All the talk at the end of last year was around the updated terms of service for the photo based app Instagram, which was bought out by Facebook earlier in year for a non too shabby $1 billion.
So what is Instagram? It is a free application for iPhone and Android that allows users to take photos, apply filters to change the look of them and to share them
The app has over 100 million users so maybe you are thinking you should be part of this but are unsure the best way to approach it. The following guide should help you get started.
Grow your followers
Use your other social media channels to help get your Instagram profile noticed. Instagram allows you to share your photos across your other social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr which will not only help get your photos noticed but help ensure your social media stays co-ordinated. Add page posts to your Facebook page and tweet to inform your fans and followers about your Instagram account, along with a call to action.
If Instagram is going to be serious part of your social media strategy use other existing channels, including your website and newsletter or e-zine you might send out.
Hashtags and Engagement
Search for general hashtags that are relevant to your brand e.g. #sport, #design and engage with users by liking and commenting on their photos. By liking and commenting on photos of other users you alert them to your own account and as a result help grow your followers and engagement with your own photos.
There may already be a large community using a hashtag specific to your company. For example many Instagram users use a hashtag specific to the camera they use.
A brand with an already established presence in one country can leverage an existing hashtag to help grow a Instagram community in another country while introducing a country specific hashtag. American sports apparel company Under Armour for example now have #underarmourirl forIreland and #underarmouruk for theUK in addition to the existing #underarmour hashtag.
There may also be several relevant hashtags for your brand but check to see which tags are most popular and use those. Avoid using random hashtags as which tends to happen on Twitter!
Avoid using corporate photos and extending adverts to Instagram, remember there is a lot of creativity out there so you don’t want to look boring and uninteresting.
Give your company a brand a personality by showing behind the scenes photos, exclusive photos or sneak preview of new products. Take a professional sports team for example. Fans are hungry for behind the scene access, so show images fans wouldn’t normally get to see; changing rooms, on the road, at training. This also helps deepen the fans link with the team. Another example is a sports brand could show various parts of a new runner to boost interest ahead of it’s official launch.
Default Photo App
I would recommend using Instagram as your default photo sharing app. As you have the ability to easily share Instagram photos on Facebook and Twitter it would only really be splitting your efforts by sending some photos out as tweets while others only getting added to Instagram. By tweeting your Instagram photos, you don’t have to tweet all of them, you are giving people the chance to not only like and comment on them but creating more content for Twitter. Again this helps spread the word about your Instagram account and you are integrating all your social media channels.
Statigra.m is a really handy tool which shows you which photos are the most popular in terms of likes and comments, as well as monthly growth in followers and engagement rates.
Don’t just post a photo because you haven’t in a while, be strategic about it. Wondering when the best times for engagement are? The optimisation feature on statigr.am will help you with regard to that.
Consider running a contest or competition specific to Instagram. Introduce a specific hashtag for your competition to raise awareness. Do a search to make sure it is not being used to avoid unintentional and irrelevant entries.
Aggregate you content
Instagram has an API so any developer can easily pull your Instagram photo into a Facebook tab where they can be displayed. Not only does help you showcase user-generated content for the page but is another way of bringing attention to you Instagram account.