Not too long ago, Zuckerberg et al at the corporate headquarters of Facebook took a huge bet — $1 billion to be exact. With their massive purchase of Instagram, Facebook was betting that the future of social networking would be in mobile, even despite the fact that Facebook had already hit over 900 million users.
Still, Facebook was right: Mobile is the future of social networking, simply because mobile is the future of the web. Already, everything we are interacting with on the web is being translated, in some capacity, to mobile. Whether it be something like Dominos creating a mobile app for iOS, or just the plethora of businesses that have developed mobile versions for their websites, a huge area of opportunity (and growth) for businesses, and thus Facebook’s advertising revenue, will be in mobile. That even despite Instagram’s complete lack of a revenue stream Facebook was willing to bet on it for a cool $1 billion indicates that, at least initially, it was about more than just money.
And Instagram is important for the future of businesses, too. Without further adieu, here are just a few ways that businesses can get started on the sprawling mobile social network.
1. Get The Word Out
Like every other social networking site, whenever you create a new account you essentially start with nothing. The solution? Get the word out. Share your Instagram photos on Facebook pages and to followers on Twitter. Tell your friends, families, cohorts, enemies, friends of enemies, etc. Anyone that will listen.
Better yet, run an Instagram-exclusive promotion. In order to build up their presence on Instagram, Brooklyn Bowl, a bowling alley in, well, Brooklyn, NY, held a contest through Instagram that tasked users with taking photos of themselves with friends at the bowling alley. They asked users to use the hashtag #brooklynbowl in order to enter the competition, and the best photos won free tickets to a show of that user’s choice.
In turn, that competition helped develop Brooklyn Bowl’s initial Instagram presence and got people involved on Instagram, while simultaneously allowing Brooklyn Bowl to engage with those users on a regular basis. Smart.
2. Don’t Be Annoying
When a user chooses to a follow a business through social media, they are in essence inviting them into their own private stream. That means that businesses must effectively toe the line between branding themselves on those social networks and blatantly advertising themselves. For example, taking a photo of a steak at a restaurant with the caption “Now only $20!” would appear as an invasive broadcast, and more often than not users will ignore it, or worse, unfollow that business.
Beyond that, finding a good medium between sharing too much, and sharing too little is important in maintaining a user base. Too many, and individuals might start unfollowing or ignoring posts. Too little, and they might forget that your business ever had an Instagram to begin with.
3. Do Be Interesting, Observant
And although your photos shouldn’t be blatantly advertising towards users, they still should be about you. Fortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has to be about your products or your business itself. It can be a personal, behind-the-scenes look at what is going on in your own business, or it can be something more involved. Social media gives businesses the freedom to post whatever they find interesting or relevant, which is pretty awesome.
Finally, be observant. Did you find something funny that you would think other people would enjoy to see? Snap it. Throw a cute filter on it. Did something strange just happen, or did you see something weird just going about your normal day? Again, take a picture. Simply put, keep your eyes peeled for things that might seem interesting, and people will most likely be interested.
But like every other social network, there is no one size fits all approach to Instagram. For every business, it will be different. Some approaches will work for some, but might fail miserably for others.
But that is up to every business to figure out. Still, mobile is the future, so becoming experienced in something that will inevitably be an important part of that future won’t hurt.