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April 26, 2013

Four Ways You Should Be Using Instagram for Your Business

Several of the most innovative brands today are ahead of the marketing game by using social media, and Instagram is one of the lesser-known tools. If you can leave the safety of Facebook and Twitter behind (though of course they are important dimensions of your social media marketing strategy) you will find Instagram can be very rewarding for your business. Images have the greatest appeal of all forms of content, which is why Instagram can be a valuable tool for marketers if used cleverly.

If you are not yet ready to embrace a photo-sharing site as a business tool, you can take a look at how some of the top brands use it to their advantage. Here are some tips on using Instagram that we can learn from them.

1. Reward Your Followers
American Express will agree. Who would have thought that a financial company could ever have any use for an all-picture website? But they manage to make clever use of the site, by sharing photos from events, historical card photos, launch pictures and creative pictures using the Amex card. And the brand offers its followers backstage entries to events sponsored by the brand such as fashion shows, concerts and even the U.S. Open. Consequently, the brand has an Instagram following of 25,662.

If you are a retail brand, you can always reward your followers with discount codes and promos. This is a great way to have more people join you on board your Instagram site as well as your brand. It can have a staggering direct impact on your sales. Clothing store TopShop keeps its Instagram audience highly engaged with regular posts of clothing items and accessories, and offers promo codes as well. As a result, they have a high number of followers: 473,000. And the audience is very active, posting frequent likes and comments that can reach hundreds and thousands of other users as well.

2. Use the Profiles Section to Reach a Wider Audience

iPhone and Android users are already thrilled about having Instagram at the touch of their fingers. But the profiles feature also allows marketers to reach out to audiences via devices other than mobile phones. This means people can follow you from their desktop PCs and laptops as well. This includes a larger potential audience to your group of followers. You can tell the story of your brand with images and give audiences a closer look at what they want to see — the human side of your corporate brand.

Music video site Vevo’s Instagram profile page showcases pictures of some big musicians such as Carrie Underwood and Alicia Keys posing for Vevo while working with them.

3. Engage Followers with Contests

There is no better way to engage your followers than to hold Instagram contests for them to participate in. Photo contests are easy to do — simply ask your followers to use a certain hashtag with the photos and then you can pick the best one.

Sony does picture contests really well, and has used it successfully for some campaigns. #SonyX picture contest’s success led to #Sonylove. Followers were asked to follow Sony’s Instagram profile and post pictures symbolizing love. A randomly chosen person won a $50 Sony Store gift card each day. There were other prizes of merchandize for creativity, originality etc.

4. Have Your Customers Featured on your Site
A great way to make your customers feel that they matter to you is to feature them on your Instagram page. Your customers can be your best advocates. Share a picture you’ve taken of your customers’ experience and your followers will be excited to see you from the perspective of their peers. Always make sure you are sticking to your brand value with images that you share. Connect with your audience, and you will see the benefits in improving social media reputation.

Virgin America does this well. The airlines often posts pictures of their customers receiving surprises from them, or hobnobbing with CEO Richard Branson, or sharing images of their destination. The brand essentially showcases happy customers. As a result, its Instagram fans have a perception of Virgin America airlines that stands out from that of other airlines.

Use these tips to adopt Instagram into your own social media marketing plan, and see the difference in ROIs and long-term customer loyalty.

Collins Paris writes content that snaps, crackles and pops on a variety of topics related to web based business and working from home. From SEO and Web marketing to writing and eCommerce. To find out more sizzling content you can visit him at