Instagram Trends of 2019: stay ahead of the game

Business How To’s

14 March 2019

Instagram Trends of 2019: stay ahead of the game

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

March 13th was a black day for many of us who spend nearly all our waking hours on Instagram and Facebook. A technical glitch created a major outage and a sort of existential crisis for millions (yes, you read that right) of users. Just how large a following Instagram has was amply evident during this digital apocalypse.

If your brand has still not tapped into the possibilities of Instagram, it’s not too late yet. Move over Facebook and other social media platforms; Instagram is well on its way to becoming the ultimate marketing tool for brands looking to build a strong digital presence. Month on month, this photo and video sharing platform is leapfrogging its way into boardrooms and marketing meetings.

And quite rightly so. It offers a slew of exceptional advantages that make all the difference between a brand being #1 or #2. Throughout last year, the app made upgrades and modifications to its interface, and completely spoiled us with all the fun stuff.

Wonder what everyone’s favourite app has in store this year. We did a little snooping and this is what we believe users and brands can look forward to.

Going further with Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is set to be one of the biggest Instagram trends of 2019. If you thought this is some futuristic stuff, you’d be surprised to know that you have already interacted with it through Instagram Stories. Those cute face filters, such as the puppy dog ears and nose? Those are actually AR filters. Who knew, right? Simply put, AR is superimposing virtual effects (computer generated images and videos) onto the real world through the camera.

There are over 400 million people using Instagram Stories daily! And that, dear brands, is a fantastic opportunity for you to jump on to the face filter bandwagon. Create your own custom AR filters for your customers to use using Facebook’s Spark AR Studio.

And how does this benefit you? In order for your customers to use the filters, they need to follow you on Instagram or at least visit your brand profile. Once they do that, it’s all up to you to keep them engaged. AR filters have all the makings of going viral. Question is how soon you are going to cash in.

Everybody likes a good story

Instagram might have started out as a place to post pretty pictures of food and cats, but it is a serious business tool today. With the numerous features it offers, it’s a space to engage with customers and to build a community of fans.

If you’ve been following Instagram’s progress, you’ll see how Stories has slowly and steadily grown in popularity over the last few years. Many users are now actively posting on Stories rather than their classic feed, which has become more secondary. To put it in digital parlance, the main feed is more like their home page – strategic, planned, etc. – where people can stop by to see what’s happening. However, Stories is more natural and shows their quirky, ‘human’ side.

Instagram’s been quick to catch up on this trend and most of its recent updates have been around Stories: polls, questions, emoji reactions, stickers, countdown, music, focus mode … the list goes on. This means brands will now find easier and better ways to communicate with their audience, taking customer engagement to a whole new level. You can use Story stickers to give some measure of involvement to customers during product decisions. Track their feedback, and tweak and change your offering until it satisfies the majority.

Shopping @Instagram

Today, nearly 62% of smartphone users are making purchases via their mobile devices on the go. If you are an ecommerce brand, Instagram is your gateway to more sales. With nifty features like shopping and product tagging, monetising your presence on Instagram has never been easier.

Whether it’s loyal followers who want to purchase your products or potential ones who discover you on Instagram, this platform is now a bona fide sales channel that you can no longer afford to ignore.

Its built-in shopping reminder – the tiny shopping bag icon that appears in the lower-left corner of your posts – is a quiet trigger of shopping opportunities.

Using Instagram product tagging allows you to capture more mobile users who are always on the go, and shopping while they do it. And as more customers realise just how easy and fun it is, the tribe of Instagram shoppers is only going to grow.

All that they need to do is click on your shoppable posts via the ‘Shop’ button that is conveniently located directly below your highlights/bio. Serious shoppers can browse through all your shoppable posts, making it really easy for you to appeal to their inner shopaholic.

Nearly 46% of people say they avoid purchasing from a brand if it means a disconnected mobile experience. Instagram product tagging takes care of that seamlessly. It sends your customers directly to your product pages – sitting snug within the Instagram app itself.

Get real with influencers

The influencer marketing industry is expected to touch $5-10 billion by 2020. And this has been largely due to Instagram. And even though most brands are gung-ho about influencer marketing, the regular folks are starting to see through the thin veneer of perfect Instagram posts, overly edited photographs and sponsored content.

Influencers are getting real now. They have come to realise that in order to retain their followers and also their brand deals, they will need to get more personal and authentic this year. You will see more influencers being open about their sponsored content, even explaining to their followers how much of their income comes from sponsored posts.

This will mean more genuine experiences for customers and far more deeper, meaningful and authentic relationships.

