According to this infographic, a new user signs up for Instagram every second! If that wasn’t enough to blow your mind, consider that every second on Instagram, users perform over 575 likes and comment more than 80 times. While many businesses are using Twitter to market and engage with customers (and why not–there are plenty of great Twitter-specific tools not to mention powerful tools for social media marketing in general), marketers definitely need to add Instagram to their social media marketing strategy because it is growing fast. In fact, it took Instagram less time to reach 100 million users than LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
Every week I’m going to be setting out on a mission to learn something new and to kick things off I’m going to learn about Instagram marketing. If you’ve ever wished you could have personal access to the thoughts of the world’s leading experts on a given subject, you have clicked your way into the right series! I’ve contacted 6 incredible Instagram marketing experts and asked them to let us in on their best ideas. Before we dive in to part 1, take a moment to meet this week’s group of Instagram marketing experts:
- Brian DiFeo (@bridif) is co-founder of The Mobile Media Lab (@MMLNYC) & NYC’s Instagram community (@InstagramNYC).
- Camella Mendez is a content strategist with Internet Exposure (on twitter @iexposure), a digital agency that specializes in website design, development and online marketing. Her background in journalism helps her design digital content strategies driven by a true editorial approach.
- James T. Noble (@jamestnoble) makes small businesses bigger. He’s worked with some of the world’s largest brands and companies to market their products and services online—including Disney, Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Virgin, Coca Cola, MTV and many others.
- Jason A. Howie (LinkedIn) is a web and social media manager and an unabashed marketing geek who has a love for both the analytical trends and the creative possibilities in social media marketing.
- Jason Miller (@jasonmillerca) handles social media and content for Marketo and is a B2B blogger.
- Kim Lachance Shandrow (LinkedIn) is a Los Angeles-based tech journalist who specializes in writing about social media marketing, startups, smartphones, streaming TV, mobile apps and green technology.
- Lisa Buyer (@lisabuyer) is a social publicist and journalist who runs the Social #PR Chat blog.
- Philippe Gonzalez (@philgonzalez) runs Instagramers.com.
What Kind of Content Should Marketers Post on Instagram?
Philippe Gonzalez breaks it down like this: “Instagram allows brands to connect directlly with their customers and promote a deep brand engagement. These feelings between a client and a company go much further than quality or price of the products. Brands should share their insights, their human aspects, the back stage, the ‘making of’ the life of their company.”
Jason Miller says, “The most important thing to remember is to just be authentic. There are really no rules for brands or businesses when it comes to Instagram. Start with the obvious; images of your products/service and what your products/services can do. Then dig a bit deeper with exclusive sneak peeks, highlighting of employees, and showcasing your office. Another great tactic is to share photos in real-time from tradeshows, events, and company parties. Throw in a few images of kittens and bacon and you will surely start to make a splash.”
“People respond to relationship building, so really engage your audience by inviting them to create Instagram images for you—they’ll be more than happy to post photos of themselves using your products or giving testimonials and it’s less effort for you too. Give them something back and show them you have a human side by creating images with identity and personality, like behind the scenes images—be careful with shots from the office party though,” says James T. Noble.
Kim Lachance Shandrow goes a bit deeper by coaching brands to share, “Marketers should post photos that are unique and memorable—and maybe even a little bit quirky—that vividly portray real people using their products or services. In general, photos featuring closeups of faces almost always strike a chord with people versus photos of inanimate objects. It’s simple—People tend to relate more and react more to people than things. Show the people behind your products on your Instagram feed. Featuring candid, appropriate shots of employees behind the scenes in the office is a way great way to showcase the ‘human side’ of your operation.
Closeups of your products in memorable settings with timely hooks seem to be the most interesting and engaging to Instagram users. Simply posting bland snapshots of your products lackluster settings with no newsworthy or timely relevance doesn’t cut it on Instagram.
Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) is a real standout success story on Instagram. The coffee giant showcases compelling images that tell stories that people are interested right now in the moment.
For example, last fall, at the start of football season, the company posted an image of their trademark marker initialed to-go coffee cups on either side of a bright yellow 50-yard line on a real football field (as seen here). Then Starbucks appropriately accompanied the picture with the question “Who’s your pic this season?” Another smart thing Starbucks did with this great photo was to fittingly hashtag it with #gameday and #itsfallwhen. The festive fall pic yielded 1,129 comments and counting. Who knows how many people who viewed the image were moved to walk into a Starbucks and order their favorite fall latte? I’m willing to bet it was plenty more than the number of comments.
Overdoing it would be posting forgettable images of the same products day after day without a hot news peg or other relevant angle.”
“Brands should first and foremost post quality photos and avoid blurry or underexposed images. A lot depends on the audience and what how the brand connects with them on a visual level. A mix of behind-the-scenes images, insight into the brand’s story, and other revealing images tend to work. Also utilize the comments section to ask questions and find out more about what people like to see. One way not to over do it is don’t over-post; keep it to a few a day,” says Brian DiFeo.
Jason A. Howie echoes the sentiments expressed by Kim and Philip but warns against keeping things “all business” all the time. “The types of photos that brands should be sharing are ones that promote brand awareness, encourage community engagement, and ones that appeal to a need or emotion. All Community and Social Media Manager’s know that there is a balance that needs to be struck between brand awareness and community engagement on any social platform. Instagram is no different, too much brand promotion will erode your follower base and too little defeats the purpose of marketing. @nike features their logo in almost every photo, but if your following them and see their posts 2 or 3 times a day would you really notice that you keep seeing their logo or the athletes wearing their products? Also I recommend this video on Instagram by Casey Nesitat.
Lisa Buyer says you should share, “Photos that tell a story because brands that think like a photojournalist will win. Behind the scenes insight for companies or events can optimize access for people without access. A photo can sometimes tell a story better than a tweet. Instargram can help visually document and report the progress of a project (such as a hotel or a boat being built, an art gallery opening, etc). B2B can use Instagram as an alternative to a boring website without any good visuals while at the same time fostering a community. You can post anything from yoga poses to surf scenes to office settings to new products that just arrived.”
Camella Mendez builds on Howie’s thought and drills home the need for audience awareness (which is one of the 6 essential building blocks of effective social media management I’ve written about before here on DailyTekk): “An approach to publishing content that truly connects to a brand’s target audience should always be the first priority. So, the first rule of thumb is to share content your audience actually wants to see, not only the content you want to share with your audience. Whether that content is behind the scenes photos, product snapshots, user-generated content, and more, knowing your audience and what they want will help you find more success in building a unique relationship with your customers via Instagram.”