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Monetizing Channels: Why We’re Going to Start Seeing Ads on WhatsApp

We didn’t see it far coming. Facebook owned WhatsApp has 1.3 billion users worldwide – that’s six hundred million more than Instagram. Analyst estimates for Instagram's revenue in 2017 average nearly $4 billion; Clearly whatever Mark Zuckerberg has been able to get his hands on, he has been able to monetize it.


Ad placements have massively developed in the last year, Facebook Messenger recently monetized with the new call-to-action “Click to Message”. It’s clear that it’s only a matter of time before WhatsApp follows suit. Although some still believe the move to include advertising on WhatsApp will be the last resort.


WhatsApp’s stance has always been anti-advertising. In a 2012 blog post by WhatsApp’s CEO, Jean Koum wrote: “No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow, we know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day (and disappointed about who they didn’t).”

Koum has even gone as far to say that advertising is insulting and disruptive, which further adds to the “heated” conversation as to whether ads, overall, have a negative impact on user experience. It seems there’s a slight disconnect between WhatsApp’s vision and Facebook’s revenue ambition. With digital ad spend (37.6%) expected to overtake TV (35.9%) in 2018, can WhatsApp afford to miss out?

WhatsApp has recently announced a new offering for companies. Global enterprises, will be able “to provide customers with useful notifications like flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates”. SME’s will have access to a free app (although the specific functionality has not yet been announced).

Tweet This: Digital ad spend is expected to overtake TV in 2018, can WhatsApp afford to miss out with ads?

TechCrunch has recently discovered code in Facebook’s Ad Manager that lets advertisers create ads with the call-to-action “Send WhatsApp Message”. Like Facebook Messenger, users have to agree to be messaged on WhatsApp by initiating the conversation.

facebook messenger click to talk call to action
Facebook Messenger released the “Click to Message” ads back in 2015. Which supports the growing trend that users would rather get their questions answered via text exchange rather than picking up the phone.

Across the board, we are seeing more user engagement over instant messaging, especially with the rise in popularity of messenger bots and Facebook injecting display ads into Messenger. It’s not surprising to find that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger process 60 billion messages a day. That’s three times more than the worldwide volume of SMS messages!

As Mark Zuckerberg once said: “Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking”.

Tweet this: Messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking - Will ads appear on WhatsApp?

What does this mean for the marketer?

The new ad feature will allow brands to spark conversations with their customers and then have the ability to contact them in the future such as a sponsored message. WhatsApp did write that it wants to facilitate “someone placing an order with a local bakery or looking at new styles from a clothing store” and “shopkeepers who use WhatsApp to stay in touch with hundreds of customers from a single smartphone”, plus offer “an easier way to respond to messages.” For example, an e-commerce business could buy Facebook ads that entice users to message the business through WhatsApp, then the store could then later message that user with a promotion.

With over 1 billion daily active users, WhatsApp has achieved significant growth with many brands already utilizing the platform to reach out to its customers. Mark Zuckerberg himself said “I want to see us move faster” on Messenger on WhatsApp. He also hinted using other messaging platforms such as China’s WeChat (where they charge companies a set-up fee and another fee for each interaction) as a floor. The question is, to what extent is Facebook willing to allow brands to advertise on WhatsApp without interfering with the simple user experience?

I'd love to hear your views on whether it would be a good move by Facebook or ideas on how you could utilize WhatsApp as a channel to reach out and keep in contact with your customers!


Image is everything - 7 rules for choosing the right stock photography

Marketers all agree that great copy is nothing without the right imagery, and yet somehow 90% of blog, social and website imagery continues to be a rushed afterthought that communicates absolutely nothing unique or interesting about the brand.

One explanation for this is that you simply cannot teach good taste. You either have an eye for selecting great imagery or you don’t.


Of course you can teach good taste. Just compare my wardrobe now with the one I inflicted upon the world prior to my girlfriend teaching me that grown men should never wear t-shirts with tie-dye or disney characters. I can’t pretend to understand why she is right (what’s not to love about a florescent Mickey Mouse?) but now I understand the rules, and that’s enough.

