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.

5 Global Trends that are Disrupting Businesses in 2019

Business How To’s

05 September 2019

5 Global Trends that are Disrupting Businesses in 2019

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

We are living in a dynamic world, all thanks to disruptive trends that are frequently redefining the way we interact with it. It goes without saying that this has a significant impact on businesses; competition is growing manifold every minute in the face of volatile market conditions and fickle consumer demands. Curious to know all that is dictating the way businesses function in 2019? Here are 5 major trends that are here to stay.

Corporate and start-up collaborations

Large corporations are increasingly realising the enormous potential of start-ups in terms of predicting and adapting to disruption. Plus, coworking spaces are also enabling more collaborations between corporates and start-ups by bringing them under one roof. This growing trend is especially true for start-ups with a highly specialized focus as they are more likely to face domain-specific challenges early on in their journey as compared to large organizations.

A case in point is the collaboration between Coca Cola and Wonolo, an on-demand stocking platform, to streamline its supply chain. This reduced Coca Cola’s stocking costs by 75% per outlet and increased its coverage 25-fold, while Wonolo raised $5.7 million in funding.

Mobile-first technologies

Everything digital is going mobile-first, be it products, services, or even communications. In fact, mobile phones have long surpassed desktops as the primary way to access the internet. A recent CIODive report revealed that up to 70% of web traffic happens on mobile devices. And companies have started recognizing the potential of mobile phones in digital transformation. Flipkart’s progressive web app is the company’s second-largest channel in terms of transactions and attracts over 70% of new customers!

Phygital experience

Whether the Internet of Things (IoT) will redefine consumer experience remains to be seen, but it certainly has introduced the world to phygital experience. The opportunities this presents are immense; several industries will no longer be the same as we know them today. The US jewelry retailer, Tiffany & Co., has already integrated the phygital experience in its stores with an Engagement Ring Finder app that allows shoppers to use the camera in their mobile device to preview how different rings will appear on their beau’s finger.

Digital empathy mapping

Empathy mapping is a key tool to analyze and anticipate behavioral shifts among customers. Traditionally, empathy mapping involved a group of marketers brainstorming to map out customer journeys with post-it notes. However, the growing adoption of digital platforms is rapidly optimizing the process, making it cleaner and more efficient. Data is a crucial aspect of empathy mapping, and given the vast amounts of data, businesses deal with nowadays, digitizing the process only makes more sense. A clear example of this can be seen in UI/UX design, where designers are leveraging empathy maps to understand user preferences and enhance their experience.

Social awareness

Consumers today have become more socially aware and prefer to subscribe to products and services that resonate with their world view. In fact, millennials are worth $1 trillion in consumer spending and 73% of them prefer sustainable goods. As such, there has been a growing trend of companies adopting renewable materials and greener practices in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint. The automobile giant, Ford Motors, serves as a great example. The Repreve seat fabric used in the company’s vehicles is made from fibers derived from recycled plastic bottles, helping displace over 5 million plastic bottles from landfills.

Conclusion

Technology is continuously blurring the lines between physical and digital and is ushering an era underpinned by innovation. These are the times when flexibility can make all the difference when small companies can very well break monopolies. Only time will tell how these trends impact the global business landscape. But one thing’s for sure, these trends will continue to drive innovation for the foreseeable future!

How Dropbox Grew from a 2-person Startup to a Billion Dollar Enterprise

Business How To’s

27 August 2019

How Dropbox Grew from a 2-person Startup to a Billion Dollar Enterprise

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Who hasn’t heard of Dropbox, right? The cloud storage giant provides services to over 500 million people across the globe and generates billions of dollars as annual revenue. Well, did you know that it began as a two-person startup? Read on to know the incredible success story of Dropbox.

The birth of a million-dollar idea

Dropbox founder Drew Houston was a tech prodigy who started coding when he was just 5 years old. The idea for Dropbox was born in 2007 when Houston was on a bus ride and suddenly realized that he had forgotten his pen drive, which had important files on it. The incident left him so frustrated that he pledged to solve the problem once and for all. And the idea for Dropbox was born!

The evolution into a business

With the help of Y Combinator, a startup accelerator, Dropbox received its initial funding of $1.2 million from Sequoia Capital in 2007. However, there was still a lot of work to be put in to get the product right. Dropbox was launched in 2008, a year after it received its initial funding.

Initial challenges

When Houston had taken his idea to Y Combinator, even though his pitch was well-received, the accelerator promised admission only on one condition – Houston needed to find a partner within two weeks. He turned to his alma mater, MIT, where he found Arash Ferdowski who was more than willing to drop out from college after seeing a demo video that Houston had put together.

Soon after the launch, Apple expressed interest in Dropbox with Steve Jobs even scheduling a meeting with Houston to buy the product. When Houston rejected the offer, Jobs said something on the lines of “Well, we’re just gonna have to crush you guys”! 10 years or so later, Dropbox is still going steady with a net worth of $8 billion despite cutthroat competition from Google Drive and Apple’s iCloud, all thanks to Houston’s unfaltering determination to build and nurture his own company.

