Five Crucial Tips To Make The Most Of Instagram


by Fred van Schie

 

Fred van Schie

Instagram came and conquered in 2011, and a good amount of people within skateboarding and action sports picked it up quickly. The power of the app lies in its simplicity. Snap a photo, add a filter (optional), add text (optional), and upload it to the feed. We all know "a picture is worth a thousand words," and that's exactly what Instagram is all about. It's also super easy to feed it into other social media platforms, so it got noticed by everyone really quick.

The app still only works on the iPhone (and iPad & iPod touch) but it grew from one to 15 million users last year. It's not even close to the size of Facebook (800 million) or Twitter (150 million active users), but it's growing very rapidly.

The fact that it's currently only available to iPhone users (you can't upload photos from a computer either) makes the app even more powerful. And it certainly makes the iPhone owner feel more special. Since last summer, when Instagram really started to gain momentum, a lot of people around me bought an iPhone just because of it. Marketing VPs, pro skateboarders, shop owners, and close friends all wanted to be a part of the Instagram community.

Instagram is supposed to be released for the Android in the near future, but no date has been set for that release at the time of this article.

Here are five simple tips that are crucial to make the most of Instagram, both for business and personal use.

1. Sync your username to Twitter (and all other social media)

For many reasons it's good to sync up the various social media platforms with your brand name and website. A lot of people feed their Instagram into Twitter so it's very important for you, your brand, and your followers, to make sure both usernames are the same. This also allows people to reply and tag you on Twitter when your original tweet was an Instagram post. Even though Instagram is rapidly growing, Twitter is currently 10 times the size of Instagram, so don't exclude those people.


2. Respond to everyone that hash tags you

The best part of the whole social media takeover is that it's a two-way street of communication. Your focus should be more on the interaction with your followers rather than the things you are posting.

So if people tag you, your brand or your shop, whether it's good or bad, makes sure to respond! Don't just like their photo, write something. Even a simple thank you goes a long way.

If people complain about your product or service, take care of it. If you don't reply it only gets worse, and it will affect your brand in a negative way. Once you have taken care of the complaint the consumer will post something positive, since you've shown that you care about him/her. Social media has become one of the biggest parts of customer service, so be responsible if you care about your future.

3. Posting only product is boring

Once people hear or know about your brand, they know they can go to your website at anytime to see your products. There is no need to spam them with boring product photos on a daily basis.

Social media is the perfect tool to humanize your brand, and Instagram is no exception. Show photos of your team riders wearing the product, your office, your employees, and other things that give some insight into your company.

And of course you want to showcase your fans, your consumers. It's the main reason you exist!
Brand loyalty isn't what it used to be, but people will be hyped if you post a picture of them wearing your product or rocking a tattoo of your logo. It also makes it more of a reality that any fan could get a shout out on your Instagram. That will also grow brand loyalty and translate into sales.


4. Post the right sized photo or image

Instagram is based on a Polaroid, so all the images are square. So if you take a photo on your iPhone it's best to take it vertical. If you do take a photo horizontal zoom in once you open it up in Instagram so you won't see the black bars on the top and bottom of the photo.

If you want to post an ad or flyer, have your designer resize it to a square image. It will take a few minutes extra, but it will look that much better.

5. Promote your Instagram

I often hear people complain that their social media platforms aren't growing as fast as they hoped. Most times it's because they don't promote it like they promote their brand and website. Social media is way bigger than a website, so start plugging it! Your Instagram won't explode overnight so think long term. Post regular and join the conversation.

Here are just a few examples of how to promote your Instagram account:
– Add an icon to (the top of) your website
– Spread the word on your other social media platforms (not every day)
– Add the Instagram icon AND username to your ads and flyers
– Have your teamriders, employees, friends give you a shout out (and tag you)
– Do a giveaway and add a hashtag so you can track its reach
– If you have a shop make a sign by the register
– If you are a brand add a flyer to every shipment telling your retailers about your Instagram

Social media is becoming a huge part of marketing. Instagram is another great tool you can use to interact with your fans and consumers. So sign up if you haven't already and join the conversation!
About the author:
Fred started as a sales rep for a distributor in The Netherlands in 2003. He relocated to California in 2008. He was the marketing manager for Altamont and Emerica for 1.5 years, specializing in social media. Besides handling social media for both brands, he also helped Sole Tech teamriders with their social media presence.

In late 2011, Fred started his own social media agency, advising and managing social media for various brands, shops, and athletes in the skateboard industry.

Check out his website, fredvanschie.com for more social media tips and tricks.
You can email him at fred@fredvanschie.com with any questions.

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