Instagram

Sanat Singha is a technical writer, an editor, a blogger and a web marketing consultant. Contact him at wsigmas@gmail.com

If you want your business to stay ahead, you have to be on Facebook, if you want your company to be legit and relevant you have to be on Twitter….. If you want to capture on new potential customers, connect with people on Orkut (that still exists, right?).

So every day you have some Tom & Harry posting an article, proclaiming the usage of an online social marketing platform for business promotion.   Nothing wrong in it! Looking at the present stats, Social Media has emerged to be the king in corporate marketing.

And one new platform that has now become a hotbed of social awesomeness is INSTAGRAM.

A free photo and video sharing app for iPhone, Android, and other mobile devices, it has close to 150 million active users sharing 16 billion photos. And not to forget it’s this growing popularity that has led Facebook to purchase Instagram for $1 billion.

But how can Instagram help in business promotion?

After all – Instagram is just a place where we post our 32 selfies each day. Agreed, but then believe it or not, Instagram has become a fantastic place for companies to connect with their clients and prospective ones in a social online forum.  (Note: We’re not referring to the small Mom and Pop businesses).  As per a recent statistics, 132 Fortune 500 companies are using Instagram as a marketing tool.

Let’s see how it all started –

After getting named by the Oxford dictionary as the international word of the year for 2013, the word ‘selfie’ turned into a social media phenomenon (thanks to teens and celebrities).

So when Barrack Obama, David Cameron and Helle Thorning posed in front of the Danish prime minister’s iPhone – it created quite a buzz. While some called it as the onset of the “me generation”, many saw the selfie as a light-hearted way of connecting with a wider audience.

Names like James Franco (actor) came up to the podium to speak in favor of this trend. He wrote an article in the New York Times that highlighted the fact how selfie provided the perfect method for brands to promote themselves.

In fact, the origin of the term Felfie (extension of selfie referring to farmers taking selfies) made many understand the sociological benefits attached to it. The so-called opponents realized how selfies and similar such social media practices could be used to share and converse in the remotest places.

Instagram

Early Instagram Campaigns

Turkish Airlines launched the ‘Selfie Shootout’ on YouTube, which received widespread recognition.

Johnson & Johnson launched ‘Donate a Photo’ campaign, to promote customer engagement. It gave $1 to good causes for every photo people uploaded to its site.

While the big organizations have started capitalizing upon Instagram, the small marketers are also not far behind.

Social media expert, Sue Reynolds, says – ‘’SMBs have realized the potency of social media. They have already invested on cloud CRM software to manage social feeds of their customers/leads posted on different platforms, namely, Facebook, Google+ LinkedIn & Twitter. The latest endeavor in the realm of social media is Instagram. They are opting for customer selfie related campaigns to capitalize on the self-brand ‘promote and share’ concept. You can say it’s a clever way to profit from an already popular trend.”

Example – Rebecca Hunt, (UK Young Hairdresser of the Year) has recently set up her own salon in Southampton, Hampshire. She had asked her customers to post selfies in their new hairstyles on social channels, to win amazing hair products.

What she says about it – ‘’It is simple and completely cost-free. I have gained a number of new clients as a direct result of the campaign. Due to its success I now plan to run a monthly campaign.”

Experts Speak –

According to a recent blog on My Customer – In 2014, the number of selfies being taken can exceed 250bn. With this in mind, it is all justified for marketers to sense Instagram as an unexplored opportunity.

But then is Instagram useful for every business vertical?

Carolyn Blunt, social business expert, believes the answer lies in precisely understanding the nature of the business and how selfies can be associated with the brand.

Elaborating further, she comments –

“Unlike other marketing tools, ideally, Selfies should combine humor and reality for social media campaigns. And to pull off this balance rightly, businesses need to be aware of certain factors.’’

How to build a successful and engaging selfie campaign?

  • Consider your audience. Will your audience appreciate this new digital marketing tool?
  • Build a strategy behind this. Remember you cannot let your marketing team embark on a ‘selfie’ campaign without a set of guiding rules.
  • Ensure the selfies are natural and real.

Tip: Take a friendly face with your product in hand.

Remember by using great brand ambassadors to take selfies with your product, you ensure that the images are shared as much as possible.

Final Thoughts

There are risks to a selfie marketing campaign, just like with any other social media marketing tool. If you’re planning to get involved in this fad, take a moment to consider whether you are doing more harm than good.

By abiding to the above-mentioned steps such as planning thoroughly and checking the backgrounds of the selfies, your digital marketing campaign should be a success to help you gain the lead on your competitors.