One year after it’s launch, Instagram already had 10 million active users and was crowned ‘2011 iPhone app of the Year’. Bought by Facebook in 2012, it has continued to go from strength to strength appealing to society’s growing need for rich visual content.
30 billion plus photos shared later, Instagram currently boasts 300 million monthly active users who upload 70 million photos per day and give 2.5 billion daily likes. This app gives companies the perfect opportunity to embrace branding objectives, more so in hospitality than any other industry, as it lends itself to the popular online communities of foodies and those who love to travel (there are more than 178 million photos tagged #food on Instagram and 56 million tagged #foodporn).
Sponsored ads were introduced just over a year and a half ago but are not yet available* to everyone in the way that Twitter and Facebook advertising is. The app is currently testing various avenues such as carousel ads and ‘call to action’ posts allowing followers direct web links, sign ups and purchases. Even without these paid methods there are plenty of ways that Instagram can add to your marketing strategy.
– Firstly you need to decide exactly what you want Instagram to achieve for you. Do you want improve brand awareness, develop message association, increase website visits or boost sales?
– Develop content pillars (more information on how to do this to come in a future blog post). If you develop themes for your content you can have diversity in your posts whilst maintaining consistency in your message.
– Take time to create high quality visual content. Yes, Instagram is a smartphone app and you may not have the best quality camera on your phone but it is worth taking the time for quality photos or decent videos as this will improve your brand image overall.
– One of the great things about Instagram is that it provides filters you can use on your shots so even if the quality isn’t the best they are definitely worth using to enhance colours and brightness. If you do decide to use filters I recommend finding one that you like and stick with it, as it will further improve consistency in your brand identity.
– Get creative! There are a number of other apps which work alongside Instagram to help you create more interesting content such as Flipagram, hyperlapse and layout.
– When writing text keep it short and simple so as not to distract from the picture, ask questions to your audience to encourage engagement and use hashtags (not too many or you’ll look spammy!).
– Encourage your followers to tag you in pictures or use a hashtag to follow a campaign. If you like their photos, comment or share (regram) their pictures this will strengthen your relationship and their loyalty towards you.