Can you describe your job and why did you pick this field?
Jason Schwartz: Creative Director & Founder, Bright Bright Great. Side hustle: Creative Director & Founder Avondale Type Co. & Mlmtr. On Twitter and Instagram @jaycrimes.
Nick Lush: Marketing & Strategy Director, Bright Bright Great. I didn’t really consciously pick this field so much as I was working at a small business and got moved into it and found that I liked it. Over time, I realized that I didn’t really like being in an internal marketing department and so I was lucky enough to join BBG and start working on the agency side which has been far more fulfilling. On Twitter, @nelush.
Are you working a lot with social media in your daily life?
Jason: I use social media sporadically throughout the day. It’s not only how I receive news and communicate with friends, but also used to learn and keep us with the design industry.
Nick: Pretty much every single minute of every single day. It’s rare that I’m fully unplugged and not asleep. I monitor accounts for myself and for our businesses and I’m generally working on at least one project that requires me to help another company plan out its voice, tone, and social media strategy.
In your personal life, are you using Instagram and what for?
Jason: I only use Instagram for personal use. I minimally bring professional work through strictly to this platform. Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook Pages are mostly used for pushing my professional brand. I think Instagram is a great for creative brands since everything is visual. Bright Bright Great, Avondale Type Co. & Mlmtr do really well on Instagram and we try to keep up with promoting these brands there.
Nick: I’m more of a words guy so I tend not to use Instagram that much. I’d rather talk than shoot, if there’s something I see that I want to snap a pic of, it’s usually on Snapchat bc it’s usually to make fun of something. It has a ton of use in my more professional pursuits, but in my personal life I’m not as likely to use it.
What are the others social media that you are using?
Jason: For people, LinkedIn is typically the first place that clients vet. They look at your recommendations and testimonials. Typically potential clients review my profile and then look at our entire design teams profiles.
I use Twitter the most. Facebook has become super tedious and boring for me in terms of content. The one aspect I like the most about Facebook is groups. I belong to a handful of collector groups. It’s a great place to find things if you collect anything. Beyond that, I don’t typically spend too much time on Facebook.
Instagram is the most interesting and engaging content to me personally while I use it, however, I could give it up and wouldn’t miss it.
One thing which I think is the most interesting in terms of how I use social media is that for years, I was using it to push me professionally forward. I followed and chatted with designers. I noticed that I was getting frustrated that as an industry I was seeing complaints all day and that got tiring.
I noticed that I was getting frustrated that as an industry I was seeing complaints all day and that got tiring.
I stopped following designers and creatives and moved towards following my other interests like comic book and entertainment companies.
Nick: I have accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine. Of those, I’m really only an active user of Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. I maintain a Facebook account to stay on top of what’s happening in my family, mostly, but I rarely engage on Facebook beyond a private group I’m in to talk about wrestling. Facebook’s content has gotten extremely difficult for me to want to engage with because it’s a lot of people that haven’t made any real self-inquiry opining (badly) about politics and lifestyle.
I maintain a LinkedIn account because I have to, professionally, I don’t really ever see any content being published there that has me eager to engage more than I do. Pinterest is something I initially didn’t really get and was hesitant to join but has become a really enjoyable thing to use during commutes or on lazy Sunday nights, just finding things that inspire me visually and that I want to bookmark for later. Snapchat is a fun tool, but I go through phases where I use it a lot and then don’t touch it for a week and then pick it up again.
Twitter is far and away the thing I’m most active on and probably the only social network that I would say has added value to my life. It’s challenged me personally and helped me to grow personally and professionally and put me in touch with amazing people I never would have met otherwise.
Twitter is far and away the thing I’m most active on and probably the only social network that I would say has added value to my life.
Do you think Instagram has the qualities to compete with Facebook or Twitter? And Why?
Jason: Instagram is visual. There are less options to do things on Instagram than Twitter and Facebook, but conversions are typically higher. More people will give the simple like/heart than agree to go to an event and show up.
Nick: Instagram is a great promotional tool, particularly for products and events. I’m a big sneakerhead and I own at least 10 pairs that I purchased via Instagram posts (even though that meant calling the store and placing an order). Twitter is really struggling to figure out how to generate ad revenue because the community is really hostile to promoted content that doesn’t add value. It’s much easier to add value in beautiful visuals than to ask an intern at a fast food joint to add value with their thoughts.
