#SocialMediaWithKO: Instagram

Although Facebook and Twitter are the most widely used social media platforms, they only represent two strands of a metaphoric rope. If we want that rope to be strong, it needs to have many more strands, intertwined and working together, each supporting the other.

Smart marketers are already tapping into the 80 million potential consumers who have the Instagram app on their smart phones. The photo-sharing service lets you take a picture and post it to the world on your social media platform of choice in just a few seconds. A service like Twitter has a 140-character limit. But a picture is worth a thousand words.

According to Simply Measured, a social media analytics service, roughly 40 percent of top brands are already using the Instagram app to reach customers. The Starbucks Instagram account is an example of a business using the app the right way. The coffeehouse giant posts friendly, soft sell photos on some days, and shots of “specials” on other days. With nearly 1.1 million followers, they’re obviously doing something right.

Building up an Instagram account is similar to the Twitter model. Follow as many people as you like and wait for them to follow back. Employing some sort of strategy is also a good idea. For instance, follow companies or individuals who would be most interested in your product or service. The idea is to build up as many followers as possible, so that each time you post a photo, a large audience will be seeing it. Find eye-catching ways to photograph your subject. If it looks like a picture from your company catalog, people are more inclined to scroll right past. But something unusual, beautiful or even bizarre can make a consumer pause and actually look at the photo.

Remember the strands of rope? Well, Instagram can also be used to direct viewers to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. There are cheap, even free apps that allow the user to superimpose text over a photo and build an “ad” that’s blended in with other photos. Let’s use an example from my website, EntertainmenOrDie.com. When I give away movie passes, I sometimes post the entry form for the passes on my website. I follow that up by posting a picture of the movie poster on Instagram with the message, “Go To EntertainmentorDie To Enter.” That’s using one strand to drive traffic to the other strand.

You can also use Facebook and Twitter to direct your followers to Instagram by offering sneak peeks of a product by way of a link. If you prefer the shotgun approach, you can instantly send an Instagram photo to Twitter and Facebook streams with just a click on the app. This social media tool is free and has the potential to boost your brand. Why not use it?

I’ve mentioned in past blogs the line that exists between professional and personal sharing. Since pictures uploaded to the Internet, no matter the platform, are potentially out there forever in cyberspace, it’s especially important to use discretion before posting.

–Kyle Osborne

Kyle Osborne

Kyle Osborne is a senior media researcher at Vocus, where he specializes in blogs and online public relations. He is a two-time Emmy winner who worked for many years in television and radio, and is now the publisher of his own entertainment website, EntertainmentOrDie.com. He is also the social media director and webmaster for The Birchmere, a nationally known music venue in Alexandria, Va.

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