We talk a lot about social media, but that's because it is probably now the most powerful marketing tool available and we believe it is vital to embrace it if you want your business to succeed. We talk again this month about Instagram as it is now ten months since we published an article written by Lydia Dishman (Forbes contributor) on how Instagram is shaping up to be the world's most powerful selling tool >>>
It is important in marketing any service or product that we realise the enormous power of youth and ensure that we keep up with the most effective ways to embody the ideals of today's youth and understand the change being driven by youth culture.
As opposed to the 60's and 70's when youth culture was basically counterculture, it is important to understand that today's youth culture is actually the driving force behind innovation, growth and competitive advantage globally, so anyone in business should see the advantages of harnessing the vast power of youth.
Here is where we talk again about Instagram and the increasing predominace of images which is at the very centre of communication. Instagram was created in 2010 as a mobile application that served a simple purpose of allowing users to edit and share pictures with friends and followers.
Instagram's growth was predicted on the desire of young people to share what they were experiencing and the photo filters built into Instagram allow even the most boring experience to appear beautiful and the amateur photographer can now feel like a true artist to the surprise of friends, family and the rest of the world.
Platforms like Instagram make brand labels seem less interesting and valuable marketing wise when compared to pictures of people experiencing the world, so experiences rather than purchases are leading to status. Possibly for the first time since the '60's, young people are moving away from purchased status symbols to status created by experiences.
Young people are driven to capture and share an unforgettable experience rather than boast about a new material possession and Instagram provides the platform to share this with the world - with over 300 million users it has become one of the fastest-growing communication tools in history.
Because Instagram is hugely popular with young people, it presents a unique opportunity for brands and businesses to connect with their communities in new and interesting ways. But beware - it is also easy to lose the interest of your followers with just one misplaced post, so below are some tips to help you keep your followers and not be ignored.
Keep it genuine - never place ads on Instagram as it is all about authenticity and telling the world about who you are as a person or a brand, doing it one photo at a time. Before posting a photo, check that it comes off as authentic and not commercialised - if it doesn't feel real, don't post it. Tell your brand story authentically by showing what it cares about, where it's going and who it spends time with ... "show us, don't tell us".
Show the human side of your business - go behind the scenes so that the customer feels like part of the experience - share a little history, how it's made, the people that make up your business, from owners/CEO to workers - give your followers a sneak look behind the curtain and they will feel closer to you and your brand.
Relate - follow and participate in Instagram's social trends from "Throwback Thursday"(#TBT) to "Man-Crush Monday"(#MCM) as this shows your audience that you are relevant and keeping up with the times and also gives you the opportunity to tell different stories apart from your regular content posting. For #TBT you could include a piece of history that you think your customers could relate to and for #MCM you cold post something your brand or business has a "crush on" which could be something you use and know that your followers can relate to, all of which will make them feel more affiliated with your brand/business.
Cross-promotion - make sure that you share or promote your Instagram posts on other social media channels as well (eg. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter) but make sure you have quality content that fits each platform first as you only get one chance as FIRST impression.
Using Instagram and other social media platforms to promote your brand or business is a no-brainer - they are free, only require a small effort to keep updated and are there for the entire world to see. If there is something happening across the social networks, it's better to be one of the first brands to jump on the band wagon rather than one of the last - by the time the rest catch up, you'll already be looking for your next promotion opportunity.