It’s often said that a picture is worth 1,000 words… and it’s evident that Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger agree. A wildly successful start-up company that launched in 2010, Instagram is a photo-sharing app for your smartphone that essentially allows everyday people like you and I to become master photographers, phone editors, and in some cases, photo-journalists. Thanks to ready-made filters, users can transform meaningful and even mundane moments into shareable keepsakes that communicate powerful and engaging messages. Instagram also allows you to follow your friends, family, or other public users and engage with them by liking and commenting on their photos. Content can even be categorized under hashtags so that users can search for photos based on their interests.
So the question is, if your business already uses other social media, should you also be using Instagram to attract and engage an audience? I’ll give you three good reasons why the answer might be “yes.”
Instagram has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception, and now boasts over 90 million users. These users post about 40 million photos per day and generate an impressive 8,500 “likes” per second. Instagram far surpasses comparable social networking sites such as Tumblr and rivals another successful photo-sharing social network, Pinterest.
According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of U.S. internet users also use Instagram. The study also found that Instagram is most appealing to African Americans, Latinos and urban residents ages 18-29. If this sounds like your target audience, what are you waiting for?
The Instagram experience provides much more than simply allowing users to snap photos and share them. It provides a platform for its community to tell its stories daily, photo by photo. What makes it different from a tweet or a Facebook status is that, while Instagram provides the capability to include caption with photos, the text isn’t the prominent feature of the post. So it forces posters to really think outside the box and find interesting ways to not only pique the audience’s interests, but to communicate who you are and what you stand for through visual messaging.
If you have strength in the creative and artistic side of the brain, Instagram may not only be an effective way to engage an audience, but more enjoyable for you to use as a communication tool than other social media.
Increasing competition in a global market is forcing more and more businesses to fight in order to stay relevant with today’s tech-savvy consumers. As a business owner, you not only have to be where your customers are, but when you get there, you have to let them know why you’re there and why they should care.
Nike is doing a great job of using Instagram to accomplish this. The company currently has 949,000 followers and has launched a campaign that not only highlights its wares, but also promotes healthy lifestyles, success, teamwork, and determination. By presenting their brand in this manner, Nike has made themselves relatable and positioned their brand to be embraced by a diverse population of followers, even those from outside of the athletic world.
One last selling point for Instagram: if you’re concerned about adding one more social networking site to your maintenance list, know that you can easily connect Instagram to your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or Flickr accounts. This allows you to update multiple sites simultaneously with what you post on Instagram.
So how can you get started? Instagram is accessible to iOS users through the App Store and Android users through the Google Play Store. The app is free to download and very simple to set up. I suggest following other corporate brands and various query hashtags related to your industry to see how other companies are using Instagram to market to their target audiences. You’ll be impressed by what you see.
Christina Wood is the director of recruitment at Harrisburg Area Community College (‘02) in Harrisburg, PA. She holds degrees in English and journalism from Millersville University and a master’s degree in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania. Christina is very passionate about education and has worked in higher education for over five years. She blogs about various issues in higher education, social media, and shares professional advice for new professionals on her blog Give Me a C! She also has written for other college, career, and education blogs such as TheLI$T, BrazenLife, and Evolllution. Follow her on Twitter at @ChristinaW82, connect with her on LinkedIn.