The Instagram theory of customer centricity

Some Instagram accounts are mainly for selfies or to document food. For Raewat Tankittiyakorn, Head of Channel Strategy and Partnership at dtac, he also see his Instagram account @raytomorrow as a way to better understand customers, in addition to a photography travel diary.

What inspired you to use Instagram?

In late 2016, I was studying the topic of customer’s digital adoption. I found a lot of theories out there, but I also wanted a direct experience. I figured it’s probably time to give it a try by myself. In fact, I don’t like using social media sites due to my privacy concerns. For Instagram, it provides some technical functions that can protect one’s identity.

What have you learned from your use of the platform?

Instagrammers have positive attitudes with their specific interest on photos. From the day one I started using it, I realized that content was the key, and in this case, the content is an image. At that time, I used a very basic camera. But now, I use a SONY NEX-5, a mirrorless camera which can deliver more professional pictures.

Once I got content, I wanted to know  how to get more engagement, which is like the way we’re trying to understand customer behavior.

I tried to create a variety of activities online in order to witness follower’s reaction. From my observation, Thai netizens mostly follow food and lifestyle content on Instagram. But mine is not that. So I needed to develop content strategy, which allowed followers to know about what I communicated. If my content is too niche, it will not gain ten of thousands followers. And content consistency also matters.

The first goal was gaining 100 followers. But on day one, there was not a single like. It seemed like my account did not exist at all.

I then realized that before getting likes, I should engage with other firsts by liking their posts. Very quickly, I got one hundred followers. Then I set my next goal to gain five hundred and one thousand. This allowed me to know what netizens want and their segmentation. Now I have fans from Japan, the US and Europe.

How did you raise your skills?

In fact, I was bad at photography. I was told by a senior friend, saying “Raewat, please pay attention when taking photos for me”. Actually. I did pay attention, but my photography skill was really bad. Recently, I showed her my Instagram account. She said: “Your photography skill is much better than before”.

Yeah, I made it!! I didn’t take a proper photography course, but I learned on the job by observing and imitating from others.

Personally, I like the Japanese style – minimal but powerful – which is different the US and European style.

Is there a connection to your work?

There are many lessons learned from using Instagram. First is about art, which involves photo composition and taste. Second is purposeful communication, allowing me to understand customer behavior. This is totally different from my job functions which mostly associated with numbers and analysis.

I still need a lot more learning, especially how to communicate strategically – who to communicate with, what kind of content they want, and what they’re looking for.

We should know our target audience insight and background, enabling us to better understand their needs. Like our conversion right now, because you, the interviewer, already knew my background, so we can have a meaningful chat.

What Instagram account do you want to recommend?

@kimisasa.7 is the Japanese Instagrammer. She started her account at the same period of mine. Her first few pictures were not that beautiful. But lately she knew what she needed to focus on, and that is photos of flowers. Right now, she takes only rose pictures. Just only three years from zero followers, she now has more than 13,000 followers.

Which of your pictures got the most likes?

It was the picture that I took at The Red Lotus Lake in Udon Thani province. More than 450 likes. I got blamed from someone, saying that the real one was totally different. To me, it’s about perspective and timing lol.

What is your most memorable journey?

Well…each trip offers me different views and stories. Personally, I’m impressed every time I visit Japan. First trip in Japan was in Sapporo several years ago. At that time, it had not become touristy yet. It allowed me to truly experience the local lifestyle.

When I post content about Japan, the picture will have higher engagement, hugely contributed to by Japanese followers. Recently, I have been in Osaka, Japan. People there are totally different from Sapporo. All in all, it’s about people.

If you have vacation that you can travel wherever you want, where do you want to travel the most?

If I could take 30-day off, I would take a staycation.

But for the next trip, it may be China. It’s changed a lot. The last time I was there was ten years ago. Thai people might have negative perception about tourism in China. Personally, I think China is one of the most interesting countries with a long history. When it comes to travel, I prefer destinations that are rich in history rather than just a photogenic.