Instagram Offers Insta-Marketing Opportunities
Instagram, the online photo-sharing service that allows users to dress up images using filters, vignettes and other fun features has taken the world by storm.
What was once a little iOS only app now boasts 400 million users per month
– or over 20% of the internet community!
In April of 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram (which was still very much in its infancy and only had 13 employees) for $1 billion because they recognized its huge growth potential. Many of Facebook’s users go onto the site to share pictures with friends and family so it made sense for Facebook to purchase Instagram before a competitor did, it also helped Facebook reestablish its cool factor.
Along with the stand-alone app came 30 million (at the time) of its very cool, very trendy users. That’s a huge bonus for a company that is beginning to show it’s age. With many youngsters moving away from adult saturated social sites, Facebook was beginning to get a reputation as the place for parents to hang out and on Instagram, the percentage of users over age 35 is 10.
So what makes the Instagram App so appealing?
First off, visual content is where it’s at. People love a story, but they want to get it in nice bite-size chunks, easily consumed during a fast-paced day.
Being creative on Instagram is easy, whereas on Facebook you might update your status with what you ate for lunch, on Instagram you can show us what you ate for lunch. Of the two, which is more interesting? Seeing the bowl of soup is way more interesting than hearing about it – especially when you factor in filters.
Instagram offers 24 filters to help you achieve the perfect look. That’s not where it ends, you can further adjust by tinkering with contrast, shadows, brightness, tilt shift along with many other options. Did I mention video too? Yep, Instagram allows you to create up to 15 seconds of video (double that of nearest competitor Vine). This can be a snippet of something longer, a stop-motion film (I definitely recommend you check those out on Instagram) or a short theatrical debut designed to catapult you to super stardom. Your call.
Instagram is an amateur photographer’s best friend, challenging the user to play with the built-in features and get creative while enjoying the opportunity to be in front of a global audience.
Photographers are not the only professionals who can benefit from Instagram, in fact, most product and service based businesses can use Instagram as a part of their digital marketing strategy and see wonderful results with very little expense.
Instagram Case Studies
- Let’s take a look at Air Canada. Air Canada used Instagram to generate buzz about new destinations on offer like Panama and Rio de Janeiro. The airline literally sent Instagram influencers (those with a large following) to the destinations they wanted to promote and then featured photos on their feed taken by those influencers. By all accounts, the campaign was a success.
- Another good example to review is Canadian Tire, whose objective was to spread the word about its #ShovelitForward campaign with customers in the 25-34 year old category. Canadian Tire created video content showing Canadians shovelling their neighbour’s driveway out of kindness – which is a very Canadian thing to do! Results showed an 18 point lift in awareness and 6 point lift in brand favourability. Another win-win!
What about Small Brands?
Instagram is a great place for small businesses to connect with their customer base. Using hashtags will help categorize your focus topic and allow others to find you easily, you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post at any one time and there is no shame in this game. Go ahead, use the hashtags.
Some of the most popular instagram hashtags include #love #cute #smile #lol and these are pretty general terms so include them as it’s appropriate but remember that popular tags are used so often that the feed moves quickly. To avoid being lost in an avalanche of #love tags remember to also use some hashtags that are more descriptive. For example, the Instagram account run by Matraea, in the Cowichan Valley uses a mixture of both popular tags like #babies and tags that are more focused on their brand like #BabyOnTheWay, they also use popular tags that are community focused such as #TakeBackPostPartum or #EffYourBeautyStandards to help them reach a larger audience.
If your business is location-based remember to use the Add Location feature. This lets your followers see where you are posting from on a map, guiding them right to your door.
New to Instagram is the ability for brands to advertise. Instagram has been experimenting with this feature for a while but until this month has not rolled out the service to many companies. All that is about to change with the news that advertisers both large and small can run campaigns on Instagram. In addition, ads are now available in more than 30 new countries—including Italy, Spain, Mexico, India and South Korea—and will be launching in markets around the world on Sept. 30. For ads, brands can create videos up to 30 seconds in length and define goals such as website clicks, app installs, email opt-ins and more followers.
Some Basic Instagram Marketing Tips
If you feel inspired to go out and create an Instagram account there are a couple of things I’d like you to remember:
- You must post regularly or else people will forget about you.
- You must follow others. Using hashtags is a great way to be found but so is following other people, try following the people who follow your biggest competitor, I’ll bet a lot of them would follow your account too.
- Be social! Comment on and like images from other accounts. Instagram is a great community of people whom you should get to know.
- Share your Instagram url on your the social platform. Remind your Facebook fans that they can see more of you over on IG
- Have fun! Being creative is a ball and your pictures should convey that. Play with text overlays, colour and behind the scenes images.
When asked which camera she thinks is the best, famed photographer Annie Lebovitz reportedly suggested the iPhone because it is “the snapshot camera of today”, saying it is “accessible and easy”. With Instagram and a smartphone, you are well on your way to creating a shop window accessible to more people than you ever imagined.
~ Gill Polard | Gill is MAC5’s Senior Community Manager and a Digital Communications Specialist. She can be found on Instagram at @gill_polard or Email Gill