Why is Instagram considered as a quality content option compared to main competitors?
Jason: Facebook is overloaded with garbage. Right now I think I have 35 event invites that I haven’t even looked at. Instagram is not a dump of whatever is on your mind. People typically compose before posting.
Right now I think I have 35 event invites that I haven’t even looked at.
Nick: It’s a creative platform and the people who thrive there are creative. Images resonate with people, so the best content on Instagram is immediately impactful across language barriers and backgrounds. Vine also has lead to some really creative executions because of the platform’s restrictions, but it’s limited by language and cultural boundaries in a way that pure photography isn’t.
What makes Instagram different?
Jason: It’s not. It’s the same as everything else. All social sites are a fad of this/next decade. New things will come.
Nick: Instagram is different because of the choice to only use photo and video. Video I think actually weakens it to some degree for the same reasons I mentioned regarding Vine. The biggest trap social companies fall for is trying to be like the neighbors instead of staying in their lane. There’s a lot of money and value in being the go-to social network for photographic content. I’m not sure video enhances that. I have yet to see a viral Instagram video.
What are the characteristics on Instagram that attract brands to be a part of the community?
Jason: Instagram and Pinterest are solid for brands because everything is visual. People don’t read on the internet anymore, so just popping a photo with limited ability for text is good.
Nick: Visuals make it easier for brands to be impactful. Brands constantly send bad tweets and they get muted as a result. On Instagram they can just share a cool video and people will like it.
Visuals make it easier for brands to be impactful. Brands constantly send bad tweets and they get muted as a result.
What type of brands are the most faithful to social media? And why?
Jason: All brands should care about social media. People are always talking about your brand whether you like it or not. You need to be involved in that conversation.
People are always talking about your brand whether you like it or not. You need to be involved in that conversation.
Nick: Right now, brands that skew younger are more faithful to social platforms, for obvious reasons. Facebook has been around for a long time but you still hear brand managers and advertisers talk about it like it’s brand new. They’re on it because they think it’ll help them connect with young people, regardless of the actual demographics of the platform. In the long term, the brands that will get the most value from social are the ones that understand their responsibility as customer care reps and content producers. The brands that are just on there to dictate conversation and not participate will fail.
Why do fashion brands thrive on Instagram? Is a prominent picture what the user is looking for?
Jason: What better place to show product that a digital lookbook that doesn’t require printing costs?
Nick: Clothes are visual. What better platforms to promote visuals than Instagram and Pinterest? It’s like publishing a lookbook piece by piece.
Why the picture is more valuable than the comment?
Jason: People don’t read. The internet went from in the 90s tons of content and limited imagery (due to loading and internet speeds) to rich visual experiences that guide users only sharing copy where needed.
It’s not less important, it just needs to make a statement faster. Showing someone a picture tells that story minutes faster than reading a descriptor.
Nick: Ideally the comment complements then picture. They shouldn’t be separate. It’s like naming a painting. It doesn’t have to be related, but paintings that are named interestingly enhance the whole piece.
How are brands creating and understanding user emotions? Is making a brand more human easier on Instagram?
Jason: This is entirely dependent on the tone for the brand, however I don’t think you’ll find a brand that doesn’t want to appeal to the user saying “I want to buy this.”
Nick: Brands try to use emotion constantly. That’s how you try to convince people to use your product rather than a competitors: because they’re convinced you will enhance their life in some way that a competitor won’t. I don’t think it’s easier to make a brand more human on Instagram, I think having a defined perspective makes a brand more human. The platform isn’t the limitation, it’s the brand’s understanding of itself.
Why would you follow a brand on Instagram?
Jason: Users always look for brands that align with their interests and desires. People don’t tend to follow things that don’t interest them.
Nick: New products, new sales. I follow a lot of sneaker and streetwear brands. I follow them just to see when a new piece drops that I want.
Brands are using a lots of hashtags like #BTS, #nofilter… What changed since a few years?
Jason: Hashtags are still a nice way to find things. There really aren’t great ways outside of hashtags on Instagram to connect like content.
