Create Immediacy and Intimacy with Instagram
Why has radio survived so long? It's a 100 year old technology. Radio has survived because it creates a sense of immediacy. Spoken word shows create a sense of personal intimacy. Social networking gives us a range of tools to create a sense of immediacy. No longer do you have to set up a 5,000 watt radio station. You can do it from your smartphone and a Twitter account. What major media, these days, does not include tweets as part of its coverage of almost any breaking events? From elections to civil war, Twitter is almost becoming the new high ground.
But let's roll it back a bit. We're not talking about hugely emotionally and politically charged things like elections and wars. I don't want to frame this blog post in that manner. I'm talking about using social networking and media to give your company that friendly, quirky immediacy previously enjoyed by massive media corporations.
I've talked on the BlueCamroo blog about the benefits of "live tweeting" industry related events you might be attending. By tweeting your locations, it's a great way to meet others in your industry. It's also a great way to provide some on-the-ground coverage for people who might want to attend an event but did not have the time.
The latest tool in the immediacy and up-close-and-personal game is Instagram. Instagram is a free smartphone app (iPhone, Android) that works with your phone's camera. You can take pictures using the app itself or upload photos already on your camera to the app. The app can be connected to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Photos you upload to Instagram are simultaneously added to your Twitter or Facebook streams. You can describe the photos and, most importantly, use Twitter hashtags (#cfl #u2concert #thanksgiving) to get your photos out in front of a wider audience.
One of the nice things about Instagram is it provides a range of filters that gives your photos different kinds of professional looks and moods. As I noted in another BlueCamroo blog post, a big part of marketing over social networking is getting the emotional content right. With Instagram you can, at a click, give a photo a warm, fuzzy feel.
Get people clicking
People respond to pictures immediately in ways they won't respond immediately to text. They click on pictures that are interesting, quirky, or feature attractive people. For many hashtag topics, Twitter now also displays top Instagram photos tagged with the hashtag. Who knows what results you'll get if one of your random, off-the-cuff snaps becomes a top photo for a given hashtag.
It's Informal. It's personal.
Many small businesses lend themselves to the informal, personal touch. People understand Instagram images are not the product of a big media campaign. It's street level. It's a merchant's on-the-spot snapshot of the here and now. You are proud of your office, your building, your warehouse. These things don't really lend themselves to web sites or marketing materials. But Instagram lets you get out these slice-of-business-life snapshots in a way that doesn't seem crass. Keep the photo caption verbiage to a minimum and raw/authentic.
Show your products
Picking up on the above point, are there creative ways you can show your product? Notice your product out in the real world? Got an arty macro view? Instagram it. Remember. Let the image, the lighting, and the mood set by the filter carry the message. Stow the impulse to append over-written marketing copy to the image.
It's another way to attract followers
I'm finding every time I instagram a photo of a plate of sushi I enjoy and hashtag it properly, I attract a couple new Twitter followers.
Tell your story visually
A soft drink is just sugar and water in a bottle. There's nothing inherently emotional about that. But put that bottle in the hands of the most warm-hearted painting of Santa or in the hands of a couple kids walking back from the fishing hole and you've instantly added emotional content to your product and your business.
Adjust your emotional content on the fly
An ad campaign must be thought up months in advance. Many advertisers have been stymied by sudden shifts in public mood. A natural disaster or tragedy can completely derail a company's feel good imagery. Instagram allows you to adjust the emotional content of your business on the fly.