Sep 26, 2013 • Jessica Jones
Last week’s entry in our inbound marketing series focused on LinkedIn, one of the most professional, business-focused social media outlets. This week we’re going to switch gears and discuss one of the most whimsical and fun - Instagram.
Even if you’re not an Instagram user you’ve probably seen pictures generated by the Instagram app - the Instagram filters have a distinctive look that has gotten to be well known and recognized across the internet. Many people who use Instagram also post their pictures to Facebook, Twitter or other social media.
But what exactly is Instagram? What makes it different from Pinterest, another social media outlet that focuses on images? There are actually more differences than there are similarities between the two; the focus on images may in fact be the only large commonality. You could maintain an active Pinterest account without ever posting an original picture; the dynamic on Pinterest is more focused on sharing existing content, making content generation optional.
Instagram, however, requires you to generate content in order to remain active. An Instagram post is made up of two elements - a photograph taken from your cell phone and a caption for that photograph. The pictures can be cropped and filtered before they are posted, giving them that distinctive Instagram look. You can view your feed through a browser but you can only post pictures through the smartphone app, making it unwieldy (though possible) to post pictures that you didn’t take, and that’s the idea - Instagram is built to showcase pictures that you’ve taken; your life, your world, your business!
Instagram isn’t the best choice for everyone using social media for inbound marketing purposes. In our article about Pinterest we discussed how some businesses were better suited than others to make use of such a visually-based social media outlet, but we gave some ideas and strategies for anyone interested in tapping into the Pinterest audience.
Using Instagram consistently and successfully, however, requires a particular interest in personal engagement - and amateur photography! It’s okay if your business doesn’t produce a visually-appealing product as long as you’re enthusiastic about photographing and sharing day-to-day experiences.
Some of what you share should be focused on your business, yes - yourself and your employees at work, your products, the locations you visit on the job, etc. Instagram is all about showing your personality, though, so don’t feel as if it all has to relate to work! Post a picture of coworkers going out socially, a cute picture of your dog, a funny sign you see when you’re out on the town.
When using any social media your goal is to engage with your audience. Instagram is geared towards doing so on a more personal, day-in-the-life level. If you are the kind of person who is regularly sending picture messages to your family and friends then Instagram may be perfect for you!
Instagram doesn’t have as many users as Facebook or Twitter, but if the idea of Instagram appeals to you don’t let the smaller user base dissuade you. It’s easy to put your Instagram activity to use on other social media sites as well. The Instagram app has built-in sharing with Facebook and Twitter as well as a few other options. Interesting photographs are a great way to increase social media engagement, so if you’re working on increasing your presence on Facebook or Twitter then Instagram might be a good way to boost your activity.
The bottom line: If coming up with ideas for pictures to take and share sounds like a chore, Instagram probably isn’t for you, and your inbound marketing efforts would likely be better directed elsewhere. If Instagram sounds like fun to you, however, there’s no reason not to do it! Download the app, start taking pictures, have a good time and enjoy the responses that result!