What’s it going to take for Internet Marketers to finally embrace Instagram, Apple Inc.’s 2011 “App of the Year”?
For those still unaware, Instagram is a free photo-sharing program and social media network that currently enjoys a base of over one-hundred million registered users.
Started in October 2010 by entrepreneurs Kevin Systrom and Michel Krieger as a mobile photography project called Burbn, Instagram has surpassed Flickr, Picassa and other well-known photo apps in terms of volume, importance, and buzz-worthiness.
Facebook Purchased Instagram
So much so, that social media giant Facebook showed its love for Instagram by presenting it with a billion dollar stock and cash purchase offer on April 12, 2012 that was approved by regulators five months later.
Still, many marketers are justifiably skeptical about Instagram’s usefulness in a fast-evolving mobile world. Photography marketing, for lack of a better phrase, is largely uncharted territory.
Furthermore, skeptics would ask, what’s the big deal about taking a photo, filtering it digitally, uploading, and then sharing it with a “photo-viewing” network?
Can sharing photos on Instagram expand your expert status and credibility in today’s cyber-business world?
In a word, yes and here’s why…
A Picture is worth at least a Thousand Words.
With all due respect to e-mails, salesletters, and choppy video messages, photographs continue to be real attention getters. Through pictures, Instagram lets you build emotional bonds with your audience and creates intimacy at a level that text is rarely capable of. Being innovative with hash tags and well-timed promotions (e.g. monthly contests, giveaways) has never been more intuitive.
Instant image sharing from the convenience of a mobile phone is your marketing gateway. Whether targeting a new microniche or reclaiming followers in a competitive market, you can instantly present your digital collage on screens worldwide. Instagram currently supports major platforms like Apple iOS and Google Android.
A Systematic Approach to Instagram Marketing
There is more to Instagram Internet Marketing than snapping photos and uploading them to family and friends. Your marketing campaign must follow a few simple yet vital steps to achieve success:
1. Create an action plan
What steps do you as an Internet Marketer need to follow to turn your target audience into raving fans of your personal brand? What kind of photos will it take to capture their interest? What picture elements will encourage them to make your unique selling proposition (USP) go viral?
2. Take pictures (i.e. create content)
Make sure that the photos you take adhere to the following principles:
- A. Exclusivity: To ensure the best photo search results, make sure you only post them to Instagram.
- B. Mystery: Add an element of secrecy by deliberately “leaking” valuable information.
- C. Esthetics: People are attracted by the “Wow” factor in pictures, and are more likely to share attractive photos with friends.
- D. Person-ality: If you run a small business, highlight your staff and workplace friendliness. Present a positive first impression of your company that tells prospects you are real and for real.
3. Adding Hashtags
Like on Twitter, Instagram's hashtags make your photos searchable and give you a better chance to attract active followers. Use niche-specific and general keywords in names and descriptions to increase visibility.
Aware of its place of influence in social media circles, the company is spearheading efforts to keep the “Insta-space” positive by banning photographs and hash tags that promote hate or self-harm.
Ms. Ileane created her own Instagram hashtag – she uses #ileanegram That's a cool way to make your own Instagram posts unique. Most people don't realize that you are allowed up to 30 unique hashtags on each one of your posts.
4. Better Interaction with Audience
Include photos of yourself in action, whether in your regular workplace or out at seminars, trade shows, or other industry events. Engage your audience by asking for comments about a new business process, product or service upgrade. People like to connect with people not brands – so going behind the scenes to show how much work goes into your product or service is always a good thing.
5. Consistency of Process
Even if a big splash draws immediate attention, it’s slow and steady that wins the race! Add value to your Instagram portfolio on a regular basis to establish long-term brand recognition. Update regularly!
Examples of Innovative Instagram Use
A number of iconic businesses and individuals have already put Instagram to use. For example, the Ford Motor Company created the “Fiestagram” contest to increase visibility and awareness of its latest Fiesta models amongst Europe’s fashion, style, and tech trendsetters. Its six-week 2011 campaign attracted 120,000 new Facebook fans and over 16,000 photo entries. For Ford, Instagram was the perfect vehicle for transcending European language barriers to create a simple but effective giveaway contest that would help it meet its ambitious marketing goals.
Rising UK pop star Ellie Goulding took a page out of the fan-generated Michael Jackson’ “Behind the Mask” project to create a visually appealing video using Instagram submissions for her hit song “Anything Could Happen.” It was a promotional coup that gave supporters a piece of the action, and kept Goulding in the music news cycle prior to her album release in October 2012.
Not surprisingly, Sharpie – the makers of markers and other specialty pens – has put Instagram to good use. It encourages customers and followers to post their sketches regularly. Sharpie appeals to its target market’s creativity, and in return can reasonably measure the devotion of customers to its products.
Facebook’s purchase of Instagram has drawn comparisons with Google’s $1.65B USD YouTube buy in 2006. Some are wondering whether the once innocent San Francisco start-up can fuel photo marketing the way YouTube brought video marketing to the mainstream.
While the jury is still out on the prohibitive price tag (N.B. Yahoo! bought competitor Flickr for $35 million USD in 2005), there is little doubt that photo sharing is a popular activity with significant upside for those who use it properly.
Ultimately, it will be the bold innovators and entrepreneurs who create pictures, exploit Instagram add-ons and use its plug-ins that will secure massive customer goodwill in the years to come.
Will one of those entrepreneurs be you?
For Further Reading:
Photos by Sharpie on Instagram
Robbie Daw, Ellie Goulding’s Anything Could Happen: Watch the Lyric Video for Her New Single
Michael Stelzner, Instagram Marketing: How to Get Started with Instagram
Insta Profit Gram Click Here!
What's your experience with leveraging Instagram for marketing your business?