Is Instagram the NEW “news”? Mayweather, Miley and The Economist.

Is Instagram the NEW “news”? Mayweather, Miley and The Economist.

Not watching TV has some disadvantages.  Like, I didn’t know that Miley Cyrus was Hannah Montana until yesterday (!)…I know right?! I’ve never actually watched the much talked about performance but feel as if I ‘get it’ having seen the pictures and non-stop commentary on the social networks.

Now that you’ve finished shaking your head in disbelief, let me tell you the other reason not watching TV has it’s disadvantages. Instagram video!

So it’s Saturday night, Floyd Mayweather is fighting Saul Alvarez and there’s no way I’m going to stay up until the early hours of the morning to watch it. I only really want to hear the end result.

I wake up on a fresh Sunday morning in the British countryside and wonder – “who won?” So I do what any well-connected Internet junkie does and reach for my iPhone (after considering the 30 second walk downstairs to the TV was simply ludicrous.)

I hit the blue app button with the familiar white F and start thumb flicking through my wall. I get to my brother in laws page and watch some poor quality 15 second Instagram videos of the actual fight on TV the night before. I see Mayweather land a few good blows but I can’t see who’s won. Being impatient I hit the round black button on my phone and decide to forget about my desire to know the result of the fight. I head over to Mashable instead to check up on what’s really important – technology news J.

Not more than 2 minutes later I get a call from a young entrepreneur who I coach. So he gets the important stuff out of the way first by asking me if I watched the fight. We know the answer to that, I gave it to him and asked if he did. He said no but in order for him to find out who won, he said “I checked my Instagram, typed in his (Floyds) name and got the news.”

He said “news” and “Instagram” in the same sentence??!!!??!


When he said that, it’s as though my perception of Instagram had reached a tipping point. I then realised that Instagram has completely dominated a demographic – The under 30’s!

Both the video posted by my bro in law on Facebook and this young gentleman both used Instagram. One used it to capture moments of this title fight and the other to get news about it.  At that very moment my mind whizzed back over the last 12 months where I had heard ‘young people’ reference Instagram and realised this isn’t a secondary network to Facebook. To most ‘young people’ this is their primary network.

Now you might be sitting there saying “So what Julian, so what”. Well it’s all about targeting dear reader.

I just checked the Instagram profiles of 4 companies, one of which is running a national scheme to help you people under 30. One of them had 17 million posts, yes that’s right 17 million posts! The other had 30 posts. The funny thing is that the organisation that only had 30 posts, the last being 5 days ago have been struggling to reach their target audience since their campaign launched 9 months ago.

To be honest, I too wasn’t sure why this organisation had trouble reaching their audience and now I know why! Am I saying that just because they’re not active on Instagram that their marketing sucks? No, but they’re not on Tumblr or Vine either! And if you don’t know what Tumblr or Vine is then you probably don’t need to market to the under 30’s. And if you do need to market to the under 30’s then perhaps you should take a look at them.

I spoke at a conference just last week when someone from the audience after my short discourse on social media said “Julian, to be honest all these terms are completely new to us and it’s a struggle to keep up!” I get this comment every time I speak at a non-techie business forum and here’s my answer.

We no longer live in a time where the world advances every 10 to 20 years (TV, radio, newspapers and magazines). We live in a time where they advance every 10 to 20 months or less.

We’re in the middle of a revolution much like the industrial revolution and things will never be the same again. In the midst of a revolution, an “evolution” is required otherwise guess what – you become extinct.

So as much as I’d love to provide companies who are still struggling with “digital” some comfort and say it’s “going to be ok”, I’m afraid it’s not going to be “ok” it’s actually going to be “better”. Technology has enabled customers to do more, more often and at less cost. The job of businesses in this environment is to embrace this change, respond to it and take action. The type of action that becomes a culture, the way things are done and not just another bullet point on the marketing plan. It IS the marketing plan.

I had to remind the CEO of that particular organisation that it’s not his job to action digital, it’s his job to get the best people in his team to do so. That provided some relief, not just for him but for others in the audience too.

I say “some” comfort because the concern that was left was that they just didn’t understand social or digital even if someone else handled it. I told them that if social was a person they would still be a child in primary school – impossible to understand. But what you can do, as you would with a child in primary school is show them love, talk to them, stay engaged and as they grow so does your understanding of them.

To close, I’d like to share a video about social media in 2013. Don’t worry it’s not one of those fancy schmancy animated videos with loads of facts that make you feel behind with the times. It’s a entitled “Social Media 2013” hosted by “The Economist” no less; so quite a grown up discourse, delivered by people who like me are old enough to be Hannah Montana’s Dad.

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