Looking for new ways to protect your business from the impact of bad reviews? Try Instagram.
As you probably already know, the photo-sharing app is pretty big right now. Founded in San Francisco in 2010, Instagram has since grown to over 30 million users with a combined total of more than 150 million photos (as of August 2012). It also has the fortune (the $1 billion fortune) of having social media giant Facebook as its parent company.
For individual users, Instagram is a great way to share beautiful, filtered photos across social networks. For businesses, meanwhile, Instagram represents a terrific creative platform for promoting positive reputation and enhancing brand visibility – a proven medium, definitely, for helping counter the impact of negative online reviews.
Not convinced? Here’s a list of ways that Instagram can work for business.
Makes your brand more visible and human
The most unique thing about Instagram is its ability to transform non-professional photos into beautiful, eye-catching images. You can leverage this ability to enhance the personality of your business or brand.
Choose from a selection of awesome photo filters to add color and character to what would otherwise be dull product shots. You can also humanize your brand by sharing photos of your employees at work or behind-the-scenes pictures of what goes in your business establishment. Just make sure that your Instagram stream is crafted in a way that reflects your brand identity accurately, and – as much as possible – avoid uploading un-Instagram-ish images like infographics, hard-sell product shots, advertising graphics, random quotes, or word clouds. (If you have to, disguise ‘em with a filter.)
Integrates seamlessly with your social networks
Does your business have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare profiles? You can add Instagram to your social media marketing mix to improve engagement levels with existing and potential customers. Just hook up your Instagram account with your social media profiles and online business listings during app installation. Doing so will also allow you to share new kinds of content across all your networks: visually appealing, easily share-able, mobile-friendly content (and not just tweets and reposts and links).
Strengthens your community
Like Twitter, you can invite followers to check out your Instagram feed and create a sense of community around your business or brand. This is going to be great especially if you think you already have an enthusiastic customer base of people who are ready and willing to contribute user-generated content to support your business. Don’t hesitate to follow back your most loyal fans!
Takes mouth-watering food shots and beautiful fashion photos
Do you have a restaurant, a café, a clothing store, or a design shop? Tracking restaurant reviews, of course, is a must, but if you want to do something more, just know that Instagram will be great for your business. Don’t hesitate to show off what you can offer!
With Instagram, you can share high-quality product images (food, drinks, clothes, designs) for an entire online community to see. The app has also opened up a world of mouth-watering food shots and beautiful photos, snapped by smartphone-carrying restaurant-goers, social-media-savvy fans and followers, and amateur photographers.
Makes it easy for people to find your location
Everything you upload on Instagram can be geo-tagged, which basically means that you can add location-specific information to the pictures that you’re sharing. This makes it easy for existing and potential customers to find you and try your business establishment out. For even better results, make sure you claim your business listing on Foursquare, since all the locations that appear in search results on Instagram’s Location screen are provided by Foursquare’s location database.
Builds buzz for your new product or event
Organizing an event / product launch / exhibit / photo competition / happy hour / special acoustic night? Let your Instagram community of followers know about it by sharing the fun and snapping a shot. (A picture paints a thousand words, remember?) Once you’ve gotten them interested, you can let them join in by encouraging them to share their own pictures. Many brands, for example, have organized Instagram photo competitions that offer attractive prizes to users with pics that represent that brand best. You can even add #hashtags to all these collections of photos and organize them in a way that’s easy to search, find, and monitor.
Hashtags also have another added SEO benefit: they make mentions of your business or brand easier to be found by search engines and social media search tools. This means that you can build positive buzz around your brand instead of letting negative reviews or comments clog up your customers’ most relevant search results.
Expands the reach of your customer service efforts
A tool like ReviewTrackers will help you monitor all online reviews of your business. If you’re feeling extra creative about responding to these reviews, or if you just want to extend the reach of your support and service to your Instagram community, don’t hesitate to get your followers involved.
With Instagram’s Search tool, you can easily find photographs of your business or mentions of your brand. You can therefore see who’s talking about you, which is the first step to joining the conversation, and to responding in interactive ways that build and protect your reputation.