Winning over the Youths of Instagram

August 5, 2020 - Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s 2020. By now, most brands are already on social media but fewer have been successful at building a bond with the young users of the platform. Some of you might be wondering: can branded content thrive among memes, selfies and cute pets? The answer is yes – you just have to find out what the youngsters like.

To give you some ideas on how you can engage the youths of Instagram, we’ve analysed the Instagram accounts of two brands we think have been pretty successful in the area – Netflix Singapore and The Projector, a local indie cinema – to find some commonalities in their content.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Pop culture references

The younger generation love references, whether it’s in films, memes or ads. Movies nowdays are peppered with easter eggs, and Internet humour is essentially taking an image you saw from somewhere and using it in another context.

These pop culture references can help grab the attention of young Instagram users and bolster relationship building. Think of it as bonding over inside jokes. To make good references, the first thing you need to do is keep up with pop culture. Find out what the young are into; that can change very quickly so stay on your toes.

There’s really no hard and fast rule to making references. You can be explicit or subtle, it’s really up to you. It leaves room to get creative. Take a look at how The Projector referenced Animal Crossing, an immensely popular video game, to create a trailer promoting their video on demand services.

Here’s Netflix also referencing Animal Crossing – in the in-visual copy this time – to promote the new season of one of its shows.


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Making memes, pretending I don’t owe Tom Nook money #AnimalCrossing #SexEducation

A post shared by Netflix Singapore (@netflixsg) on

If you have region-based Instagram brand accounts, you could try catering content to the local audience. Tap into local humour and reference local events. Netflix and The Projector are always quick to reference notable local incidents and events in their posts.


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Spent 3 hours on Paint doing this cause our Designer and Social Media Manager got their non-essential feelings hurt -The Intern

A post shared by Netflix Singapore (@netflixsg) on

These pop culture references are effective at getting younger people interested, otherwise they might just miss your post completely. Referencing hot topics can also boost the virality of your posts, which in turn helps your brand get seen.

2. Meme-ified content

Young people aren’t very big on solemn, corporate-like content. Don’t treat them like consumers; constantly asking them to buy from you isn’t going to make them want to buy from you. Befriend them first. Earn their trust. Do that by speaking their language and sharing their interests. You can start with memes.

By turning anecdotes and funny scenes from shows into memes, Netflix and The Projector engage their young audiences on a more intimate level. The key to memes is to be relatable. It can be simple things like having to stay late at work, or the very first-world problem of not knowing what to eat for lunch.


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Blasts “I’m not okay” on headphones at full volume #ItsOkayToNotBeOkay

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Someone else do it please, this is too hard

A post shared by Netflix Singapore (@netflixsg) on

You can even work memes into promotional content, or posts with no explicit sales message. Find a funny image, give it context with captions and voilà – you’ve got a meme.


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Girls on reality TV: omg he’s such a player .. Boys on reality TV:

A post shared by The Projector (@theprojectorsg) on

3. Audience participation

Last but not least, boost engagement with mini games and contests. No complicated mechanics required. It can be something as simple as a caption contest.

The Projector also kept their followers engaged during the temporary closure that was implemented due to the Covid-19 outbreak by organising compeitions, like this short film competition.


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The Projector’s first ever short film competition, and we’ve received AMAZING response with nearly 50 submissions! As such, we’ve decided to let you, the audience, join in the fun and vote on who should win. (note to the filmmakers: please don’t ownself vote ownself k) ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Watch all 48 videos and vote for The Projector’s Best Picture – view the YouTube playlist below (link is in our bio as well) and simply hit the like button on the one that gets your vote!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ The Projector team will be voting seperately for the, *ahem* coveted Critics’ Choice Award. ⁣⁣ Voting ends 22 April, 2359hrs, we will be delaying the announcement of winners to 24 April. #theprojectorsg #cinemasg #shortfilm

A post shared by The Projector (@theprojectorsg) on

Audience participation through comments and other interactions can boost the engagement rate for your post. High engagement rates can help your brand rank better on a user’s newsfeed, making you more visible. Mini quizzes and contests also give your target audience reason to follow you on Instagram, and stay connected to you.

If you’ve been posting regularly on Instagram but haven’t been getting the engagement you hope, try incorporating these three content ideas. Young or old, people are attracted to brands that provide value. On a platform like Instagram, brands that provide entertainment value will be the ones that win the audience.





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