Visualizing Marketing Success On Instagram Takes Imagination

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook-owned photo sharing network Instagram is starting to become more widely adopted by marketers looking for ways to connect with mobile users. But Instagram is a much different animal than Facebook or Twitter. As SumAll CEO Dane Atkinson discussed with AllFacebook, the visual nature of Instagram requires a different marketing approach.

SumAll provides analytics for brands on several sites, including Facebook. Atkinson said Instagram is one of the more difficult sites for marketers, as brands simply can’t just post discounts and text-heavy announcements. Instagram is best used to show how products can improve users’ lives. Brands that have success on Instagram show their products in action and get users in on the fun.

One brand that SumAll has helped is Diamond Candles, which sells candles with rings inside of them. The company has found a loyal following on Instagram by not only inviting followers to participate in contests, but posting user-generated photos.

In addition to running relevant contests (note how the company is not giving away cash or iPads, but rings), Diamond Candles reposts user-submitted photos of fans discovering the rings they’ve found in their candles. By embracing user-submitted content, Diamond Candles has shown that it is a responsive brand.

Diamond Candles has shown that you don’t need to have fancy cameras or photography experts. Many times, users of the product will be more than happy to show off and provide that creative aspect.

Atkinson talked with AllFacebook about the differences between marketing on different social networks:

Twitter is definitely more established as light updates. You can get away with conversations back and forth between your users, and there’s an abundance of flow. Facebook also has its own feel. It’s much more about tying into the users’ personalities. Instagram is bringing to the table a little less volume, so it doesn’t respond well with spamming activities that might work well on other platforms. It’s a more artistically centered audience. It’s less, “Hey, we’ve got a sale going on,” and it’s more of a creative angle on what you do.

Atkinson said that the brands that are successful on Instagram don’t just take the same mentality with Facebook and Twitter. Users tend to post to Instagram less often than they do to Facebook and Twitter, so the volume of brands’ postings should follow suit. Whereas users are becoming accustomed to seeing ads on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is still wide open (although that could change over time, especially knowing Instagram’s parent company).

When people like and comment on Instagram photos, they want to see useful content that either uplifts them or can help them in their daily lives. That’s how brands can enter the conversation, Atkinson said, adding that by showing unique uses for the product, it creates intrigue.

GoPro is probably the industry leader in this regard. The focus on its Instagram photos is not the camera, but what users can do with it.

Urbio, which specializes in wall gardening accessories and organization, gives customers ideas on how to use its products, showing some in-house ingenuity.

Readers: If you manage an Instagram account for a company, how have you connected with your audience?