If storytelling is among the best ways to connect with consumers, and a picture is worth a thousand words, it’s no wonder social media sites like Pinterest are fast becoming one of the most powerful tools in a food and beverage marketer’s toolbox.
But as fast as Pinterest has grown, another photo-sharing and editing smartphone tool has grown even faster. That tool is Instagram, a free photo-sharing app that allows users to take a photo, apply a number of retro-looking digital filters to it and then share the image on a variety of social networking services. Facebook is among the most likely social media sites to feature Instagram images. The social network made waves in April by announcing its intent to purchase Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.
So how fast is Instagram growing, and how can food and beverage marketers join the Instagram revolution? Between April 2011 and April 2012, the program grew from roughly four million users to more than 30 million users. Since April 2012, when Instagram released its program for Android smartphones, its base has nearly tripled to more than 80 million users.
As for using Instagram for marketing purposes, the tool is very similar to the aforementioned Pinterest (but, thankfully, with a lot more male users). Brands set up an account, begin posting content to that account, and fans can follow along by posting comments and sharing photos of their own.
Among the keys to success on Instagram:
- As with any social media channel, don’t sign up if your brand doesn’t have the time and resources necessary to commit to it.
- Don’t drown your followers with logo-heavy photos focusing solely on your company’s products. Of course, it’s okay to feature your brand and its products, but a softer-selling approach featuring lifestyle photos interspersed with brand-centric images is probably best.
- Unlike Pinterest, which helped launch the current text-meets-photos infographic trend, Instagram users prefer to focus on the images and leave the words for user comments.
- Although a retro-filter can make almost any image look cool, Instagram users are much more demanding when it comes to the artistic quality of the images posted to the channel. (Pinterest users are a little less finicky.) With that in mind, post only those images with the most creativity and aesthetic appeal.
MARKETING LESSON: If your brand has a compelling visual story to tell, tools like Instagram are the next logical addition to your social media arsenal.