Social | October 2, 2013

Instagram for Business

Instagram may not immediately strike you as a suitable social media platform for your business, but it could actually be quite lucrative for you. With a massive user base of over 150 million monthly active users, Instagram has real potential for growing your brand.

About Instagram

For anyone who is still unfamiliar with the platform, Instagram is a photo app that was launched in 2010 – originally for the Apple App store and later for Android too; it was bought by Facebook for over $700m in 2012.
It enables users to take a snap, add a filter and relevant hashtags, and upload whilst syndicating through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
Instagram incorporated a video sharing option in June 2013 – many viewed this as Facebook’s attempt to compete with Twitter’s Vine feature.

The platform has a search option where you can enter keywords for your interests and find users who are posting images with hashtags that appeal to you – you can then follow the user, ‘heart’ their photos and comment.
The hashtag and search feature makes this platform a good option for social media for business – giving you the ability to reach your demographic with carefully selected keywords to accompany your image.

What’s stopping you?

Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks of Instagram is that it only really works on a mobile device; you can view a web-based version of Instagram, but usability is very limited. The website allows you to view your photo feed and your profile, to edit your profile, and … that’s about it. There’s no feature to actually upload images or videos and you can’t search either which seems quite pointless. This is certainly one reason why many businesses haven’t yet taken advantage of the platform as you really have to use a mobile to do anything worthwhile.
The other reason is that many businesses feel they aren’t visual enough to make it work; this can certainly be overcome with some planning and a touch of creativity.

The businesses that flourish on Instagram

As with Pinterest, the businesses that do best on Instagram have the scope to churn out engaging images that will encourage followers to interact with them.

According to Nitrogram, the top 5 businesses on Instagram are:

1.    Nike
2.    Starbucks
3.    Adidas
4.    NBA
5.    Forever 21


Nike has taken the top spot with 2,358,289 followers; they populate their profile with clean, sharp sport-related images which appeal greatly to their target market.
Starbucks are ranked second, and it’s easy to see why: Starbucks has mastered the art of engagement by posting beautifully shot images, set in different locations and with a variety of themes to appeal to different sections within their demographic. Their images are super popular with Instagramers, with many of their recent posts receiving upwards of 50,000 hearts! They’re definitely the brand to take inspiration from if you are thinking of popping your own brand on Instagram. With just a simple product, they have managed to provide fans with creative, eye-catching images.

How to make Instagram work for you

If you’ve been inspired by some of the brands ranking at the top of Nitrogram’s list and you’re ready to take on Instagram with your own business, then here are our top tips for you:

Happy snapping: Have fun while you snap pictures of your products or things associated with your brand and this will be reflected in the images your fans see. Find interesting locations to take the pictures so the background isn’t always the same. Don’t be afraid to use the filters – they add a lovely touch.

Tell a tale: They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and this is definitely true with social media. Fans respond far more to visual messages on social channels than they do to text posts – making platforms like Instagram and Pinterest increasingly popular. Use the images you post on Instagram to tell the story of your brand – letting followers in on the things that you like; introduce the team through images, post pictures from events and launches, and take snaps of what you are up to in the office. This helps to make your business more personable and allows fans to feel like they really know and understand who you are. After all, it’s always nice to put a face to a name.

Don’t forget to use your caption to communicate with followers – ask them questions and build conversation.
Ask the team: Why not invest in an office handset for social media use? This way, you can get the team involved in taking shots for Instagram. Having a different perspective can yield some really creative pictures for your brand and it takes the onus off you having to come up with ideas all the time! Having a team of people involved in populating Instagram will guarantee you more regular content.

Hashtag it: You could take the best pictures that perfectly portray your business, but without carefully selected hashtags, it’s unlikely that your images will be picked up by a wider audience – they will only impact your immediate fans. Including a variety of hashtags to describe your image will ensure it gets picked up when people search for their interests – if the Instagramers like what they see, this can increase your fan base.

Syndicate: You’ll be spending time taking the pictures for Instagram, so it only makes sense to syndicate these across other social channels to increase the impact of your content. Not all of your fans may be using the app themselves, so ensuring that your images post to Twitter and Facebook too will mean that other fans are not missing out and that you’re keeping other platforms updated at the same time!

So those are our top tips for Instagram, but how are you using Instagram to benefit your business?

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