But how have the company, which gives younger people the opportunity to intern at prestigious firms around the world in cities like Barcelona, Hong Kong, and Toronto video increased engagement and sign-ups via video on the site?

Video shows off what the business does

‘Since 2015, our focus for improving our website has been centred around building more video into the website to help engage visitors. We have extensively built up our testimonial page with scores of videos featuring previous programme participants,’ Carlin says. ‘These show-off the benefits and once in a lifetime experience that our programme offers, in a visually stimulating way and it has really helped to engage potential applicants and encourage them to apply.’

He adds, ‘Between 2015 and today we have seen YOY growth of 35-52 per cent in programme numbers and our internal feedback has shown that video testimonials are a real driver of getting candidates to commit to applying to our programme.’

Instagram's monthly active users. Source: TechCrunch
Instagram’s monthly active users hit one billion this year. Source: TechCrunch

Carlin says the firm uses video at every stage of the customer journey including Instagram Story Ads. ‘We then have a video showcasing each of our destinations above the fold on our home page to get them engaged and excited. As the cycle goes on, we use video testimonials to demonstrate credibility,’ he explains.

Crying face emojis and Stories

With the trend towards Instagram Stories and emojis to promote messages, Carlin says the company has increased its Instagram content to show off programme events such as day trips to Giants Causeway for interns and uses the platforms Live feature to give viewers a small taste of what’s going on country-to-country.

‘We found that the “Ask Me A Question” feature that doubles up as a video on Instagram performed really well and got a lot of engagement.’

He adds, ‘We were so impressed by the results that we saved the Story and it now lives in our highlights section and acts as our FAQ video. I think the reason the feature is so successful is that your audience can ask you anything on their time. They’re not tied down to tuning into your 15 minute Instagram Live, or Instagram TV episode. They can click through their stream of Stories and ask away, without committing for the longhaul.’

A Instagram post from The Intern Group
A Instagram post from The Intern Group

Microinfluencers key to marketing success

Carlin has worked with various Instagram influencers earlier this year, some of whom worked with the company on a per post basis and another 100,000 per cent + following influencer who applied for our programme and then posted about the firm throughout. He says, ‘We didn’t see the expected results from either method, which I believe is down to the fact that we offer a service, rather than a product.’

He adds, ‘We’re planning on working with one of our alumni who is an influencer with approx a 40k following next year in one of our destinations to see if a smaller following equates to a more influenceable follower!’

Video marketing is set to be one of the key drivers of growth for companies as it allows firms to show their more ‘real’ side to users; something that is held up by everyone, but especially younger people.

Michael Somerville

Michael Somerville

Michael was senior reporter for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2018 to 2019.

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