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Instagram has been around for a couple of years, but seems to have exploded in popularity recently. How can PR pros use Instagram to increase publicity for clients?
Dear Improving Images:
Four ProfNet experts provide a snapshot:
Instagram is a social network where users can share photos and comment or like their friends’ photos, explains Jeff Peters, social media specialist at The Halo Group.
It offers users a simple, easy way to take and edit photographs, and then post them across all major social media portals, says Seth Grugle, digital and social media specialist for Much and House Public Relations. It borrows the #hashtag concept from Twitter and aggregates friends like Facebook.
“One of the most interesting aspects of Instagram is that it’s not really a ‘site,’ but lives almost purely on mobile,” notes Peters.
“While it’s possible for just about any brand to use Instagram, the platform itself is most appealing to brands and industries that are more visually oriented,” Peters explains. “Instagram helps create a visual connection between a brand and a consumer or potential customer.”
For example, a fashion line could post photos of inspirational clothing patterns, a car manufacturer could post photos of challenging roadways, or a celebrity could post behind-the-scene shots that grant followers access to sights and scenes they’d never get to see otherwise, says Grugle.
PR professionals should seriously consider using the social network to complement client announcements and press releases, just as they do with Twitter and Facebook, says Jennifer DeAngelis, a PR account executive with InkHouse.
“If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then the visual imagery projected through Instagram translates well beyond a 140-character maximum,” says Grugle.
Tips and Suggestions for PR Pros Using Instagram:
1. Check Out Instagram’s Business Page, suggests Peters. Instagram for Businesses provides information on how to get started, examples of successful approaches, advertising and marketing opportunities, and more.
2. Consider Your Audience. “Are your brand’s fans using Instagram?” asks Kevin Dugan, veteran marketer with The Empower Group. “If your audience isn’t on Instagram, do you need to be?”
“Don’t just use Instagram to use it or because it’s positioned as ‘hot,'” agrees Peters. “Make sure that you’re giving your audience content that they want to see and interact with.”
3. Post Appropriate Content. “Understand why you want to use Instagram, how you’re going to use it, what you want to get out of it and how your audience uses it,” says Peters.
“Don’t forget that, while pictures are great, substance is critical,” stresses Dugan. “What are you trying to convey?”
4. Don’t Just Post — Interact, says Peters. Some of the most popular brands on Instagram use behind-the-scene photos, photo hunts or contests. For example, fashion retailer Free People integrates Instagram directly into their product pages.
5. Get Creative, says Dugan. “Optimize the content for the format and break out of traditional molds.” Here are a few examples of unique approaches:
- Square, Inc., posted a photo with “press release” style news
- (RED) uses Instagram to promote awareness
- Coverage of the 2012 presidential elections
Instagram is also often mistakenly overlooked for various types of announcements that a company might make, such as a new product, a new hire, an upcoming event or a recent award, says DeAngelis in her post How We Can Use Instagram in Public Relations.
Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. Dear Gracie is published weekly on ProfNet Connect, a free social networking site for communicators. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.