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How One Instagram Influencer Went From 0 to 45K on Reels (And How You Can, Too)

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How One Instagram Influencer Went From 0 to 45K on Reels (And How You Can, Too)

Over the past few years, TikTok has seen explosive growth, and it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, by the end of 2022, TikTok is predicted to reach 1.5 billion monthly active users.

But there’s another big player in the game of short-form video — Instagram Reels, which Instagram launched in 2020 to provide a space for Instagram users to post short, ‘snackable’ content that mirrors what you’d see on TikTok.

We’ve already covered the debate of TikTok versus Instagram Reels, so I won’t go into that here.

Instead, I spoke with an Instagram influencer and consultant, Kar Brulhart, who has grown her own Instagram account from 0 to 45,000+ viewers and obtained over six figures in less than 10 months using Reels — all organically.

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Here, we’ll cover Brulhart’s tips for how brands can leverage Instagram Reels to reach new audiences and acquire new customers.

But first — why Instagram Reels over TikTok?

The Benefits of Instagram Reels

“A lot of brands think they need to be on multiple platforms in order to have a voice and a presence, but it’s more important to get very good at one or two platforms, and have a voice and message and community there,” Kar Brulhart told me.

She adds, “We forget these platforms are about community, and we have to nurture our audiences in order to get results.”

Brulhart told me she’s decided to put all her eggs in the Instagram basket because she ultimately finds the platform more user-friendly, and there are more features and benefits for a business owner compared to TikTok.

This makes sense: Instagram is owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), which provides users with extensive advertising tools and opportunities. While TikTok is attempting to provide similarly robust advertising capabilities, it’s ultimately still in early stages and has a long way to go.

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Brulhart does acknowledge TikTok has its advantages: It can serve as a great way to generate brand awareness and funnel audiences to your website or Instagram, land brand partnerships, and it can help entrepreneurs and brands keep up with trends. Her strategy is to use TikTok to post to TikTok for more brand awareness, identify buzzy trends and sounds, and then leverage that information to reach new audiences on Instagram.

Ultimately, Brulhart told me brands could be leaving money on the table if they aren’t using Reels. As she puts it, “I went from less than 2,000 followers in February 2020 to over 15,000 the next month through Reels, because Instagram is pushing Reels to new audiences. And 75% of the people who find my account are coming from Reels — compared to Stories and posts.”

If you’ve determined Reels is a viable option for your business, you might be wondering how to get started with it. Let’s dive into that, next.

(Note: These tips are from Brulhart — if you’re looking for a more high-level overview or curious how brands are already using Reels, take a look at Everything Marketers Need to Know About Instagram Reels, first.)

5 Tips for Succeeding on Instagram Reels, According to a Reels Influencer

1. Find your niche, and post consistently.

Kar Brulhart’s niche is Instagram coaching and growth, so she told me she’s focused her entire content strategy around these two key themes.

“I repeat myself often,” Brulhart says. “People get nervous about sounding repetitive, but you need to repeat yourself often, and constantly remind people of your offers.”

It can be tempting to create content on popular or trending topics even if they’re not a direct match for your product or services, but that isn’t a good idea. Social media marketing isn’t just about attracting an audience — it’s about attracting the right audience.

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Additionally, posting often and on a pre-determined schedule can help you see growth on the platform, since social algorithms reward consistency. Brulhart began seeing success when she continued to post often about similar themes that mattered most to her intended audience.

2. Add context in your captions.

“Short video works really well on TikTok — like audio trends, and lip-sync trends — and what you should take away from that is you don’t have to put your entire message into a 15 or 30-second Reel,” Brulhart recommends.

She adds, “Instead, it can be something relatable and inspirational, and then in your caption, you can add that context.”

Consider, for instance, the following Reel, in which Brulhart posts a few quick text phrases in the Reel itself (like “I was bullied by a man in my first job in NYC”), but then elaborates extensively in the caption:

3. Be obsessive about your data.

As marketers, we’re already data-obsessed. Data can help you identify what’s working well, what needs improvement, and what should be ditched entirely. And your Reels strategy should be no different.

As Brulhart puts it, “I would suggest looking at your data every seven to 30 days, analyzing it, and figuring out which Reels perform well — then, take that same topic and create a carousel post, and add more context in the caption of that post.”

