Exploring the Visual Power of Instagram

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Instagram is the king in the social media palace.   As the online and social worlds continue to evolve, so does user experience and expectations.  Once accustomed to text-heavy articles and web pages as information portals, users are getting increasingly lazy when it comes to getting information and demand to get it quickly (and more importantly, visually).  With the explosive growth of visual platforms like YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram over the past ten years, users are clearly attracted to visual content as it relates to getting information online, especially when it comes to brands.


Instagram has over 80 million users and was acquired by Facebook in April of this year for $1 billion (techcrunch.com).  If your brand is avoiding hopping on the Instagram train, it’s time to jump. In order to be successful on the Instagram platform, brands need to embrace the power of visual content and all hail to the king using the below tactics.

Tell A Story

Due to the nature of the platform, Instagram gives brands the opportunity to tell the story of their company.   Give users an incentive to follow you by providing a “behind the scenes” look into the culture and daily events of your brand.  This picture below was taken at Couples Resorts at the very moment when endangered sea turtles were hatching and making their way into the ocean.  This elicited a big response in followers, as they felt a personal connection to the resort that was providing a play-by-play of the rare occurrence.

Find Relevant Followers

 In order to build your following, it is important to optimize your profile for search with a robust “about” section that includes your website and relevant keywords, as well as your logo as the thumbnail.

In addition to the profile settings, it is important to utilize prominent hashtags in your posts to maximize your overall reach and to get new followers who are interested in the same topics that you are sharing in your content.   Think like a user when tagging your photos, and use hashtags that make sense and are relevant to the image.  Websites like web.stagram.com are available that calculate the most popular hashtags at the moment, which is a great benchmark if you’re stumped and looking for hashtags with maximum reach.

 Expand Your Reach

Generating a good photo that tells a story and elicits emotions in users is a great start, but it is important to not limit the photo to just Instagram, but to share it across other social networks as well. From within the Instagram platform, you can tie a Facebook (profile, not brand page) and a Twitter account.  Once you publish an image on Instagram you have the ability to share across either of these channels.  I don’t recommend sharing on Facebook directly, since the use of hashtags on the platform is not as relevant as they are on Twitter.

Using a platform like web.stagram.com, you are able to see the Instagram photos on your account and share them across a host of other social channels such as Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr and Google+.  See the screenshot below for a look at this interface.

Crowdsource Content

Another positive of Instagram is the ability to utilize hashtags to create conversations around your brand.  One way to do this is by hosting an Instagram photo contest, where users simply need to enter the contest by using a hashtag (ex: #CouplesPhotoContest) for a chance to enter to win.  This is also a great way to be able to re-purpose the user-generated-content once the contest is over.  Prior to launching, I recommend creating a terms and conditions page on your website that thoroughly explains the rules of the contest so you can point all inquiries back to the site for more information.

What are some of your favorite brands to follow on Instagram?  What content are they creating that makes you think of them as the King?


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