Social Pathshala: How to Nail Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

Instagram is deeply engaging as a social media platform. It keeps you scrolling and thumb-stopping on content specially curated for you. So much so, that Instagram executives created a feature to help make consumers aware of how much time they were spending on the app, to regulate excessive use. In short, on Instagram –  engagement rules!

Globally speaking, India is big on social media. In fact, India is home to its third-largest base, which is comprised of 69 million people. Instagram posts used to have a very short life span, but today users see posts, from the people they engage with the most, at the top of their feeds – even if that person posted a full day prior. The platform is a marketer’s delight because on Instagram the audience is generally engrossed by content that genuinely interests them. Plus, there’s room to showcase every kind of product, as long as you focus on aesthetics, and especially if you’re willing to get creative about it.

The Ultimate Trident of Insta-Stardom

  1. Interest: The platform is a haven for specialised influencers. People have spent time curating their profile to position themselves as voices of their generation, experts in travel, beauty, fashion, business, etc. Therefore, in the same ecosystem, your business must build value by sharing high-quality content and incentivising users to engage, similarly. Or, even better, partner with these influencers to give your brand a breath of fresh air and align with established personalities.

    Instagram Influencer brand collaboration. Fashion influencer doing a contest and a giveaway. Nitika Bhatia Whigh, #theshopaholicdiaries
    Take Nitika Bhatia Whig, for example, one of India’s best-loved fashion influencers (@theshopaholicdiaries). Here, we can see how she partnered with various makeup brands to bring her fans a giveaway.
  2. Recency: The more recent the post, the more likely you are to see it – presuming all other factors are equal. Instagram doesn’t hide posts, so all content will be visible to users at later dates as well. However, if someone goes on a posting spree, Instagram intuitively manages this avalanche by interspersing it with other content to keep viewers engaged.
  3. Relationship: Instagram ranks your interactions higher than silent connections. Profiles that interact with other users get more visibility because of engagement. The more people you follow the more diverse the content you will see. If you follow strictly within a specific genre, the content you see outside of your network, will be similar.

Why Should You be Interested in Insta- Interest?

Instagram creates a persona based on the interests of your users. Getting their attention and tagging your content is important because the algorithm profiles your account accordingly and shows your content in “Recommend Suggestions” to new people who are seemingly most interested in it. This is important if you want to grow your follower base, organically.

Factors influencing interest (as determined by Instagram):

  • What pages you follow.
  • What photos you like, comment on and share.
  • How much time you spend on a post, also called thumb-stopping content.
  • Which ads you click on.
  • Which hashtags you follow.
  • Your location.
  • People you direct messages

Make Algorithm-Friendly Content

As a brand looking to build an active follower-base, You need to consider the following:

Don’t directly punt sales too much: Talking shop is important for a business and the real need for reaching out. But this direct sales and conversion-led content plug shouldn’t overpower other types of content. A business should behave like it’s hanging out with friends in a lounge on Instagram, having a conversation and plugging the product/services after building value.

Keep your content human-centric: The audience on Instagram wants to see the behind-the-curtains story. Employee stories, testimonials, the highs and lows of the firm. But, what it wants to see most is a human-like interaction. Your brand must spend as much time scouting and engaging with conversations across the ecosystem. People like it when a brand talks directly to them and are more likely to convert because of this.

Engage your brand squad and reward them for their support: The need for validation can’t be stressed enough. A brand is only as strong as its support base. Try to build on your ‘squad’ of people, with whom you regularly post, collaborate, like, comment, share and engage. It will be very useful when you always have a few people ready to comment on your content and get the conversations started. Interact with them before rolling out a campaign and also do weekly interactions with users aspiring to be in your squad.

Offer educational value in your posts: Becoming a thought-leader in your business space can be an important part of your strategy. People love nuggets of information. Specialist content shows the brand as an aspirational leader in its category. Such content is relatively time-consuming to read. The algorithm observes how much time a user spends viewing a piece of content and gives more reach to your posts, accordingly.

Add in some bonus content, every once in a while: This refers to all kinds of content that doesn’t fall in the categories above. This can range from topical to tertiary content plug-ins. This category can also be called the “experimental bucket” which a brand can use to try new things and map the performance of new initiatives. Experimental content is important from the perspective of throwing new things at the algorithm to include in the way it profiles users.