So here are some rules I’ve learnt for choosing the right imagery. You don’t need to particularly agree with them, you don’t even need to understand them, you just need to follow them.


Rule 1 - keep it candid

Your subjects need to appear 100% in the moment, or how can you expect the reader to believe the image or feel an emotion?

This is the problem with most stock photography - painted smiles and lifeless eyes that do nothing to suggest the moment being portrayed in the image is real.

Website imagery - candid


Rule 2 - look away

This ties in with the first rule. After all, how can someone believe the image is real if the subject is looking directly at the camera? The person needs to be lost in the moment, seemingly oblivious to the photo being taken.

This also helps the viewer to imagine that they themselves are the person in the image, particularly if the face of the subject is out of view or obscured.


Rule 3 - consider softer lighting

Soft light reduces harsh shadow lines or sharp transitions and ensures a more gradual and flattering transition from light to dark. This is the reason images shot at dawn and dusk often sell better than those shot in the middle of the day.


Rule 4 - keep it on-brand and consistent

If people are to immediately associate the image with your brand then it must adhere to clear guidelines. Should it be serious or informal? Energetic or relaxed? Accessible or aspirational? Modern or traditional?

What is the brand’s colour palette and how will you ensure this is respected in the imagery? Will you use a particular filter to achieve consistency, or can your designer edit the imagery to bring out your key brand colours?


Rule 5 - capture an emotion

It’s okay for the image to be obscure in literal terms, as long as it is crystal clear in emotion. What I mean is that in many instances the image need not specifically portray the product, but it must portray the specific feeling you want the product associated with.

Communicate an emotion


Rule 6 - think about the relevance of the subject

The person within the image can either represent your product/service, or your target audience, usually you would favour the latter. This may be an aspirational version of your audience, but it still needs to be within the realms of reality or the viewer will be unable to project themselves into the scenario being portrayed, and that’s precisely the point of the image.


Rule 7 - Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is one of the pillars of great photography and something to look out for when selecting your images.

It could not be more simple - imagine you place two evenly spaced horizontal lines and vertical lines on your image. The goal of the photographer is to place the subject on one of the four crosshairs, and they will choose which crosshair by whichever will make the more interesting image. For example, if the image is of the sea and there are stunning clouds then the photographer will probably choose to place the subject on one of the bottom two crosshairs, but if they wanted to show great crashing waves then they would place the subject on one of the top two crosshairs.

When choosing your image you should look for this rule and feel confident that the photographer has placed your key subject in this optimal position. Here's a great video by the photographer Mike Browne explaining the concept...

Rule of thirds from Mike Browne on Vimeo.


Instagram login screen

5 Strategies to Grow your Instagram Account

Instagram is a great network for building brand awareness and relationships with your customers online, in a visually compelling way. Instagram has over 200 million daily actives and users tap the like button 2.5 million times daily; proving that I am not the only like-aholic on the planet.

If someone has ever told you: “There’s no point in using Instagram, your B2B”, then you have my permission to laugh at them.  Despite the fact that the social platform is known for driving less website traffic because it only allows one link in the bio, there is massive opportunity to build some serious brand awareness and tell a story or two. Instagram is for everyone, even my grandmother knows about it. But, if you’re struggling to drive engagement on the platform, then try out these strategies to get noticed.

1. Add Hashtags

Quite simply put, adding hashtags to your posts will increase your reach and therefore engagement. Hashtags allow you to join relevant conversations (ding! potential customers) and also for users to discover your profile and images. Because hashtags compile content together into categories, people might search for hashtags instead of words to find relevant posts. So the aim here is to use relevant hashtags. “What would I search for if I was the customer?”, is the first question you should ask yourself; if you’re stuck, a good place to start is looking at your competitor profiles. There are some great tools such as Ritetag to find out what hashtags are popular with your topic. I would recommend using a combination of specific and broad hashtags, a maximum of three in the description. You can then add an additional 20 hashtags as a comment, which you can delete it later to keep the post as clean as possible.

