Every year, my New Year’s work resolutions revolve around more fully immersing myself in some sort of technology or social network. This year, one of them was Instagram. I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about it, and as someone with a love affair with the camera (behind it anyway), the chatter about its filters was a heavy draw.
So New Year’s day, I set up an Instagram account (my very modest library viewable through Statigram here), and I suppose that soon enough, like Ted Rubin and his socks, I may be outed for quirk—in my case, my love of old, dilapidated signs and buildings.
I haven’t heard back from many DN readers about their personal or company’s use of Instagram (although I thank Katherine O’Brien of American Printer for being one of them), and when I signed up, the set-up “can we look for friends from your Facebook account” wizard only found a handful of my connections who were using it regularly. (Peter Muir of Bizucate has some really interesting art shots — check them out!) So for this post, I decided to check with a few press vendors to see how they are leveraging the platform for business.
The first I checked was HP. It has 198,000 likes, 32.2 k tweets, and 13,000 G+. I didn’t see much to do with presses (although there was some — check out this powder image on a belt), but the company certainly has a decent footprint on IG. Much of it appears that its employees (and perhaps customers) uploading everything from the random to the results of frustration (such as the images of a receipt for the system motherboard replacement). There are lots of HP logos on there, but if there is a business strategy, it’s not clear to me.
Next I checked with Oce´, Kodak, Ricoh, and some others. What I found was that for these large consumer companies with sprawling product lines, they were either not on Instagram or impossible to find there. Searches on hashtags for specific product lines or product names proved to be very unrewarding. I searched for a few of my printing industry contacts, and while some individuals are signed up, the businesses either are not or, due to the narrow way that Instagram handles search, I couldn’t find them.
Me? I’m easy to find. My user name is my real name — heiditolliverwalker — but for certain types of businesses, the challenge is clearly more formidable. If you are funneling people to your Instagram account through some other channel (“Follow us on Instagram!”), I can see the very visual, engaging, and entertaining nature of the channel offering a lot of creative marketing opportunities. But it does not appear to be a channel in which customers or prospects can easily come looking for you.
So if you’re going to invest in a presence on Instagram, the starting point is quite clear to me. When you are setting up your user name, think “search.” Make yourself easy to find.