While Instagram has captured the social hearts of millions of mobile users around the world, many are quickly realizing that this application holds a great amount of opportunity for brands. It's due to this potential that companies have begun using Instagram for promotional purposes, allowing them to gauge the success or failure of their Insta-content.
Integrating Instagram into your marketing and communications plan can be a challenge, we need to ensure we are using the right voice for this unique social network. Before delving into Instagram as a channel, we need to ensure that we are not broadcasting a message in a 2 way environment.
Brands such as Red Bull and Oreo, celebrities such as Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian are huge influencers on the mobile application, using their accounts so that they can reach their following on a more personal level. This is a trend which will only continue to grow as the application itself continues to grow in capability and reach.
With Facebook now owning Instagram, it will certainly be interesting to see where the network will fit into the larger Facebook ecosystem, one thing we can sure of in this: Instagram is here to stay, quality rich media is gold for brands and we have a significant opportunity to capitalize on this very popular network.
Here are some tips to help your company and your marketing efforts benefit by leveraging Instagram.
Setup a Business Profile
First things first: you will want to setup a business account and complete all of the information in your profile. This includes your location, quality profile photos, and connections to your current social accounts. When you setup an Instagram business profile you will have an opportunity to connect with individuals in exciting ways. We've corralled a few examples and ideas to get you started:
In addition to the above ideas you could take a few minutes and research some successful programs that have leveraged Instagram successfuly:
Tips from The Roxy and Brooklyn Bowl on Using Instagram, via the Instagram blog
10 Early Adopter Brands Using Instagram, via The Next Web
How News Organizations are Using Instagram, via the Instagram blog
How Nonprofit Organizations are Using Instagram, via the Instagram blog
10 Instagram Tips for Bands, by Bands, via Mashable
Instagram Flash Mob, via Cream Global
Host a Contest
Like all online contests, they are great for short term interaction and engagement with your account - however you must continue to engage your followers after the contest.
There are many ways which companies are currently hosting contests through their Instagram accounts. The most popular is to get your followers to post an image on Instagram, featuring their product with a special hashtag in order to track the entry.
While contests are a great way to engage your following - make sure to keep your contests to a minimum. If your followers start to realize that there will be another contest just around the corner, they may hold off from participating.
Foster Consistent Engagement
Once you've hosted a contest or two and , regular content and engaging with followers is key to ongoing success, otherwise they will unfollow you if they feel like they are only being spammed with corporate promotional materials or contests. Try to post a photo a day, reach out to your audience in a real way this will generate comments, likes and content sharing to complementary channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
Another popular Instagram engagement technique (generally more for the younger or Insta-active crowd) is to create a "Photo a Day" or "30-Day Photo" Challenge. These challenges begin with an image posted at the beginning of the month laying out the theme or topic for each photo on each day. This keeps your followers engaged with your brand directly, when there isn't a huge promotion going on.
Hashtags are important on Instagram
At this point, every marketer should be familiar with the hashtags and it's many benefits. However, Instagram is notorious for "hashtag overload", to avoid appearing spammy and pushy, I'd suggest going easy on the hashtag.
Instagrammers tend to use hashtags to describe everything in the photo, while throwing in other hashtags only because they are popular or trending tags.
Some great hashtags to use on Instagram are #nofilter, when you are posting a beautiful image that does not require one of Instagram's many filters, #foodporn, when you are posting an image of amazing food, #throwbackthursday, a trending tag where users post very old photos on every Thursday and #flashbackfriday, similar to the Thursday tag, but slightly more recent photos posted to ones account on every Friday.
Link Your Social Accounts
One of the most basic and beneficial things a brand can do with their social accounts, not just on Instagram, but across the board, is linking of your social accounts. When sharing photos, this a great way to not only share your image across your various social accounts, but to also promote your Instagram account to your followers, and bring them to like your Instagram account as well.
Go Behind the Scenes!
Instagram provides an in-depth personal view into the daily lives of personalities, corporations and brands. The best way to show what goes on behind the scenes of your brand is to provide team access to the company Instagram account. This way, they can snap photos of what happens during their work day, and allow them to share it with fans.
By showing behind the scene photos or upcoming products or recent promotions, this allows for a greater connection between employees, their company and their following.
The main thing to remember is that Instagram is visual based and full of creative minds. It doesn't take much for Instagrammers to see through a false persona or a corporate account. Keep your account genuine and full of personality.
Hopefully these tips and tactics will get you started on an exciting new social marketing path, if you take the time and put in the effort the benefits to your overall communications and marketing programs can be significant!