The trend sort of kicked off in 2018 itself, which saw the rise of a new kind of Instagram influencer focused on authenticity. The example of body positive Jenna Kutcher is perfect. She went from 166k to 700k+ followers in just a year, that too without paying for a single follower.

Watch out for IGTV

When IGTV was launched in June 2018, it was a bit of a damp squib. Which was quite surprising, as the vertical video format is easier to work with while creating content, and for users as well to watch on their phone. However, the good guys always win in the end. It was closer to the end of the year when some of the bigger brands and influencers started dabbling in IGTV. 2019, we believe, will see vertical video come into its own. More brands and public figures will publish long-form content and more users will start to check IGTV. Be ready for the shift, and start working on creating vertical videos soon.

Conclusion

Instagram has always been a visual medium. ‘Show, don’t tell’, has been the mantra all along. And now with its many new features and upgrades, Instagram will help you turn your feed into a fun and easy selling machine too.

The New Age Business Leaders’ Guide to New Year Resolutions

Business How To’s

26 December 2019

The New Age Business Leaders’ Guide to New Year Resolutions

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Come December, and the unmistakable buzz of the season is ‘New Year Resolutions’. It is that time of the year when many of us make plans to change for the better – both in our personal and professional lives. And business leaders are no exception to this tradition. However, as a new-age business leader, what should feature on your list of 2020 resolutions?

Here are our top picks:

Fail without fear

While risk-taking is part of the package in the world of business, start-ups and especially younger entrepreneurs are considered to be more financially fragile and risk-averse. New Year is the perfect occasion to bring about a change.

Every failure is but a disguised opportunity for learning and growth. Through creativity, trial and error, there will be subsequent victories. Let 2020 be the year when we fail without fear when we learn our lessons and chart new success stories.

Take radical responsibility

Every workspace has its own challenges. However, unconventional work environments call for progressive leadership qualities. Creating a harmonious and healthy work environment, particularly in the intimacy of a coworking set-up, demands radical responsibility towards clear and effective communication. This can be a small step towards changing the dynamics of your company culture.

By assuming radical responsibility, you take mindful action. As a new age business leader can you respect the strengths of the millennial generation, while also understanding their weaknesses? In 2020, let the emphasis be on productive discourses and constructive conversations. Unlike conventional offices, the open-door policy of a coworking set-up offers a fertile ground for a healthy exchange of ideas and robust professional relationships.

Foster learning

Complacency and disinterest are most frequently bred where there is a lack of learning, growth or active development. Success can only be guaranteed in a culture that fosters learning. So, it’s important to engage and retain employees with valuable programmes in relevant skills training.

In 2020, don’t just empower your company with tools and resources that they need to improve themselves, but also make them appealing. If you already have a programme, see if there are ways in which you can expand it further or make it more relevant to your team. The bonus? Invested employees and lower attrition.

Invest in self-care

Self-care is arguably the most under-rated leadership quality. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says he finds kitesurfing therapeutic as well as a great way to stay in shape. In 2020, take inspiration from some of the world’s most successful leaders, by eating a life-enhancing diet and prioritizing regular exercise. Find yourself a physical and mental activity that enriches the quality of your life.

Sustainable leadership comes from the ability to take care of your own health. Whether it’s getting adequate sleep or taking up a sport to stay physically and mentally agile or taking a much-needed digital detox once a month in the coming New Year, new age leaders must lead by example. After all, a new age leader is someone who is versatile with his or her range of skills that go beyond official designations, hierarchies, geographies, and functions. It requires one to be at the front line of action to be able to foresee change, adapt and benefit from it.

In conclusion

We have kept the technology out on purpose. We know that new age leaders are tech-obsessed and that digital future promises to be the ultimate key for infinite scalability. However, we are looking beyond tech – because that gets updated regularly.

Happy New Year!

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

Business How To’s

11 December 2019

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

When coworking spaces were first founded about a decade ago, the intent was to support independent workers within an organized set-up. However, over the years, this idea has progressed into a community space that encourages collaborative working for learning and growth.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a crucial component of the economy, vital for its survival. And like a caped crusader to the rescue, coworking spaces have ensured an equal footing for SMEs in the face of competition from large businesses. Here are three important advantages that coworking spaces offer SMEs:

Scalability and agility

Coworking spaces facilitate quick changes in infrastructure scale to match business volatility. A majority of coworking spaces offer monthly rental plans rather than the long-term leases as offered by traditional office spaces. This monthly plan can be modified according to the performance of your business. You have the flexible option to upgrade or downgrade, i.e., increase or decrease the number of workstations you hire based on your needs.

