Using Instagram to Connect Customers with Your Company

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on April 9, 2012
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Instagram is the photo-sharing darling of the mobile app world. In fact, Facebook loves the app so much that Mark Zuckerberg announced today that he was buying the company.

Instagram allows some 14 million users to edit and post digital photographs to social media sites with just a couple of clicks. Perhaps you’re already using Instagram to share pictures of your toddler on Twitter. Why not use the popular tool to boost your business, too?

Here are five strategies for using Instagram to connect customers with your company.

  1. Take photos of product prototypes and send them to your followers for feedback. If you’re considering launching or selling a new product — for instance, a new menu item at your restaurant or a new dress at your apparel store — you can gain valuable insights by first sending out a photo of the item and gauging customer and fan reactions. If they’re overwhelmingly positive, you may want to kick your production into overdrive. If not, consider whether their criticisms are valid — if you hear the same complaints numerous times, you may want to rethink the product before going into mass production.
  2. Shed light on behind-the-scenes activities. Most customers actually relish receiving “insider information” about their favorite businesses. If you’re in a band, use Instagram to take photos backstage. If you run a cafe, take some candid shots of your chef prepping veggies for the day. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has amassed more than 2 million Instagram fans by using his Twitter account to show off just-made dishes at his restaurants.
  3. Ask customers to submit photos of your products in use. Encouraging customers to post their own Instagram images to social media sites can bolster your brand awareness. For example, host a contest that encourages customers to tweet photos of themselves wearing your custom scarves or eating a slice of pizza at your shop. Once a winner is named, ask him to submit a photo of himself with the prize in hand.
  4. Organize around a compelling theme and take advantage of related hashtags. NH Hoteles tweets photos of beautiful sunrises taken from its hotel windows worldwide, using the hashtag #wakeuppics. Similarly, design company Kate Spade New York uses the fashion-focused hashtag #popofcolor to display some of its most colorful products.
  5. Illustrate the good that your organization does. If you run a nonprofit group or have a charity-focused component to your business, use Instagram photos to demonstrate what you’re doing to give back to the community. The nonprofit group charity: water is a prime example. It posts snapshots related to water projects in developing countries that the group funds, such as pictures of people digging wells and images of completed ones.
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