Image by Angelo de Santis under Flicker Creative Commons Licence
How Can Companies That Don’t Suit Instagram Use Instagram?
Instagram is a photo-sharing and social networking service that launched in October 2010. The platform took off intriguingly because of its design restrictions that permit only square-shaped images and 15-second videos, as well as filters that allow creators to step back in time with sepia-tinted memories that might have been captured only this morning. In the early days of Instagram, sceptics expected these limitations to have a negative influence on the platform’s success, but 300 million users currently upload 70 million images and videos a day with no sign of a slow-down.
Instagram remains mainly a mobile application which limited the platform’s appeal to business in its early days. Times have changed though as businesses have migrated to mobile and are taking advantage of image-driven marketing strategies at the same time.
How can non-Instagram Businesses use Instagram?
A large number of businesses have an instant affinity with Instagram, especially those with an emphasis on visual appeal such as fashion, retail, restaurants and magazines.
But how can you make the most of Instagram if your business doesn’t have an immediate ‘wow’ factor such as manufacturing, mining or defence? At first sight it might seem that some businesses don’t suit Instagram but showcasing a brand’s personality in a visual medium becomes possible with the following tips:
- Post photos and videos that are relevant to your brand. For instance, if your business is part of the industrial sector, you can focus on sustainability, new energy-efficient technology, research and development and staff activities. People are interested in what you do and how you do it
- Hold a photo contest and ask your followers to show artistic shots of otherwise banal places or situations. A contest to show the most creative use of one of your products can attract additional engagement with your customers and followers
- Use trending hashtags to join a visual community and engage in storytelling. Identify hashtags such as #sustainableenergy or #aerospace that are relevant to your marketing strategies and offerings
- Remember to follow your customers, suppliers and other engaged users and contribute to an online community
- Post photos and videos of your people going about their jobs. This gives your company a human face and showcases the talent you employ
- Show something new. Instagram can be used to give your followers a sneak peek of your new product, service or upcoming event
- Invite a guest Instagrammer to post to your account for the day, such as a valued customer or supplier, and see how others perceive and support your business
- Be mindful of security and confidentiality especially in the defence sector where you may be limited in the types of information you can share. Use these restrictions to be more creative in what you can share openly rather than be hindered by them
Why Include an Instagram Account in Your Communications Strategy?
Just like many other social networks, Instagram focuses on engaging with communities and creating a brand personality rather than pushing products to customers. Using images is particularly effective to gain the attention of followers and using hashtags can help your business pick up on and lead trends rapidly.
Instagram is also appreciated by users due to its minimalist, clean interface and its lack of ads (so far). The mobile interface also makes it easy for your staff to post on location or during a job to share an immediate experience. A posted image can also have a comment that links to your web site or a blog entry and contribute to an integrated marketing strategy without a large investment in money or time to maintain. Overall, most businesses should be able to find a reason to include this visual medium in their marketing mixes and take advantage of a free, easy-to-use tool with a growing uptake from global and small businesses alike.
Our Favourite non-Traditional Instagram Accounts
The following accounts comprise a mix of organisations using Instagram to spread the word visually with a mix of media and engaging user stories.
General Electric @generalelectric uses images and videos to showcase its projects, people and how its technology touches people’s lives every day
Wolterton Forge @woltertonforge A UK-based artist/blacksmith/sculptor’s account that features serene countryside surroundings and finished works from a 250-year-old forge
US Military Navy Seal Snipers @udt_navy_seal_snipers shows the team on land, in the air and under water doing some interesting jobs that most of us don’t get to witness
Sharpie @sharpie who’d have thought marker pens were so much fun?
Lockheed Martin @lockheedmartin shows how a mix of products, action shots and staff behind the scenes can create a vibrant and engaging Instagram account
Maersk @maerskline turns the everyday business of shifting goods from here to there into a global adventure on the seas and in the world’s ports
And, because Instagram doesn’t always have to be about business, one of our favourite ‘just because’ accounts is Glitter Guide @glitterguide
Do you have a business that’s thriving on Instagram or are you still considering your marketing strategy? What are your favourite Instagram accounts?