Branding, what’s it really about? Promoting a brand name? Creating loyalty amongst customers? Or simply expanding the potential reach of sales?
In its entirety, branding is about all of these put together and much more, and that dynamic gets more and more complex with time. We say complex because of the introduction of the digital medium into the equation.
Digital media has effectively nullified physical borders. A brand from anywhere in the world can market itself to people in any part of the world, all within a matter of seconds. A single viral campaign has the potential to reach millions of people, and all over the globe. So yes, branding isn’t as simple a task as it might have been a few decades ago.
Branding and the Digital Market
While the equation is more complex now, it’s also more effective. More people have access to thousands of brands, and in turn, brands can reach a much larger target audience. This obviously results in more sales, better revenue, increased opportunities for expansion, and so on.
Branding today is so much more than a simple logo, a mediocre tagline and possibly a mascot to relate with. Branding is a detailed, well-analyzed exercise that needs to address a number of factors.
How is your brand different?
- Why should people choose you?
- How current is your branding strategy?
- What is the brand image you’re trying to create?
- What is the type of audience that is going to relate to your brand?
The list of questions can be almost endless, but each one is just as important as the other. The brand isn’t just one or two things but rather held together by a multitude of aspects. Some brands have done a brilliant job of addressing all of these aspects and have, as a result of smart branding, multiplied their net worth and increased their revenue by tenfold.
Branding and Social Media
Now social media is a very important part of the digital marketing matrix. In fact, one could argue that in current times social media is the most important aspect. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have managed to bring together millions of people from all over the world and given them a medium where they can interact and network. However, it’s not just about networking anymore.
It’s the perfect open market for brands to penetrate and promote to millions of people. Actually, make that a billion people. As of 2019, Instagram is home to a billion active users from every corner of the planet, and yes, that number is set to increase even further in the years to come. Instagram has grown phenomenally in a short span of time, enough to be called the largest social networking app in the world.
It’s not surprising then that brands are making a conscious effort to be very much active on Instagram and use it as a platform for branding and promotions. With the kind of reach and traffic that Instagram is capable of, digital marketing can be very lucrative for brands. In fact, Instagram in itself is a very business-friendly platform and gives brands (or even individuals) the chance to have public Business Profiles. Business Profiles offer options like:
- Direct email and contact
- Google Maps location
- Hyperlinking to websites
- Backlinking on Instagram Stories
- Sponsored and Promoted Ads
- Insights on per-post performance including metrics
- Profile visits and traffic analysis
And so on. So, Instagram has also been a conducive environment for brands, making it easier for them to engage in marketing campaigns and reach their audience virtually.
Instagram Private Accounts
Just as Instagram gives users the option to have a business and public account, there’s also the option to have a completely private account on the platform. A private account ensures that each and every post shared on a private feed is only visible to its followers.
There are so many reasons why people opt for private accounts, safety and internet security being the most important one. For an individual who isn’t looking to promote or sell anything through Instagram, a private account is, in fact, a great option.
How visible is a private Instagram account for a brand?
Let’s look at the pros and cons.
1. Filtering followers
A public account gives access to anyone who has an Instagram account to follow it, and there’s no filter to this. So, whether it’s an authentic account or a fake one, a brand can be followed. Now for many brands spam accounts are nothing more than fake numbers and of no other value. These accounts are not likely to create any sort of engagement and might even spam with comments and messages.
So, a brand that is looking to filter out the fake profiles and build a 100% authentic following should definitely opt for a private account. This gives them the option to choose which request to accept or reject, once they’ve done their background research. Spam accounts are present in pretty large numbers on Instagram, and Instagram itself has made several efforts to delete such accounts and keep their network genuine.
2. Protection of data
It’s very easy for someone to plagiarize something off the internet today and post it as theirs without giving due credit. And if there are no trademarks or patents allowed, one cannot sue them either. If a brand is particular about securing their content from being stolen or copied, then having a private account reduces the risk of that by a bit.
No, this doesn’t guarantee full protection in any way, but it surely reduces the risk. Only the followers of the profile would be able to view the content, and even if they share the content via messenger, only another person following the brand’s account can view it. It also prevents the option of sharing content to one’s stories. Hence, a private account offers a considerable amount of protection for the content being posted.
3. Private activity
Any activity carried out from a private Instagram account cannot be viewed by everyone. It can only be noticed by those who follow that account, and that ensures another layer of privacy protection. For example, if a brand is liking or commenting on a post, only followers will be able to see this. Any brand that’s seeking to keep their online engagement on another private post away from the public eye will be able to do so.
Even in the tab where one can view the minute by minute activity of other pages, only followers will be able to see a brand’s activity. This works out really well for any brand that doesn’t want to risk being under the constant purview of the public.
1. Reduced reach and following
As discussed earlier, one of the main goals of a brand trying to establish itself on social media is to reach as many people as possible. With a private account, while the spam and fake followers can be avoided, it also potentially affects the overall reach of the brand.
For example, any marketing campaign will only be visible to followers. Even hashtags associated with the campaign won’t do much for the reach, because it won’t be visible in public searches. The traffic being generated will hence see a downfall, and this can never be good for a brand.
When maximizing reach and visibility is the main goal of a brand, a private account isn’t of much help (unless the private following is a massive number). So, even if a brand is posting great content that could sell them well, only a handful of people are going to see it.
2. Lesser rate of engagement
Engagement is a very important factor for brands on social media and is also indicative of how well their campaigns are performing. Better engagement means the brand is performing well and vice-versa, so it’s crucial for a brand to focus on increasing engagement numbers. However, this becomes a rather difficult task for a brand with a private account, because only followers can like or comment.
Non-followers can’t view or engage with private posts, and neither can they view it someone else shares it with them (unless they decide to follow as well). Again, there’s a major obstacle in the way ad the only option is for a brand to go public with their profile. Poor engagement numbers can hamper a brand’s online presence, which isn’t going to do well for their revenue either.
3. No profile insights
Unlike a public Instagram profile, a private one doesn’t include the additional options of tracking traffic, getting metrics and numbers or even analyzing the profile’s performance. It’s all completely sealed up, and Instagram doesn’t provide any numbers. Trying to track these numbers without the aid of software can be quite cumbersome and time-consuming, and might not be as accurate either.
So, if a brand is trying to track and improve on Instagram numbers, insights are quite essential and cannot be avoided.
4. Limitation on promoted content
Private profiles retain the business account feature of promoting content but, then again, only followers can view these ads. When content is promoted through a sponsored ad on a public account, brands can reach thousands of people based on how much they’re willing to spend. They also get to choose the demographic and make the targeting of the ads very specific.
All of these additional features are missing from a private Instagram account, and can very well hurt a brand’s reach, and ROI from ad spends.
Wrapping it up
Private accounts have a bunch of benefits that cannot be overlooked; however, these might not be applicable to brands and individuals who are trying to increase their visibility on Instagram.
In fact, having a private account could be detrimental to a brand’s growth and isn’t going to help numbers in any way. For regular individuals who want to safeguard their privacy, a private account is an ideal option.
The same cannot be said for a brand’s Instagram profile because brand promotion and recognition has a direct correlation with numbers. Higher numbers are a sign of better performance and reach, which is exactly what a brand should be aiming for. So, whether a brand decides to go private or not is a personal decision, but surely not one that is going to do much for all that a brand needs to survive the stiff competition!