Innovation + Creativity = Great Experiences for Businesses on Instagram
Instagram, the popular photo-sharing program now boasts 80 million registered users. And to add to its success story, the small company was acquired by Facebook back in the spring of this year.
Photos taken with Instagram on iOS devices and Android phones– are reminiscent of Polaroid photos–the popular square instant color images that helped to change the world of photography. With Instagram, users can add a variety of filters and look-and-feels to what might otherwise be an ordinary photo taken with a mobile phone.
Businesses have been jumping on the Instagram bandwagon and using the app as a way to share photos and engage users.
Ways to Share/View Instagram Photos
There are number of reasons why Instagram has become highly desirable for businesses: 1) the ability to easily share photos on a variety of platforms e.g. Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter, 2) if you specify a location with your photo, Instagram will check you in on Foursquare and 3) You can create unique engagement experiences for viewers.
Although Instagram doesn’t have a browser service of its own, recent developments such as Hootsuite adding it to its social media management dashboard, increases the opportunities for viewers to comment, like and search, as well as share photos directly to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and more.
There are also several web apps to use to view Instagram on the web. Rich Shane lists five of the top apps which include: Webstagram, Extragram, Inkstagram, Gramfeed and Insta-great. Another one we’ve come across is Statigram which helps showcase Instagram contests.
What & Why Should You Share?
In a recent infographic created by Marketo they offer advice about creating a curating plan for your photos. They suggest that businesses start by asking themselves three questions:
- What does my target audience want to see?
- How can I get them to engage with my photos?
- What will get them talking about my company?
In addition to taking photos of your products, they suggest posting photos of employees at work to give viewers and potential customers personal insights into the workings of your company.
Instagram utilizes hashtags to help make photos searchable and relevant to particular groups. Marketo suggests using hashtags that are unique to your brand and industry as well as popular keywords.
When it comes to engaging users there are a number of ways that can help spread the word of your Instagram photos:
- post photos of events you host for your current and potential clients
- use the geolocation feature to further engage
- host a contest and have viewers submit photos
How are Businesses Using Instagram?
We checked in with a number of businesses to find out about the ways in which they’ve been using Instagram. What you’ll see in the following examples is creativity and compelling ways these companies have found to engage users. The examples may offer inspiration for interesting ways to bring Instagram events and campaigns into your marketing mix.
Alyssa Hanson from photo-printing company, CanvasPop, described how they’ve been using Instagram:
Earlier this year we ran an Instagram tagging contest that garnered nearly 10,000 entries in just two weeks! To get the word out about our Instagram canvas prints, we partnered with award-winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, who has one of the largest followings on Instagram.
Our “I Won’t Give Up” Instagram contest required entrants to tag their Instagram photos with #IWontGiveUp. The 25 winners were presented with Instagram canvas prints, which were then displayed at a gallery even ing in NYC in March 2012. The contest got tons of buzz for our Instagram Prints, including tweets and entries from Selena Gomez and Randy Jackson.
We host Instagram contests on a regular basis and have also partnered with other brands like Threadless and Bonobos.
Jaclyn Haven told us about how they’ve been using Instagram at deBebians, an ecommerce fine jewelry retailer:
We are an e-commerce retailer that specializes in fine jewelry, such as halo engagement rings and eternity bands. We are located in downtown Los Angeles, CA in the historic jewelry district. Because our business is primarily done online, it can be difficult to make an individual connection with our clients, but I try to utilize Instagram as a way to show our customers what happens behind the scenes of our business.
I first started using Instagram to further connect with our customers. I feel that it is important to connect with our clients on a personal level because they are making important, lifetime purchases, such as engagement rings and anniversary bands. The personal photographs that I post are taken and edited with my iPhone 4s.
Occasionally I will post an image onto Instagram that was popular or well-received on our Facebook account (which was not taken with an iPhone), but overall I am trying to showcase the work that we do so that our customers can better see our high quality products. I find that Instagram is a great way to expand our brand recognition in a fun and innovative way.
I try to follow individuals that have shown an interest in jewelry, diamonds, or gemstones. We currently have 1270 followers and are obtaining more fans every day. I promote our photographs and Instagram account on Facebook as well as Twitter.
Growing and maintaining our brand recognition through social media is my number one priority and I personally feel that the Instragam has a wonderful and active community.
Gene Willis told us about a recent campaign that comics site, GoComics.com, executed on Instagram and Tumblr:
Our brand, GoComics.com, is a comics site that represents some of the best-known and burgeoning comic strips and characters in pop culture. Some of our properties include “Calvin and Hobbes”, “Dilbert”, “Peanuts”, “Garfield”, “Doonesbury”, “Pearls Before Swine”, “Get Fuzzy” and hundreds of others.
From July 11 – 15, our team was at San Diego Comic Con with a booth and a street team sharing the action and environment to our followers that could not make the trip to San Diego. Via Instagram, our goal was to be the eyes for our fans around the world. We used this to share our work and giveaways, but most importantly, to set a tone that we are an integral part of the pop culture phenomenon that is Comic-Con. By focusing on the technique of the photo, the lighting treatment and the time of day, we were able to increase our followers by 300+ over a five-day period. With this being our first major introductory event to Instagram, we certainly plan on using the app to share our brand’s culture, happenings and the comics that are key to it.
The Dupont Circle Hotel
Melissa Harris provided a description about The Dupont Circle Hotel’s first ever Instagram Contest:
Hit Us with Your Best Shot! The Dupont Circle Hotel Instagram Contest
We’re looking for the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz, and it just might be you. The Dupont Circle Hotel is inviting all would-be photographers to hit us with your best Instagram shot capturing the spirit of Washington, DC in the hotel’s first ever Instagram Photo Contest, July 9- August 31, 2012*. In a city filled with picture perfect settings the opportunities are endless, but there’s one small catch – the photo must include a circle of some sort as a nod to our location in historic Dupont Circle.
Whip out that iPhone, grab your Droid and start snapping. Entering is easy. Simply install the free Instagram application on your phone, create an account, and follow @dupontcirclehotel. Once you’re ready to submit, add the hashtag #dupontcircles12 to your photo and upload to Instagram – it’s that easy.
The winning shot will be selected by a panel of experts including Pulitzer Prize Winning Washington Post photographer Ricky Carioti; Dan Westergren, Senior Photo Editor of*National Geographic Traveler; and Maria Byrk, in-house Photographer and Graphic Designer for the Newseum. The winning photographer will receive a top-of-the-line DSLR Camera, and the winning photograph will be framed and displayed at The Dupont Circle Hotel, and featured prominently online on the hotel’s Facebook page and website. Additionally, there will be an announcement to the press of the winner with a potential feature in a local paper or magazine.
Have you been using Instagram for your business? Let us know about innovative ways that you’ve used Instagram and photo-sharing in the comments section below or on GigCoin’s Facebook page.