As everyone in the universe knows by now, Facebook has acquired Instagram (and its 30 million+ users) for $1 billion. Some (me) might call this "insane," others say it "makes sense."
Regardless of where you stand on the buyout and its pricetag, it's true that Instagram is a fast-growing and attractive service. And now that it has a stable parent in Facebook, and is finally available for Android users, it's worth considering how it may be able to boost your digital marketing efforts.
Some social savvy brands have already established a presence on the app, like Starbucks, for example, which has over 400,000 followers. It serves its followers with creative images featuring its products, accompanied by witty captions; and it encourages users to hashtag their content with #Starbucks (where applicable).
Bergdorf Goodman is another example to look at, and as a fashion retailer it has no shortage of attractive products to photograph and creative ways to do so -- hence it's posting more than 1,300 photos as compared to Starbucks's 160 (insert lame comment about that account needing a jolt of espresso *here*).
It's easy to see how creative content on a popular platform can excite the mobile masses. But, as always, there's no point in starting a social media effort without a strategy for getting it right. Here are some key things to keep in mind about how to use Instagram for the betterment of your brand:
Have a personality. As on Twitter, users don't want to feel as if they're socializing with an anonymous brand. Maintaining a likable personality on your Instagram profile and in your photos and captions will be key to establishing a following.
Be consistent and interact. Again, as on Twitter, the community will lose interest if you pop up once every so often, do a little self-promotion, and drop off the planet for another few weeks. Keep the account updated and interact with those who follow and communicate with you. Also key is to not post several photos in a row... or you'll come across as spammy.
Understand the user. Instagram has attracted a community of individuals that are passionate and emotional about the accounts they follow and the photos they Like. Users aren't going to follow your brand on Instagram unless you're serving them with creative content.
Take advantage of integration. One of the benefits of launching an Instagram account for your brand is that it will give your social media team the opportunity to spice up your Facebook and Twitter accounts with hipster-esque imagery (yes, that's right, this is now a billion-dollar benefit). Cross-posting Instagram photos to your Facebook Timeline, for example, will improve the look of that page and also let your Facebook followers know they can find you on Instagram as well.
And with all of that said, launching yet another social media presence for your brand will take time and energy. It means following the above steps, as well as being on guard to handle comments and criticisms on yet another public feed.
So as with any other digital marketing effort, the best first step to take here is to determine if going this route will serve a purpose, or if it'll just create more work for your team with little return.
— Nicole Ferraro , Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution