Is Instagram for You?
Today, I attended an event called Mornings @ MLive Media Group in Lansing. If you haven't been to one, you should! Not only is it a great way to network with other businesses, but you get to learn something that may just change your marketing game plan. Plus, they have great coffee and bagels!
The seminar was about how to use Instagram for your business. It was taught by two brothers who started their own company, MI Playground. They are a digital company; so no store front, no phone number. They have a huge presence on Instagram and primarily communicate with their customers online.
They did a great job presenting tangible information and really got my wheels turning. Is Instagram for you? I'm not sure, it's definitely something to consider. With some social media platforms, its hard to know it's right for your business. The important part is understanding your target market and where they "hang out" the most.
Regardless, here are a few things I learned from MI Playground, and why I admire their strategy:
They keep it real.
They take pictures of real life, documenting their adventures and embracing the wonderful state of Michigan. I can't help but think that these two guys are inspiring people all over Michigan, and the country, to get out, enjoy life and capture the moment. Most importantly, they have fun with it. It's clear to me that they love their jobs and their business, so they want to communicate that through their Instagram. They add their personalities and it shows in their photos.
Instagram is visual.
Obviously. Instagram is a photo and video sharing app! The MI Playground founders gave us some great advice about what to do if your product isn't super photo worthy. For example, if you sell computers, there are only so many times you can take a photo of a computer, add a shnazzy filter (vhich they said the most popular filter is Willow) and make it interesting.
They encouraged us to be creative and think about ways that could make that computer share-worthy. You could take a picture of HOW you use the computer, the versatility of its uses. You could take a photo of it while on vacation, at the coffee shop, on the airplane. Regardless, they said that "you have to make it cool". It sounds simple, but people want to look at things that are cool! A computer on a desk, full of papers, is less than exciting. If anything, it's normal.
They are building a brand.
From only hearing these two entrepreneurs speak for an hour, I walked away knowing that they genuinely care about their business and their customers. They understand the importance of customer service, and also the importance responding to their followers. At one point in the seminar they explained how important it is for them that their followers know there is a human being behind their Instagram account. It's not a robot that automatically pushes out their photos.
They understand that there is more to their brand than their logo, website and online store. Responding to followers helps build their culture and builds their brand name. They make it "fun" for people to interact with them, and it builds a desire within people like me to share their experiences and to also share mine with them. They make people want to slap their logo sticker on a kayak and take a photo of it. What better (and subtle) way to promote your brand!
There is strategy behind the photo taking.
Yes, Instagram is a fun social network. But they aren't just taking photos just to take photos. They are considering the moment they wanting to communicate. There is a reason and a purpose behind every photo. They don't just snap a photo and call it good. They consider the lighting, the focus of the photo and the filters they use.
They also consider the time of day that they post, the frequency they post and the hashtags associated with the post. I learned today that you have to find your sweet spot. For them, they found that posting once or twice a day, every day, with 8-12 hashtags is their sweet spot. It's different for everyone, so you might have to do some A/B testing to get it down.
Is Instagram for you?
Instagram may or may not be the right platform for your business. It is definitely something to consider and think through before shooting from the hip – just like with any other social media platform. Instagram might sound overwhelming or too much to handle, but it all takes time to get your groove down. Once you do, you could be just as cool as MI Playground.