11 Tips: How to Use Instagram and Pinterest for Business
Instagram and Pinterest: Not just for the crafty hipsters
An effective social-media marketing strategy is essential for building brand affinity and audience loyalty. And social-media audiences love visual content—photos and short videos.
Instagram and Pinterest are the two main visual social platforms–and business can use them to create brand ambassadors and even attract new customers by communicating the “personality” of your brand.
But many businesses are still wrapping their arms around the entire concept of social media, much less figuring out the optimal frequency of posts, what images resonate best, etc. So let’s start with a few basics.
What is it about visual content, anyway?
A proto-content marketer once said, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Facebook users tend to engage 37% more with content that has a high-quality photo than with text alone.
Some retailers have also tracked increases in sales referred from Pinterest. The average Pinterest user spends far more than users on Facebook and Twitter – anywhere from $80 to $179 per order, depending on who’s counting. According to Comscore, women who use Pinterest (and they represent 85% of all Pinterest users) are 30% more likely to shop online than non-Pinterest users.
And finally, Instagram now has 400 million monthly active users (up from 300 million just nine months ago) valued at $5 billion, which places it firmly ahead of Twitter in just the three years since Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion.
11 tips to use Instagram and Pinterest for business
- Use hashtags. Instagram is more conversational than Pinterest, and hashtags are highly encouraged to increase your chances of being found by the right audiences. Using four to eight hashtags for each post will work best.
- Engage regularly with followers. Post one or two times a day for best results. There are different tools to help discover the best times of day depending on your audience’s time zones and the likelihood of being online.
- Global reach. If your brand has a global presence, bear in mind that many highly engaged customers are outside the U.S. and Europe. Around 75% of Instagram users are outside of the U.S., which can open new engagement and word-of-mouth opportunities while expanding brand reach to other markets.
- Quality is king. High quality of both images and video is important on both Pinterest and Instagram and will increase the chances of sharing and responding. There are tools to help you create stunning images and video that your audience will love and share like Canva, Flip-o-gram, and PicMonkey.
- Use name tags. If wisely used with hashtags on Instagram, name tags can drive more awareness and engagement. For Pinterest include more comments and cross links instead.
- Link back to your brand. Have a prominent link to your brand website in the profile of each network to encourage your audience to visit your website, and strategically use direct links to product pages under relevant photos.
- Identify and connect with top fans and industry influencers. These connections will help your business attract more growth to your network and site traffic in the long run.
- Don’t be shy. Show your products. Although logical, some businesses shy away from sharing enough product shots in their photo streams compared to generic artistic photos. It is key to incorporate your products even in artistic shots to create context and drive meaningful engagement.
- Showcase how it is made. Consumers are naturally intrigued by how your product came to be and how you conduct your daily business. Instagram will work best for raising awareness and audience engagement. While sharing behind-the-scenes moments, focus on the humans involved in the long production process but also show the complex steps needed to reach a final product.
- Highlight inspiring uses of your products. Most consumers may have one use for your product. Use Instagram to showcase novel uses for what you offer and ask the community to share and celebrate the innovation.
- Be inspiring and valuable. Share inspirational quotations and content. People search and share positive, relevant tips and uplifting content.
Which one, when?
As Pinterest and Instagram continue to expand, you need to make them regulars parts of your brand’s marketing strategy. Take advantage that there’s currently no direct cost for using these (though that will likely change when Instagram adopts Facebook’s business model and prompts you to pay for boosting your posts. The app may bring in $600 million in ad revenue over the next twelve months.)
So which one do you use, and when?
If your goal is to generate leads and traffic to your website, focus more on Pinterest. But you MUST have high-quality product shots to attract and retain the right audiences and share valuable tips.
If your goal is more engagement, Instagram is your best bet because of its broad reach and more conversational feel.
For both, pay attention to the unique characteristics, audience dynamics, and resources needed for each channel, and post only messages that are relevant to your audiences and your core brand values.
And remember: don’t just collect fans and followers. Activate them, and have followers engage with your business. You need to provide them with a clear call to action. Acknowledge them, thank them publicly, and reward them for participating. Once you have their attention, it’s time to do business.