7 Ways Instagram Can Help You Build Qualified Leads

Instagram — the little photo sharing app that lets you post photos of your kittens and vacation pictures — has suddenly become one of the biggest and most influential marketing tools on the Internet.

instagram logo

Why? Because of its popularity.

Instagram currently has more than 30 billion – that’s “billion” with a “B” – images and more than 300 million active users each month. The site generates an average of 70 million photos per day, or roughly 3 million images per hour.

The most amazing statistic of all? Just five years ago, Instagram didn’t even exist. But in that short period of time, the site has undergone significant growth in its user base and in nearly every demographic group. In other words, Instagram is a marketer’s dream come true.

As a social media tool, Instagram is more powerful than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to brand marketing. That’s because Instagram posts generate a per-follower engagement rate – or the amount of people who actually look at the content that is posted — of 4.21%. That’s 58 times more than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

To engage customers on Instagram, a business needs more than just great looking images. It also needs a thoughtful content strategy and a clearly defined brand identity based in visual creativity and effective customer engagement.

Visual social media offers unique strengths for telling compelling stories about your brand and business. To help you develop an effective Instagram strategy for building qualified leads, here are seven simple techniques you can use starting right away. Read more

5 Awesome Tips & Strategies to Promote Your Content on Instagram

A few weeks back, Instagram celebrated its 5th birthday. Did you know that in just 5 short years, the platform has gone from a single post shared by Instagram’s co-founder, Kevin Systrom, to more than 80 million photos shared every single day from around the globe?

instagram

Indeed, from brands like Burberry and Levi’s to Ben and Jerry’s and PayPal, thousands of businesses are on Instagram, creating and sharing interesting and inspiring content. Instagram is, in effect, a proven way for businesses to raise awareness for their brands. The key to success is to know how to leverage its infrastructure to target your message more effectively and reach people based on what they care about. After all, Instagram is a growing community of 400 million and if you are not using the platform to be discovered by—and interact with—customers, you do so at your own peril. The things you can do on Instagram include:

1. Using the platform as your shop window to touch, inspire and move people
2. Using landscape photo and video to give your advertising a more cinematic feel
3. Video ads of up to 30 seconds for rich storytelling
4. Using Marquee to “own a moment” and drive mass awareness, perfect for things like a new product launch or a movie release

The challenge when it comes to Instagram is that as more and more people and brands jump onto the platform, the noise level for individual users is increasing. To really stand out from the crowd, you need to understand how to promote your content on Instagram for maximum reach and impact. Read more

7 Best Practices for Instagram Marketing

From Mercedes-Benz and Levi’s® to Taco Bell and Ben & Jerry’s, Instagram – a community of over 300 million, is being used by brands and businesses to reach an engaged audience, build awareness, deliver captivating imagery for rich visual storytelling and publish content in a creative environment. After all, every brand has a point of view and Instagram lets you share yours.

Instagram-logo

The social networking service has the following benefits:

1. Instagram is home to an engaged community. Instagrammers are passionate about the platform and are open to new perspectives.

2. The singular focus of the platform is captivating imagery. This is a fact demonstrated to best effect by Instagram’s simple design that ultimately allows captivating imagery to take center stage.

3. Instagram is a beautiful and high-quality environment to tell your brand’s story.

Additionally, the statistics for Instagram are baffling. The photo-sharing and video-sharing social networking service has:

1. 300 million monthly active users
2. The service is home to over 30 billion photos
3. Everyday, 70 million photos are added
4. Instagram photos generate 2.5 billion likes daily

Clearly, if you ignore Instagram’s potential as a marketing channel, you do so at your own peril. Equally important, if you want Instagram to fit into your overall marketing strategy and in turn increase awareness for your brand, shift perception and/or reach a new audience, you need to be aware of tactics for success.

In truth, as more and more people and brands jump onto Instagram, the noise level for individual users increases and for your content to really stand out from the crowd, it needs to be remarkable, interesting and add value. The content also needs to be optimized to make sure it is seen.

7 tactics for Marketing Success on Instagram

1. Cross-promote for Discoverability

One of the easiest ways to juice up your Instagram engagement and maximize your Instagram impact is to mention your Instagram account on other social media channels, your website and any printed materials. This will promote traffic and expand your reach to new or existing communities. In particular, be sure to capitalize on Facebook’s integration of Instagram to reach wider audiences.

2. Follow the Top Trends

As a social media marketer on Instagram, you need to be constantly aware of the top trends on the network so you can participate in those conversations when it’s relevant for your industry. The idea is that you want to match your content to the current season, holiday or event so you can hit your audience when they are already thinking about these things.