Be a Jack-Of-All-Avenues

While Instagram is transparent about the fact that it doesn’t prioritise one product over another, for example, Insta-Stories over Explore – there is still merit in building content specific to an avenue. Each time Instagram launches a new avenue it gives it an extra push to make it a hit among users and leverage its power. This initial phase offers marketers a wealth of potential. Remember the experimental content bucket mentioned above? This is the time to go wild with it!

Deep-diving into the platform

Explore: Instagram has really worked on building an immersive experience with this search feature. Within the tab you see content segregated across genres like Shopping, Food, Fashion, Travel, etc. Not only can you look at new content across the universe but you can also go specifically to a vertical that you want to see more of. Key brand takeaways?

    • Focus on the copy that you write for your images and videos
    • Geotag your content
    • Use the right hashtags

Insta-Story: This is the most engaging product by Instagram. Instagram itself has shared that most users don’t go beyond the first scroll but engage with everything happening at the top of the feed. Within the stories, Instagram has filters, mentions, hashtags, gifs, images, music, and animated filters to make your content even more engaging. Key brand takeaways?

    • Use ‘Hashtags’ and ‘Location’ to bring in more views
    • Music and filters to increase view time
    • In Insta-Stories break long videos into smaller stories of multiple uploads

IGTV: This long-form content platform by Instagram is slowly but surely building an audience. While a brand needs to upload its longer videos here, you can’t rely on organic reach to get to the users. It needs to be seeded into the Insta-stories and posts to entice a user and then drive the traffic from there to IGTV. This will lead to higher engagement rather than taking them away from the platform and driving them to another, like YouTube.

Trending Hashtags: Understanding hashtags isn’t rocket science, they’ve been around for a while. However, there has been enough speculation about how many (and which) are best to use. It pays in views and likes, for a brand to research the hashtags (potentially) relating to their business. Instagrammers often use hashtags to find new content and thinking of hashtags as search queries help a brand create a link here. You can also use this as an opportunity to join the conversation if you aren’t there already.


People come to Instagram to be inspired and discover things they care about, which includes content from brands and businesses. It’s an extremely engaging platform and if your brand’s not there you’re missing out on the chance to really connect with your audiences, visually. If you just got started, work with the algorithm to get the best out of your new Instagram account! Want more tools to help you understand your social users better? Contact us.

If you liked this article, go ahead and check out how to improve your social media game on Facebook!

Social Pathshala: How to Drive Engagement on Facebook

Facebook has its largest user base in India, with around 270 million active users (Statista). And, it’s considered the primary platform, used by marketers, to reach consumers, possibly due to ease of use and familiarity with the interface. Facebook, stories are widely popular and have captured the attention of more than 300 million users per day.

On social media, trends come and go, faster than you can say “let’s come up with a campaign for that”. In fact, sometimes they’re over so quickly that a 24-hour window is enough for them to rise and fall. Trend-jacking, or “moment marketing” as creators like to call it, is becoming increasingly challenging.

A brand has to be on a constant lookout to find conversations that have ‘viral’ potential. Marketers have to create, quality check, publish and amplify each piece of content, as soon as possible, to capitalise the trend. A deep understanding of the platform algorithm is crucial to support the creative input invested in making a piece of content.

Just like the internet and its userbase, Facebook has also evolved as a platform over the years. In 2018, Facebook summarised its strategic focus with a simple phrase: “meaningful interactions will be prioritized”.

What does the algorithm categorise as ‘meaningful’?
  • Commenting or liking a person’s photo or status update
  • Average time spent on content
  • Completeness of the user’s profile page
  • Sharing links over Messenger
  • Engagement with a brand post shared by a friend
  • Multiple replies to people’s comments on a video
  • How informative the post is
  • Engagement
In a Nutshell: Authenticity is Central to the Growth Story


The platform algorithm is focused on finding genuine conversations and rewarding them with more visibility. Meanwhile, also hiding conversations that are self- promotional (i.e. they have a call-to-action stated or implied in the content), fake or irrelevant. Consider the changing use-case of the following metrics:

Organic reach: It has been a while since the phrase ‘Organic reach is on an all-time low’ has been a go-to sentence. However, with viral content sprouting every day, organic reach remains a content creator’s conceptual holy grail. Aim to get everything exactly right, and compelling organic returns remain possible, albeit not always, but a sure possibility.

