How to use Instagram to inspire and connect

If Instagram is the next social media site on your company wish list, it’s a good one to be considering, says public relations and marketing specialist Fleur Revell, Director of Impact PR. The site has just surpassed Twitter with an impressive 300 million monthly users with around 100 million of those coming on board in just the last nine months.

However, be careful you don’t take a ‘one size fits all’ attitude when it comes to Instagram. While you may have Facebook and Twitter strategies already implemented for your business, it’s important to note that Instagram has a different audience and therefore requires a different approach.

Firstly, the image-focused site (which also has short-form video capacity) is frequented by a younger set of users – recent figures estimate up to 90 percent are under 35 years old. It’s also important to know there are more women using Instagram than men, with around a 70/30 split according to some analysts.

Perhaps because of these key factors, Instagram is the domain of luxury, fun and inspiration, making it the perfect home for retail brands that have elements of these in their product offerings, or can see a way to provide images that capture customers’ imagination while reflecting their brand.

As a retailer, it’s best to think of Instagram as a virtual form of window-shopping. The more creative, attractive and interesting the image in your ‘window’, the more engaging and memorable your brand will be to consumers.

For examples of how it’s done best, check out some of the leading international brands on Instagram to see how they make it work – Nike, Starbucks, Burberry and MTV are all companies who lead in the key measurement of follower numbers.

To take advantage of the possibilities of Instagram, the most basic rule is to think visually. Browse through Instagram for any length of time and what you’ll see are countless beautiful, fun, colourful, stylish and memorable images.

That means the images you post need to be carefully chosen to fit in with, or preferably stand out from, the crowd. At the most fundamental level of quality, images need to be of a high resolution, use filters/lighting adjustments if necessary, and be correctly cropped for the frame.

Even more important, however, is the content of the images. While it may be tempting to post pics of your latest range, shop front, or a catalogue shoot, Instagram is not the place to do it. Instagram is all about inspiration and interest, not about selling products. Instead of a standard product photo, post shots from behind the scenes of an event at your business, or someone using your product in a beautiful or unusual environment.

Alternatively, post an image of something cute, fun or interesting that isn’t anything to do with your products, but relates in some way to your company values or expresses your business’s personality.

If all else fails and inspiration is hard to come by, re-gram someone else’s image that fits well with your ethos, or even a follower’s pic that you like – just remember to credit their account in your caption. Don’t force a post if there isn’t anything appropriate on a given day.

It’s important to post regularly, but not to the detriment of your profile. Think quality over quantity.

As the natural home of the selfie, Instagram is also a great place to invite fans/followers to participate in competitions and promotions. Ask people to upload pics of themselves using your products or reflecting a particular company value in order to win a prize.

This will gain you brand exposure in your followers’ feeds, but also foster a sense of engagement with your company for those already following you, especially if you then comment on and like pictures, and re-gram the best ones.

For your business, it’s important to add your company hashtag to all your posts to encourage its use by others, and regularly check for anyone using it as these could be possible re-gram opportunities.

It’s also important to let your customers know you exist on Instagram – ensure you have a link to your account on your website and Facebook page, and share video content in particular on your Facebook site to encourage interaction.

Article Courtesy of Retail News. Copyright © 2015 Retail News NZ