Can you tell your brand story in nine images? According to eMarketer, Instagram’s global mobile ad revenues are expected to reach $2.81 billion by next year. With 400 million users and growing, visual content via social media is becoming an increasingly important part of a marketing campaign.
Corporate tech giants like IBM, Intel, Salesforce and Cisco are killing it on the photo-sharing app. How? The key isn’t in exotic landscapes, squat workouts, or well-lit bacon burgers – it’s about telling your brand story in a cohesive tone that’s unique to your company.
Here are 10 steps to success on one of the world’s most influential platforms.
1. Start with your core company values.
If you don’t have a tangible product to work around, the sky is still the limit for creativity. Pluck out key points from your brand manifesto. Concepts like ‘delighting customers’, ‘teamwork’, ‘encouraging innovation’ are possible to illustrate in a creative photograph.
2. Profile staff.
If the global success of Humans of New York doesn’t have you convinced, check out some of the creative staff posts from IBM. Your employees are all part of the brand story. Include a short description or anecdote of your staff member’s role in the company. Plus, there are tons of fun ways to take a profile shot for Instagram.
3. Be cohesive.
Have one picture lead to the next. We don’t just mean with colour and lighting, but with the tone of each picture. Have transitions between uploads. For example, if you’re posting about a company outing, have some transitions or pre-event hype: i.e. “T-minus 45 minutes ‘til we pile into the car for the conference!”
4. Show behind the scenes.
Context is a great way to express your brand values. Showing the magic behind what you do with a sneak peak at of your office, lab, or even toilet.
5. Engage with your community.
Instagram didn’t get to 400 million users by just being a photo app. Comments, captions and trending hashtags are chances to engage directly to your audience like a friend. It’s not the place to sell. Use the space below the snap to ask questions and likewise go through other accounts of similar companies. Then tag, comment, hashtag, and of course, double tap.
6. Humble brag about your office space.
Get inspired by accounts like @apartmenttherapy and post pics from the office. Ask users for suggestions on how to improve a space or what colour to paint a wall. Ugly office? Creative #desk spaces get good hits!
7. Show your company culture.
What do your programmers do when they’re not doing sprints? Create FOMO with your staff. Show happy staff in action, whether brainstorming, in a meeting, or just chillin’ on the couch. A strong company culture strengthens a company’s brand. Likewise, your staff are your brand ambassadors, and happy staff are more likely to share their company activity on social media leading to more engagement.
Famous last words from a man who’s agreed to be photographed for a blog post about content calendars: “My beard is your canvas.” Link in profile. A photo posted by MailChimp (@mailchimp) on
8. Hop on holidays.
Festive holidays and other relevant events are an easy way to be part of a larger dialogue and increases your chance of being noticed. Even posting a custom greeting card, Christmas tree, or candy hearts spelling out your company name connects you to your users.
9. Focus on quality.
Take an extra couple of seconds to step into the right light and do a little set planning before snapping and uploading. Amateur pics are great to ‘keep it real’, but at the end of the day, you’re competing with millions of photos online. Make each one count.
10. Own it.
Popularised by Millennials inspired to ‘work with what they got’, owning it is taking pride in what you have. Businesses today don’t need to look longingly at National Geographic or Nasty Gal with envy. Say, if you have cloud-based software that’s hard for people to understand, create fun ways to illustrate it. There are plenty of pretty accounts out there, just make yours looks like you (don’t believe me? Just take a look at Sharpie’s account. It’s only a pen, but it’s one of the coolest Instagram pages around.)
Do more (of what makes you happy) #BeHappy #Sharpie A photo posted by @sharpie on