This guest post is by Erica Moss of the Georgetown University’s online masters of nursing programs.
100 million users can’t be wrong.
That’s how many people are now using Instagram, the iPhone and Android app that allows users to apply filters to photos and then share them with their social networks.
And just like any tool that is shiny and new, marketers are hopping on the bandwagon in droves, trying to decide how best to reach current and potential customers on this visual platform.
As expected, some are doing a great job, and others aren’t — and there’s a fine line between sharing your brand with the world and spamming the world with your brand.
If you’ve been considering dipping your toe into the Instagram pond, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you effectively leverage this app and do so in a genuine way:
Post behind-the-scenes shots.
Giving your fans a peek behind the curtain is a sure-fire way to get them excited and wanting more.
Whether it’s an employee happy hour or backstage at a fashion show, showing them something they wouldn’t otherwise be privy to will be a homerun every time.
Tell the story of your brand.
Red Bull isn’t successful on Instagram because they post pictures of their product.
They’re successful because they show people engaging in extreme, sometimes death-defying stunts, which is in line with the company’s mantra: “Red Bull Gives You Wings.”
One of Coach’s local NYC stores is successful on Instagram because the woman who runs the account, Eliot, captures small vignettes of her day.
She posts photos while brunching in the West Village and playing with her dog, Jojo, in Central Park — she’s a socialite that the typical Coach customer will identify with, and the “likes” on her photos reflect that.
Both of these accounts are manned by people who understand that you’re selling much more than a product — you’re selling a lifestyle — and your photos should reflect that.
Make people feel like they’re a part of something, and they’ll be more inclined to buy what you’re selling.
Promote contests that make sense.
Much like Twitter, hashtags are an effective way to group similar topics on Instagram. Instagram contests can help rally people around your brand and consistently keep you top of mind.
Kate Spade recently held a contest that encouraged users to upload photos from their everyday lives that illustrated how they were embracing the company’s “Live Colorfully” theme, using the hashtag #livecolorfully.
They went a step further and promised to hand pick submissions and use them in their upcoming spring campaign — as a fan of Kate Spade, I was giddy over the prospect that they might highlight me in such a public way.
Their first photo of said campaign earned 4,700-plus “likes.”
The quality of the photos matter.
While you don’t need a professional photographer with an iPhone shooting all of your Instagram photos, you do need someone who has a good eye for composition, horizon lines and a steady hand.
Because these photos are a direct reflection of your company and your brand, if you’re consistently posting shots that are blurry, too far away or too dark, it will be easy for your customers to tune you out.
While “likes” on Instagram do not always directly translate into improving your bottom line, as a marketer, it’s always important to be where your customers are, and these days, a lot of them are active Instagrammers.
By posting exclusive photos of a high quality, telling a cohesive narrative and promoting contests that make sense for you and your customers, you’ll be well on your way to a captive audience that is receptive to your message, and, therefore, more willing to support you.