We’ve all seen and likely created a sepia-tinted, vintage-style digital photo using the photo-sharing service, Instagram on our phones. It makes our photos look much cooler than they are, which is probably why usage is exploding – growing from 15 million users in early 2012 to 80 million users in July. That’s an increase of 400% in seven months! And, as they did with the growing usage of Twitter and Facebook, big brands have taken notice. A recent study by Simply Measured found that 40 percent of Interbrand’s top 100 have an Instagram presence. Brands such as MTV, Starbucks, Burberry, Tiffany & Co. and Nike have a huge following with numbers topping or near half a million followers.
It makes perfect sense for consumer brands to use Instagram. But what about B2B companies or smaller enterprises? Instagram should be treated like all other social channels – albeit a more visual one – that has the means to build your brand, share news and engage in dialogues. It allows companies to engage with their peers and customers by sharing snapshots of their products, culture and people in an intimate and informal way.
But one overlooked area of use for Instagram is for various types of announcements a company may make, such as those for:
- A new product. Post a cool picture of the new product, screenshot, or someone using the product on Instagram. Be sure to make the photo simple. It should give off a vibe, not jam in technical details.
- A new hire. You often see headshots along with a press release for a new hire. For Instagram, make this picture a more relaxed version of the person at work or of his or her office, or use a shot of the welcome package on the desk. Try not be literal, or the content will be viewed as too salesy, thus not interesting enough to like or share.
- An upcoming event. Consider posting an image of the venue or city it will be held in. Take advantage of Instagram’s brand-new feature - a photomap that lets members plot their pictures on an interactive world map.
- A recent award. Instead of a picture of the team accepting the award, a hand gripping the trophy, or nailing a certificate to the wall could be more compelling.
Much like Twitter and Facebook, there are steps you need to take to kick-start and grow your Instagram follower base.
Here are is a list to get you started:
- Fill out your Instagram profile completely, completing all fields
- Tag your pictures with relevant hashtags in the comments section, much like you do with Tweets
- Tag other users who are relevant to the post by typing their user name in the comments section
- The point of a social network is to engage with others, so always like and comment on other pictures you find interesting
- Share your Instagram activity on Facebook and Twitter, and promote it on your website with follow buttons
- Sign up for Statigram – a great tool for viewing your images in a web browser, monitoring your stats and promoting your stream on other social networks
Instagram isn’t just a place for rich kids show off their ridiculous purchases, or narcissistic celebrities like Kim Kardashian to post picture after picture of herself; it can also serve as a valuable tool for businesses. And, at the exponential rate it is growing, now is the time to start sharing.
You can follow me on Instagram.