More than just a photo-sharing platform, Instagram has evolved since its debut in 2010 to become a true local channel. By tapping into this channel, brands can build deeper, more authentic connections with their most devoted fans. The question that many brick-and-mortar brands are struggling with now is just how to get the most out of Instagram.
A new ebook from MomentFeed, “The Year of the Instagram Strategy,” delves into this topic and provides real-life examples of how brands like JCPenney, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Disney have successfully tapped into the power of Instagram. With 150 million active users posting an average of 55 million photos per day, it’s clear that Instagram should not be ignored.
Indeed, Instagram is a location-based platform by design. The company’s founders made it their goal from the very beginning to build a platform that people could use to see real-time photos and videos from any place in the world. To make this happen, Instagram has taken a two-pronged approach to local.
Instagram is a location-based platform by design… Local is focal.
Instagram’s Two-Pronged Approach to Local
Local is focal: Users can activate a “Photo Map,” which attaches latitude/longitude coordinates to every photo or video they upload. Users are also encouraged to add “location tags” to their content. After snapping a photo and tapping “Name This Location,” users are prompted to select the venue, via a list provided by Foursquare, where their photos or videos were taken. From that point on, the name of the venue is included above the photo in the user’s feed, and other Instagram users can click on the name of the venue to see relevant photos taken at the same location.
Tagged content is infused with local relevance, making it incredibly useful for brick-and-mortar brands. On the whole, photos posted on Instagram tend to be much more personal than written messages on Facebook or Twitter. By sharing the content that individual customers have taken at specific store locations, brands are building intimate, meaningful experiences. These experiences are expanded and deepened when brands share customer-generated content across multiple social platforms, including local Facebook Pages.
Sharing location-tagged Instagram photos on a local Facebook Page provides a way for brick-and-mortar brands to scale. In essence, Instagram has become a source of high-quality location-specific content, and a brand’s local Facebook Page becomes the distribution channel for that content. When brands share the photos and videos their customers take at individual store locations, they start building communities at the local level and open up a channel of communication that didn’t exist previously.
Building an Instagram Strategy in Five Steps
An effective Instagram strategy begins when consumers post public photos or videos of local brand experiences. The next necessary step requires the brand to share the tagged content on a local Facebook Page; that content is pushed into its fans’ News Feeds. Customers bounce back and forth between Instagram and Facebook — liking, commenting on, and sharing photos seamlessly across both platforms. Seeing customer photos posted publicly on a brand’s local Facebook Page encourages other customers to post content of their own in the hopes that they, too, will benefit from the increased exposure. (See the full five steps in “The Year of the Instagram Strategy.”)
Brands like Disney, JCPenney, and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville have all tapped into Instagram and are seeing incredible lifts in engagement, impressions, and reach as a result. At JCPenney, in particular, customers have posted nearly 70,000 Instagram photos and videos using the hashtags #jcp and #jcpenney. Since the company began engaging with customer content earlier this year, the number of brand-tagged photos has risen by more than 50%, and the company’s Instagram follower count has grown by 476%.