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200 Million and Counting: Why Instagram’s Been the Key All Along

200 million. That’s the number of users on Instagram today: 200 MILLION people.

And if you don’t think that’s significant in the world of social media, think again: Instagram has even surpassed Twitter with its number of monthly active users on mobile.

But still—social media marketers tend to overlook the untapped potential of Instagram because of its focus on pictures over ‘brand content.’ (hint: brand content SHOULD be photos!) Today, these are the businesses that are late to the party.

If you can’t trust us, trust other social media moguls, making money hand over fist. In 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion. And now, social media engagement across Instagram is calculated at 15 times higher than Facebook itself.

As a social media marketer, it’s time to pull up your bootstraps and see Instagram for what it is—an easy-to-use platform that’s riddled with real-time marketing opportunities. But if you don’t know where to start, follow our own social media strategy tips:

1.      First of all, join Instagram.

Duh.

2.     Don’t think ‘selfies.’ Tell stories

Sure selfies run rampant on Instagram. But if the level of engagement on this site tells us anything, it’s that today’s online communication centers on visual storytelling. Our tip: on Instagram, don’t just post context-free photos with brand #hashtags.  Instead, tell your business’ story by giving behind-the-scenes looks into your brand, culture, and creative projects.

3.     Remember: even stories are a two-way street

Having a one-sided conversation gets old fast, so encourage your fans to tell their own stories and experiences around your brand. One lesson we love: Sony has mastered this rule by encouraging its customers to share content with certain #hashtags. Sony then showcases these fan-generated pics on its own Instagram feed and uses them to distribute prizes to brand loyalists.

4.     Leave your Photoshop at the door

Social media users love the site because the photos are natural snapshots of the things around them. Translation: this is not a place for professional photography. Because Instagram is all about authentic communication, a picture or video taken by smartphone will actually resonate more with fans. So tell your creative team to take a coffee break—because anyone with a fun, simple idea can handle Instagram.

 

At the end, leveraging Instagram is a great way to forge paths with new customers, because other social media marketers aren’t there yet. So what are you waiting for? Social media engagement is just a photo filter away.

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