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She says, “Half of your audience isn’t seeing your content at any given time, so be repetitive because chances are, people didn’t see it the first time.”

kar brulhart quote on instagram reels 2A brand’s success with Reels, Brulhart believes, lies in the marketing team’s ability to experiment and use data to figure out the strategy that works best for that particular brand. For instance, perhaps your audience is more into trends and relatable content over educational Reels, which is information you can only uncover through analytics.

Brulhart says, “Where I’ve seen the most success with my clients is when they aren’t afraid to pivot and change their strategies because the platform is constantly evolving, and there are always new features so it’s important to consistently test out those new features — especially because Instagram rewards those accounts that jump on the new features early.”

4. Create behind-the-scenes content.

When I spoke with Brulhart about this ‘newfound rise’ in short-form video, she reminded me it’s been a long time coming. For instance, Snapchat first came on the market with short-form video content back in 2012.

“These platforms have democratized video,” Brulhart told me, “and made it cheap and easy and fun to create videos. And it’s who we are as people — we like to overshare, and we like to create videos to share our lives.”

Post-pandemic, social media users are craving more authentic, relatable, behind-the-scenes content from influencers and brands alike.

For instance, in 2020, roughly half (42%) of Gen Zers said they wanted content described as fun— which surpassed Gen Zers’ interest in romantic content (29%) and exciting content (27%).

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And, post-pandemic, 34% of HubSpot Blog Survey respondents said they still seek out more positive and uplifting content than they did pre-pandemic.

As Brulhart puts it, “It’s not about perfection or aesthetics anymore — the stories that work the best are those vulnerable, personal, behind-the-scenes content. So don’t be afraid to switch from professional aesthetic to something more approachable and fun.”

One brand that Brulhart admires for their short-form video strategy is Duolingo. The language-learning app goes viral often because they’ve begun using their owl mascot in funny, relatable TikToks (like seen below).

Humanizing your brand is a vital component of any good social media strategy. The more your audience can relate to your brand, the more they can trust your brand.

However, it’s important to note, you don’t want to copy something just because it’s a trend — it should also make sense for your brand, and feel authentic and real. As Brulhart says, “My biggest failures is when I’m just doing a trend. It doesn’t work — people smell it.”

5. Hire someone to create Reels-specific content.

If you’re interested in taking your Reels strategy to the next level, you’ll want to consider hiring someone with expertise creating engaging short-form videos for social.

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Brulhart told me, “If you have the budget, hire someone who has a resume to show you they can create content specifically for Instagram or TikTok (i.e. a Reels video editor).”

If possible, you’ll want to hire someone with a proven track record on Reels who can ensure your content is appropriate for the platform and will perform well.

If you don’t have the budget to hire someone full-time, however, that’s okay, too — in that case, Brulhart told me, “Make sure your brand is tying its Reels back to your business’ content pillars. Don’t make the mistake of just jumping on a trend because it’s funny or cute … What ends up happening is you’ll get an influx of followers, but not the right followers. It’s key to make sure everything ties back to your business objectives.”

Additionally, if you don’t have the budget to hire someone full-time, consider enrolling in Brulhart’s Social Department membership, in which she sends trending audio as well as niche-specific ideas to people every week to save them time on Reels.

kar brulhart quote on instagram reelsYou’ll also want to consider how you can leverage other content creators to help tell your story in ways you can’t think of — brand or influencer partnerships can help you with this.

Ultimately, Reels can be an incredibly powerful tool for reaching new audiences and increasing brand awareness and loyalty — but it’s not for everyone. If you’re unsure whether Reels is right for you, test it out for a few weeks and then analyze performance to figure out whether it’s worth your marketing resources.

Who knows? Maybe Reels is the missing piece in your social strategy. 

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Feature Image Credit: Kar Brulhart (used with permission)

Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 


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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

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Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

As we march closer to the 2024 U.S. presidential election, CMOs and marketing leaders need to prepare for a significant shift in the digital advertising landscape. Election years have always posed unique challenges for advertisers, but the growing dominance of digital media has made the impact more profound than ever before.

In this article, we’ll explore the key factors that will shape the advertising environment in the coming months and provide actionable insights to help you navigate these turbulent waters.

The Digital Battleground

The rise of cord-cutting and the shift towards digital media consumption have fundamentally altered the advertising landscape in recent years. As traditional TV viewership declines, political campaigns have had to adapt their strategies to reach voters where they are spending their time: on digital platforms.

