In 2010 a few friends wanted to make an app that allowed you and me to share pictures of our lives in real time. The first iteration of the product was a bare-bones application that allowed you to slap filters and share your life – or a certain version of your life – with the world.
In the beginning, major brands wrote it off as a fad for teenagers. Now, over 50% of the world’s brands have active Instagram accounts. Not only are fortune five hundred companies and entrepreneurs cashing in, but regular people from all over the world are also using the platform to find new opportunities.
Instagram Business Success Stories
Aimee Song (@SongofStyle) is a fashion blogger with over 4 million Instagram Followers. She’s an Instagram influencer which commands tens of thousands of dollars every time she signs up for a campaign with a brand.
Amanda Cerny (@Amandacerny) is a YouTube celebrity who’s amassed over 20 million followers on Instagram. With this amount of influence, she’s been tapped by some of the largest brands to run promotions, build awareness about social issues, and travel the world.
Not only that, she’s launched her own Ecommerce brand which brings in tens of thousands every month.
Gary Vaynerchuck (@garyvee) is a scrappy entrepreneur with over four million followers on his Instagram account. He delivers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. That influence has allowed him to build a multi-million dollar marketing agency and work with brands like Coke, General Motors, and Dove.
Frank Body (@frank_bod) is a cosmetics line that sells coffee based scrubs for men and women. Within 18 months of launching, they’d amassed hundreds of thousands of followers and achieved $20 million in revenue. They focused almost entirely on Instagram influencers.
Though these results aren’t typical, it’s well within the realm of possibility.
We’re giving you these examples so you can understand what Instagram can do for you whether you’re a personal brand or a company.
The world has changed from a place where the customer accepts what they see on TV and billboards to one in which your brand is always on. Always connected.
Instagram is a platform you can use to show them your products. More than that, it’s a place where they can be constantly connected to you through a consistent stream of content that speaks to their hearts and minds.
If you get it right, there’s no limit to what you can do.
Let’s look at what makes Instagram such a unique platform.
Many people claim to put mobile first. Few truly do. Instagram is one of the unique platforms that emphasizes the mobile experience above all others. The desktop version of the app is a poor substitute.
Yes, you can view images, but you can’t change certain parts of your profile and you can’t even post updates.
This was done on purpose. Your phone is personal. You put a code to protect your messages, emails, and other private information. SumoGram makes it possible to get beyond this restriction by posting directly to the platform from your desktop computer.
On average, smartphone users check their phones fifty times a day. They can check their favorite apps dozens of times. They’re constantly plugged in and dividing their attention between notifications, emails, and apps.
Instagram routinely appears as one of the most used apps in the App store and Play store. People are still discovering and using it every single day.
Its mobile nature also provides another unique advantage. It’s always with your target audience.
When was the last time you left your phone at home? How did your day go? Were you annoyed? Did you feel like you were missing something? Was there a disconnect between you and the world?
Trust me, once people are on and connected to you through Instagram, it’ll be hard for that connection to be severed.
Images speak a thousand words. Millions of images are uploaded to Instagram every single day. That’s equivalent to countless books. The people using Instagram are telling the story of their lives, businesses, and communities.
With the right visuals, you can become an active storyteller. Paint a picture of your values, brand, and mission that your audience can understand and relate to.
You don’t need a $1,000 dollar camera to capture the essence of your message. The only thing you need to understand is how to convey emotions with the images you create.
From the first picture you post to the last – the emotion you elicit in your audience should align with your brand.
If you’re a fitness account, what kind of emotions do you think you should produce in your audience?
Motivation, energy, and confidence could work well.
What about a charity?
What about a fashion brand?
These are a few of the important questions you should be able to answer in order to put together a cohesive Instagram strategy. We’ll talk more about that in a later post.
For now, let’s look at a few examples of the type of imagery that works well on Instagram.
24 Hour Success is one of the ubiquitous motivational accounts. They have over half a million followers and most of their images – if not all – are overlaid with a quote or aspirational message.
The message is the main draw of their posts, but they also pair it with high quality and relevant imagery to drive home their points. Without those complimentary images, they’d be forced to place their messages on plain backgrounds.
This may work, but it wouldn’t have gotten them to hundreds of thousands of followers alone.
The only other part of an Instagram post you can capitalize on is the caption. Together, the overwhelming visual nature of the platform and the small caption you get create an elegant and personal experience.
This is the feature that turns most people off about Instagram. They don’t see how they can drive traffic and revenue when there’s nowhere to place a link in their posts.
Apart from Instagram ads and stories (as of this writing, only verified accounts can link in stories), you don’t have much wiggle room. This is a blessing in disguise. Instagram comes off as a non-spammy way to use social media to grow your brand.
The less spam, the more engagement.
Our Facebook feeds are littered with irrelevant ads, posts, and articles we can’t prevent. On Instagram, if a user’s posts are annoying you, all you’ve got to do is unfollow (the ads are becoming more prevalent, but still nowhere near Facebook).
A few of your followers will be highly engaged with your content in their feed. These are the same people who click through to your bio, your website, your product pages, and buy something.
So yes, it’s a challenge, but also an opportunity for sincere engagement with your brand. The comments come alive, likes are more meaningful, and interactions are more authentic.
Together, these three elements make Instagram a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. They also contribute to its higher engagement levels when compared to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other popular social media platforms.
Generating brand awareness and engaging with your audience through a strong presence on Instagram can drive a huge amount of leads and sales. We’re generating over a thousand email opt ins every week across our portfolio of accounts.
These emails lead to consistent revenue for us and our clients. Everyone is happy.
More than that, Instagram is a unique way to take people behind the scenes and express your mission, values, and ethos. Combined with your blog posts, podcasts, and other content efforts a cohesive image of your brand appears in the minds of your customers.
As a tool for growth, Instagram can be used in almost any industry. Fashion, food, and fitness are the most popular but by no means the only ones. Ford, Barclays, and Redbull all have huge Instagram followings.
Never for a second believe you need to sell physical products to be successful with Instagram. Boss Babes Inc. sells an online community membership, has over six hundred thousand followers, and enviable engagement.
The power and the choice to make Instagram a primary tool in your marketing arsenal is yours.
When you make the decision to embrace Instagram instead of shun it, you unlock the benefits of a rapidly growing platform, amazing engagement, and enviable brand awareness.
Note: There’s something we’ve noticed while using Instagram that opens a whole realm of possibility for anyone who’s serious. Most account owners aren’t professional. They don’t reply to messages quickly, they don’t speak well, and they’re pretty nonchalant about running their business.
You can set yourself apart from them by being a consummate professional. Treat your Instagram account the way it’s meant to be treated.
As an integral part of your business.
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