Boost Your Social Strategy With Real-World Icons

Opinion: Anything unique and exciting instantly turns into Instagram 'bait'

People love wall murals in big cities
ampueroleonardo/iStock

Social media is clearly a valuable channel for increasing exposure, but only a select few brands really understand how it works. If you’re just going through the motions, you probably aren’t generating much of a return on your investment. Perhaps it’s time for you to get more creative and explore new opportunities.

Toss some Instagram bait into the water

Over the past three or four years, Instagram has gone from being a niche social media platform to one of the most influential among the valuable 18-to-49 age demographic. The visual nature of the platform gets people excited and encourages participation, rather than just consumption.

If you study Instagram trends, you’ll notice that people are far more likely to take and share pictures if there’s something “shareworthy” around them. In other words, they’re more apt to take a selfie if they’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower than if they’re sitting in front of a row of bushes in a park.

But it doesn’t have to be some famous landmark like the Eiffel Tower or Niagara Falls. What savvy social marketers are discovering is that anything unique and exciting instantly turns into Instagram “bait.”

While some things naturally turn into bait without any strategic attempt, many businesses are recognizing the opportunity and creating their own unique elements with the sole intention of gaining visibility via Instagram selfies and shares.

4 types of Instagram bait that work well

If you’re new to the idea of Instagram bait, then your head is probably spinning with ideas of what you can do for your brand. The more unique you can make it, the better. However, here are a few categories of ideas to get you thinking:

  1. Signs: A sign outside of an office, store, restaurant or place of business isn’t something you typically spend a ton of time thinking about, but maybe you should. Signage has become a lot more important in the digital age, and it could prove to be a bait-worthy element for your brand. Signage has changed a lot over the past few years. Gone are the days of cheap vinyl signs. Today, it’s all about making a statement. Leading brands are turning to unique creations of art such as the combination of metal, 3-D printing and LED lighting. By selecting unique signage and placing it in a strategic position, you might be able to influence people to take pictures and share them on social media.
  2. Wall murals: In case you haven’t noticed, people love wall murals in big cities. They’ve existed for years, but social media has given them a much bigger platform. If you live in the Southeast or have friends who are from the area, you may have seen the famous “I Believe in Nashville” mural in Nashville, Tenn. It’s been featured in publications like GQ and The Wall Street Journal, and even on a Pepsi commercial. But what makes it most famous are the thousands of Instagram pictures people have organically captured and shared. Could you commission someone to paint a wall mural outside of your building? Or if you own a bar or restaurant—somewhere where a lot of people gather—perhaps an indoor mural could work? Try thinking outside the box.
  3. Breathtaking views: Sometimes all you need to do is leverage what’s already in place. If you’re already in a location with a breathtaking view, introducing a brand icon could help you garner some traction. Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox is a great example. As you can see in this picture, the team strategically placed an oversized logo in the upper deck of Guaranteed Rate Field with the Chicago skyline in the background. This serves as the perfect photo opportunity for fans, and it is frequently featured on Instagram.
  4. Flashy advertisements: Feel free to create a real-world marketing campaign with the purpose of getting attention and earning social media exposure. There are plenty of good examples of this over the years, including the Colin Firth sculpture one PR firm installed in a lake to promote British broadcaster UKTV a few years back. A flashy advertisement can help you gain a brief, predictable boost in exposure when you need it most. Try using this strategy when you’re leading up to a major product release or announcement.

Move your followers to action

If you want to increase exposure and drive your Instagram and social media followers to action, you have to think outside the box and stop relying on traditional methods that have low market penetration rates. What you need is an exciting and fresh idea that captures your audience’s desire to be unique and creative. Instagram bait—or whatever you what to call it—has been shown to work. What are you waiting for?

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.