If Nike’s goal with their latest instalment of the “Just do it” campaign was to stir conversation and get attention, goal accomplished. Featuring ex-NFL quarterback and political activist Colin Kaepernick, the campaign has created controversy as well as a 31% increase in online sales of Nike apparel.
Nike has become synonymous with sports. The Nike swoosh and the tagline ‘Just do it’ are some of the most recognizable symbols in the world. Nike has become one of the most successful and valued brands, largely from their courage to tell effective stories that communicate what their brand is and what it stands for. This innate ability to tell authentic and awe-inspiring stories helps bond customers to the products they sell.
In 2016, during a NFL preseason game, Kaepernick decided to not stand for the national anthem in order to protest racial injustice in America. Kaepernick’s bravery to fight for a what he believes in was met with controversy. Kaepernick started a movement, with other NFL players following his lead by also kneeling for the national anthem. This lead to conversations about racial injustice being sparked online and in the media. While many applauded Kaepernick’s bravery his effort was met with backlash mostly from the right wing, citing anti-patriotism. Since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, Kaepernick is yet to find a new team and has since sued the NFL for conspiring to prevent him from signing with another team.
Creating a brand’s story
Everyone has a story to tell. It is human nature to be captivated by a great story. A brand’s story is a vital aspect of creating their identity. By creating a great story a brand is, in turn, creating value, brand visibility and ensuring that their product is desirable. When a brand’s story is successful it will give their customers something to utilize in their life as well as something to identify with. This means that their product will not only have a use, but also a meaning.
Nike has gone from just another shoe company to a dominant force in the world of sport by creating a brand image, visibility, and logo that is of extremely high value. Nike not only provides its customers with a superior product but by always being brave enough to stand up for controversial conversations such as HIV, ageism and now racial injustice, they have provided their customers with meaning to live by.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl the great Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist once said, “Man’s main concern is not to gain pleasure or to avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life.” It can, therefore, be said that meaning is everything, in life and certainly in business.
Telling a brand’s story with influencers
One of the best ways for any brand to reach their customers is through the use of influencers who help spread the brand’s story. Influencers have engaged audiences who pay close attention to the brands that are mentioned.
Nike has always made use of influencers, and by doing so they have created superior marketing. Athletes like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, and Lebron James have embedded an image of influence and celebrity in the consumer’s mind. Nike’s products that leverage influencers convey the idea of greatness and create idols that customers want to strive to become. When consumers translate these influencer’s ideologies and stance on pressing issues the brand becomes incredibly valuable. The Nike swoosh is now strongly associated with power, fitness, athleticism and social justice.
Why brands need to take risks in storytelling
Sometimes taking a stance can be risky. The risk of causing controversy and losing customers can be incredibly daunting. In today’s age marketers often talk a big game about becoming involved with cultural conversations, often falling short, by watering down their message and not really taking a stand on anything.
Nike took the risk and their message was amplified even more because of that. “Most brands try desperately to stay out of highly charged political issues. In this case, Nike is almost inviting the controversy,” says Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Nike almost definitely looked at the risk that was involved in taking such an enormous stance. Kaepernick is a polarising figure who divided the NFL, and indeed the entire country, into two groups, those who supported kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and those who stood to show their patriotism. Rolling the dice on Kaepernick would have been hard for many other brands, but Nike is not just any other brand. Nike went all in, assimilating Kaepernick’s bravery of believing in something even if it means losing everything, and their slogan ‘Just do it’.
When the campaign went live it was met with mixed reviews. The company’s stock price fell by roughly 3 percent that afternoon, critics who opposed kneeling during the anthem threatened to boycott the brand and there was an uproar on social media as people posted pictures of burning Nike products. However, Nike’s bravery was met with an even higher praise. Many have applauded Nike for taking a stand on important social issues. The campaign had incredible support from Millennials, Gen Z and people in key urban demographics. The hashtags #JustBurnIt and #ImWithKap were both trending on Social media.
This campaign, as controversial as it is, has overall strengthened Nike. According to Marketwatch.com, After an initial dip immediately after the news of the campaign broke, Nike’s NKE, +0.73% online sales actually grew 31% from the Sunday of Labor Day weekend through Tuesday, as compared with a 17% gain recorded for the same period of 2017.
