For marketers today, having a brand presence on Facebook and Twitter goes without question. Not surprisingly, more than 97% of brands are currently represented on both social networking platforms. While Facebook and Twitter are the cream of the crop when it comes to social media marketing tools, it’s important to remember there are other social media sites out there that can give you a leg-up on your business rivals and increase your marketing reach. One such social media site is Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing application that’s available on Apple iOS and Android mobile devices. Instagram may only have a modest 80 million active users, but when used in addition to content-sharing Goliath like Facebook and Twitter it has the ability to build quick brand recognition and reach out to a host of new clients.
As a photo sharing application, Instagram is all about the visual aspect of building a brand. Businesses on Instagram have the opportunity to post creative photos that promote their products and services, and the chance to show their followers who they are and what they do in a single picture. The app also provides businesses with a way to expand beyond run-of-the-mill infographics or stock photos found on company websites and in turn produce aesthetically appealing images (thanks to Instagram’s photo-enhancing capabilities) with which followers can interact.
Instagram Content Strategy:
In constructing a well-planned content strategy, businesses can come up with a smart way to relay a consistent message to Instagram users through a set of related images. Identifying the right demographic and creating images that will appeal to that audience is central to using Instagram as an effective marketing tool. By pounding a message into the heads of consumers through associated pictures, marketers can go a long way in developing brand familiarity. Unique photos generally receive more attention on Instagram, so it’s important for businesses to remember that a standard image of a car isn’t likely to receive the same amount of notice as a creatively framed picture of a car from a distinct vantage point.
Thanks to Instagram’s interactivity features, photos posted to the platform can in many instances serve as a free form of advertising for businesses. Talk about a marketer’s dream. Just like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram users are able to use hashtags in their posts to attract attention to their images. Utilizing appropriate hashtags can increase consumer engagement with an image, and introduce your company’s products and services to potential consumers that sift through the app’s hashtags. Users can also supplement their own personal images with your company’s hashtag, which builds brand awareness and gets your company’s name involved in more social circles on the platform.
In addition, Instagram allows for the same mentioning capabilities that are found on Facebook and Twitter. With an “@mention” businesses can tag followers in their posts to spur photo-sharing and show they care about consumer opinions. Followers can also tag members of their Instagram network in the comments section under an image, which connects new eyeballs with your brand. Many social media users are thrilled to receive a shout out from a business, person of significance, or even a friend, and they’re usually more than willing to alert their networks about the special recognition they received. These simple shout outs can go a long way in growing brand consciousness on a consumer level.
While Instagram has the potential to serve as a valuable marketing tool for several businesses, it doesn’t work for everybody. For some companies, Instagram hosts a gold mine of clients and consumers just waiting to be reached. For others, the networking site doesn’t have the capability to reach the target audience that a company desires. Either way, it’s important to realize that expanding your business’s marketing reach with less explored social media sites like Instagram are at the very least worth a look.
Kyle Stowe is a marketing intern with Mediaspace Solutions. He will begin his senior year at the University of Minnesota this fall majoring in journalism with an expected graduation date of May, 2014. His previous internships include stints with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment and the Walt Disney Company. You can connect with Kyle on Twitter.