21 Nov LET’S DISCUSS CRAPPY CLICK-BAIT CONTENT, SHALL WE?
Ok, this is not only one of the most spontaneous blog posts (forcing us to do some rescheduling of our content calendar – look out for another post from us later this week), it’s also going to have a different tone to our usual.
And the reason?
Anger with misleading, uninspiring and even inappropriate content, from a respectful and reputable source.
Granted, these words are maybe a little too harsh (and that could be the anger typing), but in today’s world, where our feeds and inboxes are so grossly over-populated with content, the time we spend consuming content is precious, and if I feel I’ve wasted my time consuming a piece of content, I get upset. Really upset.
Let me share my story…
I’m lying casually on the couch of the house we are currently looking after, flicking through Twitter. I come across an article with the title “20 Start-ups That Nail Instagram Marketing And What You Can Learn From Them”. “Pretty enticing read for me,” I think to myself. Relevant, educational and should be fairly valuable (seeing as it comes from a content producer I’ve been following for years).
The first few examples are good (not mind-blowing, but good), raising some good points, and leaving me fairly confident that the list can only get better from there.
Wrong. The list only got worse.
Here is a pic they show from the Instagram feed of a start-up with “235 followers”*
*254 since I checked last, and after some further investigation, seems this “winning-on-Instagram” start-up hasn’t posted on the platform since 2013. Seems like a good strategy…
I will not mention the brand name as my goal with this post is not to ridicule or insult the brand (or the writer of this listy post, or the content hub tweeting this content), but rather use this time to point out that there are reputable companies with millions of followers, misleading their readers, and wasting our precious content-consuming time.
How is the above image (because Instagram’s power comes from visual storytelling) revolutionary and “Nail(ing) Instagram Marketing”? Actually, how is a company with 254 followers even considered as a “top 20” when there are so many other brilliant businesses out there that deserve the limelight of a reputable content producer with 1.9m followers on Twitter? How?!
But it doesn’t end there.
The writer’s reason for mentioning this company in the top 20 is because, as I quote, “They fill up your feed with shots of food that make the dishes look enticing.”
So let me tell you that the company is a cloud-based mobile payment platform that allows you to pay for things in advance. My guess is that the brand is trying to make you think that there are meals already made for you, waiting to be delivered because you’ve already paid (not too sure though – it’s quite a stretch), but how is “filling up (our) feed with shots of food…making the dishes look enticing” clever or creative or “nailed-it” marketing, especially if they aren’t even in the food industry? Are they going to deliver the food to you if you comment on the pic in the next 5 minutes, urging community interaction? Nope, not getting that from the content. Why does “enticing” food make me want to signup with a cloud-based mobile payment platform, if there’s no concept to it, anyway? And secondly – “enticing”? Really? No offense to the person who snapped that pic, but I’m pretty sure if I had to think of words to describe what I was looking at, “enticing” would not be in the top 10.
Sorry, I know I’m being harsh, and I will only apologize because it’s out of character, not because I feel I’m not raising valid points. Bad content pisses me off! What kind of message are we sending to the marketing world, where brands and people who don’t really understand Instagram (or any social) marketing are being featured to a huge community as a best practice example?!
You’re probably thinking, “Calm down, Chanel. Maybe one bad apple slipped in the list of 20.”
To you I say: Why doesn’t the respectful content-creating brand, then, drop the bad apple and publish a post called “19 Start-ups That Nail Instagram Marketing And What You Can Learn From Them”. There’s no excuse when you’re seen as a thought-leader in the marketing space.
And ah, if it was only just one bad apple.
They continue and show the following example:
With this insightful write-up:
“What do they do well? They have taken the majority of their photos from a bird’s-eye view. This has established a unique look for them.”
Again I feel the need to sum it up with:
Firstly, I’m pretty sure a bird would have swooped down a long time ago and eaten something from those plates (“shot from above” would’ve probably been a better descriptor), and secondly, I have news for this writer – that approach (despite being aesthetically pleasing) is not at all establishing “a unique look for them”. I can think of 30 food accounts off the top of my head that that image could’ve belonged to. I have nothing against the brand or the image they feature, as it is very beautiful and ‘very Instagram’, and they were perhaps one of the first few accounts to do it, hence their large six-figure following, but don’t fool ignorant people into believing that food shot from above is unique. Can’t you push the creative barrier a bit? Get people to think beyond the hugely-common angles – isn’t that what producing quality content is all about – reinventing and using creativity to question and innovate?
My last example from the dreaded list is this image, with the following reason why they are nailing the ‘Gram:
“What do they do well? They always post images of their employees. And their employees are always happy and laughing.”
I’m going to focus on one section of this commentary (because I completely agree that posting images from behind the glam, showing the people behind a business is golden), but “always happy and laughing.” COME ON!! Are we briefing people to shoot images for a 90s-born stock image library?! What about encouraging companies to brief their employees to do something interesting and personal, sharing their point of view and getting them each to take over the account and share “a day in the life of the [insert employee job title]”. Don’t stand them in an awkward row (clearly punting the brand logo on the front of that podium there) and ask them to say “cheese” – that’s a big no for standing out on Instagram.
I’m going to apologize one last time for the tone and clear frustration in this post, but you can understand when a business like How Far From Home relies heavily on Instagram, and is so passionate about the community and the creativity that exudes daily from thousands of brilliant minds and brilliant creatives that haven’t yet been discovered or been given the rightful time in the sun, and then crappy, rushed, thoughtless and lazy click-bait-driven content like this not only wastes time that could’ve been spent on quality content, it sends the wrong message to brands wanting to devour a piece of this thriving platform.
Would love to know your thoughts and if you agree or disagree with my remarks – pop us a comment below, or mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Any and all suggestions I inserted above were just first thoughts – in order to come up with a successful Instagram (or any social) content strategy, you would need to understand the brand, it’s objectives and its personality.