Instagram growth as of Jan 2013. Numbers represent monthly active users. Source: nitrogr.am.
1. Brand Awareness and Presence
Instagram is a rich social network where you can find relevant and beautiful posts for almost any hashtag you can ever think of (really, try…). If you post your content in the right way, #Igers will appreciate you being there. What the “right way” is will be explained in our next post, for now let’s just say that the power of Instagram lies in how it is omnipresent. Most of the phones sold today are smartphones, more and more people have them phones handy when they sleep, public transport vehicles are full of people glued to their mobile screens. The strict mobile-first strategy of Instagram combined with the ever-present smartphone makes Instagram usage curve very level even on times when other social networks look like ghost towns.
Use Instagram to reach your target audience anytime, anywhere. Many businesses are starting to buy likes on Instagram in an attempt to boost their reach and therefore bring in more money in sales for the businesses. The businesses that choose to do this should be careful though because there are quite a few scammers that will take your money and run or their methods will get your page deleted. They should always double check that the service they are legit by looking on review sites like GainMoreFollowers.
2. Brand Image
Brand awareness is where Instagram benefits start, but there are two strong trends thanks to which the network works amazingly well for building brand image. One, there is more and more visual content on the internet. Visual platforms such as Pinterest and the very Instagram keep growing exponentially, and even Twitter now displays photo and video in the newsfeed. Two, social networks are maturing and the more marketers understand them, the more they use the networks for branding instead of just direct response marketing. Branding requires consistency and creativity, something that visual content works great for, and it also implies long term focus. Exclusive sneak peeks from behind the scenes and glorified snapshots of your company life tend to be the best content.
Use Instagram for genuine and visual self-expression with long term focus in mind.
3. Customer Feedback
Instagram is not used for customer service the way Twitter is, and it will most likely never be, but there is an intricate way to get heaps of invaluable customer feedback. Your social media manager will surely be an employee with very thorough knowledge of the customer. Sometimes, you will happen to have a photo that you are proud of, and nobody will give it #instalove. Other times, you will get tons of it for a photo you had doubts about. That will not only train your photography skills, but also provide actionable market knowledge. Encourage collection of market knowledge by your marketing staff, and leaving feedback by your audience (contest time?).
Use Instagram for analyzing what, why and when people like, and read comments attentively.
4. Relationship Building
The biggest difference between social networks and the rest of internet is the presence of relationships. There were great photos out there before, there were forums full of great advice out there before, there was interaction there before. But only with social networks did the way content spreads really start to depend on relationships between users. Instagram is amazing for that, for a large group of Igers come use the app daily. Repeating interaction with your content makes them loyal and knowledgeable of your business – just like making friends works. Such users will then be most willing to give you feedback, recommend you further, or ultimately buy from you. Unlike on Facebook, community feel on this highly simple social network is omnipresent and often publicly expressed.
Use Instagram to build and leverage relationships with prospects, customers, advocates and partners.
Hands up everyone who likes sales! Or well, keep the right one down for scrolling further, and the left one for leaving us a reply. Conversion to sales from Instagram is not as high as from Pinterest, the champion of measurable social ROI, but even just the four benefits listed above add up enough. Some of your Instagram followers will be excited to buy from you. Be open and friendly about directing them to your website or e-commerce site, and choose the right landing page. Or even better, get creative. @Re_occur, a friend of ours, does that amazingly on her small Instagram account. By sticking to the targeted hashtags, consistent posting, and very direct calls to action, she does an efficient job at selling vintage products. Browse the network for more examples yourself, there are plenty.