What Happened: Even though Instagram’s engagement rates with content are far higher than Facebook and Twitter, packaged-goods brands lacking obvious visual punch have found it difficult to engage with users on the social media platform. That may change, however, thanks to a new marketing strategy being implemented by Tom’s of Maine. Recently, the natural products company consulted social-influence analytics platform Mavrck and decided to focus on “micro-influencers” to up their Instagram game. These micro-influencers are Instagram users who “have maybe 1,000 to 5,000 followers but engage a very high percentage of them around a very specific topic” – in this case, earth-friendly products. So far, this strategy has helped Tom’s build its community of Instagram users about 8 percent in two weeks to 1,000, with a goal of doubling the number this year.
What This Means for Brands: With more than 300 million members who share more than 70 million photos daily, the reward for smaller brands like Tom’s of Maine that know how to successfully use Instagram to their advantage potentially could be huge. What has worked for Tom’s – and may work for other packaged-goods brands that lack a visual punch – is a focus on featuring micro-influencers using their products. In other words, use the “selfie” trend as an opportunity to portray your brand and product in a functional context, such as a cute kid brushing his or her teeth with Tom’s toothpaste. Another Instagram technique that worked for Tom’s was to give their followers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the company, through photos of employees at community and volunteer events. These types of photos give users context and allow them to connect with the personality behind the brand. Perhaps most importantly, focusing on micro-influencers to get your brand messages across allows smaller brands like Tom’s to bypass the $15,000 it usually costs to have Instagram “mega-influencers” include their products in a picture.