Instagram is one of the most popular photo-sharing facilities around at the moment- rivalled by Pinterest and Flickr. It’s popularity has been consistent since its launch (with the retro – vintage filters, making us feel like we’re living in the 40’s) – but the numbers have recently shot up hugely making it the best time to join and embrace the trend (or jump on the bandwagon, as many would say).
You can use Instagram for personal use (obviously) but you can also utilise Instagram for your business too.
Sure – there won’t be a great deal of interaction verbally – and you can’t reel off essays to your followers… but what you can do is express your brand and company visually – which can often be much more powerful. Story-telling remains one of the strongest and most impactful forms of communication – and every picture tells a story, making your communication with Instagram even more impactful.
So what can you gain from Instagram?
Instagram is essentially a bite-size snippet of visual loveliness. You’re sharing information in image form which means your followers can view them quickly, easily and also share it quickly and easily too. The visual aspect means you can get creative too – you’re not just limited to words, and there’s no character limit either. Mainly though, I think creating an Instagram account for your business or brand is going to give followers a glimpse into your everyday work-culture and brand ethos, which is a perfect marketing technique if those two things are important to you. Another plus point? You’ll also (most likely) gain lots of social shares – people love images. And people share them.
So how can you begin marketing with Instagram?
Well first thing’s first. Fully commit.
Don’t commit to it if you don’t have time. This is the golden rule for every company looking into joining any social network. If you don’t have time to post a photo (at least every couple of days) then why are you joining? Social Networks are social, so if you don’t have time to put in the effort right now – just leave it. An empty feed and blank profile is no better than no account at all – it’s actually worse.
Don’t Re-post Professional Shots
A big bug-bear of mine on Instagram are companies that simply edit a press-shot with Instagram and then post the same old catalogue photograph – just with a slight change of filter. Fashion brands are notoriously bad for this – but some do get it bang on. If someone is signed up to your Instagram account they want to see things other people don’t get to – whether that be a secret behind-the-scenes photo or a sneak peek of a future project. Don’t just rehash the same old images I can find on your website. That’s boring. Fashion brand Forever 21 have a great balance between products, promotional images (none of them rehashed though) and also personal office-culture, and fun random shots too. You get a real feel for the brand’s ethos and the kind of message they’re spreading.
Don’t Over-brand People
As with any marketing or sales techniques – the best route to take is often subtly. The last thing you want to do is spam people with 5 retro photographs of your logo every day (even if it’s a real sweet logo). Balance brand awareness with other “normal” images that don’t have any kind of sales technique or ulterior motive behind them, otherwise you won’t seem cool, you’ll just seem desperate.
Don’t Forget What Instagram Actually Is
Steer clear of uploading random quotes, Infographics and images of text – as it can culture up your feed and make it look a bit, um, tacky? Instagram is a photo-sharing site for people who like photos – and whilst the occasional inspirational quote is nice – it’s not what most people who use this site joined it for. If people want to be bombarded with quotes and text, they’ll follow an account that specialise in that. If you do insist on doing it – at least camouflage it with a filter. Like this:
Talk to your followers, leave them comments and let them know when you like something you’ve seen of theirs. Photography is a pretty personal medium – so when someone compliments it – you take it to heart. Take a couple of minutes each day to let people know you loved their latest snap, and you’ll start to see your own comments gradually increasing too, as people drop by the return the favour. If you have a blog or a website – you could even make a weekly list of your favourite instagram users, that’s a sure fire way not only to increase your following – but to build some good relationships.
Make sure you tag your images too – to make sure the multiple amount of people are viewing your images. Lots of people will search the app for random tags such as “love” “fun” or “sunshine” – so ensure your images aren’t missing out on this key element. Tagging is the easiest way to get your images seen!
Now for some last nuggets:
Timing is Everything
If you have an amazing photo that you think will grab people’s attention – don’t post it in the middle of the night when no one is going to see it. Think about the key time to post and harness them.
Don’t post 5 photos at once – even if they are really good images. Spread them out… this isn’t Facebook remember, one image will be enough for now. If you see yourself becoming a super-regular poster, then try not to exceed one image an hour, as most people could see this as spammy.
Showing the location of your photographs lets other nearby view them. We all looking at places we know and are familiar with – so this could attract a nice base of follower for you. It also let companies and brands nearby see who their neighbours are.
Get Everyone Involved
If you’re a fun, young, start-up company – get the whole team involved with Instagram and get them all uploading photos. It creates a really great team-atmosphere and team spirit, which are both traits you’ll want to promote – you could even have “best Instagram” prizes for the most inventive.
Don’t Miss An Opportunity
If you already have a twitter account and regularly upload great images to twitter – you’re missing an opportunity here. If you’re already taking the time to photograph and upload – then why not join instagram too? You can link the accounts and benefit from both.