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Instagram: Sharing More Than Photos

by Meredeth Henderson, Terralever / February 5, 2013

Note: This blog entry is available in English only.

Instagram as a social media platform

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an Instagram photo is worth much more. How much more, you ask? Well, it ultimately depends on what you’re trying to get out of it. If done right, Instagram can easily become another great platform for engaging with your customers on a social level.

There are a lot of companies that currently are not active on Instagram, possibly for a number of reasons. It’s possible that they don’t see how it differs from Facebook (after all, it is owned by them), or it could be they are not sure how to properly go about maintaining one. For starters, the social rules of Instagram parallel many of the rules of other social media platforms – sharing interesting content, using shorter captions and including a call to action have the potential to generate a larger response from followers than longer, wordier captions. Creativity is also praised – while photo filters serve as an interesting way to spruce up a photo, some out of the box thinking is needed as well. Take Starbucks for example, while they do advertise their products, they also use it to bring awareness of National Coffee Day or relate to other current events. With 1,029,120 followers, their account does very well by itself, however most Starbucks related content on Instagram is generated primarily through photos shared by other users on the platform. Currently, the word ‘starbucks’ is diffused into 49 different hashtags, with derivatives ranging from “starbuckscoffee” to “starbucksthailand”. The “starbucks” hashtag is mentioned in 4,174,595 photos while “starbuckscoffee” is in 30,6933 – both, as of January 2nd 2013 – and they continue to grow everyday. They have taken something as simple as coffee and turned it into an experience worthy of sharing.

Engaging Users

Another great example of a successful “Instagram – user” engagement is Sharpie. Unlike most brands that simply showcase their products, Sharpie uses Instagram to demonstrate what can be created with theirs. Of course, the possibilities are endless. They have 48,098 followers, but close to 300,000 photos hashtagged with ‘sharpie’ or ‘sharpies’ of artists globally sharing photos of what they can do with a pack of permanent markers. The Sharpie photos range from milk cartoons to holiday greetings with statements such as “Keep Calm and Sharpie On”. It allows Sharpie to think outside the box and potentially spark creativity in others, while promoting their brand.

Instagram As A Growing Social Media Platform

Instagram has recently received some negative publicity over their new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service which outlined that they company could begin selling users’ photos without prior consent or permission. They’ve since revised those amendments to make them clearer and issued a statement saying they have no intention of selling user’s photos. They wanted to make their users aware that they do not claim any ownerships of the photos posted on the platform and want people to feel comfortable about sharing their photos. With this issue being resolved, it should potentially put any prior reservations to rest.

For companies still considering Instagram as a new social platform, now is a good time to have that discussion. Instagram continues to grow and allows companies to participate in the conversation. People want to know there’s a person behind a brand. Instagram is great for this because it allows users to see how the company interacts socially and can help set the tone for the brand. Images have been proven to generate a higher response on Facebook and Twitter and being able to tell the story of your brand through pictures resonates much more than words alone. It’s a way for a company to show rather than tell what’s going on inside and outside their walls.

If you’re just starting a profile or want to expand on your current one, here are some good tips to follow by:

  • Short and engaging captions
  • Intriguing pictures that can spark conversation
  • Think outside the box
  • Don’t only show your product, but rather show how it contributes to or creates an experience
  • Don’t be afraid to have fun with it! It is social media, after all.

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