2. User-generated Content

Instagram is the king of user-generated content (UGC) because users love creating and sharing free content for brands. As mentioned before, it doesn’t matter what type of business you are, Instagram is the platform to tell real stories and promote your product/service, although you might be asking yourself “but how?!”. UGC is a great way to build an engaged community by posting publicly available content that is created by end-users, especially as Millennials trust UGC 50% more than other types of media.

The easiest way to find great user generated content is to use hashtags, which users can add to their posts making it easier for you to find them by. Ensure that you include a clear call-to-action to a few of your posts to keep the campaign rolling. If you’re struggling to find UGC that is appropriate to your business or industry, contests are one way you can get the ball rolling. It’s a good idea to document submitted material as a particular post could come in handy with a content theme later down the line. The process itself provides several touch points for your business to build relationships with your customers. For example, asking the owner for permission to use their content; two birds with one stone.

Tweet This: Did you know Millennials trust UGC 50% more than other types of media?

Popular lifestyle blog, Studio DIY has over 300,000 followers and they recently launched Shop Studio DIY, an online store which has it’s own Instagram account. They grew the account to over 20,000 followers by creating the hashtag #cantclutchthis and ran a contest using it. They also included the hashtag on all of their posts:


3. Be Reactive

This is an area of social media which is overlooked by so many marketers. The clue is in the name: social. Comment on followers and influencers posts by adding the @ symbol before the follower’s username so that they receive the notification directly to their phone. Since the algorithm change on Instagram, it is not surprising to learn that people miss on average 70% of their feeds, therefore it is important to maintain a presence by joining in on conversations and posting regularly (I suggest at least 3 times a week). By maintaining a conversation, your reach will increase: The more a user interacts with your content, the more likely it is to appear on their feed.

4. Influencers

Influencers increase your marketing reach, brand awareness and sales in regions where you’re not present. These individuals post and write for brands they have affinity for, meaning they have specific areas of expertise which could add lots of value to your business. Influencers are commonly used for short-term campaigns where they post content, stories and blogs in exchange for money and products. Influencers must be a good fit/valuable for both the influencer and the brand, so research is key. Who do you want to attract? Create a set of criterion with which you can score potentials against, bearing in mind that the more followers an influencer has, the more likely they are to charge, as the majority treat their social channels as a business.

Tweet This: Influencers must be a good fit/valuable for both the influencer and the brand.

Growth Supplements has been recently leveraging on Instagram influencer Dickerson Ross and his impressive 1.6m following, with posts averaging out at 20k likes per post. Interestingly, he also promotes products from popular online watch store MVMT.


5. Tell a Story

Brands who use Instagram must understand the importance of storytelling. Whether through photos of products, office tours or Instagram takeovers, brands using Instagram are effectively showcasing their offering in an authentic way.

Define your brand narrative in one sentence and try to have every photo feed into it, creating cohesion between posts. Instagram is the place to promote your brand’s identity, as the brain processes images 60 times faster than words. A story activates parts in the brain that allow the listener to turn the story into their own ideas and experiences, thanks to a process called neutral coupling. Think thematically when building your community on Instagram, with evermore ways to make authentic connections with your audience through visuals, multi-photo albums and Instagram’s own apps, Boomerang and Hyperlapse.

With the recent development of stories on Instagram, storytelling is that less hard work. The story feature has become so popular that Snapchat’s growth sank 82% after Instagram Stories launched. Don’t be afraid to upload stories - as long as it feeds into your brand identity (remember that one sentence?), plus Instagram is rolling out website links to all business accounts, so you will soon be able to drive traffic from stories to your site… Watch this space!

Over to you...

So there you have it, five strategies that will help you build a solid presence on Instagram in order to engage and connect with your target audience. What strategies have you found successful with Instagram? Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear how you are growing your account.

Thank you for reading! Until next time…




Feature Image Credit: Boland Digtial