Here at BritWeb HQ, we’re huge fans of Instagram; it satisfies our creative cravings, lets us snoop into the lives of others and gives us a good excuse to get lost in the world of social for hours on end. In fact, we might even be a bit addicted. And who would blame us? Like more than 300m other monthly users, we love Instagram not only for our own social stories but as an effective and engaging marketing tool.
But what’s it all about? Why should you be using it and how can you use the photo-sharing platform effectively for your brand? Let’s explore the wonderful world of Instagram and why you should be using it as part of your social strategy:
Instagram: The Beginning
Five years ago, Instagram was born. It was launched as a free app by creators Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and rapidly grew to become one of the most popular social media sites to grace our smart phones. After three (hugely successful) years, Instagram was bought by Facebook for a rumoured $1billion and its popularity has steadily increased ever since.
In 2011, Apple knighted Instagram with the coveted ‘iPhone App of the Year’ award and the platform introduced even bigger changes in 2013 when Instagram video was introduced, allowing users to post even more content. On 10th December 2014, Instagram hit the 300,000,000 monthly user mark; and it’s only getting bigger.
Why should you be using it?
Whilst it was initially designed as a space for individuals to share their content with others, Instagram has rapidly become the perfect space for targeted brand activity. For some, it’s an obvious decision; the “creative” industries, such as fashion, food and drink brands and retailers, all have an “easy” job of creating content for this visual-led community. For smaller businesses, and those who’s bottom line content may be considered “dry”, it can be a harder nut to crack.
But the truth remains that Instagram is the perfect online space to connect with your audience in a more aesthetically pleasing and engaging manner. Instagram poses the perfect opportunity to get creative, be different and stand out from the crowd. With hashtags for pretty much everything (#doorporn is an actual thing and has over 88,000 posts to date), there’s undoubtedly an opportunity for most brands and businesses.
First things first; create a strategy. Think about the following:
- What do you want to get out of Instagram?
- Is it somewhere to explicitly promote your products and services or a place to build a brand personality?
- Do you have enough content to regularly update your account?
- What are your competitors doing well and not so well? What could you do better?
Whilst Instagram is without doubt a hugely powerful tool, there’s no point using it for the sake of it; if you don’t have the content to put up there, don’t bother. It’s important to keep your page up to date (without going mad), and if all you have access to is stock imagery or poor quality shots taken in a hurry perhaps this isn’t the platform for you. It’s also worthwhile looking at the profiles of your target audience to see what they’re engaging with; this will help you formulate the type of content they’re likely to share.
These are the key to success on Instagram. They’re a way of not only standing out but also fitting in with the Instagram buzz. It’s important to always use hashtags that are relevant and ones that are likely to be seen; if you’re unsure about using a certain hashtag, search for it yourself first and see what comes up. It’s also good to not over hashtag; not only will this make your post look a little desperate, you’ll waste time targeting audiences and groups that are immaterial.
Keep it real
All content on your Instagram profile must be totally unique to you; or you must at least have the permission to use someone else’s content on your page. It’s not as simple on Instagram to share others content; unlike Twitter and Facebook where a like or favourite will do, Instagram’s sharing options are limited.
Repost is a free app that can be downloaded and allows you to easily share others content on your own profile – but it works as a separate app to Instagram so needs downloading and logging into. So if you see something you like on Instagram and want to share with your own community, you have to leave Instagram and head over to Repost; not the most laborious of tasks but not as simple as a retweet.
Our Social and Content team can normally be found glued to Instagram; so we asked them what their top brands on Instagram were. The results are in….
@innocentsmoothies – For their humour, “real-time” imagery and ability to make us exceedingly thirsty
@american express – For making the boring world of banking that bit more beautiful
@nike – For making us want to run, cycle, lift weights and buy some incredibly lovely workout gear (clever)
@waitrose – For making us drool over their frankly stunning foodie shots
If you want to learn more about social media and how to use it for your business, give BritWeb a call on 01403 261491 and get our Social Media team on board!