Top Instagram tips for rights holders
Everyone’s favourite grid of photography glory has diversified from a static photo platform into a multimedia showcase of visual expression, now reaching one billion monthly users, 80% of whom follow at least one business.
Here, we summarise six key features, with some examples of who’s doing it well, to help rights holders go from novice to pro in an Insta-nt.
Instagram Stories has become a pillar of the platform’s success since its release in 2016. In addition to posting static images, Stories enable 15-second video clips to be recorded and posted in a series like a video diary. These are available to view for 24 hours. Swiping from left to right on Instagram’s home screen will automatically open the Stories screen.
Once the photo or video clip has been taken, it can be edited via a collection of filters and interactive features to create an ultra viewable and engaging story. Our favourites include facial recognition that can transform your videos into an animal, ambience filters to change the colour, as well as call-to-action features such as adding Q&A boxes.
Stories is a great way to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at events, such as how Sky Sports Golf (22k followers) let golfer Iona Stephen take over their Instagram account for last year’s British Masters.
Stories now has an extra functionality called “Highlights” which is a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin option. Instead of disappearing after 24 hours, stories can be added to a highlights reel at the top of every profile where they’ll stay permanently until you remove them.
GB Snowsports’ account (7.6k followers) is also well worth a look, such as the highlights for the European Youth Olympic Festival, which documents the teams from their arrival to winding down post-competition.
British Triathlon (28.2k followers) has taken advantage of the highlights reel to showcase its official partnerships with ROKA and P20 Sun Protection. With the sponsor logo featuring as the cover, it’s an added way to give exposure to their association, especially to British Triathlon’s following and potential product buyers.
One of our favourites uses for highlights reels are collections of high-quality images that people can screenshot and save as phone wallpapers. Not only is this a smart way to market your brand but you’ll stay in that individual’s camera roll or feature onscreen until they delete it. This is a strategy used widely by artists but there’s no reason why sports rights holders can’t create a short gallery of high-quality images to build engagement with your account.
IGTV is the newest way to distribute killer long-form content up to one hour in length, exactly like you would on YouTube. Thus, it provides another channel to offer better activation options to commercial partners through creating video content, whether co-branded or not.
Take an activation for England Rugby’s (676K followers) partnership with telecoms giant O2 in the recent Six Nations tournament. O2 developed a freely available Inside Line series with the men’s and women’s teams, containing behind the scenes access, match highlights and exclusive interviews with players and management. For example, a pre-match interview with head coach Eddie Jones about his team selection has been watched over 87k times and counting…
When it comes to the quality and variety of IGTV content on offer, the World Surf League (3.2m followers) is at the forefront of accessible coverage. Its channel contains a plethora of beautifully shot content ranging from athlete-training videos to competition highlights filmed in the water, events analysis and after parties. You immediately feel transported from one corner of the world to another.
IG Live is the platform’s live streaming offering, akin to Facebook Live. This is the perfect way to engage fans in real-time – be it streaming pitch-side from a game, pre-promotional events or interviews – and boost your audience.
The UK Pro Surfing Association (3.9k followers) is a terrific example of how live streaming has transformed a less mainstream sport that needed to be able to reach larger audiences in order to attract bigger sponsors.
The UKPSA’s operations director explained how “live streaming offers a whole new platform for sponsors”, resulting in audiences for surfing competitions exploding from 30-40,000 at the beach to 500,000 via live streaming.
You know how easy it is to tag a person in an image? Well, now you can do it to a product.
If you post an image or video featuring something that is available to buy from your Facebook shop (the catch is you do need one), you can simply add a ‘shoppable’ tag and convert viewers into buyers by directing them straight to your Facebook shop. Shoppable tags are also available in Stories.
It’s obviously very appealing to sponsors if your merchandise is co-branded because it also provides extra exposure and revenue for them. As a bonus, Shoppable Content also comes with analytics to help you delve more into purchase interests and behavior.
The group utilising this feature the most are online retailers (understandably). However, it is massively underutilised by rights holders – we’re surprised most football clubs aren’t all over it – because it’s such a simple way to drive merchandise sales.
Anyone with over 10k followers can add a “Swipe Up” function to their Stories which offers another way to direct viewers to an external web link, be it an online shop, a ticket website or even a live stream. This is particularly useful because you can’t add clickable links to the text accompanying your post (as you can with Twitter and LinkedIn).
British Rowing (40.4k followers) uses the swipe up function in their highlights reel titled, Shop. This way, account visitors clearly see there is a place to purchase merchandise and can choose to click directly through to browse branded products.
Examples to learn from
British University and Colleges Sport (10.7k followers) is a good example of combining different functionalities for maximum effect.
They’ve added the Swipe Up functionality to both Stories and Highlights to drive traffic to the YouTube live stream account for their Big Wednesday event.
One account we particularly love belongs to 7-time World Surfing Champion, Stephanie Gilmore (626k followers). She combines high-quality images with video posts on her main grid with a selection of highlight reels to demonstrate her personality, creativity and talent as an athlete.
However, if you’re looking for a true sense of escapism through imagery and utilisation of features, the account to follow is Deus Ex Machina (492k followers). The clothing brand encompasses everything adventure-related, featuring elements of the surf lifestyle alongside contemporary fashion, all complemented by petrol-head machines.
The apparel can be purchased directly through shoppable posts but its grid is about character, guaranteeing great graphics to match a rogue brand identity. It’s Instagram escapism at its finest… if you’re into that kind of thing.
Above anything else, Instagram is a place to build your brand in a visual way. But throw in some savvy thinking and you can curate and maintain a brand identity to reach audiences globally. Think quality, stick to your core DNA and whatever your objectives, Instagram with all its functionality might just be the best tool in your marketing box.