Profile - How We Market With Instagram

Daily Customer Interaction Is Key

Alexandra ZakiWhile Twitter got most of the 2013 social media headlines, rival Instagram – a popular photo-sharing service – may have actually had a better year with audiences, especially on mobile devices. Nielsen data shows Instagram now has an average monthly audience of 32 million people, while Twitter’s monthly audience is 30.8 million. Instagram also increased its audience by 66% year-over-year in 2013, becoming the fastest-growing mobile app. Savvy marketers are taking note.

“We do our best to stay on top of all the new trends and Instagram is definitely one of the hottest social media outlets,” says Alexandra Zaki, vice president of business development at iBrand Threads (asi/229716).

The Midwestern decorator firm, which allows clients to design customized apparel online, boasts over 500 Instagram followers – one of the highest totals among ad specialty industry companies. Read how iBrand Threads has been so successful interacting with Instagram users.

Q: What are the advantages of using Instagram compared to other social media?
A: We feel like our clients and prospect clients like our photos, and they comment on Instagram 90% more than they do on Facebook. A visual is always more powerful than a Tweet or status update.

Q: How has iBrand Threads gotten so many followers on Instagram?
A: It’s simple – we interact. We “like” other companies and client photos, comment, and follow them. The key is to interact often. Ideally, have someone that dedicates an hour or two a day just to social media. For easier management – since social media is overwhelming with many websites – we recommend checking out www.hootsuite.com.

Q: Give an example or two of how iBrand Threads uses Instagram for marketing.
A: We connect clients with sponsorship opportunities from companies such as Verizon and EA Sports. Recently, to get the word out, we simply took and posted a photo of Nike jerseys that were sponsored by Mike’s Hard Lemonade. As a result, we got many phone calls and e-mails. People want what they see.

Q: What types of photos and videos work best with Instagram?
A: The photos and videos we try to use are of designs we’ve done, of promotions we’re running, of products we want to push, or of the machines in action. People are always curious about the production process of decorating apparel. One thing I noticed that doesn’t work well is graphics of designs, which makes sense. People want to see the final product, not a screen shot of the design or an electronic proof.

Q: How do you use Instagram hashtags?
A: It’s a big part of what we do. Otherwise, how can people find you? It’s basically free marketing. Always hashtag your company name so that way someone wanting to browse pictures from your company can easily find them. A few others we frequently use in Instagram posts are #screenprinting, #silkscreen and #embroidery.

Q: What Instagram advice do you have for other promotional companies, especially those that aren’t proficient with social media?
A: Look into hiring a social media intern that’s in a marketing program at a local community college or university. You don’t have to have them come into your office often – they can do their job from any computer. If this entire social media world is confusing to you, spend some time on YouTube understanding how social media, like Instagram, works and why it will help your business. There are many great videos out there.