The Business Benefit of Instagram – 5 Things You Need to Know

Newsflash (although you might have been living under a rock the past year if this is news to you) – Instagram is a great tool for business. It’s hip, it’s visual, it’s user friendly, and… it’s popular! Instagram has over 200M monthly active users, 7.3M of whom login daily. That’s A LOT of people that you could potentially reach… more people than if you didn’t make the effort at all.

Yet there are still many brands our there that are a bit sluggish in creating an Instagram brand presence because they have a misconstrued perception about the brand. Some falsely believe that Instagram is only successful if you’re selling visual products (retail) or if you’re a large brand that automatically amasses a huge following (Coca-Cola). The secret to using Instagram successfully is knowing how to use it strategically.

Allow me to show you five ways that Instagram can benefit your business (big or small, across any sector).

  • Find Potential Customers – After all is said and done, you’re looking for more customers. But did you know that you could find potential customers using predictive social analytics? If you’re tracking or monitoring the right keywords, you can surface users who are looking for your product/service and introduce yourself. For example, if you’re the Hilton of Cabo San Lucas, you can reach out to users who posted a picture with the hashtag #imengaged, #justengaged, etc. and offer a congratulatory honeymoon package at your resort at a discounted rate. That’s business you never would have known about had you not been actively listening on Instagram.

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  • Tag or Create a Location – Location-tagging isn’t only popular for location-based services like Foursquare. Many Instagram users tag their locations when taking a photo which has a couple major benefits: 1) it lets other users know where a particular location is should they want to go there; and 2) it gives your brand insight into what people are posting and saying around your business. Click through the photos tagged at your location and interact with users or collect information around what’s being talked about.

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  • Brand Recognition – Tag brands and ask consumers to tag you! Rather than including a huge description in the caption, include brands you’re using or wearing as a tag.  Interested users can tap the photo to identify the brand and click into their page.

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  • Run Contests –  Instagram is a great place to get your audience engaged because it’s more fun than just a simple sweepstakes entry or form fill. Be creative and invite your audience to partake in some fun by posting photos of themselves using your dedicated contest hashtag. It’s a great way to spread the word (each user has followers that will see their efforts to win) and keep all entries in a one location, making it easier to choose a winner.

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  • Let People In – Give your audience a glimpse into your brand’s life. Part of the allure and appeal of Instagram is that you can now share moments with the world that only a few people might have been able to see before. It’s also instantaneous – no need to wait for a news story to pickup your efforts. Show the world why you love your company and they’ll see why they love you.

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Now that you know a few different ways to use Instagram for your business, check out these tips on Instaquette (Instagram Etiquette) and learn the dos and the don’ts of the platform. So go get started! There’s no excuses left.

Don’t forget – as with any social media marketing push, you need to measure your efforts. After all, at the end of the day you want the numbers to validate your actions. Viralheat offers Instagram management and analytics so you can easily monitor your success when running with the ideas above. Drop a line to support@viralheat.com if you’d like to see Viralheat’s Instagram integration in action.