Unless you’ve just got back from a five-year trip to Mars, you’ll know that the social platform de jour is the seemingly unstoppable Instagram. The number of IG registered users currently stands at 300 million, with 60 million photos being shared each day. It offers all the best bits of Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest and does away with all the annoying stuff. Loved by individuals, Instagram is loved even more by brands. Why? Because it offers unparalleled levels of credible user engagement. And when it comes to social media, engagement is the holy grail of metrics.
If you haven’t guessed, I’m a big fan of Instagram and genuinely believe it can offer a great deal to brands and businesses – if, of course, it’s done right. Seeing how we love our countrysports, I thought it would be interesting to take a close look at gunmakers on Instagram – in particular Beretta – and see how they are getting the most from visual micro-blogging mobile platform.
It’s great to see the world’s oldest firearms manufacturer making the most of new media. What’s really interesting here is how much more engagement Beretta gets on Instagram compared to Facebook. The posts below are identical in terms of content and yet the Facebook post has just three likes and zero comments whereas the Instagram post has scored over 2,000 likes and has attracted 15 comments.
The difference is astonishing and yet it is consistent across all of Beretta’s posts. But why is there such a difference? Well, it’s not down to the number of followers. On Instagram, Beretta is followed by 102,000 users, which is dwarfed by their Facebook following which is pegged at more than 861,200. That’s right, Beretta’s Instagram scored more than 2,000 engagements with 102,000 followers whereas on Facebook, where their following tops 861,200, they gained just three likes.
So, what are the reasons?
Firstly, anyone who manages a Facebook page will tell you that it’s become a lot harder in the last year or two to get your posts seen by people and, therefore, much harder to get any engagement (and it’s about to get much harder thanks to the next algorithm change). Unless, of course, you sponsor those Facebook posts – in which case your content is seen by many, although engagement still tends to be low.
Secondly, although Facebook and Instagram both serve users a curated newsfeed, Instagram is much much smarter at looking at the posts you engage with and serving you more of the same. And because Instagram tends to get this right, users engage more – which in turn gives IG more data about what a user wants to see.
Thirdly, Instagram has a very smart ‘discover and search’ page. When a user clicks through, they are served with a feed of images and videos that Instagram thinks they will like. More often than not, Instagram’s IQ totally nails what they want to see. If the user disagrees, they can refresh and get served a whole new choice of posts. So if I am a user who doesn’t follow Beretta, but I do follow Browning or James Purdy, for example, and I have engaged with a lot of posts tagged #shotgun, #shooting, #12bore, #countrysports, #hunting, etc, then I am very likely to get served some Beretta posts when I visit the ‘discover and search’ section. Personally, I have discovered and subsequently followed so many great feeds through the discover page. Also from this section, you can search for people and brands or for topics via hashtags. So Instagram gives users much more opportunity to discover users and brands.
The above outlines the results Beretta are getting from Instagram, but how are they approaching content? In the main, Beretta posts a potent blend of people at competitions and expos/shows (to show how popular their products are) along with quality product shots (enough to get fans drooling and thinking about their next purchase).
What’s also interesting is how Beretta regionalise their feeds. The above case study all relates to Beretta Official, but there is also a feed for Beretta USA (40,500 followers, with engagement ranging from 500 to 5,000 likes per post) and Beretta Australia (a slightly more modest 1,500 followers, but scoring an average of 50 to 100 likes per post).
All feeds feature high-quality product shots showcasing the entire range. However, Beretta Official favours shotguns, Beretta USA favours handguns, and Beretta Australia favours rifles. Likewise, when it comes to ‘people’ shots, Beretta Official favours competition shots, whereas Beretta USA favours gun shows and gun range images with some hunting thrown in for good measure.
I’ve focused on Beretta purely because how they handle their feeds and regionalised markets provides good talking points. But Beretta aren’t the only gunmaker on Instagram …
Westley Richards & Co
I can’t begin to express how utterly gorgeous this feed is. Every shot is stunning and showcases gun-making as an art form. Using only pictures, Westley Richards tells us they are an artisan gunmaker, a high-end exclusive brand steeped in heritage. There are very few people featured and very few shots of their products being used – it’s all about showing gunmaking as both art and craft. And people are responding well – nearly 60,000 followers and an average of between 1,500 and 3,000 engagements per post.
Remington is a very self-assured feed: it’s a brand who knows who they are and it’s unashamedly geared toward their domestic market. There is a really good mix of quality product shots and some great pictures of people not just using their hardware, but enjoying it. There are some excellent heritage posts (Remington marks its 200th anniversary this year) that really give users the sense they are buying into an American legend – which, for its home market, is a powerful message. Remington has 173,000 followers on Instagram, and averages between 4,000 and 5,000 engagements per post.
See also Browning
James Purdey & Sons
Like Remington, Purdey is a brand who knows who it is. Their feed is very British and very much about the shooting way of life, not just guns. There are some brilliant product shots, which also showcase the accessories and clothing, and some great images showing the craft that goes into Purdey products. James Purdey & Sons has 18,200 followers and averages 200 to 400 engagements per post.
See also William Evans
Looking at all these feeds, we can see some commonality in terms of what makes them successful. Firstly, each has an authentic voice that comes from knowing who they are and what their brand values are. They combine this with strong visual storytelling and strong social elements. All these things are key to success on Instagram.