Childhood memories are never complete without a paper boat story. Most of us have grown up sailing a little paper boat across puddles every monsoon, so it’s kind of childhood nostalgia when you see those memories being stitched by a young brand like Paper Boat.

The traditional Indian drinks brand from Gurgaon based Hector Beverages has been the talk of the industry as well as on social media about its thoughtful and appealing visuals shared on social media. What is more interesting is that the young brand has been quite aggressive on Instagram apart from other social networks.

“Instagram is a brilliant platform for people who love beauty, goodness and stunning creativity. It is not restrictive and allows for one to explore and be free spirited. We thought we should let the world know more about us and discover our consumers. The platform has helped us reach out to so many consumers who love our product and gives us a chance to interact with them, which is wonderful,” Neeraj Kakkar, Founder & CEO had shared earlier with Lighthouse Insights while talking on how the brand has built its vibrant presence on Instagram.

Not just Paper Boat, we have already seen companies like Vista Rooms, Femina, Kingfisher, and others building an engaging community organically. To know more on how Indian brands are using Instragram see this – How Indian Brands Are Telling Stories On Instagram One Picture At A Time.

Recently, Indian brands got a big boost for their faith in Instagram, the company owned by Facebook opened up its ad offerings for India. More than 30 new countries — including Italy, Spain, Mexico, India and South Korea got the opportunity to advertise on Instagram.

The biggest concern critics have with opening up ads to the masses, is the fear of killing the user experience. We have seen it happening on Facebook but Instagram has always been cautious and slow in opening up to brands. It never wanted to mess up with its niche community. In fact there was a time when co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom was said to be personally reviewing all ads before they ran on the platform so that they told more of a creative story than just a plain age old advertisement.

Paper Boat was one of the few brands who got the privilege to play with Instagram ads in India. The brand has kept Kevin’s faith by extending a similar storytelling into their Instagram ads. “We dig stories and can never have enough of it. Our office is agog with someone’s narrative almost at all times. Every once in a while, we need a monitor in our office to remind us to concentrate on other things as well. So we figured everyone must also dig stories. And Instagram makes it so easy to share them,” Parvesh Debuka, Marketing Head, Paper Boat shared.

The Instagram ad strategy for Paper Boat has focused on spreading awareness for the brand. With this objective the brand has put a commendable effort in creating the ad creative for the network. “Wear a shiny new tee shirt, with a pair of freshly cleaned shoes, new socks to add extra colour and that favorite jacket that was saved for the trip to the amusement park. Just about the same amount of excitement went into creating the creatives for our Instagram campaign,” he informed.

The below ad creative had popped up on my Instagram feed and it wasn’t intrusive at all:

PaperBoat Instagram Ad

Apart from storytelling, these days I have come across a number of brands that are using the platform to drive app installs. OLX India, the online classifieds market place is one such brand that is using Instagram for customer acquisition and engagement.

“Instagram, being an environment with lesser advertising clutter, offers a chance for industry leaders like OLX to take the lead in using this channel and testing its potential. OLX believes that there is merit in understanding the role Instagram can play in engaging with our current and prospective customers,” Gaurav Mehta, CMO at OLX India shared.

OLX – which is still in its early days in building its community on Instagram – understands the uniqueness of the medium and how critical creatives are when compared to other networks such as Facebook or Google. “We have designed an exclusive creative communication for Instagram as a channel which is more focused on engagement and appears less of direct advertising.”

This is a latest OLX India ad creative that I came across on my Instagram feed:

OLX India

Like OLX, curated news aggregator app, Inshorts has been using Instagram for driving app installs too. “Our focus of digital marketing is on capturing the user on its mobile device as we are an App based platform. Other than Google, Facebook, Twitter – Instagram is important considering the amount of online time the user spends on Instagram.

Currently, Instagram is growing in popularity amongst the Indian youth. Because our brand – Inshorts App has majority of the users in the age group of 18-24, Instagram turned out be an important platform for our business. Moreover, Instagram being a mobile based platform – its very apt for us to run App Install Ads on Instagram,” informed Tarun Arora, Marketing Head at Inshorts.

While Inshorts has a made conscious choice not to have a presence on Instagram, the startup is engaging with its content. “We’re trying to play with graphics as Instagram is all about images and we believe that creatives are the only thing that you need to crack to be successful on Instagram.”

A recent Inshorts ad creative that makes its case strong:

Inshorts Instagram ad

The initial results have been encouraging for Inshorts as the platform has a higher retention rate than Facebook and giving great returns in a very short time. “However, we are still working on scaling up the number of installs from platform (Which is quite low as compared to Facebook or Google).”

Instagram is still a growing medium but right now it’s the favourite of the millennials in the country. “18 – 24 age group is the most active on Instagram with more than 80% using their phone to take pictures to post on social media,” reported a latest study carried out by Nielsen.

Named as the “Indians on Instagram”, the study informed that over 90% of local Instagrammers are less than 30 years old, mobile-first users with high spending power. This shouldn’t be surprising in a country which is the second largest smartphone market globally.

Listing down some of the reasons why Indians use Instagram, the report finds that most of them express themselves artistically among like-minded people and then follow celebrity trends. Some of them discover information and also share food and travel options. “Indian Instagrammers are avid travellers, 50% of whom have taken four vacations the past year.”

There’s no doubt why companies like Paper Boat, OLX and Inshorts are doing well and seeing early results. “It is too early to conclude the success of the platform and we are still testing the scalability. Instagram definitely requires a higher emphasis on the creative communication and we do so by making it more contextual and event based,” added Gaurav.

However, there are some who are using Instagram like any other online ad network. These are some brands that caught my attention or let’s say I was tempted to click on the Sponsored button and select “Hide This” feature.

According to Emarketer prediction, by 2017 Instagram will be on track to surpass Google and Twitter in terms of US mobile display ad revenues. To do so the network will have to expand its wings to International boundaries with ad offerings and the network will always run the risk of getting polluted. Nonetheless, the user has the power to remove ads that she doesn’t want to see on her feed.

Besides if you as a brand manager is looking for inspiration on how to get millennials to click on your ads then you definitely need to follow @instagramforbusiness account. Each week Instagram will run exclusive, behind-the-scenes stories that inspire, inform and showcase the work done by three important groups in the business community from all around the world—brands, small businesses and creative agencies.

Published with permission from Lighthouse Insights.


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