With a 17-month-old son, two busy careers and that ever-growing pile of laundry that never seems to get any smaller, date nights for me and my husband can be scarce. Which is why we created “in-house date nights.” We make a scrumptious dinner or order something fancy, like pizza, light a few candles and settle in on the couch for a few episodes of Downton Abbey. Simple? Yes. But, a great way for us to connect and save a few pennies.
Instagram can be the same for your business – sometimes, the simpler it is, the better. With just a few tools, you can turn an ordinary picture into a whole campaign – just like my husband and I turn a Tuesday night into a mini-getaway. Here are four ways Instagram can help your business:
1. Build your brand
The beauty of social media is that it forces transparency. If you’re too rigid or formal, people won’t stick around. Instead, be spontaneous. Show what happens behind the counter or cash register. When people feel connected to a brand, they’re more likely to stay loyal to that organization.
2. Think outside the box
To the non-yogi or non-runner, Lululemon is a purveyor of active wear. That’s it. But, to those who have succumbed to the charming store (this writer included), Lululemon is so much more than that. Yes, other department stores sell running shorts. But not all department stores sell encouragement, knowledge and a funky bag with every purchase of said running shorts.
Lululemon has worked hard to build a brand of living a healthy lifestyle – in all aspects. And they’re using Instagram to continue growing that brand. For example, they encourage their followers to share how their favorite Lululemon gear takes them through life – from yoga to work to an evening run – and post those pictures on Instagram or Twitter. Instead of just posting photos of various track jackets or sports bras, Lululemon is thinking outside the box and using real customers to build their brand.
3. Encourage participation
Instagram is a great way to get your followers involved; it’s easy for you and easy for them. Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota used this tool to gain momentum in preparation for their online giving campaign. Children’s released one word per day for the 30 days leading up to Give to the Max Day. Words like “generosity,” “inspiration” and “balloons” suspended followers into action. And, each day, one of the submitted photos was chosen and then posted on Children’s Facebook page for the thousands of followers to see. Check out MN Children’s Instagram photo feed.
4. Offer incentives
If your customers and followers are spending the time to reach out to you, give them something in return. American Express provides its 20,000 Instagram followers with backstage access to Am-Ex sponsored events, like concerts and fashion shows.
If fashion shows aren’t your thing, opt for something simpler (again, think “in-house date night”) and offer giveaways to new followers.
Social media is a living, breathing thing; it’s still being developed. So, don’t be afraid to get out there and try a new approach. Instagram is a great way to show your true colors – even if those bright colors are filtered with a sepia tone.