Is now the time for businesses to start using Instagram?

In a recent post, I included an infographic that noted that people’s attention span has plummeted to a mere 5 seconds, down from 12 minutes just 10 years ago. This fact might be one of the reasons sites like Instagram are growing in popularity.

Now owned by Facebook, Instagram is a free photo-sharing mobile app for iPhone and Android that has traditionally been used by individuals to take photos on their mobile phones, add a filter to make it look more professional or have more personality (think Polaroid effect), and easily post it to Instagram. Users can also share the photo to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Followers of the individual get to see and process an image in an instant. For some statistics on Instagram, see the infographic from the Digital Buzz Blog below.

Even though it’s traditionally been used by individuals, now might be the time for businesses to explore using it. According to an article titled Why Instagram will be the next big social media platform, while only 18 percent of people currently have an Instagram account – far behind sites like Facebook and Twitter – the rate of usage “in the last 24 hours” is higher than all sites except for Facebook. This is a measure how avid users are of a platform. And if you look at the infographic below, you can see that, as of April 2012, Instagram grew at a rate of about 20 million users per year, on average. At this rate, it will reach the 100-million-user mark in two more years, which is the same rate of adoption for Twitter. (Facebook reached 100 million users in four years.)

But is it right for your business? The answer to this question always starts with “do my prospects use Instagram?” Current statistics from the Pew Research Center suggest this tool could be right for your business marketing toolbox if you market to any of these groups:

  • 18-29 year-olds
  • African-Americans
  • Latinos
  • Women
  • Urban residents

If one or more of these groups is your target market, you can use Instagram in a variety of ways to build an audience or build a better relationship with that audience.

  • In this article by the Social Media Examiner, see some great suggestions for using Instagram to create engagement with contests, encourage viewers with promo codes, feature customers, and promote events.
  • An article on the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) illustrates how you can use Instagram to build your brand and share your expertise. It also gives advice about using hashtags to help people find your business’ posts.  
  • See this article on Social Media Today for idea about using Instagram to show your products, what your products can do, and how they’re made. Also see suggestions for uses like introducing employees or giving loyal customers who follow you sneak peaks at new products, features, or events.
  • In this post on the Instagram blog, see how you can now show your photos to people on the web. Originally, Instagram was only available via mobile phone.
  • As with any social media, make sure you’re delivering good content, via pictures, that’s relevant to your business, but not necessarily all about your business. For example, if you sell beading supplies, don’t just talk about products or sales. Instead, show followers some beautiful examples of jewelry they could create themselves, or that would at least spark ideas of their own. Ideas are everywhere.
  • Don’t forget to not only post your photos to Instagram but share them on your other social media outlets like your Facebook page or Twitter feed. This is a good way to repurpose content and reach your other followers who might not use Instagram (yet).
  • Have a plan for how often you are going to post. Even better, have an editorial calendar for what content you’ll post. Make sure to make a commitment to using this tool well. If you can’t do that now, then consider putting it off until you can commit the time and resources to it.

 In addition to having an Instagram account for your business, you might soon have another way to reach your target prospects. According to a December 2012 article on the Social Media Times, paid advertising is on the horizon for Instagram.

So what’s stopping you from using social media like Instagram? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  

Reprinted from the Digital Buzz Blog

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One thought on “Is now the time for businesses to start using Instagram?

  1. Pingback: Instagram Do’s and Don’ts for businesses | ConverseConnect

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