Some tags have come and gone like #followfriday but you still see people pop it back into existence every now and again.
Nick: Hashtags are how brands insert themselves in a conversation. It’s a way of categorizing information. Ideally, the brand is using hashtags to get their content in front of a more relevant audience. In reality, it’s usually just a cynical ploy to latch on to current events.
Hashtags are how brands insert themselves in a conversation.
According to you, what’s the first selection criterion for brands using Instagram as one of their main social media accounts?
Jason: It’s not. Brands claim their digital property first and that typically includes all accounts. Instagram is not usually first, especially since it requires the most crafted content.
Nick: Do you have photographers on staff? Are they good? If not, hire them, or Instagram isn’t for you.
Do you have in mind some brand’s examples to illustrate your thoughts?
Joe Freshgoods might be one of the best. He’s plugged into his community and Instagram is one of his primary vehicles for moving product. Sneaker Politics, CNCPTS, Alexander McQueen, Bang Bang Pie. Those are the ones that spring to mind.
Do you think Instagram’s new video options will make it more valuable and sustainable? Do you think Instagram’s popularity will wane in the near future (If so, why)?
Jason: Video is nice in Instagram but requires an even tighter grip on quality on content. Look at fashion brands like Burberry and Nike, every post is a little movie.
Instagram is trending towards growth right now, so I think it’s good in the near future.
Nick: Private messaging is way more important than video. Private message allows for small merchants to start engaging in basic ecommerce for small stock. Video is sort of a must-have but I don’t really think it’s a major addition. Claiming the photography lane is the most important thing for Instagram to stick around.
How do you think Instagram can reinvent itself?
Jason: I don’t think Instagram needs to reinvent itself. It’s a visual sharing platform. No need to add bloat. I do think there is some space for Instagram to also include audio a la Soundcloud. That might be solid for musicians and bands.
There is still opportunity, Instagram just needs to make sure to keep focused.
Nick: Instagram shouldn’t reinvent itself any more than La Scala should. When you’re the best in your space, it’s already a full time job just maintaining your ownership of your lane.
How are brands selling themselves on Instagram?
Jason: Brands are hiring content creators and producers to make amazing things on Instagram. Look at Nike, everything posted makes people want to buy.
Nick: In the sneaker and streetwear space the biggest trend I see is seeking out co-signs. Showing off collaborations you did with someone who’s considered a tastemaker or a style influencer. For more everyday goods, it’s just sort of finding ways to make products that are more basic to everyday life seem more interesting.
How do brands gain brand awareness with Instagram when it isn’t the easiest place to link to the Internet outside of a Bio?
Jason: Links are currently not permitted in comments, but users are getting past that using Link in Bio, which isn’t idea. When content posters can add links, that’d be huge for selling things because Link in Bio typically only works until you are on to the next thing.
Nick: Look at the comments of any brand that’s doing a good job and you’ll find people commenting just to tag their friend. That is the literal definition of growing awareness.
To conclude, what would you add or change on the application (or why would you not change anything)?
Jason: Instagram as-is is nice. I’d probably like to organize groups of people and brands I follow. It’d be nice to pull my family all into one place, rather than missing their posts.
Nick: The new Fox Sports video app allows you to rank teams you like in order of how actively you support them, from Fanatic to active fan to casual fan. Similarly Apple Music asks you to rank artists and genre styles from love to hate. Being able to mark specific accounts and genres as being more interesting to you would allow Instagram (and all other algorithm-based platforms) to construct a more compelling timeline for users and allow advertisers to serve more targeted content.
And do you have any idea of how social media will grow in the next couple of years?
Jason: Expect the new Instagram. Social Media is just marketing. Marketing methodology always changes. There will be new favorite platforms and current favorites will start to fade.
Social Media for brands is not a nice to have anymore, it is a must. Brands that are currently avoiding it will join. Those who are currently using it will continue to use it in new and exciting ways.
Nick: Social media will be driven entirely by the communities on the platform. Brands will fund that change, but the users will determine how the platform uses grow and change. Snapchat is a great example of how you can connect brands to people in a way that makes interactions enjoyable for all while monetizing the platform. Twitter is a great example of how you make advertising super annoying and irrelevant to users and therefore put your entire company at risk.
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