Authenticating users: Facebook rewards content from users with detailed, credible profiles. The algorithm seeks to encourage engaged, active communities, but it’s also because fake accounts are frequently characterised by poor attention to profile detail.

Click Bait: Often online publishing houses, media channels, and many brands overuse clickbait to drive traffic from social media to other channels. This practice is not ranked well by the algorithm because it takes the traffic away from the native platform.

Native content creation is rewarded and an 80% native content to 20% external content split is ideal. As soon as externally linked content levels push past 20%, the algorithm is likely to penalise you. Over time, the reach and visibility of this content drop and it stops appearing in feeds. So the next time you see that a link in your Facebook posts perform well, remember to consider this correlation!

Native content, influencers, and communities: Understanding the Facebook business use-case helps demystify the algorithm intention. Facebook wants to retain as many users for as long as possible. As a result, it rewards users who add to the platform with authentic stories.

A video/image upload on the platform gets more views and reach than a link to the same media on a different platform, like YouTube. Also, a community where users are actively engaging with each other helps your content get more reach and visibility. Simply put, influencers are getting more influential because social media algorithms actively recognise the power of their communities.

The content an algorithm shows you can be personalised: Once you understand how an algorithm works, you can personalise the content you see. You do this by only clicking on content that genuinely interests you, and engaging authentically in personally or professionally meaningful conversations.

If you set the tone, the algorithm will follow. Posts are initially only served to a small percentage of users within a network, and the algorithm watches their reactions carefully. Vigorous engagement is rewarded, but if users don’t engage – the content gets a low score and easily disappears from view.

Dot your Is and cross your Ts


  • Content that stimulates conversations within personal networks is prioritized.
  • Links shared over messenger are also prioritized by the algorithm, as this activity is a clear marker of strong engagement.
  • Long comments rank better than short comments because length indicates strong engagement.
  • Clickbait is punished, as are all obvious forms of self-promotion, especially those explicitly asking users to like, share or comment.
  • Live video is rewarded because it reliably delivers great user engagement.
  • When a user likes a page they are effectively asking the algorithm to treat the content provider as a ‘See first’ entity. Updates from this brand won’t be subjected to the same rules as general content, because the user has actively asked to see the content.

Knowing the medium is knowing the ecosystem. The last bit of advice is to keep a lookout for everything new Facebook launches if it is new – the algorithm will be pushing it forward. To know more about how to Understand the ecosystem read this e-book!

Social Giving and Online Gifting Trends for Your Business to Buy Into


Over 150 years after his birth, Mahatma Gandhi remains an iconic figure many admired the world over, especially in the cut-throat world of business, where social giving inspired by his ethos of equality and uplifting entrepreneurial independence is on the rise.

It’s a growing trend among the philanthropic set, as it places the flavour of the month, Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, front and centre of your marketing strategy. Here’s how you can get involved and do good for the rest of the world through online gifting, even if you’re not holding the purse strings in the C-suite.

Think of Bapu, the Father of the Nation and you’ll likely recite one of his more inspirational business sayings – Entrepreneur credits him as the ‘source of inspiration’ to the ultimate global change-maker, Nelson Mandela.

With such world-improving quotes as: “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” rolling off the tongue of almost everyone in these socially aware times, it’s easy to see why.

But actions speak louder than words, and despite the best intentions we often don’t know just where to start, so end up endlessly postponing our new business mantra of ‘doing good business by doing good. That’s why in order to accurately follow in Gandhi’s footsteps, you first need to clarify your own philanthropic purpose and the CSR strategy your business lives by.

Points to Consider in Defining Your Philanthropic Purpose

It may seem an unnecessary step, but The Philanthropy Roundtable says clarifying your philanthropic purpose is actually a vitally important step in safeguarding donor intent, as you finetune your altruistic desire to improve human welfare.

After all, Investopedia shares that philanthropy dates back to Greek philosopher Plato in 347 B.C, where Plato’s will instructed his nephew to use the proceeds of the family farm to fund the academy he had Plato founded.

