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Instagram: How to Effectively Use Pictures to Market Your Brand

Ryan Sandberg June 1, 2012

Just two months after its October release in the Apple App Store, the photo-sharing application Instagram already had 1 million registered users.  As of April of this year, there are over 30 million registered accounts.  For an owner or marketer of any business whose goals include expanding clientele, that figure is pretty hard to ignore.  But as with any relatively young social media platform, the waters are still being tested.

Companies are still experimenting to figure out the best ways of going about retaining followers and attracting new viewers at the same time.  Already though, some of the larger players out there have found success in marketing campaigns on the new(ish) platform that are worth examining.

- Unique Content: Just posting a random picture of your product isn’t going to cut it for most users.  Contributing unique, pertinent pictures that have to do with your products is what a quality Instagram account is all about.  One company that utilizes quality unique content is the marker and writing accessory company Sharpie.

Sharpie uses its Instagram platform to give followers images of super creative and unique artwork created solely with their products.  In addition to being inspirational, this is a great way to get potential customers interested in your product and to see the value in the products you offer.

- Customer Involvement: Although some brands certainly lend themselves to customer involvement concepts more than others, if it’s an option for your company, consider it heavily.  Clothing companies Levi’s and Threadless have each come up with unique marketing campaigns using Instagram that heavily involve followers and potential customers alike.

Levi’s: This Instagram campaign calls for everyday folks to submit pictures of themselves or friends sporting Levi’s clothing in the search for the next top Levi’s model among those submissions.

Threadless: This T-Shirt company invites followers to post their own design ideas for t-shirts, some of which ultimately get made.  Company personnel often later add photos of themselves wearing those t-shirts, in addition to showing other behind-the-scenes photots from its headquarters.

- Consistency: Although some people out there will swear by high saturation – posting a ton of pictures everyday – unless you’ve realistically got that much unique stuff to be sharing, a lower, consistent number of photos a day, say 2-5, or even per week, is probably best.  Followers expect and want to see your photos, but they don’t want their feeds to be completely inundated with them.

Starbucks seems to do a particularly good job in this department, adding no more than a couple pictures a day, or sometimes only a handful a week of relevant, unique photos.

- Themes: Keeping a central theme to your photos is another great way of going about branding your particular style.  General Electric is a fine example here.  GEs instagram account is full of unique pictures of the various technologies and products they create around the globe.  From their many factories, they issue shots of jet engine turbines, trains, windmills, and various employees working on the incredible technologies.

In addition, GE also got their followers involved by hosting a photography contest via the app this past November.  The goal was to find the next “GE Instagrapher,” or, Instagram picture-taker for their company.  The top picks were selected by voters on Facebook, and then a panel of judges from GE chose the winner and flew them out to the UK to photograph a world-class jet engine facility.  So two thumbs up for GE.

Whatever your brand or business, there are always unique and creative ways to come up with solid campaigns for the many free social media platforms around these days.  If you’ve got bigger concerns about your overall internet presence, it’s wise to get in touch with some of the many online companies offering helpful services like ReputationManagers.com.

As far as Instagram goes though, these are some of the most effective methods and ideas being used by large companies today.  Hopefully, these examples will help you come up with your own creative campaign ideas, and be the launching point you need for continued future success.

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