1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626763 903 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

According to a recent report by eMarketer, the number of cord-cutters in the U.S. is expected to reach 65.1 million by the end of 2023, representing a 6.9% increase from 2022. This trend is projected to continue, with the number of cord-cutters reaching 72.2 million by 2025.

Moreover, a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2023 found that 62% of U.S. adults do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription, up from 61% in 2022 and 50% in 2019. This data further underscores the accelerating shift away from traditional TV and towards streaming and digital media platforms.

As these trends continue, political advertisers will have no choice but to follow their audiences to digital channels. In the 2022 midterm elections, digital ad spending by political campaigns reached $1.2 billion, a 50% increase from the 2018 midterms. With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, this figure is expected to grow exponentially, as campaigns compete for the attention of an increasingly digital-first electorate.

For brands and advertisers, this means that the competition for digital ad space will be fiercer than ever before. As political ad spending continues to migrate to platforms like Meta, YouTube, and connected TV, the cost of advertising will likely surge, making it more challenging for non-political advertisers to reach their target audiences.

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To navigate this complex and constantly evolving landscape, CMOs and their teams will need to be proactive, data-driven, and willing to experiment with new strategies and channels. By staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the changing media consumption habits of their audiences, brands can position themselves for success in the face of the electoral advertising onslaught.

Rising Costs and Limited Inventory

As political advertisers flood the digital market, the cost of advertising is expected to skyrocket. CPMs (cost per thousand impressions) will likely experience a steady climb throughout the year, with significant spikes anticipated in May, as college students come home from school and become more engaged in political conversations, and around major campaign events like presidential debates.

1713626764 529 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy1713626764 529 Battling for Attention in the 2024 Election Year Media Frenzy

For media buyers and their teams, this means that the tried-and-true strategies of years past may no longer be sufficient. Brands will need to be nimble, adaptable, and willing to explore new tactics to stay ahead of the game.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: A Perfect Storm

The challenges of election year advertising will be particularly acute during the critical holiday shopping season. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which have historically been goldmines for advertisers, will be more expensive and competitive than ever in 2024, as they coincide with the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

To avoid being drowned out by the political noise, brands will need to start planning their holiday campaigns earlier than usual. Building up audiences and crafting compelling creative assets well in advance will be essential to success, as will a willingness to explore alternative channels and tactics. Relying on cold audiences come Q4 will lead to exceptionally high costs that may be detrimental to many businesses.

Navigating the Chaos

While the challenges of election year advertising can seem daunting, there are steps that media buyers and their teams can take to mitigate the impact and even thrive in this environment. Here are a few key strategies to keep in mind:

Start early and plan for contingencies: Begin planning your Q3 and Q4 campaigns as early as possible, with a focus on building up your target audiences and developing a robust library of creative assets.

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Be sure to build in contingency budgets to account for potential cost increases, and be prepared to pivot your strategy as the landscape evolves.

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Embrace alternative channels: Consider diversifying your media mix to include channels that may be less impacted by political ad spending, such as influencer marketing, podcast advertising, or sponsored content. Investing in owned media channels, like email marketing and mobile apps, can also provide a direct line to your customers without the need to compete for ad space.

Owned channels will be more important than ever. Use cheaper months leading up to the election to build your email lists and existing customer base so that your BF/CM can leverage your owned channels and warm audiences.

Craft compelling, shareable content: In a crowded and noisy advertising environment, creating content that resonates with your target audience will be more important than ever. Focus on developing authentic, engaging content that aligns with your brand values and speaks directly to your customers’ needs and desires.

By tapping into the power of emotional triggers and social proof, you can create content that not only cuts through the clutter but also inspires organic sharing and amplification.

Reflections

The 2024 election year will undoubtedly bring new challenges and complexities to the world of digital advertising. But by staying informed, adaptable, and strategic in your approach, you can navigate this landscape successfully and even find new opportunities for growth and engagement.

As a media buyer or agnecy, your role in steering your brand through these uncharted waters will be critical. By starting your planning early, embracing alternative channels and tactics, and focusing on creating authentic, resonant content, you can not only survive but thrive in the face of election year disruptions.

