By now, I'm pretty sure you know what Instagram is. You may have heard of it in the occasional hip-hop single, by means of people talking about selfies and filters, but what makes this social platform such a useful business tool, and how does it compare to other social networks?
Instagram just announced that they have reached the '300 million users' mark, which isn't too bad, considering it was only 9 months ago that they reached 200 million! These said 300 million users share over 70 million pictures and videos each day, which is a mind-bending statistic, bearing in mind that this is nearly a quarter of its total following.
The exponential growth of 100 million users in the last 9 months means that they have officially overtaken Twitter's 284 million users.
Three questions you are probably asking yourself:
- Can Instagram benefit your business?
- How do you run an effective Instagram account?
- How do you go about building grow in your account?
Firstly, Instagram can add massive benefits to your business, both directly and indirectly. I've personally worked with companies that use Instagram as their primary sales platform to sell anything from holidays to hotel rooms, and from watches to bracelets. Other companies use Instagram to build their brand, so even if they're not selling directly through Instagram, they create brand awareness and build a level of trust with their followers on the platform.
Why companies are using Instagram
Companies are turning to Instagram is due to a shift in thinking. Forward-thinking companies and PR agencies realise that people are tired of conventional advertising. How often do you sit in front of the TV and think, "I can't wait for the ad break", or how often do you read a magazine and look forward to seeing an ad?
To understand why certain companies have done so well on Instagram, you need to understand why Instagram is so popular in the first place. Instagram is by no means the first social platform that has allowed you to share pictures, however, the way in which it has been designed is clean, easy and creative.
Globally, we have seen North America take the lead in using Instagram for business. Companies have set aside massive budgets to grow and manage their Instagram accounts and they see the future in the platform. For instance, Nike has 11,6 million followers, so whenever they release a product, they can now reach 11.6 million people, for free. Unfortunately for us, South Africa has not yet realised the colossal value in running an effective Instagram account and eco-system.
Here are my 10 steps on running a successful corporate Instagram account:
10 steps to enhance your company's Instagram results
1. Remember, people follow you because you add value to their lives
Think about how your company/brand can add value to the average person you want to target.
2. Chose a gallery style and stick to it
Employ a person or agency that specialises in Instagram to curate the gallery for you.
3. Post good pictures
The pictures you put up represent your company and your brand. If you're putting up unprofessional pictures, it could reflect your company as unprofessional.
4. Run competitions
Yes, it's an investment to run Instagram competitions, but it gives back to the community and it's a great way to build brand awareness and loyalty.
5. Use social influences or large accounts to promote your brand
You will see companies all over the world paying some of the most respected Instagrammers to take creative shots of their products or services. The average professional Instagrammer charges between R2,000 and R10,000 per post, depending on their engagement and user following.
6. Post at least 15 times a month, and no more than 3 times a day
People get annoyed by seeing too many posts and this can very quickly bore your audience, if they're seeing similar or uncreative posts.
7. Set up corporate InstaWalks
These are excellent ways to build your personal or company's brand awareness and create user-driven content for you and your brand.
8. Use relevant hashtags
Hashtags help increase the visibility of your account and the limits are endless. Hashtags expose your pictures to the world, rather than just to your followers, if not used.
9. Track your account activity
Analytical software like iconosquare.com
can track the progress of your account, but also provide great insight into the way your followers think.
10. Embrace the artistic culture of Instagram
Be creative, and be innovative.
A few of the top brands on Instagram:@nike
A few of South Africa's top brands on Instagram@cityofcapetown