4 Ways to Use Instagram to Help Market Your Business

August 09 2012

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Instagram can be the secret sauce for marketing yourself, your content, and/or your company. That is, if you use it right. If you’ve never heard of it or have yet to try it, Instagram is a mobile app (available on both iPhone and Android) that lets you edit and share photos of anything you’d like. Facebook smartly acquired Instagram a few months ago for plenty of reasons. How can you use Instagram to help market your business?  Here are some ideas:

don’t clam up

1. Open Up

Are you still clamming up when it comes to your personal life on social media sites like Facebook? That’s so 2010. Ok, not really. But many people are still trying to figure out the fine line between what’s personal vs. professional on social media. NBC News shared a photo of Chuck Todd’s 40th birthday celebration, and Brian Stelter of The New York Times, shared a delicious “midday snack.”

Just a few years ago these pictures would have been considered borderline “unprofessional.” Instagram is the transformative platform that gives new meaning to what constitutes being “professional.” Mark Schaeffer reveals that he “opens up” more on Instagram and posts personal photos that he would not put on other sites. He writes:

I’m not sure of the psychology behind this other than since other people are opening up, maybe it feels safer for me too.

Maybe we’re not reading the fine print, and we’re all succumbing to Groupthink. Or maybe we simply like to do business with people we know, like and trust. Either way, Instagram is the “gateway drug” to being completely exposed. And that’s a good thing. Being open about who you are as a person and business establishes trust – which allows more customers to come your way.  There’s no longer any good reason to be completely guarded.

2. Be a Visual Storyteller

People love a good story. If words don’t do your current situation justice, share what you’re experiencing visually. Photos can often give meaning and depth to an idea that hasn’t even been conceived. For instance,the photo above was taken about two weeks ago while exploring a new beach. I had no intentions at the time of using it in a blog post. But it’s kind of perfect for this one.

Photos are timeless, especially with Instagram. Capture a lot of moments that tell your story. You’ll never know which ones will spark a new idea or add context to a post at a later date.

3. Add Instagram to your content strategy

The visual medium of Instagram can help fill in the missing pieces of your content strategy.* On days or weeks that you’re incredibly busy, post photos instead. It will help to maintain your web presence minus the time it takes to write a blog post. You may even become an Instagram addict, and forget to blog altogether.  Since my background is Visual Media, expressing myself through platforms such as Instagram comes naturally. Taking, sharing, and commenting on photos from around the world has become something that’s baked into my daily life. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, ask a friend or colleague to capture photos for you.

*It’s important to note that Instagram is a tactic, which is a part of an overall marketing strategy. More on this to come.

4. Use hashtags

Just like Twitter, Instagram has plenty of hashtags to find and seek. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the 22,955 photos that appear for the #marketing hashtag in the screenshot below. While Twitter may be the better place to build business relationships, Instagram provides a creative, artsy outlook to the business world.

And sometimes there are a few gems that are worth sharing. The photo below came up while scanning photos hashtagged #marketing. I’m not advising for all businesses to do this for the sole reason to post on instagram. Why? Instagram is a clean, beautiful interface and companies that intentionally post photos like this muck it up. But users will inevitably share things that aren’t “beautiful” to the Instagram world, if the marketing is good. There’s unfortunately not much that the Instagram purists can do about this. The photo below is “ugly” but at least it’s funny.

If these type of photos become the norm, Instagram will end up like Facebook – not an idea that I like. Do you?

How do you use Instagram to market your business? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

5 comments
Adi
Adi

Have been using instagram for quite sometime now. It is a fun application and the community makes it even better. However, this business marketing idea, this is great. It's like taking photography hobbies to s whole new level. And yes I do second that instagram is addictive; been there dine that :)Thanks again for the wonderful post!Keep it up.Regards,Adi

Will
Will

I'm no expert but I agree with your point that Instagram (IG) is a tactic, part of a social media (SM) strategy. Businesses *have to* embrace all SM avenues available, IMO. Personally, I'm a Twitter and IG fan so reaching me via IG covers that I'm not on facebook (fb).I was so disappointed when fb purchased IG that I almost dropped IG. If I did then the company that had a twitter account as well would still reach me but I'm hooked on the effectiveness of IG that I'll hang in there until fb ruins the model.

Joe Prasad
Joe Prasad

Great post Jessica with a big load of helpful tips. I think your best so far. I haven't used IG for marketing purposes but I know many brands are and having success. I even heard Anderson Cooper last night for the first time refer to his Instagram as a place to connect with him. Keep the awesome coming :-)

jessica
jessica

I too was disappointed about the FB purchase of IG, and did contemplate leaving IG. But decided to stick around a bit longer since it's still compelling. At least we won't be surprised when the model implodes :) Thanks for stopping by, Will!

jessica
jessica

Glad you find the tips helpful, Joe. Instagram is clearly picking up momentum now that prominent mainstream media types (such as Anderson Cooper) are getting into it and building a fan base on this new portal. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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