Use Instagram for picture-perfect brands

Looking to build a brand for your organization or yourself? It’s a snap with photo sharing site Instagram.

Next to Pinterest, Instagram is one of the Internet’s newest and most popular sites. (Facebook acquired the company in April for $1 billion.) Instagram is also simple to use. With your smartphone you take a photo, choose a filter to alter its look and post it to Instagram. You can share the photo simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. And you can “like” and be liked by followers.

Individuals can use Instagram to chronicle their lives, their vacations, their cities and towns. Businesses can use Instagram to forge closer ties with their customers. Two examples: Women’s online retailer ShopExcessBaggage created a trend-setting page where followers can post and vote on popular styles. And accessory boutique RequiredFlair uses Instagram to showcase the many ways to wear the company’s jewelry. The experience is visual, personal and interactive—all of the ingredients for social sharing.

Ready to share your brand? Here are a few tips from Mobile Media Lab co-founder Brian DiFeo.

  • Start with your existing audience. Announce your presence on Instagram on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through communications channels such as websites, email lists and newsletters.
  • Post photos that are consistent with your brand, or that will advance your causes.
  • Use relevant hashtags such as #fashion so users searching Twitter will discover your work.
  • Run contests that encourage interaction with followers.

Once you’ve collected a few photos on Instagram you’ll want a central place to display them. While you can view your collection on a smartphone you can’t see them at the Instagram website. For that you’ll need another service like Gramfeed, which can display your work and that of the people and companies you follow. From there you can pin your images to Pinterest. You can see my collections at Gramfeed and Pinterest.

Want more information? Mashable has a solid primer on its website.

— Jeff Widmer

Pinning PR hopes on Pinterest

Gini Dietrich has posted 16 ways to use Pinterest for PR on Ragan PR Daily. She covers some of the basics–think visually, avoid blatant promotion, make sure that the links work. She also lists a few ways to leverage the social network to reach others influential in the media.

Here are three of my favorite suggestions:

  • Provide visual customer stories. Find a way to tell stories—the history of your brand, for example—through images.
  • Pin material from key journalists and bloggers. You can drive traffic to them, get noticed and start a relationship.
  • Change descriptions with search engine optimization in mind. Change captions that read “This is so cool!” to something like “Extra kitchen storage.”

Here’s one she didn’t mention that’s essential to all media relations:

  • Know your audience. Pinterest abounds with people interested in architecture, fashion, travel and photography. There are also a number of teachers and amateur cooks on the site. Match your clients’ offerings to the audience and you’ll capture some attention.

— Jeff Widmer

Roll over Facebook, here comes Pinterest

Facebook and its IPO might grab the headlines but image-sharing site Pinterest is grabbing viewers.

“According to comScore, Pinterest usage in the U.S. shot up from less than half a million unique visitors in May 2011 to nearly 12 million in January 2012,” eMarketer reported today. That’s a faster rate of adoption than the latest darling of the social media world, Tumblr. U.S. traffic at that blogging site traffic rose from less than 7 million unique visitors in late 2010 to more than twice as many a year later, comScore reported.

According to its website, “Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse pinboards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.”

You just can’t get stock options at this point.

 

 

Piquing your interest with Pinterest

What do you get when you cross Facebook with Flickr? Pinterest, the hot new social networking site that lets users collect and share photos across the Internet.

Mashable, the source of all things digital, describes Pinterest as a “digital pinboard,” a place where users can connect to others through shared tastes and the images that fascinate them. Users create category-based boards and then pin images to them. They can populate those boards by finding media online or uploading their own artwork. The boards are visible to all users, who can repin images on their own boards, “like” those images and follow other users.

So what does an image-based social site look like? Let’s take a look at my boards. I started by collecting images in some of the preset categories such as “Favorite Places & Spaces.” After that I created a few categories like “Design” and populated them with Pinterest user images I thought were worth sharing. Finally, as a bruising cold spell swept across the Northeast, I uploaded a few original photos I’d taken last winter after a snowstorm. (I’m trying to go beyond the share-the-misery idea and find something positive about a foot or more of snow.)

A few hours after the photo went live Cassandra Gouws from Pretoria, South Africa repinned it for one of her collections labeled “Travel.” I’m returning the favor and following that board and one more called “Amazing Photography.”

What impact Pinterest will have on the social and business community is anyone’s guess. Mashable only started covering it last October. And at this point participation is by invitation only. But as of late last year some 30,000 people had downloaded the Pinterest app from iTunes. And Mashable has written a primer on its use.

Participating takes more work than Tweeting and yields a smaller audience than Facebook but the site may appeal to people who prefer visuals to text. And since one of the default categories involves favorite products, Pinterest is positioning itself for companies in the fashion and design industries.