Worth a Thousand Words: Using Instagram to Market Your Business

The Internet is all about communicating visually, and for a business marketing online, showing and telling are equally important.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, isn’t it? Online marketers certainly think so, which is why photo sharing is one of the fastest growing trends in social media marketing. At the head of this trend is the increasingly popular, Facebook-owned app Instagram.

instagram marketing

Major brands have used this artsy photo-editing and sharing app to good effect, and most businesses with an online presence would be smart to do the same. Here are four ways you can market your company with Instagram:

Show Them What You’ve Got

Instagram lets potential consumers see your product or the outcome of your service in a cool, retro-yet-modern way. Publishing professional photographs using Instagram’s various filters keeps your business firmly in the now, and relatable to young, influential customers.

Keep in mind, though, that just showing off your business is only likely to attract attention if you’re selling something that people already like to look at. This works for Starbucks, for example, since there are plenty of people on Instagram who are already taking and sharing pictures of lattes and cafes.

These people can find related brands in the same way they find other private users.

Picture a Lifestyle for Your Brand

At the same time, Starbucks is using its Instagram feed to show different stages in its supply chain and different ways of enjoying its products, just as your SEO company needs to vary the search terms that describe your website.

For example, using Instagram to demonstrate to show your customers where your product comes from or what it’s like to work for your company will help increase brand awareness and raise your profile among desirable consumers.

If your product or service isn’t something that Instagram users are likely to search for on its own, think about your target audience’s other interests.

Red Bull is a good example; their brand has come to be identified not only with energy drinks but also with a variety of extreme sports and thrill-seeking activities. These make good subjects for Instagram photos and connect with customers in an easy, natural way.

Get Viewers Involved

If those customers are really connected with your business and photo stream, you might have an opportunity to get them directly involved in your brand message. The luxury brand Marc Jacobs and the musician Ellie Goulding both asked customers and fans to submit photos by using specific hashtags.

Marc Jacobs used chosen submissions in a collage on its website, and Goulding created a music video around her fans’ Instagram photos.

More formal contests are an obvious way to get consumers engaged with your brand as well. 

Saks Fifth Avenue offered a $1,000 prize to the winning photo after asking Instagram users to take pictures of a Saks item and explain what appealed to them about it. Whole Foods set a theme each week during Earth Month and rewarded the best Instagrammer with a $100 gift card.

GE took a different approach. It asked for Instagram posts inspired by their brand and gave the winner a chance to act as the company’s photographer-for-a-day at an aviation facility.

The prize can be small or large, but if either the product or the opportunity gets consumers excited, an Instagram contest can generate a stream of user-generated advertising.

Picture Your Brand on Instagram

No matter what sort of business you run, there’s a place for you in the growing world of photo sharing. Look at what kind of product you produce and what kind of lifestyle you expect your consumers to have. Represent either or both in pictures as well as words, and you may find people have a better image of themselves as your customers.

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