On Tuesday, I blogged about signing up for Instagram (@heiditolliverwalker or see my images on Statigram here) and some of the trouble I was having finding others in the printing industry there. It’s odd because with 80 million users, Instagram is hard to ignore. It is all over the media. In September 2012, it ranked among ComScore’s Top 50 most visited websites list — 44th — with 26.3 million visitors that month.
This is my third post about the photo sharing site, and so far, the response from the printing industry has been a resounding thud. A client of mine did pick up on my post, signed up for Instagram, and emailed me, “I’m using it and I can’t figure out the business application.” So I put on my thinking cap and thought up my Top 5 Business Uses for Instagram.
1. Online catalog of your “best of the best.” Post pictures of campaigns and product types. Let clients and prospects see the range of what you do and how you do it well. Make your Instagram account readily available from your home page so visitors can find you easily and don’t have to go searching Instagram for you.
2. Spark creative ideas and promote new products. Seeing a new type of personalized 3D mailer is a lot more powerful than hearing about it.
3. Stay connected with clients and peers. I found that scrolling through my connections’ images gave me a new sense of who they are and an opportunity to comment and connect in a new way. Facebook can be very cluttered and overwhelming. Instagram is a simple stream of pictures that, taken in total, really give you a sense of what someone or some company is about. It also gave me an opportunity to put myself in front of people I haven’t connected with by phone or email in years.
4. Focus on designers. Instagram is not a channel for right-brained people. It’s a visual channel that is going to resonate with some people and not others. Designers are visual. If you can get designers to connect with you, Instagram gives you an opportunity to give them a steady stream of idea starters that help to spark creativity and drive more business for you. Or you might create a contest for designers and create engagement (and let their creativity light a creative fire in each other) by letting them submit their own images.
5. Get people (including your employees) engaged with your company. Seeing quirky, creative pictures is fun. Let employees or clients submit shots connected in some way to your company and keep them streaming into your account. For clients, it keeps you top of mind. For employees, it reminds them that your company is a fun place to work. It’s one more way to create goodwill and top-of-mind awareness.
We live in a social network world, and one of the biggest, most powerful ways clients, prospects, and employees connect is through those networks. For Instagram, one caveat is that, like Twitter, it is hard to search unless you already have a person or company’s user name. So there are tons of marketing opportunities, but you’ll have to funnel people there first.