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So while the road ahead may be uncertain, one thing is clear: the brands that approach this challenge with creativity, agility, and a steadfast commitment to their customers will be the ones that emerge stronger on the other side.


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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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Tinuiti Marketing Analytics Recognized by Forrester

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By Tinuiti Team

Rapid Media Mix Modeling and Proprietary Tech Transform Brand Performance

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Tinuiti, the largest independent full-funnel performance marketing agency, has been included in a recent Forrester Research report titled, “The Marketing Analytics Landscape, Q2 2024.” This report comprehensively overviews marketing analytics markets, use cases, and capabilities. B2C marketing leaders can use this research by Principal Analyst Tina Moffett to understand the intersection of marketing analytics capabilities and use cases to determine the vendor or service provider best positioned for their analytics and insights needs. Moffett describes the top marketing analytics markets as advertising agencies, marketing dashboards and business intelligence tools, marketing measurement and optimization platforms and service providers, and media analytics tools.

As an advertising agency, we believe Tinuiti is uniquely positioned to manage advertising campaigns for brands including buying, targeting, and measurement. Our proprietary measurement technology, Bliss Point by Tinuiti, allows us to measure the optimal level of investment to maximize impact and efficiency. According to the Forrester report, “only 30% of B2C marketing decision-makers say their organization uses marketing or media mix modeling (MMM),” so having a partner that knows, embraces, and utilizes MMM is important. As Tina astutely explains, data-driven agencies have amplified their marketing analytics competencies with data science expertise; and proprietary tools; and tailored their marketing analytics techniques based on industry, business, and data challenges. 

Our Rapid Media Mix Modeling sets a new standard in the market with its exceptional speed, precision, and transparency. Our patented tech includes Rapid Media Mix Modeling, Always-on Incrementality, Brand Equity, Creative Insights, and Forecasting – it will get you to your Marketing Bliss Point in each channel, across your entire media mix, and your overall brand performance. 

As a marketing leader you may ask yourself: 

  • How much of our marketing budget should we allocate to driving store traffic versus e-commerce traffic?
  • How should we allocate our budget by channel to generate the most traffic and revenue possible?
  • How many customers did we acquire in a specific region with our media spend?
  • What is the impact of seasonality on our media mix?
  • How should we adjust our budget accordingly?
  • What is the optimal marketing channel mix to maximize brand awareness? 

These are just a few of the questions that Bliss Point by Tinuiti can help you answer.

Learn more about our customer-obsessed, product-enabled, and fully integrated approach and how we’ve helped fuel full-funnel outcomes for the world’s most digital-forward brands like Poppi & Toms.

The Landscape report is available online to Forrester customers or for purchase here

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Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

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Ecommerce evolution: Blurring the lines between B2B and B2C

Understanding convergence 

B2B and B2C ecommerce are two distinct models of online selling. B2B ecommerce is between businesses, such as wholesalers, distributors, and manufacturers. B2C ecommerce refers to transactions between businesses like retailers and consumer brands, directly to individual shoppers. 

However, in recent years, the boundaries between these two models have started to fade. This is known as the convergence between B2B and B2C ecommerce and how they are becoming more similar and integrated. 

Source: White Paper: The evolution of the B2B Consumer Buyer (ClientPoint, Jan 2024)

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What’s driving this change? 

Ever increasing customer expectations  

Customers today expect the same level of convenience, speed, and personalization in their B2B transactions as they do in their B2C interactions. B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by their B2C experiences. They want research, compare, and purchase products online, seamlessly transitioning between devices and channels.  They also prefer to research and purchase online, using multiple devices and channels.

Forrester, 68% of buyers prefer to research on their own, online . Customers today expect the same level of convenience, speed, and personalization in their B2B transactions as they do in their B2C interactions. B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by their B2C experiences. They want research, compare, and purchase products online, seamlessly transitioning between devices and channels.  They also prefer to research and purchase online, using multiple devices and channels

Technology and omnichannel strategies

Technology enables B2B and B2C ecommerce platforms to offer more features and functionalities, such as mobile optimization, chatbots, AI, and augmented reality. Omnichannel strategies allow B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across different touchpoints, such as websites, social media, email, and physical stores. 

