In a bumpy economy, businesses need to consistently remain one step ahead of their competition. A smart way to accomplish this goal is to stay on top of the latest digital and social media marketing trends. Among the relatively new players in that arena is the photo-sharing social network Instagram, which already has drawn big hitters such as Starbucks, Nike and General Electric.
“During a period where Instagram has undergone many changes, top brands have continued to expand their presence on the network,” noted a February 2013 study by Simply Measured.
Smart business owners should pay attention to the benefits the Facebook-owned Instagram offers in attracting new leads and sales. Let’s take a look at just a few of those upsides:
If you’re familiar with Twitter you already know how effective hashtags can be when sharing content. Hashtags can – and should – be used when sharing your Instagram photo stream. When using Instagram for business campaigns, these seemingly simple tags enable content collection in a single, searchable location, making it easy for potential customers to find your brand’s message. You can use hashtags that are relevant to your particular industry and search to find which tags your competitors are using.
A word of marketing caution: do not overuse hashtags and be sure they are relevant to your photos. Not following these simple best practices can make you look spammy and desperate, which is a sure recipe for turning off potential followers and, ultimately, customers.
Check out the current top hashtags on Instagram in the word cloud as reported by top-hashtags.com.
Web and Mobile Options
Instagram recently redesigned its mobile photo pages to incorporate a more consistent feel across various digital devices. New photo pages allow followers to “like” and leave comments in much the same manner as Facebook friends. What does this revamp mean to your business? It means greater exposure for your social media campaigns because customers can more easily access your content on their smartphones as well as their home computers. About 50% of U.S. adults now own smartphones and the devices were used to buy $8 billion worth of retail goods in 2012, according to recent studies by Pew Internet and Forrester Research.
Contests Drive Engagement
Creating photo contests is a great way to generate public curiosity and build brand visibility. Keep these tips in mind when setting up an Instagram-based contest:
- Be active. The whole “If you launch a contest they will come” philosophy won’t work. You’ve got to be active in your campaign and participate in the fun to get others excited. Post your own creative photos announcing the contest and keep adding fresh content throughout the competition.
- Have patience. A successful contest is one that takes its time and gets many people on board. It may take a couple of months to see the kind of return on investment (ROI) that social media managers thirst for.
- Offer multiple prizes. In order to sustain your contest, offer prizes for the best photos taken that help spread the word about your campaign. This will get more people to participate. And be sure to have a fantastic grand prize waiting at the end of the contest.
Badges of Honor
Any social media platform worth its salt will provide tools that allow for seamless integration across all of your marketing channels. Instagram, for example, now offers badges that help companies link to and promote their network profile. The badges can be added to a company blog, website and other campaign promotions to help potential customers discover and engage with content.
Today’s consumers demand more than ever before. It’s no longer enough to have quality products and services, a brand must also nurture personal engagement across multiple platforms, including social networks such as Instagram, if it wants to stay ahead of the game.