Instagram: To Tag or Not To Tag

As PR professionals, we stay up on the hottest trends to help our clients connect with their key audiences, especially if that new trend is free. Instagram, an interactive social photo sharing application with an estimated 90 million monthly active users, may not come to mind when thinking about social media outreach; however, we’re living in a society filled with visual learners and a visual element is an important part of our consumer approach.

As an avid Instagramer, I‘ve researched how companies are best utilizing this platform to engage consumers. Combining research with knowledge (okay, obsession) of the app, I compiled a few easy and effective ways for brands to use Instagram.

PR firms should monitor Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube frequently to make sure their clients know all levels in which the brand is being discussed – whether or not the brand has its own presence on social media. Our agency includes Instagram as a component within our daily monitoring, as we found significant chatter on the app about several of our clients. Thankfully it’s good chatter!

Here are some great ways to incorporate Instagram as an element of your outreach strategy.

#engage
Find a way to upload photos that are interesting and create a conversation with your followers. Posting a question along with your photo is a great way to engage followers and create a platform to gain consumer insight. CNN’s page, CNNIREPORT, recently shared a photo of an egg that froze due to severe cold weather. With the photo, it asked “How cold is it near you? Share your best unfiltered images by tagging #cnnireport.” The prompt led to more than 12,000 posts using CNN’s proposed hashtag.

#hashtag
A hashtag is a great way to connect users on the basis of a common word or phrase. Even if it doesn’t directly relate to your company but it relates to the photo you upload, tag it! For example, Macy’s uses hashtags such as #sunrise, #shoes, #NYC, #beauty and other words that relate to the Instagram photo. Using these hashtags is a simple way to draw traffic to your page. Be sure not to overwhelm your viewers with tags; three to five is plenty.

#monitor
Publicly sharing your brand’s information in a unique way gives your audiences another opportunity to give their opinion about your company – both good and bad. Make sure that if you choose to publicize your company using this tool, you are monitoring all feedback. Engage with consumers  who give positive thoughts and reward them by acknowledging their comment. On the other hand, make sure you address any criticism or questions that arise as you would on other social media sites. There are databases you can use to monitor your Instagram analytics such as Nitrogram and Statigram.

Bottom line: be creative. Find a way that people who view your photos will forget it’s a company’s page but rather a profile to follow that will make them excited to see what else you have to share. Instagram is far from a traditional means to reach and engage consumers, but its power shouldn’t be taken lightly.

 

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