Social media marketing has proven to be an effective part of digital strategies for solopreneurs and large corporations alike.
One of the hottest networks for social marketing right now is Instagram.
Like other social networks, this photo and video sharing service can be a powerful tool for promoting your business.
Unlike other social networks, it is designed primarily for mobile users so you can connect with customers from anywhere, Instagram has proven to be an effective network for driving free and targeted traffic to company websites.
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In the world of digital marketing, this could not be more true.
According to leading technology blog TechCrunch, as of June 2013 Instagram has over 130 million active user, sixteen billion photos and one billion likes.
It is no wonder that businesses are scrambling to introduce their brands to Instagram.
For those interested in including Instagram in their digital marketing strategies, let’s take a look at what’s working for other companies on Instagram.
Everyone has seen that funny looking symbol that looks like the pound sign on your telephone, that is the infamous hashtag.
If you are new to social media marketing, think of the hashtag along with the keyword that follows it as a category containing related posts and pictures.
Instagram offers users full access to a wide variety of hashtag features and uses, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ways businesses are using hashtags.
- Finding What’s Hot - Hashtags tell us what people are talking about right now. Not what they were talking about last night or last week, but right at this very minute. Successful businesses follow hashtag trends and then use catchy snapshots to inject their bands into those conversations. When done correctly, this can create an immediate flood of traffic to your company’s website. The key is selecting hashtags that are relevant to your brand and creating a professional quality snapshot with an irresistible tagline similar to those Facebook memes that everyone loves so much.
- Leaving Their Mark - Some successful businesses have created their own branded hashtags to use for future marketing campaigns. Begin by using a popular, but related, hashtag to announce a photo contest. Provide your branded hashtag and offer a prize to the winner. Essentially, you are training your market to use your hashtag instead of other more generic ones. Successful photo contents promote brand recognition and increase social media followers. It’s a win-win for any company will to take the time to manage a competition.
- Listening To Customers - Social media marketing isn’t all fun and games. It is much more than holding photo contests and posting funny snapshots. The amount of information you can get from customers about your product or service is truly amazing. Smart businesses are searching hashtags for any mention of their product or service and then listening in on those conversations. You don’t have to participate in those conversation, just listen in and find out what the market is saying about you. Major companies are paying millions for focus group research to find out what customers think. Instead, just listen to what they are saying on social networks like Instagram. It’s free. And more importantly, it’s very accurate. However, this information is only useful if you act on it. There really isn’t any need to communicate with your customers if you aren’t going to include their desires and opinions in your product development and marketing strategies. Successful businesses act on this valuable information.
Instagram’s photo sharing platform is ideal for businesses wanting to set up a visual product portfolio.
Since Instagram does not limit the amount of snapshots you can upload, you can upload an unlimited number of pictures and videos of your product or service.
Before you start uploading snapshots, remember that businesses are expected to have higher-quality pictures than regular users.
You should have the ability to digitally edit your snapshots to make them look more professional before uploading them to Instragram.
- Show Your Products - You can build a virtual catalogue by uploading snapshots of each product or service your offer. The most effective snapshots are those of “other customers”, actually employees, using the product or service. You can also include snapshots of just the product for those that want to see more details. Many successful businesses have increased their direct sales by including their product page url in the snapshot’s tagline.
- Real Customer Photos - As part of their virtual catalogue campaigns, some businesses are persuading customers to upload snapshots of them using their products. This is an extension of the photo content mentioned earlier. Nothing draws a potential customer’s attention more than a current customer endorsing your product or service.
- How It’s Made - Savvy Instagram marketers have discovered the hidden power of “how it’s made” marketing. The Discovery Channel’s hit show How It’s Made has revealed to marketers the hidden desire in every customer to know where our manufactured products come from. Successful Instagram marketers are taking snapshots and video clips of their products and services at various points along the manufacturing/production timeline.
Exclusive Inside Look
Just as “how it’s made” snapshots and videos stir the pocketbooks of customers, so does taking them on an exclusive trip inside your company.
Opening a window into the company makes consumers more comfortable with your brand and receptive to a long-term personal relationship with your company.
- Virtual Tour - Take your customers on a virtual tour of your office or production facilities. Let them see where your product is made and the administrative offices. For best results, include snapshots of employees handling your product or using your service, both in the production facility and your administrative offices. Before taking snapshots in the workplace, make sure adequate lighting is available. Most production facilities do not have adequate lighting for high-quality photography. You might need to have your snapshots digitally edited to reduce shadows and make them more presentable to customers.
- Introduce Employees - Introduce your customers to your employees through a visual employee-of-the-month program. This give customers a chance to meet those that actually make the products they use. Customers love this. It shows them that your employees are working hard to make your products and doing everything they can to keep the customer happy. Keep an online profile of each customer that has won employee-of-the-month and upload snapshots of the employee at work to Instagram. Make sure to include a several snapshots of the employee using your product or service. This shows customers that even employees like your brand.
- Humanize Your Company - Let your customers see that you and your employees are real people, just like they are. In short, taking customers on a visual tour and introducing them to your employees puts a face on your company. It humanizes your business. It helps customers relate to your brand and shows them that you are there when they need you. Personalize your relationship with your customers by bringing them into your company.
Connecting with your customers on a personal level helps build relationships that your competitors will find difficult to break up, not only will your customers see you as a real person, you will see their faces too.
The secret to truly humanizing a company is getting to know individual customers.
For each customer you do get to know, there are thousands more just like that person out there, Let that person personally represent his or her demographic.
Instagram not only puts a face on individual customers, it also lets you speak directly with them. When you bring customers into your company and show them that you are real, they will return the favor by opening up their pocketbooks and purchasing your product or service.
When you sit down to draw up your digital marketing strategy, you may want to consider using Instagram in your online marketing portfolio. It can help increase traffic to your website, thus increasing direct sales and gathering customer feedback. And best of all, it’s absolutely, 100% free.
As they say, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Instagram, as mentioned earlier, has over sixteen billion pictures on its network with more being uploaded everyday.
That’s a lot of words. Use Instagram to tell your company’s story in pictures. Not only will it save you time, it’s more effective. Why? Because it’s where 130 million potential customers gather everyday to share their lives with each other.
So roll up your sleeve and jump in. One billion and counting likes can’t be wrong.