Welcome to the Understanding series which connects readers with leading experts on any given subject. This week we’re learning about Instagram marketing from Camella Mendez, a content strategist with Internet Exposure, James T. Noble (@jamestnoble), a consultant who makes small businesses bigger, Jason A. Howie (LinkedIn), a web and social media manager, Kim Lachance Shandrow (LinkedIn) a tech journalist who specializes in social media marketing and Philippe Gonzalez who runs Instagramers.com.
Here’s my question for the group today followed by their answers:
How Can Brands Truly Stand Out on Instagram?
James T. Noble says, “Get REALLY creative. Instagram is all about visual appeal, so make your images as striking as possible. Think carefully about content and composition and use other apps such as Filter Mania to add some really stunning effects to your images before uploading to Instagram. You can then apply another filter from the Instagram app on top and make your images truly stunning.
Also, make the most of Instagram’s new web profile feature by creating the most eye-catching profile image you can that really captures your brand identity… and ALWAYS be super selective about every image you add to your profile—because every image is a piece of your big picture, so paint it how you want others to perceive you.” I couldn’t agree more: creativity is paramount when it comes to social media.
Jason Miller says, “Instagram is the place where you can let your hair down a bit and just have fun with your customers and prospects. Have a contest. Ask customers to upload and share their experiences with your business and offer up a prize or incentive for doing so. Make sure to use relevant and/or custom hashtags around your images and campaigns. Hashtags are essential for searching on Instagram and a great way for customers and prospects to stumble across your business. Finally, as with any social network, the most overlooked aspect is to be social yourself. Like, share, and comment within your community and with other businesses and advocates. Authentic engagement within your community is still the best overall tactic for any social presence.”
“Be creative. Tap into some of the ways you’ve used content to differentiate yourself to begin with and leverage that into a core differentiating strategy for Instagram. Of course, this is easier said than done, so my best advice is to experiment with Instagram and see what works to engage your particular audience. And always, always remember to give your audience a special reason to connect with you there. Whether that’s initiating exclusive promotions, or getting a “secret” peek into the inner workings of your brand, you won’t build a network without that wow factor. Again, Instagram is a very new marketing channel, so use that as an excuse to take some risks—the rules are still unwritten,” exhorts Camella Mendez.
“Merely integrating Instagram into your brand’s overall social media strategy is not enough. You’ve got to use it intentionally to inform customers, cover important moments, promote special offers and generally be creative. If a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, then brands would be smart to bet on Instagram,” says Philippe Gonzalez.
Here’s Kim Lachance Shandrow’s take: “Marketers can and should invite their followers to participate in the big game. How? By asking them to contribute their own personal snapshots that really show off your brands in action. But you have to really incentivize them to do so, like Levi’s does, for example.
Levi Strauss (@Levis) nailed this Instagram tactic recently by launching a worldwide casting call for the new face of their fashion brand (via the #iamlevis hashtag). They crowdsourced new models and brand ambassadors for a massive brand campaign and press push, and they generated valuable global exposure in the process. Their Instagram model search was incredibly popular, and it really put their Instagram feed on the map.
Ask your Instagram followers to submit their very own pics featuring your products and see what develops. People love to share their personal images and stories. When done right, you should get an overwhelming response, one that might really pay off, both in exposure and sales.”
Jason A. Howie says, “Stay ahead of the curve. If Facebook’s evolution is any example, Instagram will be going to go through a series of changes. It already has begun with the addition of web profiles and I suspect this is just the beginning. Looking at the mobile landscape and Facebook’s position in it, I believe marketers need to plan for Instagram’s next moves and be prepared for them. This will allow them to be proactive in adapting new practices to old ideas. I can see Facebook putting a greater emphasis on the explore tab, and encouraging people to follow personalities and brands, and also working promoted content within a user’s Instagram feeds through friends likes or based on their Facebook interests. What can you see happening? That is the type of question marketers need to be asking when planning to go to the next level.”
“I’ve designed and implemented ongoing campaigns with brands that utilize giveaways and encourage participants to share their own image. I’ve also done guest photography, in which I take over a brand’s account for an event or a promotion,” says Brian DiFeo.
Series in review: