For the past couple of years, more and more businesses have been communicating with their audiences through Instagram.
By definition, Instagram is an online photo-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them and share them on a variety of social networking services. I applaud the creators of Instagram for taking everyone’s favorite social media feature – photos – and using it as the core of the platform.
When first introduced to the world in October of 2010, Instagram’s main purpose was for social sharing between peers. However, like all social media trends, companies quickly jumped on the Instagram bandwagon and began developing Instagram-based communication strategies to reach their consumers.
I love Instagram. I frequently post photos and follow the Instagram accounts of friends, media and businesses. I believe that Instagram can be very beneficial to most businesses.
Recently, Obsidian created an Instagram account for our firm. When announced at staff meeting, I was probably the most excited employee. We all have access to the account and can upload photos of our day-to-day activities at work. Our strategy behind Instagram was not to be a resource of PR knowledge or solicit business but to give people the opportunity to gain insight into the personality of the Obsidian team.
For businesses just entering into the manicured-photo world of Instagram, here are a few tips I learned from a recent article on Social Media Examiner.com.
• Balance. It’s essential to maintain a balance of fun, intriguing images along with pictures from your business or displaying your product. Tell a story with your images, whether it is describing an event or promoting a product or service.
• Followers. To be successful on any social media, you need followers. This can be trickier than other social media venues, as Instagram’s can only be used on a mobile device. You cannot simply share a link to your Instagram profile on your website or Facebook page, you must drive mobile-device users to it in other ways. To do this, start by following others – people and businesses. Also, use relevant, popular hashtags that can make your photos come up organically in a hashtag searches.
• Filters. Use filters on your photos to make them look unique and creative. The most popular filters used on photos are Lo-fi, Valencia, Rise and Amaro.
• Network. Just posting photos is not enough. You need to network by engaging in conversations with customers through liking others’ photos and leaving comments.
Lastly, remember to have fun with your Instagram account. Like all business communication, there is a strategy behind your posts. However, unlike Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, there is not an option to schedule posts. This allows for spontaneous creativity and idea sharing that makes Instagram an exciting, in-the-moment communication tool.
Sarah Lichterman is an account specialist at Obsidian Public Relations, a Memphis-based public relations firm. Follow @ObsidianPublicRelations on Instagram to learn more about the team.