Long-term leases are binding, cumbersome and not the ideal option for start-ups or SMEs. Without having to worry about such commitments, SMEs can focus on short-term rental expenses, on a month-to-month basis. When the monthly cash flow is not a fixed number, coworking spaces offer office space arrangements that can be adjusted as per your cash flow.

Hiring young talent

For most SMEs, hiring is a huge challenge given that they are not known brands, nor do they have the appeal of start-ups. However, coworking spaces help increase their accessibility, visibility and brand value for job aspirants.

The strategic location of most coworking spaces – often in Commercial Business Districts (CBDs) – help attract young talent who, typically, prefer the brand value of a big company or the exposure of a startup. That apart, coworking spaces with their cross-section of professionals also offer young job aspirants the opportunity to network. This unlocks the promise of endless possibilities for young professionals, who are inspired by the agile and collaborative environment at coworking spaces.

Cost-effectiveness

In an age where renting out furniture, household appliances and even clothes is commonplace, no one wants to pay through their noses for amenities. As far as coworking spaces are concerned, the most value comes from the provision of access to the amenities. The easy functionality of coworking spaces eliminate the need for SMEs to make large capital investments in terms of rentals, housekeeping and the like.

Included into the cost of many coworking space are the advantages of refreshments like coffee, tea, snacks, and office supplies. Additionally, the rental also covers use of costlier items such as printers, online platforms, and other utilities, which need to be upgraded quite often owing to technology changes. Therefore, when it comes to expanding your business operations to other cities and markets, you can simply hire professionals that operate out of a coworking space. This is far easier on the pockets than setting up a new office in a traditional commercial space.

Conclusion

The evolving workplace, in the form of coworking spaces, aid in providing the right resources and infrastructure for SMEs that account for nearly 40% of India’s workforce. With their philosophy of collaborative learning and work that nurtures productivity and creativity, coworking spaces create the perfect environment for business growth.

When mid-sized enterprises choose coworking

Business How To’s

02 December 2019

When mid-sized enterprises choose coworking

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The adage of ‘two heads being better than one’ is the fundamental principle upon which the idea of coworking was built. The wise proverb may have had its origins in the early 15th century, in the days of the glorious Renaissance where the ‘Bottega’ system existed. Bottega, which roughly translates to the workshop, was the hub of innovation under the watchful eyes of master artists who were at the center of things. Artisans and craftsmen hobnobbed with painters, sculptors, artists, architects, mathematicians, engineers, anatomists, and scientists. They brainstormed together, exchanging ideas and perspectives, devising new artistic forms and techniques. Bottegas, like today’s coworking spaces, were the innovative and collaborative community workplaces of the Renaissance.

The winning premise

Businesses, whether small, medium or big, have people at the helm of it. And often, people find that they can benefit their business through healthy discussions, brainstorming sessions, collaboration and networking opportunities. It is this knowledge that has fuelled the growth of coworking spaces. The environment of a coworking space is created to inspire innovation and more. This global movement of the modern-day workspace, which initially seemed lucrative only for entrepreneurs, has attracted medium and large-sized corporations too.

It was just a matter of time before it became apparent that the benefits of coworking extended towards medium-sized enterprises as well. With considerably more capital, medium-sized enterprises saved big on the flexible, ‘amenities-packed’ and substantially cheaper rentals of coworking spaces.

The unfailing process

Like the famous bottegas, the process of innovation is three-pronged — facilitating dialogue, converting ideas into action, and convergence of diverse verticals on a mutually-beneficial platform. In a coworking space, almost every conversation has the potential to help make new clients, or generate interesting business ideas. The opportunity to sound off your ideas, and express your creativity makes up only part of the picture. In order for innovation to be successful, the ability to collaborate is also crucial, and it is this quality that makes the coworking space a game-changer. This culture of openness, which is conducive for innovation, also guarantees an acceleration in development. This involves networking with resources that are both within and outside of your organization.

In organizations, where established corporate processes are already in place – like in most mid-sized enterprises – the key is to facilitate change by fostering a more open, receptive and creative method of operating your business. The benefits that coworking spaces offer are not simply those that are tangible.  Along with the numerous financial and infrastructural advantages, there are also a host of other less tangible perks. For instance, inspired workspaces for young professionals that nurtures and promotes out-of-the-box thinking, new work practices and a fertile ground for innovation.

The bottom line

The effectiveness of coworking is evident in its success. With a growth rate of 24% annually, by 2022, as estimated by the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, we can expect to see some 30,000 coworking spaces and more than five million coworking members around the world. In India too, the demand for coworking spaces has been increasing at an exceptional scale. Not only among start-ups, but also among medium-sized enterprises keen to capitalize on the innovation advantage of coworking. Just like the Bottegas of the Renaissance period.