3. Engage your Community

Next up, the thing you need to understand about Instagram is that it is not a one-way channel for promoting your brand. As mentioned above, Instagram is an engaged community and to belong, you need to like and comment on other people’s photos and content. Interact with your followers and reciprocate their passion for your brand. Read more

The Secret behind Getting More Instagram Followers & Likes

Launched on October 06, 2010 and named iPhone App of the Year by Apple the following year on December 09, 2011, after 4 short years, Instagram announced in December that it is now a global community of more than 300 million users sharing over 70 million photos and videos each day. From the beginning, as a photo-sharing and video-sharing social service, Instagram has been focused on 2 things: simplicity and inspiring creativity.

Instagram-Logo

As Instagram grows bigger, it remains a fast, beautiful and most importantly a fun-filled way for people to share their lives with friends and followers. For businesses and brands, the large and growing audience on Instagram is a compelling reason to join the service. It’s additionally a beautiful platform for storytelling and to share engaging content.

But what happens if you join the service and after amassing a few dozen followers, your account’s growth rate slows down and eventually stops. If you have, give or take, a total of 100 followers, your images will get maybe a dozen likes at most. It’s not significant enough to gain any traction.

The key to a successful Instagram account then would be to learn absolutely everything there is to know how the social service, in particular things like what causes Instagramers to like images, what makes them become followers and how to increase the visibility and impact of your images. So let’s discuss the science of Instagram and how to get more followers and likes on the service.

1. Connect your Instagram, Facebook and Twitter Accounts

Perhaps the easiest way to grow your Instagram account is to connect it to your Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts so that any content you post on the photo-sharing service also gets posted across the other social platforms. This increases the reach and impact of your brand as friends and followers noticing your captivating imagery and rich visual storytelling will, most probably, start following you on Instagram as well. Note that if you choose to connect your social accounts, there is no rule against posting a status asking your friends and followers to follow you on Instagram as well.

2. Use Popular Tags

The most used hashtags on Instagram are as follows:

  1. #love
  2. #instagood
  3. #me
  4. #tbt
  5. #cute
  6. #photooftheday
  7. #instamood
  8. #iphonesia
  9. #picoftheday
  10. #igers

Followed by:

  1. #girl
  2. #tweegram
  3. #beautiful
  4. #instadaily
  5. #summer
  6. #instagramhub
  7. #follow
  8. #iphoneonly
  9. #igdaily
  10. #bestoftheday

Like is the case on Twitter and a few other social networking services, using the right hashtags with your images and videos on Instagram is a great way to find new followers. The key is to be as specific and relevant as possible to help you connect with other like-minded people. After tagging your content, take a moment to look at pictures and videos other people shared using the same tags. You may come across some popular hashtags you hadn’t thought of originally.

Read more

Instagram for Business | Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions

Every brand has a story. Instagram is a platform that’s unique in its singular focus on captivating imagery and providing brands with an avenue for rich visual storytelling.

Instagram-Logo

Why use Instagram for Business

  • It’s a tight community: Instagrammers are passionate about the platform
  • It’s very visual: Instagram’s simple design allows captivating imagery to take center stage
  • It’s beautiful: Instagram is a creative and inspiring environment

But Let’s Also Cover Some Stats

  • Instagram boasts of 200M monthly actives
  • With 65% of the users residing outside the U.S.
  • Instagram is home to 20B photos
  • It generates 1.6B likes daily
  • And 60M photos per day

Brands are some of the most creative contributors to the Instagram community.

  • Ben & Jerry’s reached 9.8 million users and saw a 33-point increase in ad recall
  • Levi’s, the classic American retailer reached 7.4 million people and saw a 24-point lift in ad recall
  • America’s Taco Bell was the first restaurant to advertise on Instagram. The response was tremendous, including a 29-point lift in ad recall

Clearly, Instagram makes a strong case when it comes to social media platforms businesses should use to increase their reach and impact. The challenge is to determine what’s unique about your brand and then share it with the world.

Useful Content Strategy Tips

  • Start with clear goals: Your Instagram account should fit into your overall brand marketing strategy
  • Choose a theme that’s authentic to your brand and tells a cohesive story through captivating imagery
  • Produce high-quality images and videos that are well crafted. The content you create should feel at home on the platform

Photo Taking, Editing and Sharing on Instagram

First off, to produce images and videos that are well crafted, you need to know the exact image sizes used by Instagram. Instagram image size used to be 612 pixels in width by 612 pixels in height. Recently, this image size was slightly increased. The current image size is 640 pixels in width by 640 pixels in height.

So first things first, remember this image size for all content you create for marketing on Instagram.

1. Photo Editing Tips

Once you’ve taken a photo, you can edit it by applying effects. Instagram provides a suite of photo-editing tools including:

– Straighten

When you take a photo using the Instagram in-app camera or upload a photo from file, you can straighten it using the Adjust tool.

