By Rapheal Sprung

Would you like to know how your business can use the popular sharing site Instagram?

This article provides five ways to use Instagram to enhance your marketing.

Why Instagram?

In the last few years, the use of Instagram by companies has skyrocketed. With millions of users, Instagram has become the perfect opportunity for brands to get quick messages and photos to their target audiences.

When Instagram started out, it was simply a way to post pictures with your fans and did not have a lot of marketing value.

However, in the last few years Instagram has proven to be an effective platform for marketers to reach a new audience in a way the audience wants to be marketed to: with visuals and short messages.

Search for “marketing” on Instagram.

When creating your marketing strategy, do not forget about this great—yet underutilized—platform.

Here are five ways that you can use Instagram to achieve your marketing goals.

1: Use Instagram Profiles to Reach a Wider Audience

Users waited a long time for Instagram to have a web presence in addition to the mobile app. Even though Instagram is now available on both Android and iPhone devices, there are still many people who would like access to it on the web.

The launch of Instagram profiles in November 2012 gave marketers an opportunity to market on other devices besides mobile.

Instagram pictures provide a great collage and give your audience a better insight into your company. You can promote anything your company may be doing—from products/services to employees to customers to conferences.

Take advantage of the increased real estate you have with the Instagram web page to tell a story with the images. Have a healthy balance of fun images and business pictures.

Use your Instagram profile to make it easy for everyone to see your story. You may want to include pictures with calls to action to your website or pictures of employees working and give some information about what they do for the company. Think strategically about how your Instagram account looks once all of the pictures are put together on one page.

2: Create Engagement with Contests

Instagram has become a popular platform to use for photo contests. Contests are easy to do on Instagram.

Companies can easily ask users to use a particular hashtag for the contest by tagging their pictures. It’s easy to search through pictures, ask other people to vote for their favorite pictures and pick a winner.

Just like any other social media platform, it’s important to regularly post engaging content. And also consider creating a contest to remind fans of why they should follow your brand. It’s a great way to influence engagement.

3: Reward Followers with Discounts

When posting your pictures, think about something that will keep your audience’s attention and have them coming back for more. Reward your followers for looking at your pictures and reading the descriptions. For some companies, that’s a contest; for other companies, that may be including discounts or promo codes.

Before adding discounts to your campaign, think about whether they are relevant to your audience. If they are, find unique or creative ways to share them on Instagram. Not only will your followers appreciate the codes, but Instagram is also a creative way to give them away.

4: Feature Your Customers

There’s nothing like seeing a friendly face on social media when you are looking at a company’s page. Customers are your brand’s greatest advocates and are a great way to tell your company’s story from the perspective of someone outside the company.

With hundreds or thousands of reviews available online about your company, products or services, it’s only fair to include some reviews of your own, right from your customers.

Use Instagram to take a quick picture of your customers and showcase a sneak peek into what the experience with your brand is like.

Use Instagram to feature your customers to facilitate and improve the connection you have with your audience. In addition to making your customers happy, you will put a face to your brand—something that is valuable for your audience.

5: Get More Interest in Your Events

The goal of any event or trade show is to attract people to teach them about your product and service and hopefully turn them into customers. Instagram can help with that goal to give event attendees a visual and location for your event.

Most conferences have a hashtag that attendees can follow on Twitter and Instagram that can be used to show others everything that’s going on, whether it’s visual or in 140 characters.

Adding Instagram to your event marketing mix can help you reach more people, get more people to visit your booth and increase engagement with your audience. By following the hashtag of the conference, attendees are drawn to your Instagram shot and able to locate your booth quicker. At small or large conferences, this can come in handy to stand out from the crowd.

When thinking about your marketing strategy for an event, figure out your messaging and also use your booth number. Put your booth number on every piece of collateral you give out and make it easy to find online. This means when you are tweeting, posting on Facebook or using Instagram, you’ll make it as easy as possible for conference attendees to find the location of your booth (and possibly provide them with a visual to entice them even more).


Add Instagram to Your Marketing Tools

Between using it at events, for promotions, and most importantly, to connect with your customers and prospects, it should be on your list of platforms to use.

Customers want a personal experience with a brand that is engaging and accessible. Instagram allows the brand to do this in real time while giving users a different experience than customers using other platforms.

To download Instagram, visit their web page and begin connecting with other people and companies in your industry. This is a great way to get examples of what you could do, and then adopt it yourself.