By Ginny Lawrimore
Instagram has quickly become one of the hottest names in social media. Essentially, this free photo-sharing application allows you to take a photo, filter it to change its look and feel, and then post to Instagram to share with your followers. But what many people don’t yet realize is that Instagram (available for iPhones, iPads and Androids) is a social media platform in and of itself, where user-generated content and conversations are constantly happening.
Here are five tips to help your business join in the filtered fun:
1)Share photos that are unique and beautiful
Instagram is really about catering to your followers and showing them a unique point of view that they would be interested in. Your success in this platform is dependent on strong imagery. Use research on what your customers are saying about your business or product to come up with creative ways to illustrate that information through photos.
Both Facebook and Twitter allow you to share directly from Instagram to those platforms, in addition to Tumblr, Foursquare, Flickr, and email. Tip: Under “options,” make sure that you have selected “on” for filtered photos to be saved to your device’s photo library. This way, the filtered photo is automatically stored in your photo library for future use.
2) Tell a story with your photos
Because posts on Instagram are photo-based and not text-based, the app provides an opportunity for visual storytelling like no other platform. Images can be extremely powerful: use your photos to capitalize on the feeling and emotions that people get from a well-executed photo. Starbucks – a brand that does this well – often focuses on what the person holding its signature cups is doing, usually enjoying life by maybe lounging on the beach or porch-sitting on a summer day. In other words, keep your marketing subtle and visually- and emotionally-oriented.
3) Use an account name that is the same as your Twitter handle
By using the same Instagram account name as your Twitter handle, your business will be more easily discovered by users. Also, if you are tagged in a photo caption and that photo is shared on Twitter, it will automatically be linked to your Twitter account. As on Twitter, using hashtags with photos allows for other users to find you based on that specific stream of words.
Even if you decide to hold off on joining Instagram, it is worth checking out what conversations are happening about your brand. You can search on Instagram for topics and brands through hashtags (like on Twitter) or, if you have an account, you can use Statigr.am, which provides statistics on your posted Instagram photos.
4) Don’t post too often
Just like with Facebook, it is important not to “spam” your followers with too many posts in a short amount of time. Space them out and plan content ahead of time, based on events and marketing goals. Be sure to avoid auto-posting Instagram photos to your other social media platforms. Take the time to customize and select photos based on audience, timing and relevance.
5)Check out what other brands are doing
Some fast-moving and creative businesses have paved the way for showing us how to effectively utilize this free marketing platform. Be sure to check out how the following: Starbucks, Red Bull, MTV, Audi and General Electric. Follow these brands and see how they use Instagram to effectively market and provide visual storytelling.
Read more: If you are considering using Instagram for your business, be sure to check out PR Daily’s complete guide for brands on Instagram.
Ginny Lawrimore is the Social Media Manager for the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida.