Smile for the camera: Find a focus for your use of Instagram as a marketing tool

instagram-needs-focus Photo Alex CounsellWhether you Instagram for a lark after arising from a slumber after your earlybird crema, or whether you dip your willow into the inkwell as the strains of Ludwig on the Lo-Fi inspire captions in perpetua.

With an Australian survey shows Instagram usage in on the rise here and from the Sierra to Nashville and Mayfair to the Hudson, it begs the question, should you give Instagram more of your marketing focus?

As with all things marketing, the answer is, it depends. It depends on whether:

  • it is popular with your ideal customers
  • you have the skill to execute dramatic and interesting photos
  • you have the time to apply to the task
  • you are socially adept at interacting with users in social media settings
  • there is a plan in place for content ideas, messaging and publication

Hold still. Let’s see if we can capture some helpful thoughts.

Instagram usage habits: 10 minutes of fame for your business

The latest Sensis Social Media report suggests 26 percent of Australian internet users use Instagram, with usage rates jumping to more than half for users under 30.

South Australia is level pegging with NSW, Queensland and WA as the top Instagram users in Australia with metro usage doubling regional usage nationwide.

Therefore, we need to be mindful that even if consumers around us are not as crazy about Instagram as we’d like to them to be, if your ideal customers come from areas with greater Instagram use, you can consider your efforts on target.

Furthermore, if the small sample of respondents is representative of Australian internet users, Instagrammers use the service around 26 times a week for about 9 minutes at a time: that’s half a day a week on Instagram!

These figures at least suggest that us humans do get sucked in by, whoops, I mean, drawn in by visual networks like Instagram, so if you’re willing to look at your business and the experience awaiting your customers through the large, square eye of Instagram, you’ll attract plenty of eyeballs back, hopefully with their clicking fingers in tow!

How should we use Instagram? Let us count the ways …

There is much to be said for choosing Instagram as a primary social media tool for communicating your messages, engaging with users and attracting them across to your main web properties through the link in your Instagram profile.

I must stress, though, that choosing Instagram and determining its best use is most prudently determined as part of a marketing strategy so that your resources of time and energy are used most efficiently in the quest for your business goals.

However, there are some other ways to use Instagram that might help cut your teeth.

The first is using it as a simple method for sharing one image across multiple networks at once.

By connecting your Instagram account to you Facebook Page and Twitter account, you can open Instagram, use an image from your phone’s camera roll (or shoot afresh), draft a caption with hashtags and emojis, and then choose to share it via the other two social networks at once. Very time efficient.

This might annoy some Facebook purists who argue the hashtags from your Instagram caption look odd in Facebook, but I argue if this is what it takes to help you get started, go ahead.

Another usage method is to embed your Instagram images elsewhere, especially on your blog or website.

Here is one of my Instagram shots and in WordPress all I had to do to make this appear was:

  1. Visit my Instagram profile on a desktop/laptop (
  2. Scroll through my wall of photos and click on the one I want to share
  3. Copy the address from from the browser bar for that photo, in this case:
  4. Paste that URL onto its own line/paragraph in the WordPress editor.
  5. It then appears like magic.

Building an Instagram profile

As you grow in confidence using Instagram, you can then extend your methods for widening your net.

Watching for popular hashtags of relevance to your market or industry can help expose your images to a wider, interested audience.

For example, during my SATIC Conference presentation at the Crowne Plaza today, I will be reminding tourist operators to use the #SeeAustralia hashtag in their captions, to give permission to Tourism Australia to use their image on the Australia Instagram account, potentially exposing them to 1.4 million people around the world.

Also, it is good practice to use hashtags for your region, such as #Adelaide, to enable your work to be found, liked, commented upon and shared by others in your location.

Finding time to click through, follow and comment upon other people’s Instagram accounts, especially those who have interacted with your work, can grow your profile exponentially.

Final Instagram tips for today

Some final things to experiment with on Instagram include:

Embedding a feed from Instagram on a page or sidebar of your website. This can be useful if you are deliberately curating a helpful, interesting collection of images that your ideal customers will get value from looking at. Tourism operators might build a collection of facilities in action and local attractions. WordPress users can use a number of plugins to achieve this. We’ll showcase some in future articles.

Use a service like, which can reveal your most popular hashtags and give you others to consider.

Join an Instameet – a fun gathering of other Instagrammers to take photos with some challenges. One is happening in Adelaide at the Central Markets on June 20.

Carefully consider your own hashtag and invite guests/clients/customers to use it so that you can reshare their images with permission. You can explain that in your Instagram profile and help make your guests/client/customers not only feel good but become powerful ambassadors for your product/service.

Experiment with using Instagram’s emoticons or emojis as hashtags, a new feature just a few weeks old. It remains to see how effective emoji hashtags will be but they do tap into the visual nature of this visual tool.

And, hopefully, you’ll be able to keep your focus and have fun while you’re doing this. Smile 🙂