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Instagram and Pinterest: Should your business be on board?

Instagram and Pinterest are the two newest kids on the social media block, but are they right for your business? Here’s how to decide.

When it comes to marketing your business it doesn’t get any more cost effective than using social media channels to reach customers. It can be a little daunting though and the channel seems to be changing all the time. However, to use social media channels well, you don’t have to use every single one and you don’t necessarily have to use the big ones. Here, we look at some of the opportunities Pinterest and Instagram deliver, two of the newer kids on the block.

Pinterest

Pinterest is just over 12 months old, it’s the social network which has been the fastest to reach 10 million users and has a mention in Time Magazine’s ‘Best 50 Websites of 2011’ to its credit. If you are not familiar with the site, it is, in effect, an online pin board whereby a user ‘pins’ content from other websites to one of their boards, which shares that pin with their followers and, through an internal search function, all other users of Pinterest. Pinterest is the new network on the block and its use has exploded, but should your business have a Pinterest account?

Firstly, if your business is not visual, then maybe you should consider an alternative channel as Pinterest revolves around pinning images or videos to your boards. If on the other hand, you have a visual business, which could be anything from a florist to an architect, and you are keen to share your thoughts or projects with the world, then Pinterest might be for you.

Pinterest might not be enough on its own, but if you are already active in social media then Pinterest has a lot of potential. If not, you might consider a strategic review of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn first as they still more likely to have immediate impact on your business.

Pinterest is a closed network, so if you decide it is for your business, you will have to request an invitation to join, either through the site or from someone you know who already has an account. It is very simple to set up and easy to action as adding a ‘Pin It’ button to your browser means you can add pins to your boards with one simple click.

Once you have set up your account, you can start to pin as wide a variety of images as you want onto your different boards. You can pin images or videos of your products, your projects, reviews from customers, sales, locations and indeed anything that is currently online. Also, if you add a price to the description of your pin this is automatically added to the image and your pin is included in the Gift menu on Pinterest, which is conveniently sorted by value.

When adding pins about your business, the description you add to the image is crucial. You should always add a link back to your site for more information; you should fully describe the offer, product or service and if you use hashtags, make sure you add those too. In addition, you can extend an invitation to pin to your boards to anyone you follow on Pinterest, so you could ask key influencers, journalists, customers, suppliers or any other influential stakeholder to add informative content to your account on your behalf.

You can share your Pinterest boards with customers and internet users by adding a Follow button to your website or other social networks. Incidentally, Pinterest automatically integrates really well with both Facebook and Twitter.

Instagram

Instagram is about a year older than Pinterest and recently made headlines for being acquired by Facebook for US$1billion. So why the big price tag and how can this ‘killer app’ help the marketing efforts for your small business? In April 2012, just 18 months after it launched, Instagram released these impressive stats:

  • Over 30 million registered users
  • 430K+ users on their Android waiting list
  • More than 1 billion photos uploaded
  • More than 5 million photos uploaded per day
  • 575 likes per second
  • 81 comments per second.

If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of Instagram, it’s a mobile photo sharing app that allows the user to apply various filters to give even very average photos a creative and professional look and feel.  There are 18 filters to choose from including; Earlybird, Lo-fi, 1977 and my favourite, Nashville. This easy to use tool makes taking professional looking photo easy. This is something people are doing more and more with their phones and is what has helped to make Instagram such a successful and useful tool.

Again, Instagram is a visual tool so is best suited to businesses where photos can add to the customer experience and it’s a great tool to evoke passion and creativity that can aid with brand advocacy. Instagram works particularly well when integrated with other social channels, namely Twitter and most recently, Facebook. There is much speculation on how Facebook will utilise the Instagram platform and photo sharing but enhancing the mobile Facebook experience is looking to be one of the biggest opportunities.

Anyone with an iPhone or more recently, a Google Android phone, can use Instagram. It’s an easy to use app, which means it’s not only great for brands creating content but also for user generated content. Since you can take photos in the app or use existing photos, it means you can go back and have a play with your favourite photos. The app also allows users to search through existing photos by search terms, so if you’re uploading, make sure to use key search terms. Users can add a caption, location and upload straight to a plethora of mainly social channels: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare and email. There is a like and comment functionality and you can add friends, which means you’ll see their pictures on your home page, similar to a newsfeed.

Brands have been using Instagram for marketing efforts including offering customers a backstage view of their business (Tiffany & Co), inspirational photos (Red Bull) and running competitions (Billabong). Even President Obama has been using Instagram for his 2012 campaign efforts.

So, if you think your business could use photos to help with evoking emotion, sharing your content and adding to your existing social marketing experience, than take a deeper look into Instagram. Check out their blog, do some further research, ask someone who uses it why they love it, but primarily, download the app. Get snapping, have a play and prepare to be amazed at what a great photographer you really are.

If you have embraced social media as a channel to market for your business you’ll love the easy addition of Pinterest and/or Instagram. If not, then look to the more established networks first and ‘pick the low hanging fruit’!