Instagram is a mobile phone application that is used for sharing and editing photos. Users can touch up their photos using filters, to give them that retro look which is so popular right now, or leave them as is and post them untouched. The images are posted to a public feed, which others can see via the internet or their phones. While the photo feeds can be accessed by means of a number of different websites, the photos themselves can only be added via the phone app.
Launched at the end of 2010, Instagram has exploded into more than just a photo sharing site. Today, it has over 100 million users across the world. In April of 2012, Mark Zuckerberg, creator and owner of Facebook, bought Instagram for one billion dollars, boosting its popularity even more. Over the past couple of years, a plethora of web services have sprouted up to take advantage of the Instagram craze. These services allow users to take their Instagram photos and transform them into postcards, magnets, stickers, and the like, increasing the viral popularity that Instagram has enjoyed from it inception.
But Instagram has a lot more potential than simply being a way to share cool (and uncool) photos with your friends and family. Like similar social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, Instagram has a follower system, allowing photos to go viral. This capability, coupled with its wild popularity, means that Instagram is a gold mine for businesses, who can leverage its influence to promote their products and services.
In today’s market, Instagram marketing is a force to be reckoned with… and one that you should take advantage of. Here’s how to make the most out of Instagram Marketing for your business.
1. Get started the right way
You don’t want your business account to be confused with a personal one. When you set up your account, use your brand name as the user name. This name will appear on your photo feed. Make sure to upload a profile picture, which should be your company logo, and add your website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest links as well.
2. Share content that connects
You want to share photos that users will want to look at and share with their friends. Depending on the nature of your business, that might mean thinking outside the box a little.
Give a “behind the scenes” tour of your product, showing all the steps of how its made. Using the built in filters that Instagram provides can give your photos a retro edge that will make them more attractive and appealing.
Show what your product can do. As with any marketing or advertising campaign, you want to appeal to the potential customer’s emotions. Take pictures that show not just how your products make people look more beautiful, but show how happy, sexy and on top of the world they feel when they use your product.
Be funny. Pictures that make people laugh often get shared more than photos that aren’t humorous. Take some wild and crazy pictures and share them in your photo feed… and watch them go viral.
3. Run contests
Photo contests are all the rage… and a great marketing tool as well. Offer a great prize (think a brand new Kindle Fire or the like) and encourage users to enter their photo and vote. Spread the word by means of other social networks and get as many people as possible talking about it. Aside from increasing brand recognition among the contest contestants (and brand usage, if your contest involves them taking a picture that has your product in it), people who enter photos in your contest are likely to share their entry with their circles of friends to ask them to vote for their picture. When you offer a fabulous prize and run an engaging Instagram photo contest, you can really increase your circle of influence… and your sales.
4. Make use of hashtags
Remember hashtags from Twitter? Use them on Instagram as well. Be specific when you tag your photos. Instead of using the hashtag #book, use #romancenovel. You’ll also want to be smart. What seems like a great hashtag to you, might not be a hashtag other people would think of, and that means that people won’t see it. Look at the hashtags that are popular with others in your niche, and keep those in mind when tagging your own photos.
5. Add text to your photos
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do you think a picture plus some words is worth? Ask companies who’ve taken their Instagram photos to the next level, and they’ll tell you it’s a whole lot. You can add words to your pictures by using the “Phonto” app (available for iTunes and Android), and turn your pictures into something more. Photos that have captions or funny or catchy slogans are more likely to be shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and by simply adding a line or two of text to the photos you share on Instagram, you’ll increase your chances of your photos being shared, and of collecting more followers.