To ‘gram or not to ‘gram? That’s the question many of our clients have been asking. The answer is not as simple as one would hope. With more than 700 million active users each month, Instagram has secured its place in the social media world and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but up. But is it right for your business? Let’s find out.
Remind me about how Instagram works again. Certainly. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, Instagram favors images over written content. The app offers an abundance of editing tools, like filters, to make even the most novice photographer look like they know what they’re doing. Like other social media channels, Instagram is a way to connect with others through following, liking and commenting on each other’s posts.
What kind of company should use Instagram? There’s really no right or wrong answer here. While Instagram is a great place for business-to-consumer companies, like Nike or Gap, who want to ultimately sell clothing and shoes, for example, it’s also great for service oriented companies. Businesses like Hootsuite and Paypal use Instagram as way to recruit talent, brag about their company culture, and collaborate and influence. Where the app currently has a leg up on its rivals is in its ability to attract a highly engaged audience. And like all social media channels, if you know how to tame the beast, you’ll reap the benefits.
Are #hashtags really that important? Yes and yes. Like Twitter, hashtags can make or break your Instagram campaign. In addition to being a useful way for users to search for certain products or ideas, it’s a way for companies to connect with their audience and generate participation. One of the best examples is Coca Cola’s recent #shareacoke campaign. This genius marketing idea encouraged users (more than 650,000 to date) to take photos of their personalized can and then post to Instagram with the hashtag #shareacoke. And who can forget the ALS Association’s famous Ice Bucket Challenge campaign? The idea, which garnered worldwide attention, prompted folks to donate to ALS, post a video of ice-cold water being dumped on their head, and then challenge friends and family members to do the same. So far, the hashtag #icebucketchallenge has been used nearly 800,000 times.
What’s the deal with Instagram stories? This past year, Instagram rolled out its own Snapchat-esque feature, Stories. The posts, which appear horizontally at the top of the screen, disappear after 24 hours. Like regular posts, users can choose to feature a video or a photo and customize it with filters, stickers or words. While some folks use Stories as a way to show ordinary highlights from their day, businesses are cashing in on this feature for it’s real-time marketing benefits. The Stories feature allows companies to involve their most loyal customers in flash sales, advertisements, events, and behind the scenes shoots, while simultaneously reaching new audiences.
But is it for my company? If your company or brand can leverage Instagram’s powerful visual platform, it could very well be an excellent promotional and communication tool for you. At the end of the day, the app is free, user-friendly and offers the ability for your company to showcase its personality and creativity. When combined with other marketing efforts, Instagram can drive sales, boost morale and promote your business in a new and exciting way: Give us a call, we’d love to take a look at your marketing strategy and assess whether or not Instagram is for you.