We have all heard this saying, but in terms of the future of social media, sharing visual content will continue to dominate other content. A photo sharing application turned website that is gaining power as a social media marketing platform is Instagram.
Instagram is a smart phone photo-sharing application created in October 2010. This platform allows users to take photos, apply filters and share these throughout their social media. A user can “follow” another user, and then “like” or comment on their pictures. With over 100 million users and recently acquired by Facebook, Instagram should be integrated into every marketing campaign.
The Basics of using Instagram
Building an Instagram profile with both an informative about me section and using brand logo as a profile picture, will build confidence with potential consumers.
Although most personal profiles feature pictures of food and self-portraits, businesses need a better strategy in order to engage followers. Here are some guidelines for creating a successful Instagram strategy:
Focus on Brand
By focusing on your “brand”, a company’s mission and vision and the culture of the company can be conveyed through visual content. Deciding what kind of photos are going to be posted and how they will tell your “brand” story are both strategic decisions that need to be made before a profile is created. LuLu Lemon uses their Instagram to post photos of their flash mob yoga sessions and marathons they participate in, reinforcing their “Sweat Once a Day” slogan.
After deciding on the strategy you want to use, it is important to post photos that are visually pleasing. Photos that are interesting and engaging will encourage more followers. One way to give users a more human feel to your company is posting behind the scenes photos. Lulu Lemon posts pictures of their employees with gear on or participating in events (eg. LA Marathon). Another way to maintain engagement is vary the type of content posted, such as inspirational quotes, product photos and event photos.
Find Revelant Followers
Doing research on competitor’s sites will help to find relevant potential followers. Research what type of photos they “like” and what hashtags they are using, therefore you can form your strategy, catering to your potential audience.
Power of Crowdsourcing
Instagram is similar to Twitter in the way that it uses the power of crowd sourcing for earned media. With Instagram, a user can “hashtag” any term or group of terms in the comment section of a photo. “Hashtags” are then grouped together and can be searched. These hashtags can be brand-specific, such as LuLu Lemon’s #thesweatlife, or generic, such as Patagonia’s #camping.
A popular social media tactic is to host a photo contest on Instagram and promoting it throughout other online media. This is a great way to get exposure and gain a large amount of followers in a short time. National Geographic recently hosted a photo contest called “Untamed Americas”, where users could post a photo of the “Americas” with the hashtag #UntamedAmericas for the chance to win a Nikon digital SLR camera.
Share, Share, Share
The key to creating a successful integrated marketing campaign online is sharing content over all social media platforms. This goes for Instagram as well, there are options to share with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Email, Flickr, and foursquare. Hint: If you are going to connect your Facebook profile page, keep in mind that the hashtags have no significance.
Instagram is a promising new social media platform, but must have a planned strategy similar to any other. I believe that this may soon be the leader of visual content. Do you think that Instagram will continue to grow as rapidly? What are your favorite companies that have an Instagram? Leave me a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org