Inbound Marketing Spotlight: Instagram

by Michael Talburt on June 11, 2016

 

Inbound marketing and social media through Instagram

 When we think of communicating, we often think of what we can do with words. Text-based media often requires less space, and photographs usually took a long time to process before you could view them. Today however, there are many forms of marketing that combine both the written word and images to massive effect. Even the best inbound marketing companies will have to integrate Instagram to their online marketing strategies. 

This notion has mostly been changed by the advent of social media, in which pictures can tell a story more richly than words can. This has been proven by the several websites dedicated to social sharing and interaction through images, but none have been as successful as Instagram.

 

The influence of Instagram on today’s media landscape has become almost iconic; with a 23% growth rate, Instagram has become a vital tool in regards to many inbound marketing solutions  and social media use as so many users frequent to it. Regardless of whether you use it as a marketing tool or as a means of gathering inspiration, Instagram can and has done it before.

 

Whilst you may not immediately think of Instagram as a platform for branding or building your business, its unique format and high number of users have attracted a growing number of executives and entrepreneurs alike to tap into the social media site’s visibility and popularity. Just how Instagram became the social media giant it is today is due in part to its novel format and its ability to combine interaction within its users and the accounts that they use.

 

A Pic-story

 

Founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, it has become the go-to website for sharing photos with your social circle with over 100 million active users. Originally a mobile app that attracted a following based on its square-shaped photo space (in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio of most camera phones) and its original 16 filters, it has allowed users to network and share photos to their liking whilst allowing the filters to create a certain mood. There are x-ray filters, sepia filters, and even ones in greyscale, to fit the mood that you want.


The concept of the “double-tap”, or the liking of your pictures, comes from here. Whilst “following” and “tagging” have been concepts that have been popularised by Facebook, Instagram has a culture all its own.

 

Power of the “Selfie”

 

When handheld cameras were first used, we would often have other people take pictures of ourselves. However, a growing number now utilise the “selfie”, or self-portrait photography, to new heights. The advent of mobile phones containing working digital cameras brought this to light, as it was now possible to bring a multi-functional device that could capture photos everywhere you go.

 

Because mobile photography has become so accessible, it has spurned enthusiasts from all over the globe. Artists, musicians, and entertainers are now no longer asked to autographs. Instead, we can simply ask for a selfie with them as a lasting reminder that we have met them.

 

Selfies have now become a viable means of communication. If one is headed to a company event or is currently planning one, selfies taken during these stages can build up interest and publicity for the event and for your business.

 

Just how can this novel concept be used to benefit your business? Promotion and sales can often be done in one fell swoop in Instagram, and at the same time promote other social media accounts whilst you’re at it. Whether you choose to have it run through reputable inbound marketing agencies or through a trusted social media manager, they have become critical in creating a strong presence online.

 

 

Inbound Marketing with Photos on Instagram

Mobile-only platform

 

One caveat with Instagram is that its features are only fully utilised on a mobile platform. Facebook, Twitter, andother social media sites are often easier to manipulate through a desktop interface, but as Instagram was created as a mobile app, it would do best to invest in a device that caters to such needs. Tablets are perfect for this purpose, as they can have the functionality of a desktop but the lightness and ease of use in mobile devices.

 

Don’t let this diminish your appearance of Instagram, however, as the mobile-only platform allows for less fuss in its usage. Unlike Twitter, which is famous for its 140-character limit, and Instagram’s purpose is to share photos and not as a microblogging site. This allows you to become more creative of the ways you can integrate storytelling into your social media accounts.

 

Ease of use is very important in regards to social media apps. In simple terms, one can update frequently whilst going on their daily business. Pictures, videos, and the like can be used to great effect and in such a way that they can be just as meaningful as 1,000 word count blog posts.

 

A notable quirk of Instagram’s usage and terms is that you cannot share explicit images – or similar looking images – for fear of getting your posts deleted. It has ended up banning innocent posts of cakes, pastries, and other mundane objects due to these terms, so you may want to be careful or to censor certain elements before posting online.

 

Sharing pics as concept

 

Like Twitter, Instagram uses #hashtags in order to track trending and popular content. This has been used to great effect, as creating a unique #hashtag for certain events have made documentation and observation so much easier.

 

Video sharing has become a new concept, as it was not an original feature in the app’s early stages. As such, users frequented other third party apps in order to continue sharing videos in an Instagram-like format. Vine, a micro-video sharing site, is famous for having a roughly 6-second limit on posts.

 

As Instagram is known for its heavy promotion and use of filters, it has spawned an unlikely hashtag: the #nofilter tag is used whenever you want to show off a particular image in natural lighting. The other filters, such as Juno and X-Pro II, have been used to convey certain moods, feelings, and ideas. If your business deals in artisan-made products, a more vintage feel with high contrast on your images may work better. For those with a stark, modern approach to business, sharp lines and greyscale images may work best.

