Last week I blogged about the benefits of developing and measuring a mobile outlet for your brand. This week, the focus is still on mobile (it’s a big player in the new media marketing world), but a more specific way to market your brand via these hand-held devices, i.e. via Instagram.
I know what you’re thinking: “No customer is interested in seeing what I had for lunch,” “Multiple photos of my dog are not going to maximize my ROI,” and other stereotypical Instagram-related thoughts. But Instagram has the capacity to increase engagement, promote brand awareness, measure your customer’s interaction with your brand and more.
With 100 million monthly active users, Instagram has made a major claim in the social media world since it’s iOS-only release in October 2010. What first began as a simple photo-sharing tool for iPhone users only, has now become a way for both consumers and businesses to interact, on platforms from iPhone to Android, Mac to PC. To not utilize this media monster would be to waste resources that could greatly benefit your brand:
1. Even if you’re not talking about you, they’re talking about you.
If no other reason entices you to build an Instagram following for your organization, this should be the one that does. Chances are, some unhappy customer somewhere has taken a photo representing his or her discourse and ‘grammed it with your company’s name mentioned. Or, negative images of your company could be floating around the Instagram database in ways you wouldn’t typically imagine. For example, one day I was curious to see if any Instagram users had been talking about a current client—just to get a little feedback and background information on the types of customers this client boasted, their lifestyles, etc. I searched the company’s name as a hashtag and was shocked, disappointed and a little disturbed by what I discovered. While some of the negative photos were from unhappy customers, even more were photos that workers had taken of themselves, doing things that should certainly have them fired—eating food meant for customers, dancing on surfaces which food is prepared on, making lewd gestures in their work uniform and mostly, complaining about the place they worked and how miserable they were.
Say this company was your company. Wouldn’t you be concerned that other customers using the same hashtag would come across photos that, quite frankly, would make them never want to use your services again? While you couldn’t have the unattractive photos removed, you could begin to either use the same hashtag regularly, therefore making your photos the first to appear when searching it, or promote a new hashtag for customers to use, hoping that since you’ve promoted it this new hashtag will receive mostly flattering photos.
2. Get personal.
Instagram is a great way to show that your company has a less buttoned-up, more personal side. Instagramming photos of employee offices, headquarters, outside-of-work activities your employees are involved in, etc., shows that you aren’t just a logo and a slogan, but real people are behind your name and products. To make users excited about your brand, you must be excited about your brand. Did your director of marketing go to an awesome concert Friday night? ‘Gramm it. Did your development team order Chinese take-out the time they stayed late to talk business? Take a photo of their fortune cookie fortunes. Just because your products or services aren’t directly featured in the photo, doesn’t mean you’re not selling yourself. Customers become repeat customers because of the experience, and promoting a positive brand experience through an outlet they already use is a fantastic way to increase engagement.
3. Become people-focused.
Another great way to use Instagram is to focus on both the employee, and the customer. Develop a regular “employee of the week” photo where you showcase a company team member doing something he or she loves, showing off something unusual on their desk, working hard or just being themselves. As I said above, showing your customers that real people are behind your brand will make them feel more connected to you. Speaking of customers, they’re just as eligible to become the models for your Instagram photos. Snap a pic of a customer using your product or service. Or take one of only the customer, adding a quote from them in the caption section.
4. Give incentive.
Instagram has become a major tool for companies looking to do promotions. Contests—getting customers to directly interact with your brand—and promo codes—rewarding customers for following you on Instagram—help generate interaction and increase brand awareness. In 2012 I was the social media marketing manager for Liquid Courage Flasks. I used the company Instagram for both contests and promotion codes. In June, we paired up with Dollar Shave Club, a company that has seen a major fan and customer base as an Internet-based organization, to give away a flask to 15 photo contest winners. Customers could enter by Instagramming a photo of their most prideful shave pic with the hashtags #IWantThatFlask and #DollarShaveClub.
We also used Instagram to promote special promo codes that were for Instagram followers only. Not only is this a great way to reward customers for following you on Instagram, but it can be used as a measurement tool when you see how many people used your Instagram-only promotion code.
5. Measure engagement.
Unlike Facebook, Instagram doesn’t have a built-in analytics tool to help you determine just how beneficial using this social media platform is to your business. That’s why companies like Nitrogram, SimplyMeasured, Statigram and more have developed tools for determining everything from engagement rates to analytics on other accounts, which can be helpful in monitoring your competition’s Instagram success.
While at first glance, Instagram may seem like a simple way for consumers to share photos of their bananas foster dessert or glass of peach wine, using this photo-sharing site can positively impact your customer’s views about your company. Accessing the world of mobile customers is absolutely necessary to making sure your business doesn’t eventually become obsolete. HubSpot presented statistics that eCommerce via smartphone increased by 103% from 2011 to 2012. If your products are available for purchasing online, a simple link can move smartphone-purchasing customers from Instagram to your website with ease.
BusinessInsider.com reported that as all other media decreases, the use of mobile is increasing. Since Instagram is mainly a mobile-based application (it only released its web profiles five months ago), creating and using an Instagram account for your business is a simple way to access the mobile consumer.