To follow suit, Bridgespan says to be clear on not just your values and beliefs but also the factors affecting the social problem you’re aiming to solve.  You’ll need to invest not just money but also time and other resources in the cause at hand, so take time to clarify the steps needed along the way.

You’ll also need to hone in on what you’ll define as success in this regard – you’re not merely presenting a cheque to a charity as a photo opportunity, as that quickly comes off as a positive press-seeking mission. Besides that, a one-off anonymous donation for X amount hardly ever does the trick.

But note that hat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your intentions to do good business by doing good, public. To do so, follow the example of Wipro chairman Azim Premji. He famously signed The Giving Pledge in 2013, a campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, in which he promised to donate at least half of his wealth.

YourStory confirms that Premji has already donated $21 billion to his education-focused non-profit Azim Premji Foundation.

Setting up a Philanthropic Business Arm as Part of Your CSR Strategy

Philanthropic purpose clarified, you’re ready to further benefit society and truly get involved in the social giving movement, YourStory says to follow the example of India’s top 10 billionaires who donate money for social good. In contributing their money and expertise to fields like education, healthcare and job creation they’ve gone the Plato route in ensuring their own wealth extends beyond their family bloodline.

These include the likes of magazine’s riches Asian for 2018 Mukesh Ambani, MD of Reliance Industries, and wife Nita head up the Reliance Foundation, which has a strong focus on rural development as well as urban renewal, art and culture.

Or take Piramal Enterprises chair Ajay Piramal, who makes giving a family affair along with his wife and children involved in ’s philanthropic arm the Piramal Foundation, which covers project in the realm of healthcare, education, livelihood creation, and youth empowerment.

If your pockets aren’t quite as deep as that, don’t despair – you can start on a much smaller scale, in changing the way you do your online shopping. There’s a reason Alibaba is top of mind when it comes to e-commerce platforms, which is taking things a step further in firmly tying a big bow around the concept of philanthropy in online gifting…

The philanthropy of Green Online Gifting and Social Giving

In line with founder Jack Ma’s Gandhi-esque belief that ‘to earn respect we have to do good for the world,’Entrepreneur explains that Alibaba’s UCWeb, on behalf of its philanthropic arm, Alibaba Foundation, recently hosted its second philanthropy forum in India. The forum’s aim is to support education in creating a responsible content ecosystem that helps narrow the digital divide and create jobs. 

Business Today adds that Alibaba’s UCWeb content platform model, set to include short videos and movie ticket sales, is intended to promote and support other online shopping and e-commerce firms in India instead of competing with them. UCWeb is said to have had 1.1 billion user downloads worldwide, of which half of its global installs are from India, where it has 130 million monthly active users.

That’s why YourStory confirms that the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2026. And while the global gifting market is estimated to be $475 billion, Qwikcilver’s research shows that India is expected to emerge as one of the most influential contributors in the next five years.

Yahoo Finance further colours in the story in sharing that Qwikcilver, as the single largest end-to-end service provider in the pre-paid, gift card space in India, attributes much of the recent increase in mobile and Internet-based commerce to millennials. But drilling down further, beyond the mobile generation, it seems it is customer appreciation gifts more than last-minute anniversary or birthday presents being purchased, as Seeker’s Time adds that the corporate gift market has 80% of the current share, with the personal gift market at just 20%.

YourStory adds that emerging corporate gifting market is an extremely loyal one, with up to 60% repurchase rate after the first successful online transaction.

In addition, the tailor-made options go beyond having your client’s name emblazoned on a coffee mug – in today’s environmentally aware age, the ‘green gifting’ trend of sending office plants – the type that need watering and TLC, not the pretty bouquet of flowers that will be in the compost heap next week –is now seen as more meaningful than that easily consumable box of chocolates.

Facebook Philanthropy: Enter the Social Self

These are all steps in the right direction of reaching the Gandhian goal of better social equality and inclusivity – making it an active decision to take part in social giving moves the needle on becoming a more giving global society, as technological development further blurs geographical boundaries and brings the physical world online.

“Promoting social welfare, supporting causes and communities that we believe in, and feeling confident about where the money goes are all becoming easier, thanks to accessible innovations that empower us to do so.”- GivingCompass

Inc adds that it’s as easy as logging onto your social media accounts for the day, as Facebook’s ‘birthday wishes’ options now include invitations to donate to a cha