When Instagram began as a lowly image sharing app in October 2010, few outside of the app’s creators could have predicted the social media channel would have such a significant impact on the future of communication and business. Having grown to 100 million active users by April 2012, the potential was beginning to be realised.
What began as simply a free mobile app to share images with your social network, quickly become one of the most successful avenues for business (and individuals) to promote and shape their brand and public perceptions. While social media has been accused of providing a platform for egoism and manufactured reality, the channel is about more than extravagant holidays and unrealistic fitness photos.
Instagram is a branding playground for businesses that know how to use it to their advantage. The platform is full of people who are excited to engage with visually appealing content. Businesses have begun to skilfully tap into this goldmine and use their presence to establish a brand and name for themselves among a very powerful and diverse audience.
While businesses are currently benefitting from the exposure presented by Instagram, experts in the field of communication predict that businesses that do not get on board the social media band wagon, will not survive.
Not only does Instagram help to make your business ‘pretty’, Instagram provides yet another opportunity for you to engage and communicate with some of your most important stakeholders. We know how important that is when our audiences expect engagement.
We know what you’re thinking. So, I not only have to establish a successful business, I have to constantly communicate with the market AND the communication must be engaging and exciting?! It can be daunting for many business owners but the best way to show your audience that you are a forward thinking business is to engage in a technologically advanced way.
The most important thing for businesses to remember is that not every post is going to (or has to) sell your product. While you may post periodically about products you have for sale, ads don’t always engage people. Create content that uses your products in an exciting way to interest your audience. Yes, you can include detail on purchasing the product (or your key message) at the end of your caption, but it should not be your sole message.
The purpose of using Instagram is to establish a following that will promote your business for you, which will lead to trust and credibility, resulting in sales for you. Research has shown that buying behaviour has changed. People shop online, but rely on social media comments and online reviews to gauge if they will purchase a product. Therefore, your following will become very important in selling the message you have to share. It is therefore essential that you gain their trust and they will, in return, establish credibility for your brand and message.
With this in mind, it is easy to understand why there are now professionals trained purely to manage and conceptualise business social media profiles.
Instagram is powerful; use it to your advantage!