I am in the business of words, sometimes even making words up, hence the whole eletelephant thing. That aside, words are important, the pen is mightier than the sword, and all that jazz. On the other hand there is a saying that a picture is worth 1000 words. The lazy efficient side of me is thinking, maybe I can get more out of a picture in my marketing efforts than writing up a lot of words and Instagram is a great compliment to those word-based marketing efforts of yours. Here’s a few things to get you started!
First Things First
Welcome to the world of IG. I’m assuming you have the account, followed your best buddies, and probably posted that first, slightly awkward photo. You’ve got filters and editing tools, you can also do video. With anything, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to jump in and figure out what pictures do and don’t work.
The picture itself is says so much and how you take that picture will help or hurt what you’re trying to say. The more creative and visually interesting the shot, the better.
a) For a lot of people, they take a macro view with photography… everything including the kitchen sink is in the shot. With a micro view, you can give a new view to an everyday object. If you get your phone within 6 inches of the subject, tap the object on the screen and it will focus on it and blur the background. As a photographer friend told me, those blurred backgrounds are the shots that bring in the money.
b) If you want to communicate size and scale, step far away! Think of a new angle to take that big picture shot. I took a pic in a warehouse of dozens of pallets of wood. Instead of just standing there, I nearly got on my belly to get a little bit of the floor in the picture and the shot was just a little more interesting than if I just stood on my feet.
c) Speaking of crazy angles, start observing things and look for a different perspective, that crazy angle. Your pics will communicate creativity. Don’t be afraid to get on your belly, squat, climb, or get to a place where you’ll find that perfect shot (okay, be safe about all this, bodily harm is never worth it)
d) Also, what is interesting in your life or business? People by nature are voyeristic so play it to your advantage, give them a peek of your unique world (within reason, use common sense).
e) Use plenty of light. Natural light will make your pics look great and that means catching the eye. The more natural light, the less you will need to rely on filters.
Hashtags are Key
Instagram started working for me when I started using hashtags. This is how people search other images on varying topics. Try for about 11 but don’t exceed 30. Make sure they are relevant to your business and picture. As you type them out IG will give suggestions with the use count. Shoot for the big numbers. Also, throw in one unique hashtag that represents your business, event, topic that is unique to yourself.
Tag Thy Neighbor
For awhile I was shy on this. Should I tag other businesses and users? I realized, it helps them, it helps me, it is stupid to not do it. If you have a product, search for that business’ account and show them love. You want your followers and customers tagging you, so give it first… it’s the golden rule.
IG Search and Stalk
As you build your account, know who you are wanting to reach. If you’re a business, who are your ideal customers? For one of my clients it is the guys sanding and finishing floors, so I search for that and start following. Once you have a base of that, watch for the active and successful accounts. Go in and look at who they are following and start following them. On that note, also look at the hashtags they are using and start adding them to your pictures. If you are in your niche market, this will build you a great account and following.
Another way to get some traction building your account is to heart and chat on other accounts. This goes right back to the golden rule… do to others what you want done to you. Besides it is fun. Think of encouraging comments and make some friends. The best part to these platforms is the community you can build and really cool people you meet, and if you aren’t incorporating genuine appreciation and service to your customers and potential customers, you will be found out. There is a lot of transparency that comes with social media and those that are out for the other person’s good will be just fine.
It’s About Industry Love
One thing with IG for business is that you will stumble across competitors. My recent ah-ha moment was make it about industry love, not just love for your brand. A lot of people are out there doing cool things in your space. There’s a quality taught to kids in FIRST robotics about balancing competition with cooperation, that winning is doing your best in the competitions, never at the expense of anyone else, always looking for ways to help other teams out. Interact and have fun with your competitors — what’s good for your industry is good for you.
How you make your Picture Count
Pictures should compliment your brand’s written message by reinforcing it. If you tell people your business is focused on customer service, show real pictures of your team serving customers and working happily. Does your messaging tell people that you are the expert? Take pictures of your team doing their thing, what they are skilled about. Or take pictures of industry best practices or even take a video as well. This is exactly why pictures are worth 1000 words. They are proof of action, not just a bunch of hot air.
If you made it through all this, bravo! Now go out and have fun and shoot for posting 3-5 times a week!