Mobile photo sharing is now a part of our future and is one of the fastest growing social media trends of the last few years. Big brands are starting to take notice, using the trend to their advantage. Instagram has accumulated 15 million users who have uploaded more than 400 million photos in less than two years. Just think of how many rolls of film that would have added up to! Even President Obama jumped on the bandwagon this month and began sharing behind-the-scenes photos of his 2012 election campaign.
Instagram is a great way for people to experience brands in a different way, and it elicits emotions that may not have been experienced through text alone. So how do you follow in the footsteps of some of the big brands and start using Instagram in your inbound marketing? Let's take a look at the best examples out there and learn how you can adapt what these brands are doing to leverage Instagram just as effectively.
Starbucks was an early adopter of Instagram and has over 200,000 followers to date. The company highlights in-store experiences at locations from around the world, shows how new coffee flavors are chosen and tested at Starbucks headquarters, and provides information about its 'Create Jobs for the USA' program. Starbucks shares the photos with its Facebook fans, too, so customers can comment on upcoming or new flavors.
Marketing takeaway: Keep your content fresh, interactive, and aligned with the brand attributes you want your fans to notice. Photos allow you to connect with customers in a different way. Fans and followers are more than happy to respond and take part if they are interested in the information you are sharing.
Red Bull has never been just about its drink, and over the course of the company's history, it has itself into a lifestyle brand that is envied by all. Red Bull's high energy brand sponsors extreme athletes and events, and its awe-inspiring pictures of these events Red Bull shares with fans fall perfectly in line with their brand. The company works hard to get followers in on the action without actually having to scale mountains or sail the high seas.
Marketing takeaway: Make sure the pictures you post have meaning to your customers and induce shares. If you don’t get excited about the picture you just took, neither will your fans. Take the time to think about what pictures your fans want to see from your brand and how to present them in an interesting way.
High-end fashion brand Marc Jacobs demonstrates the principle that you don’t always have to be the one taking the pictures; you can get your fans in on the snapping, as well. Marc Jacobs creatively used its account over the holidays to ask followers to share their family moments by using the hashtag #marcfam. The company then showcased its followers' photos and created a collage on its website for all to see. This technique gave customers a chance to participate in creative activity with the brand.
Marketing takeaway: As we mentioned earlier, there are 400 million shared photos on Instagram, and most were not shared by companies, but by the consumers themselves. Your customers love taking pictures and talking about their favorite products, so find ways to get your customers involved in your content creation.
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co.’s products come with a high-end price tag, so what better way than pictures to show the worth of those products? Tiffany is using Instagram to show every intricate detail that goes into creating the diamond rings and jewelry girls swoon over. On Tiffany’s Instagram account, fans get an in-depth look at all the tools, techniques, and technicians involved in making the perfect piece of jewelry. Of course, there are also pictures of the final pieces themselves with their signature blue-green color.
Marketing Takeaway: Give customers a better understanding of how your product is made. Craftsmanship is a dying art in this day and age. You work hard to build products that your customers love; show that side of the story alongside your finished product.
You'll see more than light bulbs on GE’s Instagram account. Its main objective is to show off GE's work in different industries like energy, transportation, and aviation. By following GE on Instagram, fans get to see larger than life engines and turbines that are used to drive innovation in these spaces.
GE also uses its account to run a contest to find its next “Instagrapher.” The winner will be flown to Wales to photograph an aviation facility. Almost 4,000 Instagram photos were submitted with the designated hashtag #GEInspiredMe and then posted to Facebook, where fans voted for the finalists. Not only was GE able to get fans involved with multiple social platforms, the company was also somehow able to get people excited about turbine engines.
Marketing takeaway: If you have a less-than-sexy product or service, you can get creative to successfully increase customer engagement with your brand. Holding a photo contest is a great way for customers to get excited about something they'd normally consider dry, expand your audience, and educate people about the important topics that surround your brand.
What are some creative ways you would use Instagram or photos to showcase your company?
Image credit: Calsidyrose
Originally published Jan 19, 2012 9:47:00 AM, updated October 30 2019