Using social media as a PR tool: Instagram

Instagram as a PR tool

Due to the rapid adoption of mobile internet access, coupled with an average human attention span that is diminishing just as quickly, marketers and PR professionals are discovering that visual content is required in order to make an impact.

It just so happens that Instagram is the perfect platform for spreading this visual content to as many people as possible, raising brand awareness as a consequence. Since being purchased by Facebook in 2013, photo and video sharing site Instagram has surged in popularity – particularly with younger users.

While many people use Instagram for recreational purposes, it can be highly effective as a PR tool as well. Here’s some of the ways you can use Instagram to your advantage.

Post infographics
Due to the platform’s image size restrictions, you could easily infer that Instagram would not be ideal for posting infographics (especially the traditional ‘long scroll’ variety), but you would be wrong.

There are a number of ways of formatting infographics for Instagram’s limited frame sizes. Social Media Examiner advocates chopping up a long infographic into a selection of slides and then composing it into a brief video. As an alternative, you can create short-form infographics designed specifically for the platform.

This might only entail one graph or chart, but so long as you’re able to showcase an interesting fact or statistic in a visually compelling way, a mini-infographic can generate a tremendous amount of traction on Instagram.

Showcase products
While Instagram isn’t yet an ideal video-oriented platforms in the vein of YouTube or Periscope when it comes to showcasing new products, you can still gain a lot of attention through video here.

The fixed video lengths may not be ideal for demonstrating the technical attributes of a product (leave this for your sales-oriented landing page), but focusing on the benefits it brings to the people who use it can be very effective.

For example, if you’re trying to showcase lifestyle products, you may wish to post a picture of someone in your ideal demographic using the product while smiling joyfully.

Alternatively, you can contact the owners of popular Instagram accounts and offer them free products (or money) in exchange for them posting a picture with the product on their accounts.

Digital marketing guru Neil Patel is a firm advocate of this method and has been particularly successful in choosing highly attractive models to showcase the products that he’s promoting!

Convey company culture
Instagram is a great platform for giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look into the culture and workings of your business or office environment.

Shots of your employees hard at work (or just having fun) is a great way to humanise a brand and build trust with your customers. It’s okay to be creative and show people being informal – this is expected on Instagram.

If your company has won awards, pictures of the award ceremony or the award itself serve as great visual content for Instagram. Pictures of pets also do extremely well on Instagram, so if you practice Bring Your Dog To Work Day on the 26th of June, you already know what to do!

Furthermore, if your company is participating in any social initiatives or other altruistic causes, Instagram can be a great platform for promoting it.

How brands have benefited from Instagram:

Charity Water provides clean drinking water to impoverished communities in the developing world. The non-profit’s use of Instagram is highly effective because it demonstrates exactly how money donated has benefited those in need. It’s one thing writing a blog post about the ways that donations have helped people, but it’s quite another posting pictures of children who are now healthy and happy because they have clean water to drink – making it a great example of how to tap into the feel-good factor.

Nike is a brand that truly understands Instagram. The company’s official account is full of beautifully shot, emotive images which keep people engaged without forcing products down their throats. Ironically, the result of creating such amazing content is that the photos are constantly shared and commented on, which raises Nike’s profile as a consequence.

Starbucks features a selection of lifestyle and (tasteful) product shots on the company’s Instagram page. By showing compelling images of coffee and other assorted drinks in a range of scenarios (such as at the beach or next to a person reading a book at home), it helps to build environmental triggers for the Starbucks product line. Highly intelligent marketing all made possible with superb, well-composed photography.

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