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Picture your Brand with Instagram

November 11, 2011 by Brian Pennington

Remember the Polaroid? A widespread novelty, it developed photos within minutes and allowed nearly instantaneous sharing of your memories. The iconic film and camera were immortalized into the digital generation when Outkast encouraged us to “shake it like a Polaroid picture.”

Fast forward to 2011; Polaroid is fighting to survive and mobile photography is gaining steam. The top player? Instagram.

Instagram is an app that allows you to take pictures and add effects (or filters, as they’re called) to the images. But like the original Polaroid, the most powerful aspect is the ability to share, like, and comment on other people’s photos. In other words, it’s a social network. But it’s not just another social network, it’s already surpassed 150 million photos (that’s 15 every second) all from a single platform—the iPhone.

So the question is, can a business find value in a photo-sharing app? While you’re not going to see an uptick in sales figures right after you post a photo; if done right, Instagram will allow you to spread awareness and cultivate relationships through your pictures. Some forward-thinking brands like Audi, General Electric, Kate Spade, Red Bull, and Starbucks have embraced Instagram to connect with their audiences.

Get started
Instagram is currently available for iOS devices only: iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Visit the Apple app store and download the app. (An Android version is on the horizon.)

Create a username, upload a photo, write a brief bio, and link to your website.

Get clicking
Now that your account is set up, it’s time for the fun part—taking pictures! Here are some important tips for starting your feed.

  1. Post interesting images: It sounds obvious, but you want to post photos that are visually appealing. This is what thrives on Instagram. I love the photos from General Electric. They treat their photos like art and clearly have an eye on aesthetics.
  2. Respond to comments: While it may seem like a small measure, take the time to reply to comments. It means a lot to followers to have direct engagement with a brand. 
  3. Create a theme: Just like Twitter, you can use a hashtag to highlight your photos that have the same theme and/or categorize your photo along with other photos in that same hashtag.
  4. Launch a contest: Instagram is perfect for competitions. Have followers submit photos to a specific hashtag, judge the photos, and repost the winning shots to celebrate the winners.
  5. Make an impact: Think of how you can do the greater good. For example, the Good Belly Project engaged people who ate at participating Boston restaurants by asking them to take a picture of their meal with Instagram. When someone posted a photo, tagged it with #goodbellyproject and set the restaurant as their location, the restaurant donated $1 to go towards helping with the famine in East Africa.

If you adopt these tips, you will find that Instagram can become a powerful way to attract, engage, and grow your community.

Image credits (clockwise from top left): Red Bull, Levi's, General Electric, Audi, Kate Spade, Starbucks, Threadless, and Jamie Oliver


1 Response to "Picture your Brand with Instagram"

Pete Guillot says:
Reallqy good stuff, I will have to give instagram a try this week to see if I can come up with a few pics to align to our brand. Thanks for that tips
DEC 18, 2011

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