Disrupting the market

Dropbox disrupted the market as soon as it launched. While there were several applications that enabled cloud storage, none of them were as stable, seamless, and robust. However, the challenge still lay in attracting as many users as possible to keep the venture profitable in the long run. Initially, Dropbox went for an outbound marketing strategy, investing in pay-per-click and PR campaigns. Unfortunately, this failed miserably, since the keywords they were bidding on were way too expensive.

This is when Dropbox focussed on adopting a consumer-first approach, going where the users were to build its own community and generate word of mouth.

Building a community

Initially, Dropbox had launched a private beta program while it was still in the development stage to generate interest in the product and gain valuable feedback to better the product. This helped Dropbox generate significant word of mouth and they capitalized on it by starting a referral that incentivized both, the recommenders and referrals with extra free space. They also rewarded their social media followers with 125 MB of extra free space. This simple initiative increased the number of new users by a whopping 60%!

Another key game changer was the use of a signup-driven homepage with clear layout and demarcations. It also had a 2-minute tutorial video to guide users through the product. This not only made the intent of the home page pretty clear but also helped anchor interest by showcasing how simple, effective, and beneficial the product is.

Conclusion

The key contributor to Dropbox’s success was that it solved a very basic problem. It thoroughly understood its users and the needs they had. A lot of users around the globe had already grown wary of carrying portable storage devices and wanted something that could solve their storage issues. Dropbox addressed the issue head-on by making cloud storage a simple, secure, and hassle-free experience. In the words of Drew Houston himself, “People do not choose Dropbox because it has this much space or gigabytes. They choose it for the experience.”

5 Startup Branding Trends to Adopt in 2019

Business How To’s

14 August 2019

5 Startup Branding Trends to Adopt in 2019

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

It goes without saying that a strong branding game can make all the difference to your business, from helping establish a brand identity and differentiation to ensuring customer loyalty. However, in an unpredictable market and amidst cutthroat competition, branding trends keep evolving every minute and you’ve got to keep abreast of them to stay ahead. Read on to know the top five branding trends that can seal the deal for you in 2019.

Illustrate to engage

A key aspect of branding is engagement, and what better way to entice your audience than with immersive illustrations? Art is capable of humanizing and differentiating brands, while strengthening the connect you have with the customers.

As such, brands worldwide, including giants like Google and Facebook, are realizing the power of incorporating art in their communications to become more personable and easier to connect with. Be it using animation in marketing videos or partnering with artists for new product lines, art is emerging as a popular way to engage and delight audiences.

Adopt minimalism

Minimalism is yet another branding trend connected to art that is becoming popular by the day. it’s a combination of subtle design and clear intentions that come together to provide a precise yet accessible format. The USP of minimalism lies in the fact that it is perfect for mobile-first communications and enhances the experience across devices.

Apart from being a popular trend, minimalism just makes sense. There’s literally no point in crowding your design with unnecessary bevels and hues, which do nothing but confuse your audience. Brands like Nike and Starbucks have long realized the power of minimalism, and it is evident in their highly creative communications that drive the point home.

Reflect social responsibility

As buying decisions continue to be influenced by consumers’ moral standards and ideologies, especially in the case of millennials, it only makes sense for businesses to reflect social responsibility in their branding efforts. In fact, a Nielsen survey revealed that over 73% millennials are willing to pay more for sustainable goods.

As such, we are witnessing a continuous shift in branding trends that resonate a responsible world view. A case in point is the recent Gillette ad, which received mixed responses for critiquing toxic masculinity – some balked the ad for being accusatory while others appreciated the brand for its bold, progressive stance. Nevertheless, the ad brought the brand to the forefront, which it direly needed. This only goes on to show the impact you can have by resonating with the millennials.

Give your brand the personal touch

The digital age has ushered robust connectivity, thereby putting personalized communications at the forefront of branding. While personalization used to signify exclusivity in the days of the yore, technology has put more power in the hands of the consumers. In fact, according to a survey by Infosys, 86% consumers say that personalization has quite an impact on their purchasing decisions.

As a result, marketers are continually striving to incorporate that personal touch in branding to leave a lasting impact in the audience’s minds. While it may entail rethinking business operations, personalization can give your brand the opportunity to create a differentiated proposition and improve conversion. The e-commerce giant Amazon comes second to none when it comes to behavioural targeting and personalization. Other companies that have nailed personalized branding are Nike, Cadbury, and Google.

Use creative online domain names

Finding a URL that matches your company’s name can prove to be tough. Did you know that Dropbox went by the URL “GetDropbox.com” in its initial days due to scarcity of exact-match domains?

However, this only opens opportunities to get creative with your domain names. The more creative and appealing your domain name is, the greater the chances of it attracting more audiences to your website. Plus, establishing a strong domain name is an important investment. Tools like Domainr, Nameboy, and Domize can come in handy for finding a creative domain name for your business.

Conclusion

Branding is all about connecting with your audience in a meaningful way for maximum brand recall. Adopt these five trends into your branding strategy to entice your customers and beat the competition. As Jeff Bezos rightly said, “Your brand is what people say about you after you leave the room”.