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James Perrin
James Perrin

For many marketers, the lure of a shiny new platform, tool or the next ‘big thing’ is often too hard to resist. In fact, you could replace ‘Instagram’ with anything that marketers use. Ahem, TikTok.


Now, to clarify, this isn’t an attack on Instagram (or TikTok for that matter). This is actually raising an issue far greater, and far more important for your business. In this week’s Business Briefing X Growth, we’re talking about marketing effectiveness; and ensuring that, as a business, you’re in control of your marketing activity and achieving a tangible return on investment. 

Person looking at photos on their phone


In July our friends at THE PIG had their Instagram hacked, leading to them losing all their followers and years of hard work. They started again with a new handle @the_pig_hotels and asked their fans to help put THE PIG back ‘in the picture’.

But they aren’t alone. It was shortly followed by this rather unfortunate tale of another business losing its Instagram account to hackers. The English Stamp company had a following close to 29,000 before being hacked and blackmailed into handing over money to rescue the account. Sadly, they didn’t manage to rescue the account and it was deleted, leaving the English Stamp Company without a following and left to pick up the pieces.

Instagram is the third most used Social Media app with 66% of global Internet users outside China, just behind Facebook and YouTube. So, it’s no surprise it’s been attracting attention from businesses and influencers.


Sadly, as its popularity grows, so too does the insistences of hacking. Whilst we’re unable to obtain the increased number of instances that accounts have been hacked, anecdotally, it’s on the rise. Search terms for ‘Instagram hack’ worldwide have risen over the past five years too, peaking at the start of summer 2020. And as frustrating as it is, it’s a good reminder to constantly review your marketing efforts for effectiveness, spread your focus across different platforms and review your security procedures.

Incidentally, if you are worried about a potential hack, there are steps you can take to allay any fears, for example, ensure your passwords are strong, use password management software and always enable two-factor authentication. You can also be more vigilant of phishing scam emails, for example, always check the email address to ensure it is legitimate. And, if the worst happens and you lose your account, there are steps you can take to build your following back up: 

  • Approach with honesty
  • Know your audience
  • Build editorial pillars around your audience’s needs
  • Focus on content quality not quantity
  • Explore collaborations/partnerships
  • Clever use of hashtags and ongoing hashtag monitoring
  • Follower growth campaigns 
  • Ongoing monitoring and tweaking of growth strategy


Losing your Instagram account is made a lot worse when you consider that Instagram themselves aren’t too helpful in helping you retrieve your account (it’s not in their interest, unless you’re spending millions of pounds on media budgets with them). And it’s made doubly worse if you’re too reliant on it as a marketing platform. Sadly, this was the case for The English Stamp Company. Similar tales of woe can be found in the world of SEO. Remember the company who lost all of it’s organic traffic thanks to one of Google’s algorithm updates? It’s a shame but putting all of your eggs in one basket is never a wise idea.

Whether it’s the loss of data, the fact that platforms don’t care, or that you’re too reliant on third-party platforms, the bigger issue is that you’re not in control of your own marketing effectiveness. It needn’t be this way. In addition to owning your own data, which we’ve looked at previously [see The problem with attribution? It’s the way you’re looking at it], the issue round effectiveness could be a deciding factor in whether Instagram isn’t just the only platform to use, but whether it’s the right platform for you in the first place.


It’s the measure of how well your marketing strategy increases your revenue, while decreasing the cost of customer acquisition. The effectiveness we’re talking about is people buying a product or service or paying more for a product or service. Effectiveness is not clicks, views, likes and followers – that’s vanity. Effectiveness is commercial; it’s sales, revenue, bookings – that’s sanity.

When considering effectiveness, you need to go back to the start, and back to basics. It’s a great opportunity and exercise to work out really and truly what is working for you and why. It’s not wise to get hung up on what platform to use (and why) at this stage. Rather, use this time to understand a few things about the effectiveness of your efforts so far (with or without Instagram).


When establishing effectiveness, the best place to start is with an effects roadmap. This essentially maps out the effect you’re looking to create. The stages look like:

So, let’s say you’re an FMCG brand selling tea, or coffee… or better yet, beer. Yes, let’s go with beer. Start at the end; crudely speaking, your business effect is to increase sales and make a profit. To do this you need to increase the frequency of purchase or get customers to pay more for your product – that’s the behaviour effects. Behaviour is influenced by attitude; so change customer attitudes to achieve the behavioural and business effect you’re looking to create. In this instance, the attitudinal effects would be to increase the brand appeal and excite the market. Now here’s the super important bit, to change attitudes what you communicate needs to have a hugely positive impact in terms of brand saliency (being noticeable or prominent).

Also, when working through an effects roadmap ensure you also include metrics and measures at each stage of the effects roadmap, to ensure you’re tracking attribution and effectiveness. As you can see, when considering the effects you want to create, you’ll automatically start to consider the right platforms and messaging. This is where we get into planning. 


Now, this is just a start and the next steps take inspiration from Stephen King’s Planning Cycle, but this foundational framework will bring a truthful understanding to your brand’s growth. Look at where you are as a business, why you’re there, where you want to be, how you get there, and in terms of measuring, are you getting there? 

To achieve the attitudinal, behavioural and business effects, the most important thing you need to establish is what, where, when, why and how you’re going to communicate. And this is where we get into the wonderful world of planning and establish which are the right platforms to achieve your effects. It’s hard work, but it’ll help to shape a far more effective marketing campaign that’s easily measurable.


So, is Instagram a waste of time? Well, you tell us. As you work through your own effects roadmap, consider the impact that your Instagram account has had on your business. If you find yourself battling a hacker and losing your account, don’t worry. There are steps you can take to minimise the impact and grow your account. Or treat it as an opportunity to ask yourself, is Instagram a waste of time?

If you would like to talk about how you can measure marketing effectiveness, please get in touch

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