Instagram has been recently discovered as an excellent branding tool for companies. Instagram is a photo and video sharing mobile app, that can bring a variety of advantages to businesses as it is super easy to use and free. Instagram creates opportunities to conduct real-time market research, provokes a buzz about the services or products you are providing, and might be also an excellent tool for customer engagement and intuitive marketing. But someone new to Instagram might wonder: What is the best way to use this photo and video sharing application?
In this article I will give 12 tips and ideas on how to use Instagram as a business tool:
Getting started on Instagram is fairly straightforward. Begin by signing up for an account (you can use the same name as your Twitter handle) add a profile photo, for example a brand logo and then link your Instagram account to your website. Connect your account to Facebook and let your followers know they can follow you there. Don´t forget to optimize your profile: Instagram profiles—like their counterparts on Twitter, Facebook and other social networking platforms—need to include brand information in specific ways (e.g., maximum number of characters, specific image sizes, attention to branding). It´s important to check out regularly the Instagram for Business blog, which offers tips, brand spotlights, API examples and news from InstagramHQ. This infographic made by Gerry Moran provides you with all the information you need to construc your Business Instagram profile.
2.Show your products
With Instagram, you can show off a collection of your goods. You can either make nice photos of your new products, or zoom in for a close shot on one product. You can as well ask your users to make photos of your products and submit them. Nice photos attract users, but conversations engage them. Those conversations are possible with Instagram. If your business is service-oriented, you can also show off the supplies and equipment that are essential to the services you provide. An important tip is to balance fun images with pictures from your business. A good example of a business that found the right balance between both is Anthropologie , that is a company dedicated to fashion, accessories and homeware. Their instagram followers like fun images as well as business ones. A puppy picture for example received 7,640 likes and a picture of their personal shoppers posing at a company luncheon event received 3,457.
3. Introduce your employees
Introducing your followers to the people who keep your company going humanizes your brand. You can photograph with Instagram special employees, and use the caption to write a bit about them. Another idea is to make an ongoing campaign that features staff from different departments within your company. A great example is Beaucoup Bakery, which shares pictures of their staff with the hashtag #beaucrew.
4. Expand your audience and cultivate a following.
It´s important that you connect Instagram to your other social networks and use relevant hashtags (#yourbrandhere) to make it easier for people to find your account. Connect to your Facebook account, and use relevant popular hashtags. It’s also advantageous to follow other brands on Instagram. You can also cross-post selected images to your Facebook page with a hashtag that aligns with your campaign or brand image, to help people who don’t know you are on Instagram to find you there. Statigram is a great tool for finding brands and hashtags that relate to your brand. Simply enter the brand name or hashtag into the search box and click Search.
5. Engage directly with users.
Use Instagram to engage your followers by facilitating user-generated content. Challenge them to post pictures evidencing creative uses of your products. You can ask questions in your photo captions, and answer to your followers comments. If your business is service-oriented, like you work with landscaping, interior design, fitness, show the impact of your work with before and after your intervention. Tiffany’s Instagram campaign around the theme of “true love”, is a successful example of engaging with followers. The company sent out some Instagrammers to document images that represented true love in New York and Paris, and then shared these images through their account. They also encouraged fans to take and submit photos of their own true love, and they had thousands of submissions.
6. Show How It’s Made
Customers have a natural curiosity about where their products come from, and you can use Instagram to show the origins of all their favorite products. You can make photos throughout the manufacturing process of your products, from planning to delivery. You can also anticipate news of what will happen soon in your business, if it is a business that provides services.
To use the 15 sec video function that Instagram provides, might be great to your business, because not many businesses have started to use the Instagram video functionality. Adding more videos to your account can give you an advantage over other brands. You can also embed your Instagram video to your blog or website to extend the reach of your content. This post by Mike Gingerich provides helpful instructions and examples of ways to use Instagram videos. An alternative way of using video with Instagram, was explored by the company LexusUSA. The company had a innovative idea of making #LexusInstafilm using 212 instagrammers’ images to edit together a 3:44 Instagram video to showcase the 2014 Lexus IS. As one instagrammer says in the video, the Lexusinstafilm is a great example of what Instagram is: “A community that comes together.” Just as LexusUSA you can transform crowdsourced images into an exceptional video message that features and highlights the creativity of your loyal followers.
9. How to use Hashtags
If usually it is considered that it is not advantageous to use more than two hashtags in a tweet, that rule doesn´t apply on Instagram. Some data has given evidence that using four to 11 hashtags can increase up to on average 77 interactions per Instagram post. When you’re incorporating hashtags into your Instagram post, try to integrate them seamlessly into your post caption as opposed to jumbling them all at the bottom.You can track the relevance of your Instagram hashtags with Nitrogram, the Instagram analytics and engagement platform that provides key metrics on hashtags, including contributors, content, engagement and context.
10: Posting Schedule: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
It´s well known how there are optimal times to post on social media sites but with Instagram it´s different. Instagrammers are on the platform interacting at all hours of the day and every day of the week, and that is because of they interact with the platform through their mobile devices. People are seldom away from their phones, so posting at different times of the day it´s prefect to attract to your business various audience segments.
11: Provide your followers with a visual experience
Depending on your company, you can find creative ways to showcase your products and services. Sharpie, a company that makes markers and pens, posts to their Instagram account pictures of drawings done with a myriad of colours. Another case is Puma : Puma did not have the strongest Instagram following, so it decided to outsource its advertising. Rather than to depend on their own following, they selected a group of influential Instagrammers to promote Puma´s shoes by sending some of these “photographers” overseas to places like Abu Dhabi under the theme that they were chronicling the “awesome places that shoes take you.” Puma guaranteed that many people would see these photos by using the aid of successful ’grammers; smart move, Puma.
12: Quantity and Quality
It might be useful to know how your brand is doing on Instagram, and image analytics tools such as BlitzMetrics and Curalate can provide your business with detailed insights. With these tools you can identify images and video that resonate with your fans and followers.
With this article, I have outlined 12 ideas on how you can use Instagram to create a presence for your business. Instagram let´s you engage with your clients and possible future audience through a fantastic visual experience that is particularly appealing due to its creative potential.
Maria Fonseca is the Editor and Infographic Artist for IntelligentHQ. She is also a thought leader writing about social innovation, sharing economy, social business, and the commons. Aside her work for IntelligentHQ, Maria Fonseca is a visual artist and filmmaker that has exhibited widely in international events such as Manifesta 5, Sao Paulo Biennial, Photo Espana, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Joshibi University and many others. She concluded her PhD on essayistic filmmaking , taken at University of Westminster in London and is preparing her post doc that will explore the links between creativity and the sharing economy.