Facebook has done its best to keep a strangle hold on the landscape of social media with its acquisition of Instagram. And after paying $1 billion for it, you can bet they are going to squeeze pretty hard. Instagram champions the idea that we can communicate through the use of images and, like all social media, can be used to help build a brand and business. But how?!
Image: by Johnnymip
Social media is a useful marketing tool generally with its ability to put a company in close proximity with their target audience. And the best part about it is you don't actually have to be in any kind of physical proximity to them.
You can respond to your customers all over the globe immediately or guide a conversation to gauge opinion amongst them. You might even feel inclined to upload a picture of Joe from the warehouse. Well, with social media you can.
What's really great about social media is that you can do all this whilst cowering behind a desk. Or sitting on the toilet!
But what should you do specifically to help your business with Instagram?
Your Shop Window
You should think of any social media profile page like a shop window. What make's Instagram so good as a marketing tool is that you can do much more decorating. You can showcase your brand with recent images and use colour to create an inviting atmosphere. Remember: Pictures are evocative so try and make sure you have some good ones!
An attractive woman could be wearing your range of clothing? Using Instagram is a lot cheaper than hiring models too! Image: by Love Meagan
The new profiles on Instagram feature a rotating display of recently shared photographs just above your profile and bio - so make sure you are updating it often.
However, keep looking at your profile and ask: does this best represent my brand? There is no point taking photos of snowboarders if your company sells office supplies or paper gifts!
NB: Don't just upload pictures of Joe from the warehouse. He's not really very photogenic.
Follow, Follow, Follow
Instagram is the same as other social media platforms - you need followers. If a tree falls in the woods, does it...
Anyway - you get the idea.
Compelling images drive traffic on Instagram. These are the ones that capture a person's attention and generate excitement. For instance the music magazine Billboard recently did a 'Day in the Life' feature and took photos of One Direction backstage. While we understand you might not have and the world's biggest boy band at your disposal, I'm sure you can do better than taking a picture of the view from the office.
Image: by PhilCampbell
If your company sells a product, why not get some inspirational shots of people using that product? Just make sure they at least look like they're enjoying it and don't forget to share!
Set Up a Honey Trap
You can use Twitter and Facebook to lure people onto your Instagram. Facebook obviously has a vested interest in joining the two, but it is now easier than ever to hook up your Twitter, as Instagram @ mentions now translate to it. What's more, it doesn't matter if someone has a different @username on Twitter because Instagram will link the two up either way.
It is important to reward people who follow your Instagram page. Ask individual questions and comment on other peoples photographs - if you want people to invest time in you, then you need to do the same to them.
InstaMeets & Competitions
General Electric (GE) recently ran an Instagram campaign and showed their followers the inner workings of the company, taking people right to the heart of their research labs, factory floors and places where their products could be seen in action. They also challenged their followers to take photos of the company's four ways of working - Building, Powering, Moving and Curing - and asked them to send in their own images that best described those terms. The person who sent in the best image was then offered the position of the official GE Instagram photographer.
This multi-layered and effective campaign really boosts business.
Let's take a look at what is actually going on: by showing people compelling images of the business it gets them excited and asking them to contribute makes the campaign interactive. Finally, incentivising the campaign into a competition makes people really want to get involved.
One final thing to remember is that online social marketing can be used to create an offline social event. Don't get stuck at your computer. InstaMeets get people in a community to come together and hang out - this can boost business if you think of something fun that really relates to your brand. For example to promote their new show Vegas, CBS held an InstaMeet on the film set in Santa Clara, giving people behind the scenes tours and exclusive access to actors.
Perhaps your company can't offer something quite so wondrous but why not think of something exciting you can offer? Don't arrange to meet behind a bike shed though!
Have you used Instagram in any weird and wonderful ways to drum up a bit of business? Let us know!