Instagram and Hashtags – A Contiki Case Study

This post has been written as part of my Digital Media module at University.

In just four years, Instagram has grown an impressive database of 300 million active users with more than 70 million photos and videos being uploaded each day. With the largest percentage of these users falling into the 16-24-age bracket, it’s no surprise that young, fun brands are migrating to Instagram more and more to reach out to their target audience.

But, it’s as much about uploading creative and engaging content, as it is encouraging your audience to communicate with your brand and share their experiences with their own followers.

Hashtags are everywhere. From “daily online conversations, to national commercials and billboards” they “aid content discovery and optimization” and are the best way to get like minded people conversing with and about your brand. With the increase of “visual, user generated campaigns” hashtags are becoming crucial to collate brand engagement, but, perhaps more important than campaign specific hashtags, overall “Brand Hashtags” that are well thought out are imperative for successful brands on Instagram. These hashtags should be “aligned with the overall brand instead of the product” and encourage users to tag and share relevant photos, whether actual products are featured or not.   

Some companies have got this spot on, however at a recent Travel Marketing Summit in Australia, Head of Brand Development for Instagram, Sophie Blachford warned brands not to “force something weird and trademarked” on customers. She spoke about how it is “very hard” to change user behaviour and it can be a “very slow burn” for brands to get customers using and engaging with their hashtags.

Contiki, a travel brand that targets the 18-35 demographic, are a shining example of how using carefully constructed and implemented hashtags can boost your brand and bring together a community of online and offline engagers. Their #noregets hashtag is a symbol of their brand, it is a popular tattoo amongst their young customers and the tag line is used by their own staff and customers every day, world wide.
It is interesting that they do not use their brand name in their leading hashtag, and Contiki’s Managing Director Katrina Barry discusses how this can make the social metrics a nightmare when analysing the spread and engagement of their brand.
She notes however, that their loyal brand advocates are often more than happy to include the brand name in their Instagram posts .

Barry also revealed that the company “now have 95% of our budgest as digital marketing spend, and spend very little on traditional forms of media. A large proportion of that is towards social. It’s not just what goes on paid social, but on content as well – we spend an equal amount of time helping other people create content and share experiences. We spend a lot of time on the content development and consider that part of our social budget as well. No-ones gone fully social yet, I’ve heard businesses talking about 25-30 per cent of budgets going on that, and we’ll be getting towards that.”

And it’s not just Contiki.. Fitness brand “Lulu Lemon’s” brand hashtag “#thesweatlife has had over 68,000 posts from the fitness community, many of which do not even feature any of lulu lemons products.

A recent study by L2 and social marketing technology firm Olapic showed that brands are using Instagram more as oppose to Facebook as they know everything they post will appear on their followers feeds instead of relying on the post promoting process on Facebook. They also found that brands post an average of 9.3 times a week with fan bases up an average of 26% over the past year.

It seems imperative that brands now need to keep up with the leaders and make sure they are optimizing their Instagram profiles. With lots of different elements to consider, from the pure photographic content, to brand hashtags, campaign hashtags, user generated campaigns and general customer communication, perhaps brands should be dedicating more time and resources towards “the fastest growing major social media platform of 2015”

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