Instagram is a photo sharing application for iOS and Android devices.
In recent months, it has been catapulted to success not only because of the ease and convenience that it offers to photo-loving individuals, but also because the social media giant Facebook purchased it for 23 million shares (originally worth $1,000,000,000, now said to be $753,000,000). It has more than 80 million users making it one of the fastest growing social networking sites in the world. The sheer volume of Instagram fanatics should be enough indication that this social media site has the potential to be a gold mine for brands and companies that wish to engage in free advertisement and promotion.
Here are some suggestions on how an organisation can use Instagram to improve brand recognition and boost revenue:
1. Introduction of Products and Services
As a photo app, Instagram is a great tool that can be used to showcase your company’s products and services. A picture paints a thousand words and a great photo of your company’s newest product can spark the interest of potential buyers. The service can also be used to display print ads that would cost a small fortune, if published in magazines or billboards. If you have 100,000 followers, then each post made is tantamount to a free reminder to consumers, to support your brand.
To gain more followers, you need to be very selective with the photos that you upload. Choose photos that provide value to your customers and use shots that will spark interest in your brand and company. Maintain a high standard of quality, upload only the best shots. You can also check out what other popular users are uploading to get inspiration and ideas on what you should post.
Bear in mind that too many photos about the same product can cause people to become less interested in your site, resulting in brand and product fatigue.
2. Reach a Wider Audience with the Hashtag
Posting photos may be an excellent marketing strategy, but its reach is limited by the number of users following your account. Even the biggest brands only have about 500,000 followers, which is a small chunk of the total Instagram population. The hashtag (#) is a great tool that will allow you to expand your reach even to people who are not following you. By adding hashtags to specific keywords, your photo will become searchable and available to 80 million users worldwide. You will potentially get additional views from users who are not yet familiar with your brand and who may be interested in purchasing your products.
Using popular hashtags can help you ride the wave of current online trends. People who are searching about specific trends will likely come across your photos. However, don’t get carried away, make sure that you only use tags that are relevant to what you are posting.
3. Search for Potential Customers or Influential Users
The search function of Instagram can also be used to reach out to potential customers or users with an influential following. Search using specific keywords, resulting in photos that match your exact needs. For instance, you can try searching for photos with the hashtag “#cuisine” or “#michelinstar” if you are a restaurant. You can then leave comments on relevant photos to persuade consumers (and their followers) to try out your restaurant.
You can also increase fan numbers by following and complimenting other Instagram users. Make sure to be selective in who you follow, and avoid accounts that could adversely affect your reputation. Be discreet and avoid making it too obvious that you are out to make a rapid increase in following.
4. Promotion of Events and Activities
Instagram is also a great way of engaging people to participate in events and activities. A product launch, for instance, can be made even bigger when guests are encouraged to take “behind the scenes” photos to supplement the official photographs and video streams. The event will not only reach a wider audience, but it will also be personalised and give different perspectives.
Having a photo wall with your logo on, is also a great way of ensuring that your brand will find its way to online photo albums, profile pictures, or social networking posts.
Geotagging your photos is also a good way to promote your event or shop. Consumers browsing through your photos may be interested to know where to find your shop or office. Having the location readily available saves them the trouble of having to search online.
Instagram also displays photos taken from the same location and will show potential customers how much fun existing customers are having with your brand.
5. Customer Engagement and Campaigns
Another great way to use this tool is to elicit the participation of the masses to engage in activities that will promote the brand. Like other social media sites, Instagram is a great avenue for contests and campaigns. You can ask your followers to use hashtags that would promote brand recognition. For example, a coffee shop could host a contest for photos that showcase the best places to enjoy a cup of coffee. An energy drink manufacturer, on the other hand, can start a contest for the photo that best represents life and activity. Once the entries are posted, you can then choose the best shots and feature them on your own website.
Instagram was originally created so that users may capture great images, manipulate them to become great photos using built-in filters, syndicate using other social media sites like Facebook and interact with other users through hashtags and comments. The site has evolved into something much more than that and today brands can use it as a highly effective mode of free advertisement and promotion.