Since Facebook announced it would spend $1B to acquire Instagram, the photo-sharing giant with over thirty million members, the media channels have been on fire. But for many late adopters (and, until recently, non-iOS users) Instagram might be something they’ve never had the chance to use. For small and medium sized business owners, this is the perfect time to understand why Instagram is important and what it means for their online reputation.
In a nutshell, Instagram uses filters to make your smartphone’s pictures look “artsy”. Here’s an example of a typical before and after shot:
The idea is that anyone with a smartphone can snap a photo, add a cool filter, and share it with their friends across their social networks. No expensive lenses, no Photoshop skills required. But even if these pictures have relatively little artistic merit, the increasing amount of photo sharing that’s going on means that businesses’ reputations are going to be spreading much more visually in the future. Since a picture is worth a thousand tweets, here are three tips that SMBs can follow to utilize Instagram effectively.
Tip 1: Encourage people to take/share Instagram images
If it’s between a regular picture and an Instagram picture, most businesses would probably prefer to have customers documenting products with the latter. Consider the millions of food and drink shots that restaurant-goers are constantly snapping. These days, those pictures aren’t just going into albums that no one will ever see again; they’re being uploaded and shared immediately. A business wants their products looking top notch, and Instagram pictures can help with that — take these examples:
This is why fashion and food companies love Instagram — they have extremely visual products that they want to show off as best as possible. Of course, this isn’t a magical solution for subpar photography, but at least these filters offer easy, user-friendly options that are much better than nothing.
So try a few things out: maybe get customers to send you their Instagrams (like CNN does), or start a photo contest, or add the Instagram logo to your signage and advertisements. Better yet, add it beside things that you actually want customers taking pictures of (menu specials, mannequins, home and garden displays, etc.). In any case, keep thinking of creative ways to encourage customers to share better photos to enhance your image and overall reputation.
Tip 2: Use filters to match branding
Instagram’s filters can be useful for branding purposes. Although options are limited, it is possible to use filters to bring out colors and adjust the picture’s mood. Consider some Redbull examples:
Notice how the images are adjusted to enhance the blue and red tones? The look coincides with Redbull’s colors perfectly and gives the photos a better feel that fits with the brand’s image. Test out a few different looks and feels yourself — retro brands will benefit the most, but there might be something that fits your business too.
Tip 3: Geotag photos for location convenience
Geotagging is a huge advantage for businesses because it makes it easier for people to find their front door. By default this setting is off, but when it’s activated the shared image will appear with a map that shows where the picture was taken (you can even geotag a photo if you’re no longer at the location). So tag your own images and encourage your customers to do the same; the more consistent and visible your location listings are online, the better your SEO results and the less customer confusion.
We can only expect to hear more about Instagram as the Facebook transition takes place, but while that’s happening SMBs should be keen to consider all the online reputation opportunities and challenges that are out there. As people begin to share more and more photos via Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., there will be more ways that your business will be seen. Make sure your customers are getting the best possible snapshot.
VendAsta Technologies provides white label platforms to newspaper groups and interactive agencies. We’ve developed a suite of tools around reputation management including roll-up reports for larger brands, sales and support tools, and mobile websites.