Spotlight: Instagram

Instagram has become a sensational hit in the realm of cellphone photo apps, making it easier and more beautiful than ever for the average user to share gorgeous photographs with their friends and family. Just this year Instagram reached a staggering 50,000,000 users and was purchased by Facebook [source], making it a powerhouse social media tool.

Every worthwhile company and organization has a Facebook and a Twitter page, but what about Instagram accounts? These days, more and more businesses are catching on to the idea that Instagram can be an incredibly beneficial venue for delivering content to fans, and for drawing more attention to their brands.

Just this past week Instagram released a web version of their app [source], much to the pleasant surprise of it’s many users. These web profiles can now be viewed online, as opposed to the previous design which forced users to download the app or go through a third party website. Not only will this give businesses another way to showcase their photos to fans without forcing them to have an Instagram account, but these web profiles are presented in a very attractive way that will keep them coming back.

How can Instagram be great for marketing?

Instagram makes it incredibly easy to post your photos to other Social Sharing sites like Twitter and Facebook for a seamless tie-in with your overall marketing scheme. While this social sharing tool is best suited for specific brands, with a little creativity it can work for anyone. The key – as with any Social Media venue – is to post interesting things, tag them correctly so that they can be found in searches, and communicate with your fan-base.

Instagram handles usernames like Twitter does, with an @ symbol before the name. They also utilize Twitter’s hash-tag system which allows users to tag their uploaded photos and make them searchable. For example, if you own a shoe store and you’re posting a photo of some cute winter boots going on sale, you could hash-tag it with #snow, #winter, #boots, #shoes, and #sale to cast out a wide web of incoming searches. Though some claim that Instagram’s hash-tag system is a mess and the tags do not work well, you can cover your bases by using personalized hash-tags about your brand and asking your fans to use them as well when on Instagram.

How do you get Instagram fans?

If you’re starting out with an already popular brand this won’t be too tricky, but otherwise you’ll need to pull out some known tricks. Include a blurb in your next newsletter saying that they should follow you on Instagram for the latest photos from your company, and link right to your Instagram web profile. You can also send out the occasional Tweets and Facebook updates including a hot new photo you’ve taken with Instagram, linked directly to your account.Β 

A sure-fire way to get people commenting on your photos and saving them to their favorites, is to do that very thing for them. Show your fans, customers, followers, and community that you not only appreciate their presence, but you care about what they’re putting out there. Social Media appreciation is a two-way interactive street and if you want your followers to recognize you as a person behind the brand, you have to prove it. Show them a little love and they’ll show you a little love back.

In that same respect you can run a contest or a campaign encouraging your Instagram followers to post photos related to your brand or field of interest, asking them to use a specific hash-tag so that these photos are easy to find. You can also ask them to Tweet the photo entries to your Twitter, post them to your Facebook page, and share them with friends. Then you can travel around Instagram, favoriting the photos and commenting on the ones that knock your socks off.

How else can I optimize Instagram for marketing?

If you have a company, business, or group that has multiple locations or regular events, then using Instagram’s geo-tagging feature will help clue your fanbase into where you are and where you will be next. Throw a big party or have a sale, send out a few photos to your followers, and geo-tag them properly with your location so that any fans in the area can show up.

Perhaps the most basic idea for better optimization of your Social Media pages is to check out the analytics for your page. Take a look back through your Instagram photos and see which ones are garnishing the most likes and getting the most comments – this is a window into what sorts of photographs your audience is most receptive towards. You can also use free Instagram analytics tools such as Statigram and Simply Measured to track account growth and even gain insight into what time of day your followers engage the most.

The bottom line

Instagram has massive potential, as long as businesses are willing to take the proper steps to grow their community. With the new addition of web profiles it’s easier than ever to edit your account online and share your Instagram profile with others, which should only help this nifty photo tool become a staple in Social Marketing. If you’ve got a product or an idea to sell to your followers, brainstorm ways to get it onto Instagram and secure your place in this quickly growing Social Sharing giant.


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