– Border

You can add a border to any filtered photo.

– Lux

Lux makes your photos more vibrant and brings out details you couldn’t see before.

Other photo-editing tools include:

– Brightness: It makes your photo brighter or darker.

– Warmth: It shifts the colors of your photo towards warmer or cooler tones.

– Vignette: It darkens the edges of a photo.

– Highlights: Use it to adjust the focus on the bright areas of an image.

Read more

How to Inspire and Engage Your Audience on Instagram

Nike on Instagram

On Instagram, in addition to its primary @nike account, Nike runs other accounts including @nikebasketball, @nikefootballand @nikewomen.

nike-instagram

The question is: Why? Why the extra accounts and the extra work?

You see, the reason why @nike is so successful on Instagram lies in its understanding that being passionate about a sport means being part of a community. And Nike built communities on Instagram defined by, not country borders, but by passion; the passion of fans and athletes from around the world.

@nikerunning is, for example, perhaps one of the most successful Instagram accounts. The way it brings together everything running related and the global running community is extraordinary and gives them a reason to feel that they are part of something bigger with hashtags like #werundirty. And all of this is brought to life on Instagram, with photos and videos.

General Electric on Instagram

General Electric is an American multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. Now if you were ask to picture what the Instagram account of General Electric looks like, first off, you would probably wonder: Does it have an Instagram account? And secondarily, you will probably visualize photos of light bulbs or videos of how a refrigerator works.

Now let’s see how wrong you are.

general-electric-instagram

The team behind @generalelectric is not here to promote appliances. Instead they are selling a bigger story; A story of powering, moving and curing the world.

Before Instagram, people didn’t know what General Electric stood for but in Instagram, the company saw the opportunity to develop an understanding for what GE does. In addition to successfully building awareness for its innovative technology, General Electric has managed to become one the most esteemed contributors to the Instagram community.

How they did it? It’s all about getting your messaging priorities to align with your business objectives and thereafter committing to a high bar for content for images posted typically once a day.

Ben & Jerry’s on Instagram

@benandjerrys is another Instagram account that deserves a special mention for the sheer way that it brings its ice cream brand to life on the social service. Focusing on things like key flavors, fun and the brand values, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011 and is now, one of the most successful accounts.

ben-and-jerrys-instagram

@benandjerrys is, in effect, a visual storytelling platform that connects people from all over the world.  In fact, at least half the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares on Instagram today are from community members.

Read more

Branding For Small Businesses | What The Branding Giants Do And How You Can Copy Off Them

If you run a small-scale business, you may not have the following or fan base like a company such as Coca-Cola but there is no much you can learn about branding from the way the big players do it. To help you get started, below is a list of companies that have built their brands through engagement efforts.

small-business

Each of these companies have done something special with their social media marketing and as a small business, you have something to learn from each one of them. So buckle up people and pay attention because you are about to enthralled.

How the Branding Giants Do it

1. Ask Users for Content

Everyone’s heard of Expedia, the online travel company. What you might not know about is the ruse used by this company to get people to share content. Expedia encourages users to share their travel experiences via Expedia’s social media apps including videos, photos and content. For example, one video might be of a father and son at Disneyland Paris with the caption “The best trip ever” Another might be a narration of a trip to Phuket. “ Just got back from a trip to Phuket, Thailand and we’ve had the most wonderful experience ever. Everything was booked and paid for via Expedia including our car rental. Expedia is no doubt the best online travel company.”

The take-away: In addition to the content you create for your fans and followers on the social sites, you can also ask them for content including photos, videos and written content. You do not need a following like Expedia’s to be able to do that. Just ask for photos, videos or short stories relating a certain subject. This will promote your brand and simultaneously motivate people to pay attention to your company.

2. Hold Contests

When RadioShack, the undisputed authority in the wireless market, held a contest via social media to promote a new product, Verizon phones, the result was spectacular with Twitter users. Tweets were sent using the hashtag #itskindofabigdeal. The tweets were sent directly to one of several Verizon phones. These phones were placed on a table and set to vibrate. Whenever a tweet was received, the phone would vibrate and move. The person responsible for making the phone drop would then win the phone.

The take-away: To promote engagement with your brand on the social sites, you can try to make a game out of your product or service. This can be easily achieved by adding a competitive element to your request. This will promote engagement and perhaps benefit you two-fold if people start following you or liking you on the social sites because word-of-mouth is, you are offering an incentive. Whether your end goal is to attract new fans and followers or to promote engagement for your brand, contests always work great.

