Why Has Business Latched Onto Instagram?
Lately, Instagram has been discovered by business. Various businesses started to use it and some of these are corporate brands such as Starbucks, NASA, MTV, and NBC News. Instagram even started a Tumblr dedicated to provide the latest news and developments happening with Instagram that can be used to improve or make branding of businesses. They also recently launched an image that previewed how sponsored images on Instagram can look.
Retro-branding as a marketing tool
Instagram’s success as a business tool appears to be linked to a timeless truth that is strongly conveyed by the app: Nostalgia sells. Businesses and advertisers have known for years that nostalgia sells and that the products popular during a person’s youth will influence their buying habits throughout their lifetime. Nostalgic images in advertising permeate the market. David Sprott, an associate professor of marketing at Washington State University and the author of several studies on the topic of nostalgia explains this phenomenon, stating that:
“When things are uncertain in the present time, looking backward is a comforting thing for people to do”.
Nostalgia permeates the marketplace. Retro-branding is common place, but so too are new brands that aim to evoke nostalgic feelings. Nostalgia has been described as “an individual’s longing for the past, a yearning for yesterday, or a fondness for possessions and activities associated with days of yore”. It refers back to the Greek words nostos and algia meaning ‘to return home’ and ‘pain’. According to this view, nostalgia is a bittersweet emotion caused by a longing for returning home, that evokes the paradise lost. Evidently, Instagram builds on this longing for a rose-tinted view of our lives.
As Amanda Petrusich says:
“Instagram’s neatly and easily updated nostalgia is, in many ways, its biggest selling point, finding new ways to mimic the past”.
Businesses are recommended to enter and contribute to the gigantic wave of Instagramers that are transforming our world in a wonderfully tinted labyrinth of images that play with time.
Instagram for Social Business
While the giants of social media like Facebook and Twitter have been stealing all of the social networking thunder, Instagram has been rising up through the ranks and has become a widely accepted tool for social business. This has led many businesses to start looking at how Instagram can be used to improve their marketing strategies.
Why Should Businesses Use Instagram?
According to Gabriel Hubert (2013) of Our Social Times there are very good reasons for this. The reason is that photos considerably increase interest and interaction from people. As noted by Hubert, photo posts have been shown to up the interaction rate by 39% compared with other posts on social media. This has led companies like Starbucks, MTV, Nike and Red Bull to start including Instagram in their marketing strategies to work on reaching a proportion of the 90 million monthly active users (as of 2013).
If this was not enough to encourage businesses to get on board with Instagram, Prescient explains that 57% of users go into their accounts on a daily basis. That is a lot of users that businesses can attract the attention of. As well as this, 43% of accounts post more than one time per day. Brands that have already started with Instagram post approximately 5.5 times each week, states Prescient, and:
“The top 50 brands on Instagram have an average of 722,000 followers and around 1.5 million Instagram posts mention the top 50 brands.”
How to Use Instagram for Business
This is all very well, but some business owners wonder how Instagram should best be managed. Prescient advice argues for posting photos that are brand relevant for customers. An example provided of this is that Whole Foods Market posts photos about healthy food, but also of store events and their sustainability measures. It is also explained that just as with other forms of social media marketing it is necessary to engage with followers which means leaving comments on their photos and liking what they post. Prescient suggests that quality is better than quantity in terms of the number of followers that a business has, so it is really important to focus on building up a base of people that are really interested in your business and posts.
Meanwhile Brian Honigman (2014) of the Social Media Examiner explains that another step that businesses can take is making sure that they add videos. Only 4% of Fortune 500 companies have started using video on Instagram for social media marketing. By getting in there ahead of other companies, businesses have an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. A Forever 21 video campaign showed what is possible when it received hundreds of responses after being posted for just a couple of weeks – a case in point for how Instagram should be used.
Use of a consistent style is important in building up followers. This means determining what types of pictures or videos work and largely sticking to that approach in a manner that is consistent and recognisable so that followers are able to associate it with your brand. If Instagram used to be limited to the use of an iPhone or smartphone, there are now various alternatives that let you use your computer such as Gamblr. Gamblr will allow you to programme and optimise your use of Instagram as a branding/marketing resource for your social business. One other option is to use competitions to attract followers.
On the subject of branding, making Instagram work for your business means understanding what you need to do from the perspective of your brand to grab attention. In this regard National Geographic is a good example. National Geographic could not have used mobile photo uploads to attract followers, given the focus of excellence in photography in its brand. It has steered clear of this approach. Instead it makes the most of the fact that Instagram captions do not have a limit on the number of characters. As such it uses each caption as a brief magazine style commentary. This is highly consistent with what National Geographic followers might expect from this brand, so they can relate to it.
Whatever you decide to do on Instagram you should track and monitor it. This means monitoring areas such as follower statistics and interactions generated by different photos posted. This can lead businesses to improve what they do on Instagram to better prompt engagement by continuing with what works and dropping what doesn’t. Consider monitoring areas such as hashtags, volume of photos shared, likes and comments as well as reach. You can then adjust what you do based on what works.
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 1
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 2
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 3
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 4
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