Instagram: Pictures paint a thousand words
Instagram has been around for a while now, and for those of you who are avid users - we salute you. Those of you who are yet to dip your toe - here's our round up on the social media platform.
When faced with the decision of using a different social media platform to the standard Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, we often hear people say things along the lines of: "I have no idea how it works", "I haven't got time" or "It's for the younger generation" . To some, Instagram has a reputation as a terrifying, high-maintenance, untameable monster.
However, much like a trusted family pet, with just a little bit of consistent effort you can turn what looks like a snarling beast into a beautifully trained Collie.
Let's start at the beginning...
What is Instagram?
In a nutshell, Instagram is a photo sharing app which lets users apply filters to photos and share them with followers. Instagram can also be accessed from a desktop machine, but offers no upload capabilities without the use of third-party software.
Once an image is uploaded from the app, followers of the user can comment, like, and tag each other in images. Unlike Facebook, followers access your information in an asynchronous manner (ie. they get updates from you, but you don't get updates from them).
So, just photos then?
Instagram also features video capability too, including the ability to add filters exactly like you can with photos. Uploaded videos have a limited duration of 15 seconds or under, aided by video editing features that are built into the app.
What about written content?
Although there is no word limit, Instagram like Twitter encourages short titles and captions added to images. The image should tell the story itself - which is why it can be relatively simple to add to your existing social media strategy. But as always, just because it might be simple to integrate, doesn't mean it always should be. Always ask yourself, is this relevant to our target audience? Is our audience on this platform? How can we use it to resonate with our prospect and current customers? Looking at your web personas for your online audiences you should be able to answer these questions quite quickly and without too much research,
Let's talk strategy
In the digital era, your business aesthetic is much more than your logo and advertising imagery. Instagram offers businesses an ideal opportunity to build or reinforce an entire visual identity. Helping customers to understand and connect with the company and an emotional level.
To get you started, here are a few tips:
Getting an emotional reaction is a fantastic use of Instagram. Don't be afraid to share content that causes people to think, laugh, frown or act.
Think outside of the box - get creative
Sharing pictures of products is all very well but "so what?". You might have the best product on the market, but what is it that makes people want to engage with it? Where is the (excuse the term) "hype"? Does that one product communicate what or WHO your business is?
Have a think about diversifying your imagery beyond products and consider things like insider looks at your office. Such as candid shots of employees! Show off the characters that make up your business and inspire people to be interested in those people and their individual stories within the business.
This goes for all social media networks. Think of being on social media as being at a party: if someone came up to you at a party and said "I really like your hairstyle", it would be really weird to just flash them a thumbs up and then wait for someone else to notice your incredible hairstyle.
Equally, going straight up to someone at the party and saying "Look at my incredible hairstyle!" would be considered inappropriate beyond the age of about ten.
The key is conversation. If someone at a party said that they liked your hairstyle, you would probably thank them and offer up some extra information. This might lead to an entire evening of conversation and the two of you leaving as friends.
The same is true of social media. People don't like to be ignored when they comment on things, or to have to listen to one person talking about themselves for hours on end. They lose interest and stop interacting with that person. Worse still, they might then tell other people not to waste time on that person. Conservation - it's massively underrated!
This is the bit where you say "have a go!" isn't it...
To a point, yes. However, just with every social media platform always ask yourself if this is relevant to you and your target audience. If you find that your prospective and current customers are in fact at the Instagram party, perhaps it's time to invest time in this channel.