Instagram is a tool that is starting to gain a lot of ground with savvy content marketers. If you’re not familiar with this app, here’s a brief rundown. Instagram is a visual social media platform where you can take photos on your smart phone, add a vintage frame and camera filter to it to make it look like it was taken back in the 1970s, and share it with your friends on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Used wisely, it can propel your lead generation campaigns, increase your engagement on social media and raise your profile amongst your ideal clients.
If you’re handy with an iPhone or Android camera, using Instagram to share your business story can be a terrific way to build content both on social media and your website. If you’re a reluctant blogger but an avid snapper, Instagram could be a life line for your business blog!
If you think you can simply use Instagram to showcase your products and services, think again. There is more to marketing than producing a catalogue of your latest products. Like all social platforms, you need to keep things interesting for your audience if you want to keep them engaged with your content. So, if you want to know some of the best tips, tricks and tools for harnessing Instagram’s visual marketing power, read on.
Tip: Remember that people love to share beautiful images.
If your idea of using Instagram for marketing is to take photos of your dinner and share them on Twitter, you might want to rethink your strategy.
There’s a big reason why Facebook invested One billion dollars in Pinterest. It’s because Facebook understands the power of visual marketing. Images are powerful and highly shareable. When people complain that their Facebook images aren’t getting as much traction as their text posts, the simple reason is that the images they are sharing are less engaging than other images on Facebook. The images that are shared time and time again are the ones that hit a nerve with people, that evoke emotion (whether that be humour or inspiration, sadness or a rush of oxytocin, the hormone of love).
If your images are not evoking an immediate emotional response, they will simply not get much traction on social media.
In order to evoke an emotional response, you first have to understand your audience. You can use Instagram to listen to and observe what’s important and relevant to your ideal clients simply by paying attention to what they post about, the hashtags they use and the things they document visually.
Tip: Use Instagram to tell your brand story.
I’ve written about using story arcs on social media and the importance of storytelling in your content marketing. Instagram is a fantastic visual marketing tool for storytelling. You can take snapshots of your day at work and post the most meaningful ones to your other social platforms, share tidbits of info to keep your fans hooked in to ‘what happens next.’ Let your imagination be your limitation! However, it’s not just about what you post that can help you tell your brand story.
If you’re a bricks and mortar business, particularly if you’re a tourism business, Instagram is gold! You can look for your @tag or hash tags and checkins on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and leave comments on visitors’ Instagram photos. This helps to build rapport with your followers and fans. Last summer, I took the above photo at the Stamford Grand in Adelaide (please note: I have not been paid to include this link) and the hotel’s social media manager picked it up on Twitter and retweeted it.
She/he then tagged one of my Facebook pages and posted a link to the image on Facebook. Now, a word of caution here. If there are people in your shot, don’t share it without permission! And if you don’t want your images shared, make your images private. If you have people in your images you must seek their express permission before sharing on social media.
Trick: use relevant hashtags to grow your following on Instagram.
Hashtag tools such as TagsForLikes can give you a plethora of tags you can choose from to further your reach. Just don’t go too nuts. Nobody likes hashtag spam. Nobody! Pick a few choice ones (3 max) that resonate and save the rest for next time.
You can also use hashtags for research to find other relevant images and comment on them, and follow people who resonate with you.
Tool: Share your Instagram biz pics on your other social platforms and your website.
Instapress is a terrific WordPress plugin that enables you to publish your Instagram stream onto a sidebar widget on your website, and it also enables you to publish your Instagram images and posts to your blog. If you’re on the lookout for Instagram plugins for WordPress, here’s a terrific list to get you started: http://wpmu.org/10-instagram-plugins-for-wordpress/. You may need to update your WordPress to the latest version for some of these plugins to work properly.
One of my content marketing clients is a swimming pool builder, and part of his content strategy is to do just that. He’s already rocking in on Pinterest!
When you share your Instagram pics on Facebook, they will appear on your personal profile. However, some Facebook Page tab apps have Instagram included in their software. Here’s an example from the Mumatopia page.
Are you using Instagram to grow your small business? Got any tips, tricks and tools you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.