Social media marketing is now widely accepted as a very effective way of winning new customers and building loyalty with existing ones. Visual marketing is being cited by many experts as one of the most important business trends for the next twelve months, and platforms like Instagram are a perfect tool for this. Photographs and pictures appeal to emotions, and they are very powerful way of developing a brand and promoting products and services.
Instagram marketing may not be something you've considered for your photography, but the rising popularity of the social media platform means it could be a fantastic opportunity to reach mass audiences. There are now close to one hundred and fifty million active users of Instagram. The following questions and answers will help you to decide if Instagram marketing is an activity you'll see returns from.
1) What is Instagram?
Launched in October 2010, Instagram is a social network application for sharing photos and video clips. The platform integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other networks, and allows the user to share pictures instantly. One of the things which sets Instagram apart from other photo-sharing apps is the ability to apply filters for different effects. Simple snaps can be made to look like professional photographs with creative use of the digital filters.
2) Do I have to be a great photographer?
Instagram marketing is all about sharing the moment and making your customers feel close to you. The quality of images most smartphones capture is very good, and there's no need to worry about technical expertise. If you want to share images of your products, you simply need to make sure they are in focus and well lit. If your pictures look too professional, you'll lose the impact of sharing images which should appear to be taken in the moment.
3) Do I have to have a product?
Visual marketing is ideal for promoting products, but you can also use the same techniques for services. If your business is fashion retail, it's easy to see how sharing photographs of your products can raise awareness and lead to sales. A business such as a dental hygienist may need to think more creatively when it comes to Instragram marketing, sharing more abstract images related to freshness and confidence. Some of the most successful examples of marketing using Instagram involve sharing pictures of happy customers, and this is a great idea if you have willing volunteers.
4) What is 'User Generated Content' (UGC) and how can it help my business?
Some experts believe UGC is the ultimate form of online marketing. Word of mouth recommendation is recognized as being incredibly powerful, and businesses have thrived on this for decades. In the online world, customers can have an active involvement in how your business is seen and perceived by others. Happy customers may share photos of themselves enjoying your products, and this is a very powerful sales tool. UGC creates trust and raises awareness. Smart business owners are encouraging customers to take Instagram pictures that will ultimately lead to positive reviews and further sales.
5) How can I expand my audience with Instagram?
Instagram marketing only works if you have an audience of followers. There are various ways to cultivate a following, and the techniques are similar to those used to build audiences on Facebook and Twitter. Engaging potential customers by following them and liking their pictures is a great place to start. Instagram allows you to label pictures with hashtags, and this is a very powerful way to expand your following. Think creatively about how you can use popular hashtags to make your images appear in searches.
6) How can I protect my photographs on Instagram?
Putting a watermark on your photos is hugely important, because images on Instagram are meant to be shared. Without a watermark, the source of a photo can quickly be lost. Make sure your watermark is visible, without detracting too much from the image itself. Check out guide to Where to Put Your Watermark for ideas.