 

This has been a trademark of the app, as the filters and its vintage aesthetic have become very much a part of its image. Even as a company itself, there are things that you can take into consideration once you build your brand or integrate your bespoke inbound marketing solutions to capture and/or attract your audiences. apply inbound marketing to.

 

 Sharing pictures as an inbound marketing strategy

 

Instagram as marketing tool

 

As a social sharing website, Instagram has potential to be utilised as a tool for marketing and selling products. As it is largely visual, it can become a showcase of your merchandise or services and provide user feedback through “double-taps” and comments. Apart from being used from brand-building, well-known films, franchises, and even personalities have used Instagram as a tool to share stories and promote their products.

 

Instagram links can be used to drive traffic to one's existing blog posts. By “embedding” the Instagram link of your posts to your blog, you can encourage the visitor to peruse both your blog posts and your Instagram.

 

As visuals are incredibly attractive, you can easily bring other customers to your side by posting photos of company outings, product testing, and the like. Visual marketing strategies such as behind-the-scenes looks and testimonials from consumers can greatly increase a company's profile.

 

To begin, start with pinpointing characterising elements of your business into a storyboard. This will help in organising all the information you want to highlight in your Instagram feed, as they will tell the story of your business for you. This will also help guide your colleagues into creating thoughtful visual content that will attract customers to subscribe.

 

Just like any business plan, determine next what you want your feed to achieve. Do you plan to achieve a number of followers after a certain amount of time? Is there any product partnerships that you want to achieve through Instagram? Determine your motivating factors for sharing your story, and it will be reflected in the kind of content you post to your feed.

 

Using the storyboard as your frame of reference, determine the underlying themes and ideas that come out of the storyboard. What sort of mood do you want to portray? Is there a slant in your marketing strategy that hadn’t appeared before? Use this to critique and refine your ideas.

 

With that in mind, plot out your content creation strategy using a calendar or timeline. For seasonal businesses this is particularly helpful, as certain peak months or seasons will mean much more aggressive marketing than in previous months. If you’re looking to break into a particular business or branching out, plotting it out will determine just when and where you need to place yourself in the feed.

 

Curate your feed by associating your account with users of similar interests. Occasionally comment and interact with them through comments, double-tapping, and the occasional direct message. This creates a level of intimacy unforeseen in previous image-sharing, social media websites.

 

 

 

The dark side of Instagram

 

Instagram, like any social media site, has its flaws. The use of social media has opened up discussion in regards to privacy, or the lack of it. The user interface of Instagram allows it to be linked  with other social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. This linking between social media accounts makes the information you include in them vulnerable to identity theft and credit card fraud.

 

You also cannot copy an image directly from the site, requiring a screenshot from your mobile device in order to do so. Since it is fully optimised for mobile usage only, you cannot post to Instagram without using third-party hacks and software, which often make one’s computer vulnerable towards malware and viruses.

 

Changes in Instagram’s news feed have also crated an impact on how users see the posts of people they subscribe to, which bodes for more inbound marketing research and strategies. Modifying one’s visibility about posting has become up to the individual, making it even more important to win your customers’ trust.

 

Instagram deals with mostly images, so the opportunities for content marketing are limited to visuals. You can include links from outside sources, but are not hyperlinked in the comments or captions section. One may also need to scour the associated #hashtags’ feed from time to time, as they may lead to content that you may not necessarily want associated with you. This relatively new format, although powerful, does need further study.

 

The future of Instagram, and Visual Photo Sharing

 

With the world being increasingly exposed to mobile usage, marketing should also appeal to those who deal with simpler user interfaces and more streamlined website offers and services. As the need to be accessible and on-the-go arises, the need for sharing images, video, and even entire stories has also become increasingly visual, and Instagram is a tool that can access all these components.

 

Active social media usage cannot be completed without Instagram. Being relevant is important to nearly every target market, and this is a way to introduce more followers and accounts. Instagram is relatively easy to use, and this is a reflection of the wants and needs of the people who subscribe to this social media site.

 

As content marketing has become more diverse on the kind of media they produce, an integration of text and visual media will appeal across a wide range of audience.

 

Integrating Instagram for your inbound marketing methodologies will provide a fresh and much needed perspective in regards to getting more clients, improve ranking within your Google and Bing search results pages, and will introduce new and innovative ways to provide content to those who need it.

 

Sources:

 

6 Instagram Tools to Improve Your Marketing, SocialMediaExaminer.com

 

How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy, SproutSocial.com

 

 

 

Other articles worth reading:

 

Get The Inbound Marketing Strategy Guide Free eBook