However, with every great leap forward comes its own set of challenges. The convergence of B2B and B2C markets means increased competition.  Businesses now not only have to compete with their traditional rivals, but also with new entrants and disruptors from different sectors. For example, Amazon Business, a B2B ecommerce platform, has become a major threat to many B2B ecommerce businesses, as it offers a wide range of products, low prices, and fast delivery

“Amazon Business has proven that B2B ecommerce can leverage popular B2C-like functionality” argues Joe Albrecht, CEO / Managing Partner, Xngage. . With features like Subscribe-and-Save (auto-replenishment), one-click buying, and curated assortments by job role or work location, they make it easy for B2B buyers to go to their website and never leave. Plus, with exceptional customer service and promotional incentives like Amazon Business Prime Days, they have created a reinforcing loyalty loop.

And yet, according to Barron’s, Amazon Business is only expected to capture 1.5% of the $5.7 Trillion addressable business market by 2025. If other B2B companies can truly become digital-first organizations, they can compete and win in this fragmented space, too.” 

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If other B2B companies can truly become digital-first organizations, they can also compete and win in this fragmented space

Joe Albrecht
CEO/Managing Partner, XNGAGE

Increasing complexity 

Another challenge is the increased complexity and cost of managing a converging ecommerce business. Businesses have to deal with different customer segments, requirements, and expectations, which may require different strategies, processes, and systems. For instance, B2B ecommerce businesses may have to handle more complex transactions, such as bulk orders, contract negotiations, and invoicing, while B2C ecommerce businesses may have to handle more customer service, returns, and loyalty programs. Moreover, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses must invest in technology and infrastructure to support their convergence efforts, which may increase their operational and maintenance costs. 

How to win

Here are a few ways companies can get ahead of the game:

Adopt B2C-like features in B2B platforms

User-friendly design, easy navigation, product reviews, personalization, recommendations, and ratings can help B2B ecommerce businesses to attract and retain more customers, as well as to increase their conversion and retention rates.  

According to McKinsey, ecommerce businesses that offer B2C-like features like personalization can increase their revenues by 15% and reduce their costs by 20%. You can do this through personalization of your website with tools like Product Recommendations that help suggest related products to increase sales. 

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Focus on personalization and customer experience

B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses need to understand their customers’ needs, preferences, and behaviors, and tailor their offerings and interactions accordingly. Personalization and customer experience can help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as well as to improve their brand reputation and competitive advantage. According to a Salesforce report, 88% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

Related: Redefining personalization for B2B commerce

Market based on customer insights

Data and analytics can help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to gain insights into their customers, markets, competitors, and performance, and to optimize their strategies and operations accordingly. Data and analytics can also help B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to identify new opportunities, trends, and innovations, and to anticipate and respond to customer needs and expectations. According to McKinsey, data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, six times more likely to retain customers, and 19 times more likely to be profitable. 

What’s next? 

The convergence of B2B and B2C ecommerce is not a temporary phenomenon, but a long-term trend that will continue to shape the future of ecommerce. According to Statista, the global B2B ecommerce market is expected to reach $20.9 trillion by 2027, surpassing the B2C ecommerce market, which is expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2027. Moreover, the report predicts that the convergence of B2B and B2C ecommerce will create new business models, such as B2B2C, B2A (business to anyone), and C2B (consumer to business). 

Therefore, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses need to prepare for the converging ecommerce landscape and take advantage of the opportunities and challenges it presents. Here are some recommendations for B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses to navigate the converging landscape: 

  • Conduct a thorough analysis of your customers, competitors, and market, and identify the gaps and opportunities for convergence. 
  • Develop a clear vision and strategy for convergence, and align your goals, objectives, and metrics with it. 
  • Invest in technology and infrastructure that can support your convergence efforts, such as cloud, mobile, AI, and omnichannel platforms. 
  • Implement B2C-like features in your B2B platforms, and vice versa, to enhance your customer experience and satisfaction.
  • Personalize your offerings and interactions with your customers, and provide them with relevant and valuable content and solutions.
  • Leverage data and analytics to optimize your performance and decision making, and to innovate and differentiate your business.
  • Collaborate and partner with other B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses, as well as with other stakeholders, such as suppliers, distributors, and customers, to create value and synergy.
  • Monitor and evaluate your convergence efforts, and adapt and improve them as needed. 

By following these recommendations, B2B and B2C ecommerce businesses can bridge the gap between their models and create a more integrated and seamless ecommerce experience for their customers and themselves. 

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