Instagram global partnership manager talks all things influencers and IGTV
Influencer marketing can be a dangerous game, Instagram’s Jackson Williams says the platform is working to remove the ‘grey area’.
The influencer. Brands have learned that a level of trepidation is necessary when engaging with one of the newest tools in a marketer’s belt. The industry has fought fiercely over the effectiveness of influencer marketing and whether it is worth the investment and potential fallout that we’ve seen time and time again.
Global strategic partnerships manager at Instagram Jackson Williams says this issue has been a focus for him and his team. Williams is essentially a port of call for Instagram creators – his role sees him arming influencers and creators with the tools to “build a business on top of the audiences they have built” and driving their goals on Instagram, whatever they may be.
Since Williams is possibly among the most influencer-marketing-literate people on Earth, Marketing caught up with him at VidCon Australia to address some of the concerns brands have with the strategy and discuss updates from Instagram’s latest long form offering, IGTV.
Marketing: Why do you think influencer marketing – particularly on Instagram – has seen such a rapid rise over the past few years?
Jackson Williams: You’ve kind of got to a point where you have all of these huge wildly engaged audiences who look to the creators they follow as sources of truth, regardless of what they may be talking about. I think there’s something to be said in that one of the most important forms of recommendation you can get is through word of mouth from a friend.
The best recommendation is not from an algorithm or a computer, it’s from a friend telling you. The relationships that creators that have built with their fans feel like friendships, so there is a lot of power in how they then can use that relationship they’ve built to market on top of that.
There has been an element of danger associated with influencer marketing. Do you have any tips for brands who are looking to engage with influencers?
This is something my team and I have thought about a lot on the product side. We built the Branded Content Tool to hopefully elevate some of these concerns on both sides – brands want to make sure they’re getting value and influencers and creators want to make sure that they are delivering value, but they are also being authentic and transparent with their audience.
Leveraging the best practices of the tools we’ve built is the best way to think about that. So if you’re on Instagram it means using the Branded Content Tool, then your audience knows you’re participating in a brand deal. On the back end of that, the brand is getting insights and information, they actually know what value is being driven.
Our goal is to remove some of the grey area from it to become hopefully as black and white as it can be.
We are several months on from the launch of IGTV – how has the reception been?
It’s been fantastic! I think it’s really interesting to be at a platform that has as large of an audience as Instagram and then build a brand new company within it. Kevin Systrom, our [now former] CEO, made this point: ‘we have this amazing platform and it’s a robust ecosystem. We’re going to build another startup again, it’s going to be called IGTV’.
We’re so early in the stages of it that we are just now starting to see which content is resonating, how that is interacting with the overall Instagram experience. I think all of the signs are pointing in the right direction.
How have you seen creators transitioning to include IGTV in their content spread?
There’s a lot of ways to look at what IGTV can be. The most exciting ones to me are the ones that are rethinking how to tell longer narratives. IGTV isn’t just the evolution of Stories. It’s not just taking traditional 16:9 content and putting on its side. The vertical format and how it lives within Instagram can be so much more expressive than that.
I think you look at creators like iJustine, who is doing these vlogs where she’s taking two points of view at the same time, then editing them and stacking them on top of each other.
Truly trying to reimagine what narrative video storytelling can be like – that’s not just taking your camera like this [horizontally] and turning it to the side.
Have you seen anything unusual or unexpected on IGTV?
Have you seen Netlfix’s Cole Spouse eating a hamburger for an hour? Very experimental.
Another weird example: F1 did this video where it basically stacked three driver perspectives on top of each other, similar to iJustine. Again, trying to rethink how to approach the vertical format versus just turning the camera.
The other exciting thing for me has been seeing creators who haven’t been traditional video content creators have kind of taken to this an evolution of their visual storytelling. For them, especially younger creators, it has been their first exploration into video storytelling. And it’s amazing seeing them learn and iterate as they go – that’s one of the most exciting things to witness.
Is there a value difference between a brand being active on traditional Instagram (Stories and Feed) versus IGTV?
Ultimately we’re going to get to a place where they all coexist with each other, I think Live is a piece of that as well. For a creator or a brand or an individual to be successful in the long term on Instagram, you have to think about the holistic view.
You have to understand how to best unlock Feed and Stories and understand what your point of view is with Live – I think IGTV is just one more component within all of that. It doesn’t necessarily have one specific type of account or person that it’s been built for. Our hope and goal is that anyone is going to be able to leverage the power of this new format to tell better stories.
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Image credit:Callie Morgan