Instagram is killing brand. Notes for when you stop growing

I complain a lot about Instagram. Not the platform, but brands obsession with it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s damn important. If you’re selling to under 40’s, it’s your most frequent communication channel with your customers. Most marketers just think its so important that they lose sight of the things that truly drive good Instagram performance once the new factor wears off.

Right now we’ve got a bunch of brands who had massive growth in IG followers in 2014 & 2015. Almost overnight they became household names as humans started to publicly share themselves in the bathroom, holding their hand out at an aspirational location or posing in the mirror with their new tights.

This was new behaviour. No-one was grasping at a mountain in front of their Kodak in 1995. Behaviour changed, things caught on fast, and brands grew from nothing faster than they ever had before.

Fast forward to 2017 and these brands are losing followers every week while looking at the new kids on the block gaining thousands a day, blowing 2x or 3x past their follower base. They sit there with a stagnating brand wondering what they’re doing wrong and why the algorithm is harming them but not others. Someone mentions Everlane, someone else talks about how much they love Glossier and then the manager reinvents their strategy for the 30th time this year.

It’s not their Instagram. It’s their brand.

Face it. The market wants something new like never before and millennial are churning through brands as fast as they swipe. You’ve got an uphill battle to remain relevant and it starts off the platform.

You might have been on trend a few years back, but on the street there might be 50 people talking about your new competitor for every 1 that talks about you. You think Instagram accounts for that 50x? It doesn’t.

Instagram is simply is the best channel for something good to spread.

You might be doing takeovers well now and still have good copy, but that’s not enough. Purpose, product, offline activations, partnerships. That’s the shit that gives a brand with a 2–5 year lifecycle energy to keep growing on Instagram.

Adidas could have not posted a thing on Instagram last year and still would have grown more than Nike – they got the source of growth right and used Instagram to fuel it.

Stop thinking about Instagram in isolation. If you want to get your growth back, think about Instagram as the catalyst for when you get your brand and product strategy relevant again.