Nov 29, 2012

Back to Basics: Instagram

Whether you’re just jumping on the bandwagon to take shamelss selfies, pics of your food… or even getting arrested for snapping a pic of your ballot, Instagram is one of the newest social media additions to enter the ring. This photo sharing, filter applying, mobile app has been round since October 2010, but most users did not fall into the obsession until after social media god, Facebook, acquired it.


So for all of you noobs, this is how it works…

First of all, you need a phone. While the web profiles just rolled out this month, you can’t do much with them. You can view and edit your account on the web, but that’s it really….if you want to upload any pics, you need a smartphone. Once you download the app and create an account, you can start uploading existing pics from your phone or take new ones. The app will prompt you to crop the picture to fit the application, and from there you can add filters and effects. After publishing your photo you can share, add captions, and even add #hashtags to your photos. Your followers and other Instagram junkies can ‘like’ and comment on your photos as well. Your home feed will only consist of photos from accounts you follow, but users can “explore” Instagram for users and #hashtags to broaden your network.


So where does this fit in the great sea of social media platforms?

Consider Instagram your brand’s “post card” to the world. It’s mainly a picture with just enough space for a short message on the back. Instagram was designed for visual photo sharing, that’s it. That means if your brand does not produce enough visual content to have a relevant account, don’t worry about it J. Brands with little to no video or photo content can just share via Facebook and Twitter. Knowing your brand doesn’t belong there is better than having a stagnant account with 1 or 2 pictures and few followers.


Why do we (marketers) love it?

No only is it addicting (consumers are always checking), but it’s a simple way to get high engagement from followers. Thanks to the filters and effects, any brand can share quality photos without staging a huge photo shoot with professional equipment. It’s also a great way to show off your brand’s personality and/or culture. We also love it because it’s sheer visibility of your brand. You only have two measures to keep up with, followers and likes on photos. Ads, insights, paid promotions, and all that jazz are not around (knock on wood) to complicate things yet. It’s just photos.


How can you succeed?

Well just as any marketer will tell you, your brand’s social media strategy will flux depending on your audience and industry, but here are some general tips for Instagram success….

1.  Be witty. Now this does not have to mean cheesy, it can mean clever or even risky. While your account should stay true to your brand, let Instagram be the place where your brand can let loose. Go ahead upload a goofy photo or a funny (relevant) e-card, your followers will love it.

2.  Switch it up. Having a variety of photos will keep users engaged with the account. If you take a look at heavy hitters like Redbull or Diet Coke, their photos are not just picture of cans or logos. It’s a mixture of candids, text, and product pics.

3.  Let your consumers take the wheel. Whether it’s through a campaign or a simple call to action, let your followers do some of the lifting. Consumers will be more than willing to upload pictures of themselves interacting with your brand someway. Allow your followers to create the tone of your account, they know more than you think.


The LEAP "Back to Basics" blog series takes social media back to step one. From discovering the "must haves" of Facebook to the ins and outs of Tumblr, each blog will focus on the essentials of the world's most loved (and sometimes, loathed) social networks. Not only will you learn where your brand should be, but why it should be there, and how to maximize your social influence.