The following is a guest post by Hilary Smith. Her bio is at the end.
Marketers have been leveraging social networking sites in unique ways for years now. However, since the introduction of Instagram, social giants like Facebook and YouTube reportedly lost users in the latter part of 2013.
Even after businesses in different industries take this fact into consideration, many are still hesitant to engage on the ever-growing photo-sharing network.
One of the biggest misconceptions that some companies entertain is that Instagram is only for businesses that have a visually pleasing product to offer consumers. They are literally looking at it the wrong way. Instagram is more about finding creative content rather than posting the same, old run-of-the-mill images that we are all used to seeing — no matter how picturesque.
Only in business to sell your photographic material
Instagram struck a strong discord with some users back in 2012 when they changed their terms of agreement stating they had the rights to sell the photos being posted on their platform. Quickly responding to a slew of online complaints, they “removed the language” that had offended so many of their users. In less than a day, Instagram was able to ease the minds of people and businesses who were worried their owned, posted content was up for sale to the highest bidder.
Only for big brands and large companies
If marketing on Instagram and other popular social media networking sites were only for those on the Fortune 500 list, then they wouldn’t offer advertising and paid promotion for the little guys. The smaller business fish in the bigger internet pond are getting plenty of online exposure, take some valuable advice from the people over at Folkfibers for example.
Purveyors of hand-crafted quilts and naturally dyed fabrics, these down-to-earth Texans are living it up high on the hog with over 60,000 Instagram followers. Their small business even caught the attention of the Instagram team. When featured there, that exposure likely helped boost their followers over the 50K mark.
Other small businesses can learn by following their example. By posting and sharing images of their unique, quality crafts, they were able to gain the attention of the bloggers at their host site. This type of additional exposure can have your followers expanding exponentially.
Only for posting photographs
Again, some businesses are missing the boat when it comes to posting on Instagram, it’s not called Insta-picture after all. This sharing potential is an excellent way to gain UGC (User Generated Content) for little or no cost. The best example is using a contest strategy like the fashion forward folks over at Forever 21 who have run a number of photo related challenges.
Their #Iheartmg (which translates to I love the material girl aka Madonna) in a contest begging their female followers to post throwback images of their best eighties look offering gift cards to their outlets as a reward.
They successfully utilized a cross channel approach by promoting their hashtag on Twitter and showcasing those photos on a landing page at their website. Since contestants were also asked to wear Forever 21 products, not only did they increase sales but racked up more followers and exposure on Instagram, Twitter and their website, all at the same time, with a singular campaign.
The contest strategy is one effective way to get valuable UGC and here are some more successful ways to get additional content posted on Instagram:
- Master the Moment: Get photos that relate to your brand that capture a specific moment, for example if you sell bicycles, you could ask for shots from a bike race or trail ride.
- Offer Rewards: Give away a free bike tune-up for the most photos shared.
- Get Contributions: Ask for the use of blogging or other content and offer a gift card for the most popular item viewed.
- Ask Questions: Where are you going biking this weekend? Post a picture from your destination.
These are just a few tips and tricks that can have your business seeing more successful marketing strategies on Instagram. Use your imagination on this picturesque platform to achieve increased magnitude and exposure online.
Hilary Smith is an online journalist and guest author based in Chicago, Illinois. As a writer, she often covers social media marketing, business communications, finance, and globalization. Follow her on Twitter to connect with her today.