Surely you’ve heard of the super sharable, highly contagious, photo fanatical mobile application, Instagram. Instagram is a photo-sharing program which allows you to add creative filters to images and share them on social networks. Unlike other social networks you don’t actually have an Instagram profile online like you do with Facebook or Twitter, but can emulate one with the third party service, Gramfeed. Regardless of your familiarity, this app is taking the social scene by storm and your business should be eager to chase it. If you haven’t already caught the Instagram fever you can easily download the app from the Apple App Store or Android Google Play for free.
Oh brother, not another social network
Hopefully you didn’t jump ship on this blog post yet. It’s important to note that Instagram does not take much additional time to manage, and if you had your social media java you’re already set! Even though Instagram IS another social network, we’d like to think of it more as a “social complement.” The reason for this is Instagram’s ease of integration with Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, and Email as well as its swift sharing capabilities. Since photos are already an integral part of your business’s social media strategy, Instagram is just an improvement on what you should already be doing to visually promote your business, plus substantial benefits.
So what’s the big deal?
One word: Images. Images are king when it comes to social media. Photos capture the best engagement out of any other type of posts. They can quickly gather likes and are easily sharable across other networks. Instagram just makes it easier to create beautiful, eye-catching photos and gain extra exposure through an easy-to-use platform. You can add crisp and creative photo filters to your images to enhance them as you see fit. Any normal photo taken on your phone can look like a professional shot with Instagram.
How should I use it?
First, if you haven’t done so, download the app and take a few seconds to create your account. Be sure to use your store name as your username so your customers can easily find you. Once you’re setup, you can begin using Instagram for all your photo sharing needs.
You can take photos of your store front, creative displays, employees, new products, store events, customers, and anything else to get your target audience engaged. After taking a photo you can add a filter that looks best, choose to use a frame, or just keep it original.
Now add a caption to your photo and choose which network you’d like to share to or simply share to Instagram only. If you wish to share on Instagram and Twitter, you can utilize hashtags so that your photos are easily searchable. If you’d like to share to Facebook, be sure to stay away from hashtags because they are not searchable and are a huge pet peeve to the social media savvy. An important thing to note is that you cannot connect your Facebook business account to your Instagram so be sure that you wish to share a photo with your personal profile before selecting the Facebook option. If you’re sharing product images solely on Instagram, you can tag specific vendors the same way you would on facebook. Be sure to find out if the brand is on Instagram before tagging. Not as many people are as tech savvy as you. (They must not be reading this blog). Once you hit “share,” your photo will become available for all to see.
Spread the word
Now that your business is on Instagram, you’ll want to let your customers know. You can spread the word indirectly by simply sharing photos from Instagram to Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter. These photos will include a link back to your account showing users where the image originated.
Another great way of promoting your new photogenic presence is through email. Include a photo that you have taken and invite customers to join you on Instagram.
You can also gain Instagram followers through in-store efforts. Put up small tent card signs near displays with your Instagram username and hashtag asking customers to take photos of their favorite products and tag your store. You can even recycle an old camera by framing it with your Instagram username below. The easiest thing you can do is let your customers know you’re on Instagram through conversation at the checkout. Anything can help spread the word about your online exposure.
Now all that’s left to do is grab your smartphone, snap some pics, and create a highly visual and social store experience.