Instagram, the free photo-sharing application which allows users to share photos and short videos on its own service and across other social media networking services, including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Flickr, has become immensely popular among brands and consumers alike.
The latest statistics reveal 75 million people use it every day while 25 percent of all Fortune 500 brands are active on it, as well.
And while some "get it" as to how to best use the platform to benefit their particular brand, some still struggle.
To those struggling to find their way on Instagram, I offer...
5 things brands should be doing on Instagram
1. Monitor Instagram for mentions, because every mention is an opportunity for marketers to engage (see No. 4 below). Since the platform introduced tagging last year (see Instagram Now Lets Anyone Tag You [Or Brands] In Photos….) it is important for brands to see what, or if, they are being tagged. When they are, and presuming it is in a positive image, brands should consider a ….
2. Regram. This is re-sharing others’content that reflects well on your brand, your products or your services and your values. A brand adding re-shares to its own Instagram is building an image-based community - it's not just the brand's images but also the fan's images. To do this you’ll need one of the tools that makes this possible with Instagram. For a list of these tools see How to Repost Instagram Photos.
3. Profile yourself on Instagram. Using the Profile page feature that Instagram added a little over a year ago smart brands now use their collected images as a way to tell their story. This visual storytelling drives interest and possibly regrams of your images by others. To learn more, see Announcing Instagram Profiles on the Web.
For examples of brands doing Instagram Profiles see Ben & Jerry’s with its 340,000+ followers and the NBA page with its 1.8 million followers. Notice how both use a combination of their own images and videos to tell a behind-the-scenes story and to highlight the content of real fans (see "Regram" above).
4. Engage. This can be by responding to others’ posts on Instagram, the aforementioned Regramming, offering special deals to Instagram followers and running such things as photo contests. The latter is easy to do on Instagram: Ask Instagrammers to follow your brand, give them a topic to photograph and a hashtag to use (so you can easily search for the posts). If you offer a prize or two people will remember your hashtag. Heightened engagement in this way places your brand in the social feeds of others, thereby multiplying your reach. For solid tips on contests see the Instagram blog post How to Host A Photo Contest on Instagram.
5. Feature your customers and employees. What is your brand without these two important groups? Find ways to make stars of your customers and show how they use your products and services and mix in images of your employees on the job or out in the community. This humanization of your brand will feed into the growing desire of all social network users for authenticity. By its nature Instagram images look less polished and more genuine. Displaying your people and your customers in this way will make your brand come alive for viewers.
For a great read on "…brands that are using Instagram in unexpected and creative ways…" see Stay Authentic, Build An Instagram Cult Following: 6 Brands That Get It Right from the The Idea Lists blog.
So, what will your brand do to leverage Instagram on social media marketing? Do you have other ideas? Please share in the Comments section.