The news generated plenty of online buzz, with social engagement around Nike and Kaepernick rising sharply this week, according to 4C Insights, a marketing technology company. Mentions of and comments about Nike on social-media platforms rose 1,678% on Sunday and Monday, according to 4C data. Mentions of Kaepernick spiked 362,280%, the data showed.
By using an influencer’s unique story, Nike not only increased sales and the overall value of the company, it magnified and deepened an important social justice conversation. There is a clear demand from Millenials and Gen Z for brands to take a stand on cultural issues. Being able to assimilate your brand to an authentic story that customers will gain value from is paramount.
Your brand might want to consider following in Nike’s footsteps, taking a risk, being authentic, letting influencers tell their stories, or conversely risk increasing your irrelevance.
Recommendations over what to buy have increased in popularity with the increase of choices in product and brands. Online reviews have become a ‘go-to’ prior to purchase for products big and small. The “Try-before-you-buy” mindset has completely shifted the way people buy things. For help when choosing what products are on trend and which brands to trust, consumers are turning to YouTube.
Video is such a rich media that consumers are able to gain much more information from a review. From actual colors of an eyeshadow to hand feel of a handset device, video not only has more visual queues for consumers but also the feedback from a creator they admire.
In recent years, digital video has become useful for more than just market research and approval ratings, but also for shopping inspiration.
In short, brands are able to influence consumers at the very beginning of their journey to purchase! To get some more insight into this phenomenon Google spoke to three leading YouTubers about the biggest trends in YouTube Shopping.
“Watching a shop with me video is like shopping with your friend — except your ‘friend’ is just someone you admire and feel like you know, and you’re not actually there with them in person. Still, you get to see what stores they visit, what they try on, and what they buy. And you get to hear about the deals they find along the way. Most of the time the videos are about clothes shopping, but I’ve featured everything from groceries to home decor to beauty in mine.
While the majority of my audience loves shopping, there are people who watch purely for entertainment. Even then, though, I’ve heard from fans who had no intention of buying things in stores but ended up changing their minds when they saw how easy and fun it can be. I also get a lot of messages from fans who have felt really inspired by these videos — people saying I gave them wedding outfit ideas, helped them rekindle their love for sparkly items, and showed them that fashion is still accessible on a budget.”
“Haul videos — which showcase what someone bought on a shopping trip — aren’t new, but creators keep making them, and our fans keep tuning in for them. I think that’s because they give people an opportunity to watch someone who isn’t an actor or model interact with things they might have seen on a website or in a magazine. The format has evolved a bit over the years, though. In the past, creators would just quickly mention a product they’d bought and then move on. Now they take the time to describe each item, say where they bought it, and explain why they chose it.
I tend to find my viewers come looking for haul videos around new holidays, seasons, and trends. It’s at these times that they’re searching for inspiration and ideas on what to buy, which is why a lot of my haul videos have themes, like back to school or one of the four seasons.”
“In first-impression videos, a creator either buys a product for the first time or buys from a store they haven’t shopped at before. They’re essentially really authentic on-the-spot product reviews, which is what sets them apart from other shopping inspiration videos, where creators have often already interacted with a product, or at least formed an opinion on it.
A lot of my first-impression videos feature apparel, although other creators make them for makeup, skincare, shoes, electronics, and more. I like to look at the item I’m showcasing, talk about how it fits and the fabric it’s made of, and say whether or not I’d buy it again. I’ve established some credibility among my fans as a fashion creator, so they value my opinion and watch my first impressions to see what I think about something.
Seeing a real person try out these products in real time can help inspire a viewer’s next purchase, especially when this ‘real person’ is a creator who they trust will tell the truth.”
In many ways, the blue verification tick you see besides an influencer’s name is a sign of status. Only the most popular and influential Instagrammers will ever see it. In fact, it can be incredibly difficult to get verified on Instagram. Influencer Marketing Hub published an article highlighting 6 Instagram tips to help you get verified. You can view the original article here. We have summarised the article below.
