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An Instagram Pic Is Worth a 1,000 Words: Part 1


Use Instagram to Build Your Small Business Brand and Audience

Facebook and Twitter and Vine, oh my. With so many different ways for consumers, young and old, to communicate with one another, small business owners have whole digital worlds at their disposal to attract new patrons. Everyone enjoys a good contest, and what better way is there to lure people into your field of poppies than a carefully timed discount or a coupon giveaway? 

As the social media landscape changes, one bastion of multimedia remains the same: Instagram. Its combination of image-sharing and text conventions allow users to design their own digital art displays, keep friends and family up to date with their eating habits and inspire followers with integrated video snapshots, all of which can be critiqued, commented on and transformed into an ongoing conversation.

Grab hold of your crystal ball and send away the flying monkeys because this is one marketing spell you'll want to remember:

Basically free publicity.

Like with most social media sites, finding and collecting followers is relatively simple, once you have the hang of it. To start, use the momentum of your brand to your advantage and include a note about your Instagram account on different marketing collateral. For instance, a simple "Find us on Instagram!" at the bottom of your flyers or brochures can build awareness that your business is socially savvy.  You can take it one step further and link the account to your company's website. From there, your faithful and interested followers will track you down and use Instagram's sharing capabilities to help you fuel an online word of mouth. As the account takes on a life of its own, all you'll have to do is update it regularly. Short of a house falling on you, a successful Instagram account often runs itself.

Who needs the wizard when you have likes and shares?

The goal for an Instagram account is to generate discussion based on the media you upload. For example, a picture of a bulldog wearing a scarecrow's hat is funny and has the potential for cuteness, but unless it's part of your company's strategy, this might not be the right venue to show off Spot's Halloween costume. Instead, try posting a picture of the CEO holding Spot and label it "See? Our company likes dogs!" Keeping things relevant is key, and although the former image might garner a like or two, the real gold is in the latter - you want to build a reputation with an Instagram account, and your strategy should be shaped around that idea.

Get creative with marketing.

To that end, the marketing strategies you use need to be creative. Instagram has amazing multimedia potential, and now that a video component has been rolled out, companies have even more options available to them. This also means that businesses will need to be bold and forward-thinking with this marketing tool to keep pace with the competition. If social media has taught us anything, it's that consumers are fickle beings and can be swayed by the side that has the cooler, more interesting Instagram account. At the same time, decision-makers should be ever conscious of how every picture and video relates to the brand's overall image. Is that video of the account team dressed up as the Lollipop Guild part of the corporate model? If not, potential consumers will need help understanding why it's there with a clarifying description. 

The goal with a tool like this one is to show the world how your company can relate. Good social media is meant to be a release from the norm, and although companies can launch successful marketing schemes across this digital landscape, decision-makers should be careful not to inundate them with too much business. For tips on how to use Instagram to its fullest potential, stay tuned for Part 2!


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