amanda-riva-30-under-30To gain exposure on Instagram and Snapchat you’re competing with the best of the best in photography so get your lens filters on and light stands up. Fortunately for you we got some insider tips from Amanda Riva, CEO and founder of creative content agency The Hot Plate (THP) and winner of 2015 Marketing Magazine’s 30 under 30 recognition.

After running a successful food vlog with videos receiving 30,000 to 40,000 views and working as a food stylist, Riva founded THP in 2012 to produce photos and videos for the food and beverage and beauty and lifestyle industries. Since its inception, she’s grown the agency from two employees in a 700-square-foot condo to 60 employees in more than 16,000 square feet. What’s helped the brand grow is creating staged, creative images and videos for brands—and doing so on a budget.

Listen to Riva’s insights on Snapchat and Instagram in this audio interview!

Canadians love Instagram.

Half of all Canadian smartphone users are on Instagram posting, on average, three pictures a day that contribute to the more than 80 million photos shared on the platform daily in North America, Riva loves the social channel.

“It really is a curation of a visual journey, so you have to produce high quality content,” said Riva.

Her team of food stylists, photographers and videographers carefully frame each photo before posting. Her teams work in a fully-functioning test kitchen to stage the shots, even employing two grocery buyers and in-house chefs to get it just right.

“I scroll through Instagram at a thousand miles a second,” said Riva. “Something has to really pop to grab my attention.”

THP-InstaHere are Riva’s four quick tips to improve your Instagram feed:

1. Get rid of copy. Instagram is a visual medium; tell a story with your imagery
2. Use simple fun concepts. If a product is flavoured with strawberries, use them in the photo
3. Bright images grab people’s attention; use contrast and colour
4. Post videos to Instagram, playing with its looping function. Get creative

The future is Snapchat…but not quite yet.

Snapchat’s user base is young with 45 percent aged 18 to 24 years old. It’s 70 percent female and 65 percent of users contribute content on a daily basis. Close to 9,000 photos are shared on it in a second and six billion videos are viewed on it in a day. With such massive amounts of sharing, the problem lies in whether you can measure success in the platform. There are ways to jerry-rig a metrics solution but that’s not enough for professional client work.

“If we can’t measure it, that means we can’t manage its performance and build an even more effective strategy down the road,” said Riva.

While it isn’t something she sells to brands as a service, Riva does recommend Snapchat as a means by which brands can build one-on-one relationships with Millennials and even younger consumers.

“Brands need to be willing to embrace branded content that lives in a personal place for consumers,” said Riva.

Our engagement with content on our smartphones is already replacing our interactions with brands on other mediums. If a brand isn’t on Snapchat or Instagram, it is at risk of disappearing to a generation that isn’t watching TV or reading newspapers and magazines.

Learn more about visual storytelling by reading our E-Book!

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada

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