Instagram: Instahype or a Good Content Strategy for You?

Is Instagram right for your business?2013 is going to be the biggest year yet for visually charged content marketing, and I’m far from being the only one of that persuasion. (Take a look at this article on visual storytelling posted last week at Search Engine Watch.)

But just because “visual” content marketing is supposed to be huge, it doesn’t follow that every B2B or B2C company should be jumping on board with Instagram right now. Camella Mendez, writing for the Content Marketing Institute, addresses this point quite nicely in a blog post from this past fall.

4 Reasons Instagram Works as a Content Strategy

So, why does Instagram work for some companies and drain budgets for others? Essentially, for a B2C company to be successful on Instagram, a few things are required:

  • Established Target Demographic: Your business isn’t going to draw anybody to Instagram. Your audience is limited to those who are already on the platform. (FYI: Instagram currently has ~90 million users.) With such a massive population, you might think that everybody is on Instagram. Not so. Obviously the 18-29 year old demographic is huge, but usage sharply curtails with the 30-49 demographic. Learn some more basic demographic information on page 11 of this Pew Study before you launch.
  • Strong Visual Content: If your demographic is on Instagram, then it’s up to you to create the strong visual content that will get them engaged. I recently wrote a post about why you should not use Pinterest as a catalogue. The entire post is applicable to Instagram as a platform, too. Your Instagram content strategy, just like any of your other social marketing strategies, should emphasize engagement not sales.
  • Editorial Calendar/Content Strategy: Visual content won’t impact even the most thriving demographics if it doesn’t have strategy. Create an editorial calendar that can help you achieve your goals. I like Heidi Cohen’s 12-step approach to creating a social media editorial calendar; it’s simple, straightforward, and effective.
  • Dedicated Account Manager: Lastly, successful B2C companies have a dedicated account manager(s). Someone needs to be taking pictures, uploading them, creating and optimizing hashtags, following users, and responding to comments. That takes a lot more time than one afternoon a week. 

Types of Content You Can Share on Instagram

Okay, so let’s say you can meet all of those requirements. What kind of (effective) content can you actually share on Instagram?

  • Inner-Office Content: Customers love having an insider’s view. What are you celebrating? What interesting things are happening? What just rolled off the production line? This is a great type of content to share with followers.
  • Your Products (Doing Interesting Things): Don’t just share a picture of your product. Make it interesting, unusual, unique. Kelly Cooper has collected some great examples of company’s that showcase their products in interesting ways.
  • Your Follower’s Pictures: Think of this as the re-tweet. Once you have a following, you can encourage other Instagram users to share pictures related to one of your products or campaigns by using a hashtag. Reposting these pictures yourself (with permission, of course) is a great way to encourage brand loyalty and build a following.
  • Images Associated With Your Brand Lifestyle: Instagram content doesn’t have to feature things directly related to you. Armani does a great job with their Frames of Life campaign at using Instagram to promote the brand lifestyle – not the products. They ask users, “Take a photo wearing your favorite sunglasses and evoke that refined and suggestive mood that inspires the Frames of Life advertising campaign.” Judging from the submissions, it’s clearly working!

Looking for more Instagram inspiration? Check out some of the highlights from these 33 highly successful brands on Instagram.

Will your company be using Instagram anytime soon? Why or why not?


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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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