As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms available today, Instagram is the secret weapon you need to market your business. As Weekend Update’s New York City correspondent Stefon would say: “This place has everything”–meticulously edited selfies, family ski trip photos, political puppy memes, and, like on any media platform, advertisements.
It’s easy to assume that your business doesn’t need Instagram to advance its marketing and brand awareness. Selfies and sales don’t always go hand-in-hand, but lots of companies have been able to make Instagram work for them.
Since its launch in October 2010, Instagram has gained 400 million active users, and of those 400 million, there’s a surprising mix of businesses and consumers. 48.8% of brands are logged in to Instagram, and that number is expected to rise to 70% by 2017. Holy insta-shit.
If the numbers aren’t enough to make you re-gram, here are 6 reasons to adopt Instagram into your business’ social media #fam:
1.) Instagram allows businesses to interact with their fans, and other businesses, through visual means.
One of the great things about the internet is its ability to take communication and interaction to the next level. Businesses are able to connect with their audiences and customers from across the world thanks to social media, and Instagram is no exception. With such a massive amount of web traffic and engagement on the app, it becomes an easily accessible way for people to get involved with your business through visual means.
Additionally, it opens the door (or, more accurately, opens the link) to start relationships with other businesses online. Supporting and communicating with other businesses on Instagram shows that you value a sense of community in your work, and it helps both businesses. In fact, posts that include another handle (perhaps the handle of another business in the area), see 56% more engagement than posts that don’t.
Businesses that use this method are usually better for it. McSweeney’s, a book and magazine publishing house, used its relationship with Warby Parker, a hip n’ trendy prescription eyeglasses brand, to connect over Instagram and promote each other’s materials.
Warby Parker also uses Instagram to expand fan and customer interactions. A few April Fools Day’s ago, the company announced a line of glasses for dogs called Warby Barker. While the product itself was just a joke, the Warby Barker Instagram has been kept up by Warby’s team ever since. In an adorable and effective attempt to advertise their glasses, Warby Barker has racked up over 8,000 followers. That means Warby Parker is reaching out to even more people because of cute pups with glasses. That’s a doggone good method.
2.) Instagram allows you to drive traffic to your company website.
Your Instagram engagement doesn’t actually have to stop at Instagram. Many companies, particularly clothing companies, have found a way to incorporate deals into their Instagram posts, integrating sales with other social platforms.
The popular clothing store Forever 21 uses this strategy by posting a photo and promoting a link in their account bio to get a deal on the promotional item.
This does three things for Forever 21:
- It moves traffic directly to their Instagram page where the link lives.
- It allows you to include a call to action in your posts that can drive traffic directly to your website
- More often than not, it leads to a sale, since the product is the reason the link was opened in the first place (in fact, over a third of Instagram users have used their phones to buy products online–the link really does make a difference).
With one caption and one link, you can increase awareness of your brand and products, include a relevant call to action, and maybe even sell some stuff. Insta-awesome.
3.) You can build your brand and reinforce your company values.
Vermonters and ice cream tycoons Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have used their Instagram to promote an interest fair democracy this election year. After creating a fudge and mint flavor called “Empowermint,” they promoted it on Instagram with a delicious-looking picture and a democratic caption: This fudge-filled flavor reflects our belief that voting gives everyone a taste of empowerment, and that an election should be more “by the people” and less “buy the people.”
As an extremely popular brand, Ben & Jerry’s used their influence to reinforce a cause they care about and to proudly display their company values.
Ben & Jerry’s is known for its connections to Vermont, so their brand focuses on good vibes and chill times. Their Instagram photos often feature groups of people enjoying a sweet ice cream treat together, including bright colors and a general happy feeling on their profile.
4.) Allows any business to be creative and appealing.
You don’t have to be selling the latest fashion trends or ice cream flavors to reap the rewards of Instagram. When your product is neither fashionable nor tasty, it can feel difficult to break into the Instagram scene successfully. But the truth is, with the right creative minds behind your profile, an Instagram account has the potential to make your products and business look less like every day normalcy and more like an exciting new product.
Staples, a lead seller of office supplies and Denny’s, the popular diner chain, aren’t the most glamourous businesses out there. While both are extremely successful, you might think that their products and services don’t lend themselves to a particularly good Instagram presence.
Fortunately for everyone, you’d be wrong. In their Instagram, Staples uses the potential results of their products–paper, art supplies, regular office items–to create vibrantly colorful, visually interesting images to promote their stores. They supply the materials and, on their Instagram, show you what the results could be.
Denny’s, a beloved provider of diner meals across the country, takes a slightly different approach to widening the Insta-interest in their services. Using a quirky, off-beat, humorous voice in all of their posts and tweets, Denny’s social media presence can be described as “randomcore.” With strange memes, purposeful spelling mistakes, and intentionally weird photoshop choices, Denny’s uses their profile to hit the funny bones and the stomachs of their followers.
5.) You can use hashtags to connect with like-minded individuals and help drive more people to your account that may not have been previously aware of your brand.
Hashtags are a #great way to help #NewCustomers find your #products. By using hashtags, you can attract people who engage with content similar to yours, but haven’t found you quite yet. From there, your account is more likely to get a follow and a few likes, as your company shares their interests and ideas.
GoPro, the portable, durable camera company, uses hashtags to interact with and encourage the sharing of their customers’ adventures. With the hashtag #GoProTravel, their followers can share exciting images from their GoPro along with images straight from the company.
Hashtags can also enhance customer and fan involvement with your social media presence. MOO, a card printing company, started the hashtag #PassMeOn to advertise their product. When you order from their site, you receive your order with a card with silly sayings on them like “I like your shoes” or “You seem really fun” or “I’d like to sculpt your face into mashed potatoes.” Customers post photos of their little compliments using the #PassMeOn to get involved with the company online.
6) It’s an app for everyone, so small, local businesses can benefit from it too.
When National Geographic leads the Instagram world with 55.7 million followers, it can seem overwhelmingly difficult to cultivate a following for your own business. Fortunately, on Instagram, the size of a business and number of followers doesn’t matter as much as dedication and authenticity.
Being a small or local business with a good Instagram presence and strong content can give you a leg up on other groups. Two local groups to Burlington, VT–a small coffee house called Uncommon Grounds and an arts organization called Burlington City Arts–use Instagram to their advantage to promote themselves and the city around them. Despite being small, they still regularly post quality content that works with the business and promotes their message.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Instagram is proving that to be correct. Instagram is giving businesses the opportunity to showcase their creative side while interacting with clients. By exploring company Instagrams and their hashtags, users get to choose which brands they see and hear from, personalizing the experience for them with the right balance of friends and brands. As an app with massively high engagement and a growing desire to cater to businesses, it’s insta-definitely the next positive step in marketing your business.
Also, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!
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