Read more

Epic Social Media Win By These 5 Brands

Ah. Social media. It’s an unavoidable topic nowadays. Actually, I will go as far as saying that it’s probably time for you to dump your favorite Internet marketing blog and/or forum if there is no section dedicated to social media on there!

While social media is not THE future of marketing, it certainly forms a big (huge?) part of it. It is not a coincidence that big corporations who do not appear to need any more attention at all are jumping on social media. Think Coca-Cola. Who doesn’t know it? Who doesn’t drink it? And yet, the expensive suits working there decided that it’s important for them to generate over 60 million Likes on their page. Same with Red Bull; they sent a guy (Felix Baumgartner) to space and had him literally jump back to Earth. And yet, they are still very active on their social pages.

In this article, I will dissect the strategies of 5 brands that got their social media marketing right. They have distinctly different strategies, which is why I picked them for this post.

Oreo

If you have “Liked” them on Facebook, you know how big of a hit their ‘Daily Twist’ campaign was. For those who don’t know, Oreo turned 100 years old last year. To celebrate, they posted pictures and statuses on a daily basis for 100 days.

Their posts were highly relevant to big events that happened in the past, only that they were “Oreo-based”. It would be unreasonable for me to expect you to visualize that sentence, so let me illustrate it below with 4 of their genius images:

Oreo Social Media

Oreo Social Media

Oreo Social Media

Oreo Social Media

The amount of work involved, the commitment, the consistency, all of it paid off in the form of thousands of Likes and comments. This led to more people liking the brand and in the end I suppose buying more Oreos. I know for a fact these pictured are super appetizing.

Red Bull

When the company does not send people to space, it interacts with its fans and followers.

While some of us were busy complaining about the new Facebook Timeline, Red Bull decided to celebrate it by creating a game around it! It was called the “Red Bull Scavenger hunt”.

Redbull Social Media

Basically, the aim was to answer questions that the admin asked, based on clues within the Facebook page. This led to an avalanche of comments and likes. Not only that, but it also allowed Red Bull to re-use (and revive) their old content.

Grey Poupon

You may be asking yourself how in the world can a mustard brand have an active social media presence. Well, Grey Poupon found a way.

We can deny it all we want, but we all have a sense of “self-worth” attached to our social profiles. This self-worth is what Grey Poupon is leveraging on.

Grey Poupon Society of Good Taste

It created “The Society of Good Taste” which very basically evaluates you. It even fetches information from your profile and shares to give you a rise in score!

Read more

The Business Owner’s Guide to Instagram

There is a reason why big companies are using Instagram to spread the word about their business; it’s working for them! You can make it work for you too, if you do it the right way.

Instagram

Today we will talk about a few steps you can take to give Instagram your best shot, by creating a win-win-win situation for you, your potential customers and Instagram itself. You wouldn’t want to miss out on 80 million potential customers, would you?

Be social

Social Media and SEORemember that Instagram is much more than a place where you can upload pictures. It’s a social platform. It’s meant for you to interact with other people – a photo that someone uploaded made you giggle? Leave a comment and say it (and Like it!).

Also, make sure to reply to the comments that people leave on your pictures, especially if they are reporting an issue that they are having with a service or product you provide. It’s very easy for people to start complaining about your product on any of their social accounts, and it can go viral if they mention that you’ve seen their complaint on your page, but have ignored it.

Social networks are the perfect place to show that you care about your customers and that you can make everyone happy (or at least try to!) and build trust amongst your followers.

Take people behind the scenes Behind the Scenes

I don’t know about you, but I always wonder what’s behind that “Staff Only” door EVERYTIME I see it – it doesn’t matter which company I go to. I know other people who do too. Chances are, it’s not just them and me. People are curious.

Snap a picture of the “Only Staff Members Allowed” room and share it with everyone. Selling a product? How about uploading a pic of the making of it? Show people your business from a completely different perspective. Some of them will love you just for that!

Create your own hashtag…& promote its use!

Creating HashtagThe generic hashtags are getting tired and old. Create your own; make it your “thing”. If you post cool pictures, people will start looking for your pictures by searching for your hashtag.

Give the users incentive to use your hashtag when sharing your pictures (or pictures of them using your product!). How? Maybe by offering a discount or free gift to each person who does. Some businesses have done it, and it works great!

This also allows you to monitor how much your brand is being shared and talked about (you can’t really do that if you use something generic).

Time your upload time your upload

Like uploading your photos right before bed after a long day at work? Don’t. Other people are going to bed too. Find some time to share your pictures at 5 or 6 p.m. (your local time).

These are not just numbers thrown out there like that; studies have actually been made! It makes sense though; many people check their social accounts right after work. By catching them at this time, you will increase your chances of generating more likes, comments and shares.

Read more