Should Businesses Use Instagram?
Like all social media platforms, Instagram allows brands to interact with the public in a social manner. Sharing the culture behind the brand can create a relationship and deepen brand loyalty when the lifestyle of the brand matches that of its customer. If you think Instagram is like all the rest—just another social media tool—think again. It allows brands to express themselves to consumers in a unique, powerful way, and with more than 100 million users, it’s shouldn’t be ignored.
That isn’t to say that every brand should join just because many others use it. A business owner must examine their company’s key demographics and determine if Instagram is a good fit. Currently the largest Instagram user demographic—according to the latest Pew Research Center report—are women between18 to 29 years of age who are urban dwellers, black (non-Hispanic), with some college education.
What exactly is Instagram and how do brands use it?
Instagram is an online photo-sharing and social networking service. It enables users to take photos, apply filters to the photos to change the appearance, and then share the photo on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Many brands have added Instagram to their social media toolbox for the same reason they have embraced other platforms. Successful social media strategies keep your brand’s voice, identity and products in the conversation.
Are you already engaging in one or more social media platforms? If so, know that you do not have to start from scratch with your Instagram strategy. A successful Instagram approach draws upon many of the same tactics used for successful engagement on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
For example, each of these, including Instagram, are most successful when a user posts strong visuals accompanied by short, impactful messages The concept of cataloging your content with the use of hashtags on Twitter also translates to Instagram. Use what you’re already comfortable with to make launching your brand’s Instagram account seamless. Your content can and should have multiple lives.
Use Instagram to:
- Show products, but take it a step further and invite your customers to show your products in action. Use a specific hashtag to identify user-generated content.
- Create awareness of events, tradeshows or conferences you are hosting or attending.
- Announce new products. Take photos of a new product one portion at a time to generate interest and anticipation.
- Offer behind-the-scenes views of your business.
- How’s it made? Show your production line.
- Who makes it? Showcase your stellar employees.
- Where’s it made? Offer glimpses of the office or the community around you.
Brands also are currently enjoying a sort of free advertising, via celebrity endorsements on Instagram, according to a recent article in Ad Age. Beyonce Knowles shared an image in a pop-art-style collage with a can of Pepsi with her 3.2 million followers. There are questions surrounding this practice, as these Instagram posts do not have a proper disclaimer mandated by the Federal Trade Commission identifying the image as an ad. Additionally, Instagram users voiced their own complaints about ads appearing in their newsfeed.
Remaining in the conversation is the driving force behind social media strategy. As of today, May 2, 2013, users are able to tag one another AND brands in their Instagram photos, which will increase interaction and awareness, likely attracting additional users to the brand.
For any small business, adopting a new social media platform can seem daunting, but it’s not. Don’t miss out on a large segment of the population by immediately ignoring the trend and the power that visual story telling offers. At Caliber, we are using new visual tools like Instagram and Vine, incorporating them into our marketing strategy for both our agency and our clients. No matter if you run a B2C company or a B2B company, Instagram has the reach and potential to strengthen your social media ROI.