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Instagram videos: lessons for finance brands


6 years ago

6 years ago


When Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger built Instagram they envisaged it as a way to share stories of your life, through photos –but it also has great value for finance brands. While many organisations assume that Instagram isn’t the right channel to present a financial services brand, this assumption is doing many brands a disservice. We look at how finance brands can use Instagram videos to capture views and build brand loyalty. 

Based on aesthetics and visual communication, using filters, frames and hashtags, Instagram has become the province of artful lensing.

With 90% of users younger than 35, celebrities rule Instagram; but Insta fans are also consuming lush interior styling, travel imagery, restaurant plating, and high-gloss fashion and beauty photography.

There is some overlap with Facebook (who, incidentally, own Instagram), especially when it comes to posting family and friends-style images. But research shows that Facebook users are older, and more likely to look for news, music, opinion and humour.

Instagram is less about opinion and laughs, more about style; and it has influenced a whole generation’s expectations when it comes to content.

Instagram is less about opinion and laughs, more about style; and it has influenced a whole generation’s expectations when it comes to content.

What can we learn from Instagram’s most-viewed videos?

As we explored in an earlier blog, a brand can learn a lot from simple, viral Facebook videos. By dissecting YouTube’s most popular music videos, you can also glean some useful insights.

So now it’s Instagram’s turn. What can its 60-secs-or-less gems teach you about earning more views?

Calligraphy trumps the Kardashians

No prizes for guessing that Instagram’s big hitters are mostly your young, hot celebs – the Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, Katy Perry elite. This short video from Venezuelan-American internet star Lele Pons shows Lele and her friends clumsily twerking by her pool to the tune of 55 million views. Amanda Cerny shot a jokey aerobics video in her living room and racked up 37 million views.

But who needs an Insta celeb when you’ve got some drawing? Beating out all those Insta babes is a timelapse of a hand lettering ‘Cup of Joe’ onto a sketch of a coffee cup – 350 million views thank you very much! The artist Aaron Lawrence, aka #LetterLapse, says the video went viral partly because he was featured in a Search and Explore collection curated by Instagram.

The takeaway for brands:

We know that calligraphy videos have been hot for a few years now, largely because you can make something beautiful in relatively few seconds. If that fits with your brand – if you’re a community bank, or a credit union say, you might try some hand lettering, or similar artistic representation of your iconography captured simply.

These kinds of videos also deliver the thrill of “before and after”. Start with a blank cup, end up with a nice looking piece of art – not so different to watching what TV interior designer Shaynna Blaze does with a blank room using artwork, furniture and cushions. Or how Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos take us from raw ingredients to a delicious masterpiece.

What are your options for making art happen, turning a blank canvas into something beautiful before your followers’ eyes??

What Instagram video success looks like

‘Cup of Joe’ artist Aaron Lawrence explained in a Medium article, that if you want to be a success on Instagram, “you should just do things that you really enjoy doing. Whatever it is, follow your bliss mode! … Even if no one is watching, do it anyway!!!! Actually, that’s an important aspect that defines you… what do you do when no one is around?”

That’s a sentiment shared by irreverent Insta star Josh Ostrovsky, aka #TheFatJewish, who has more than 10 million followers. He’s famous for his comedy stunts, including a video that had him leading a spin class for the homeless on rental bikes.

When interviewed by, he says: “I was an idiot before there were places to share being an idiot.” Instagram is just an outlet for who he is, his world view, his mad sense of humour.

The takeaway for brands:

The risky, edgy comedy of #TheFatJewish might not make it past your brand guardians, but instead, look at what your managers, your employees, your customers are doing anyway – what’s their bliss mode?

Is it the series of cakes that one of your staffers makes for employee birthdays? Is it the staff tennis comp? Is it an employee’s favourite task – giving customers good news? Is it customers’ passions and how you help feed those?

As well as looking around for new ideas, get inspired by the great things your team is already doing, and work out how that fits with the brand story you’re telling.

Take your Instagram videos behind the scenes

When Facebook looked at the differences between the two platforms, they found that during big events, Instagram’s most liked and shared content was generally an insider’s perspective, whereas, with Facebook, the more popular posts explored reactions and opinions.

One example they use is the Melbourne Cup. “The most popular Instagram content during the event came from celebrities and focused on fashion, while the most popular Facebook content centred on animal rights and real-time reactions to the race,” they said, the inference being that Insta might be the place to share your behind-the-scenes content.

The takeaway for brands

It’s not a new suggestion – to show what’s going on behind closed doors, but it’s worth remembering. If you have a young audience, then satisfy their lust for getting the inside scoop by showing them what goes on behind the scenes at a premium event.

Or even, behind the scenes in your offices, featuring front and centre the characters in your accounting department.

Transparency is a fine thing. Showing that your people – from the C Suite down, are human and that their excitement, nerves and hard yakka are all part of the process, is a powerful way for brands to earn views, and loyalty.

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