Before it was symbolized status, the ‘verification’ symbol was primarily a symbol of authenticity, declaring that you are who you say you are. Verification symbols on most social media channels show people that the influencer or celebrity they are searching for are indeed authentic and not a tribute account or fake account. Instagram, however only verifies people who they deem are important enough for other people to create a tribute or fake accounts for. So, if there is no one trying to impersonate you there is no need for you to be verified.
Official Instagram statements
Instagram makes its views on verification clear in its help files. Instagram says that the verified badge means “that Instagram has confirmed that this is the authentic account for the public figure, celebrity or global brand it represents.”
Instagram also makes it clear that it is up to them to decide who qualifies as a public figure, celebrity or global brand. You cannot just apply to become verified.
Ultimately, Instagram sums up its policy with the following statement. “Currently, only Instagram accounts that have a high likelihood of being impersonated have verified badges.” If people can find your Instagram account easily enough, then Instagram is unlikely to verify you.
Although Instagram does not see the verification symbol as a status symbol, Instagrammers who have it display it with pride and those who don’t have it often feel that Instagram has denied them “authenticity power”.
What can you do to help yourself get verified on Instagram?
If you want that little tick beside your name then you need to turn yourself into a “public figure, celebrity or global brand”. In other words, you need to become a real influencer.
Hence you should first apply the suggestions here to another social network and build an influencer status there before you use them on Instagram. If you build up a following on Instagram too quickly, before you find fame elsewhere, you may never become verified.
1. Build your followers and engagement
Clearly, the key to being famous online is to become a true influencer. You want your audience to actually engage with your posts, rather than having irrelevant followers who just boost your numbers.
An essential requirement is to define your niche. Appealing to everyone is unlikely to increase engagement. An example of this is Zoe Sugg. She built her online reputation with her personal beauty and lifestyle blog- Zoella.
Having built her reputation on YouTube, Zoe was able to make a successful transition to other social networks, including Instagram.
Other people have opened similarly named Instagram accounts, so Instagram verified Zoe’s account to avoid confusion.
It is crucial that any engagement be meaningful. There is no point in making a series of “Nice picture”-type comments on peoples’ images/posts. Such meaningless comments do nothing to enhance your credibility as a thought leader.
2. Use popular Hashtags to help make yourself more visible
Both Instagram and Twitter suggest popular hashtags. There are also independent apps to assist with ideas, such as Hashtagify or TagBlender.
It is important that you only use hashtags that relevant to your niche. One common practice is to create a hashtag for your personal brand and to encourage your followers to use it regularly.
3. Cross promote your social media accounts
One way you can build your following on Instagram, or any other network is to promote all of your social network accounts.
By establishing popularity across a range of sites, you come across as being more of an internet celebrity, and more likely to be considered somebody worthy of Instagram verification.
4. Make your posts at the best times for your target social network
To encourage maximum engagement, you will want as many people as possible to see your posts. That means you should post at the times when most of your followers are checking their social media accounts.
CoSchedule has the following recommendations for the best time to post your Instagram images and videos to ensure ultimate engagement.
Monday and Thursday at any time other than 3–4 p.m.
Videos any day at 9 p.m.–8 a.m.
Experiment with 2 a.m., 5 p.m., and Wednesday at 7 p.m.
5. Personalize your posts
You need to ensure that your account differs in some way from anyone else who might choose to use your name or something very similar. You need to add personality to your postings. If you merely post pictures of buildings or landscapes you are not adding value. Indeed you are not influential in any way. If you are a portraying yourself as a fashion influencer, there is little point in just posting pictures of clothing. You will do far better by posting a picture of people wearing the attire in attractive settings, or you modeling it.
6. Avoid Bad Social Practices
Instagram is skilled at spotting any attempts to game its system. You need to avoid taking any shortcuts as you attempt to build enough of a reputation as an influencer to gain the coveted verification tick.
If you use Instagram the way they want you to, and you build your reputation as an influencer somewhere else first, then the day may come when you open your account to find that Instagram has awarded you their verification tick.
It is hard to get verified on Instagram – but not impossible.