Instagram your way to fame

“A picture is worth a thousand words”

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.


Engaging Content

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.

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 6.28.09 PM

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.

Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 6.29.58 PM

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


How Pinteresting

Pinterest is an invitation-only social bookmarking site, where users can share photos, as well as create themed image collections. It allows users to browse other collections, called “boards” for inspiration, “re-pin” images, and “like” images.  With the highest average amount of time spent compared to other social media sites and 12 million unique visitors per month, it is a powerful tool to be used by businesses. Pinterest accounts for 3.6 percent of referral traffic and has 10.4 million registered users, a majority of which are 25-34 year old women.Pinterest1

Pinterest is an effective marketing tool for businesses of every size. It can build strong relationships and loyalty among consumers, as well as bring new business. The nature of the “pins” allow for cross promotion and engagement between business and consumer. Now with all of these big words and amazing statistics, how would a business successfully implement a Pinterest strategy?

Let’s take it from the top:

In order to create an account, request an invitation from the main page or through a current member. Once given access to register, you may either use an email, Twitter, or Facebook to create an account. Now you’re ready to rock and roll!

From here, you will start pinning by either uploading your own photos or browsing other profiles for pictures to “re-pin”. The “boards” can be themed by activity, hobby, fashion, food, and a plethora of other categories.  A way that The North Face themes their “boards” is by sport and gender, such as men’s running or women’s yoga. These “pins” create a brand image for your company. I have listed a few guidelines to follow  to create a successful Pinterest presence. Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 10.19.18 AM

Create Visual Pinnable Content

-Post attractive, usable photos, text and videos. Varying the type of content will maintain engagement among followers and encourage loyalty.

-Use high quality images that are at least 800 pixels by 1000 pixels to bring attention to your other pinned content.

-Making content share-able, without the corporate marketing fluff attached is more attractive to consumers and builds trust.

Create Interesting “Boards”

“Boards” allow for companies to create feelings through the collection of pins. You can showcase the lifestyle behind your brand through names of boards, such as Whole Foods’ “Who wants dinner?!” board. This board has recipes with links to food blogs all over the Internet. Featuring original content will keep followers coming back to your board.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 10.19.02 AM

 Integrate, Integrate, Integrate

Cross promoting is one of the secrets to creating a successful online integrated marketing campaign. Placing links on your website and blog will drive traffic to your Pinterest page.

Screen shot 2013-03-11 at 10.40.17 AM

Encourage Participation

There are many ways that you can encourage participation on your Pinterest page, but the one of the most popular is creating a competition “board”, where guest pinners can post content they believe is relevant to the chosen topic. In turn, you can reward pinners with most “likes” or most “re-pins”; the possibilities are endless. The most important part of this step is just to communicate with other pinners by “re-pinning”, commenting on other “pins” and staying active on the site.

Referral Traffic

-Adding captions, categories, keywords, and hash tags will make your Pinterest page easy to find and navigate.

-Review your landing pages from your “pins” to ensure user will stay on your site.

Track Activity

Finally, keep track of the traffic to your site from Pinterest using analytics and track recent activity to your “boards”. Analyzing the activity on your site will allow you to tailor your content to the user and maintain engagement.

Pinterest is a powerful, engaging tool for a business’s online tool belt.  It is user-friendly and will allow you to remain in direct contact with your target market. Pinterest is essential to  bringing more traffic to your site and building a positive brand image.

Do you think Pinterest is just a fad or the next big thing? How do you use Pinterest in your business? Leave a comment or email me at