Let me share with you my thoughts on how an Instagram strategy can build your brand, and then a few strategies you could use.
For those of you who don’t know what instagram is (or you have been asleep lately) – its a simple camera app that allows you to share your pictures, but with an artistic twist – available for iPhones and Android phones – and its FREE
The 2 Things That Instagram Can Offer Your Brand
I think the success of Instagram boils down to two things: intimacy and that natural urge to create. This is good for you as a brand.
Let me show you what I mean.
1. Intimacy – Seth Godin’s classic book Permission Marketing is about the process of getting people to give you their attention by asking for it. That’s what permission means…and once you get that permission you’ve also created a form of intimacy.
This is what email marketing is all about. Being in someone’s inbox is like an invitation to be in their personal space. The same is true for social media sites where you have to be “invited” if you want to appear on their stream.
Instagram is like a new inbox. But its appeal is all visual.
2. Everyone wants to create – Another reason Instagram has become a smashing success…and I would argue it is the reason…is that it has leveled the playing field for artists of all stripes…now the amateur can create stunning photos by snapping a picture and then treating it with effects that render it unusual, beautiful and unique.
This is perfect for anyone…big or small brand to local or international brand…who wants to brand themselves in a visual way.
And according to Paul Allen, 700,000 Androids are activated every day, which means now Instagram has their Android app out, there will be a sudden flood of users, a huge audience to get in front of.
So what kind of plan should you have? Let’s look at a few strategies.
Strategy #1 – Engage the audience
Like all social media, interacting with the community is the most important part about growing your brand using Instagram…and this means investing in beautiful, high-quality shots that users can’t see anywhere else.
If you are sharing photos that your audience could easily see on your website, then you will fail. Instead, share photos that engage your audience in a way that allows your customers to experience your brand and feel like they are part of your “gang”.
For example, Red Bull allows its fans to experience the brand without actually having to do the crazy things they promote like extreme motorcycle riding or mountain climbing.
That makes their strategy fit hand-in-glove with Instagram. They take exciting pictures that wow their followers…who in turn like, comment and share…spreading the Red Bull brand.
Strategy #2 – Post regularly
Where Pinterest is visual in a grid layout , Instagram presents a brand through the linear stream.
That means if a user is following a lot of people on Instagram, your photos don’t stand a good chance of being seen if you just post one or two a day.
You need to post regularly like snowboard company Burton Snowboards who has uploaded 100s of instagrams in a very short time:
And by the way, a steady stream of photos won’t feel spammy like a steady stream of tweets or Facebook posts might if…you provide high-quality photos.
Stream the same old stuff and you will get ignored.
Strategy #3 – Use the hashtag feature to get more followers
Burton Snowboards also tapped into hashtags, using #snowboarding, giving them further exposure, but also picking up more followers.
See, when people search for photos in Instagram, they are going to use tags. This means you need to think a lot like you would if you were doing keyword research. You could also use a third-party app like Webstagram to find out what are the most popular tags since the app won’t tell you.
Also popular are tags like #dog, #sky, #flower or #sunset.
And keep in mind that you can go back and add hash tags to your photos. Just do it in the comment section. This will definitely increase the number of likes and follows you get.
Strategy # 4 – Use the geo-location feature
Adding to their Instagram strategy, Burton Snowboards encouraged their sponsored riders to take pictures of them selves in different places around the world…and to verify this was the case people had to set their locations, which is easy for users to do – simply click the geolocation button, which via either GPS or GPRS will locate you.
Strategy # 5 – Build a slideshow of photos
The way that Starbucks makes its Instagram account pay off is through the interplay with other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Among other things, Starbucks posts photos of coffee-taste testing at headquarters and in-store experiences from different locations around the world. They then share these photos on Facebook, which allows fans to comment. In essence, their Instagram strategy works because they are sharing photos that interest their followers.
In addition, they’ve created a slide show on their site to promote fans photos. Starbucks has made it really simple by using the #starbucks hash tags.
Starbucks to date have over 300k USER contributed Instagrams – now that’s some serious customer interaction.
Strategy # 6 – Go behind the scenes
Of course beautiful products seem like a perfect fit for Instagram, but Tiffany & Co. goes beyond just simple photos of their products. They take close-up photos of jewelry, interesting views of the tools used to create their products, the techniques used and even the craftsman who make the products.
You also might see photos of story boards for window collaborations: This is a neat strategy that shows the customer how a product is made, involving them in the story of your brand.
Strategy # 7 – Leak a story
The car maker Audi is using Instagram to market their brand by showing off new concepts and models. The trick behind this strategy is to share the different levels of innovation that a product goes through. Or sharing different concepts that you are about to roll out…generating a lot of activity among your fans.
Strategy # 8 – Crowd source Creativity
One of the greatest strategies to use with Instagram is to collect fan-created content.
Like their blogs, GE’s focus with Instagram is to increase awareness of everything they do…from aviation to energy…and that they are more than a light company. It’s really perfect for the engineer and science geeks who like to see engines and tools behind all of their products.
GE also capitalized on their fans desire to create and share by running a photo contest call #GEInspiredMe.
Fans voted for the best photos on Facebook, and the winner won a trip to Wales to be GE’s Instagrapher at their aviation factory.
Clothing maker Mark Jacobs’ Instagram strategy was to allow fans to take the photos…basically tapping into user-generated content and hashtags. During the holidays the brand ran a contest where followers tag photos #marcfam.
Some photos were taken from backstage of a show and others were views from areas around the show. They then posted those photos on their website.
This strategy works great for Marc Jacobs because it taps into that artist in all of us…and gets the customer involved with the brand.
Strategy # 9 – Create an Instagram RSS feed
If you are going to use Instagram to create a promotional contest, here are the steps on how to do that:
- Announce you are going to have a contest – On your website and other social media accounts, let your fans know that you are going to launch an Instagram contest.
- Use a theme – A good contest is built around a theme and a hashtag. For example, GE might do a contest around #energy that is generated from #wind or #sun. Their fans would then tag their photos with those hash tags.
- Submit photos – Next, users enter their photos by uploading them to Instagram using the hashtag designated for the company. In the case of GE it was #GEInspiredMe. These are the photos that will be entered into the contest.
The best way to announce the winner is to do it on your main website and point all of your social media announcements back to that page. That way you drive traffic and links to your website and not some social media property.
As you can see, just about any type of brand can use Instagram for their marketing purposes. Even f you’re in an industry like an accountant that is not image based, then you’ll have to be creative…
Show pictures of your staff, a day in the life of the team, fun things in the office, latest designs, even cups of coffee. And if you are really having trouble consider hiring a consultant to help you get started.
If you need the KP Team to help you start your campaign, give us a call on 01254 304088