Should Your Business Be on Instagram?

Should your business have an Instagram account?

If you want to know where some of Facebook’s users are going, check Instagram. The photo-sharing app has grown at an exponential rate over the last few years, winning hearts with visual social media that plays well with other networks like Twitter and Facebook. As a social network that is still largely composed of early adopters, Instagram offers a less cluttered experience for users, in many cases only populated by close friends and a few choice acquaintances. Of course, that is quickly changing. Inevitably, brands are joining the party. As the network grows, many businesses have been questioning whether they too should jump on the bandwagon. That’s what we talked about at this month’s Social Media Breakfast Maine.

Instagram adoption has been gradual among brands because Instagram is not your average social marketing channel. The interface is simple, with an emphasis on the star: the photography. You’ll be hard pressed to find links to drive website traffic with your posts. That’s because marketing on Instagram isn’t about selling a product or a service, or boosting website conversions. It’s about telling the story of a brand or company culture, or selling a lifestyle.

Make the User the Star

Successful Instagram campaigns don’t promote a message. They immerse the audience in the brand message and lifestyle – and invite them to be a part of it. Social Media Breakfast Maine speaker Judi Cutrone hit the nail on the head with the espnW 98 Days to Shine case study she shared. The brand awareness and loyalty campaign engaged Instagram users through hashtag photo challenges, making the user the star and ultimately capturing strong brand advocates and increasing social reach.

Visual Storytelling

Not sure if your business belongs on Instagram? If you have a story to tell, you may want to stake your claim now on this growing network. That was speaker Sue B. Zimmerman’s message. Instagram is an excellent visual storytelling channel that can humanize brands and promote company culture. And it’s important to get creative with content. Zimmerman shared examples including happy customers, behind the scenes footage and inspirational quotes.

Everyone has a story to tell. And Instagram is a great channel for humanizing a brand. As with any social marketing plan, however, strategy is key. If you have a clear goal for why you want to tell your story and what you hope to accomplish, Instagram may be a good fit. If you’re reaching, you may want to reconsider. Not every social network works for every brand. And that’s ok.