Using Instagram to Connect with Potential Customers

With Facebook and Twitter alone accounting for more than a billion and a half subscribers, you couldn’t possibly also need Instagram to reach out to customers, right?

Ask Lexus, Oscar de la Renta, and Wimbledon. All three of those modestly successful franchises have prominent spots on Instagram’s business blog, showcasing their efforts to use the medium to establish or maintain contact with people who want to exchange money for their products. The same tactics can be modified to fit your business.

Instagrammers are a mighty army of photo geniuses.

Wimbledon Serves

Wimbledon is the tennis tournament people watch even if they’re not into tennis. The corporate machines that sponsor and drive it are juggernauts. You don’t have access to their resources, but you do have access to their concepts.

This year, before, during, and after Wimbledon, the tournament gave select fans unprecedented access to the athletes, matches, and facilities. They encouraged them to record their experiences and share them on Instagram. They consolidated all of the posts by using hashtags and asked the athletes to participate from their accounts.

The Lesson

Wimbledon used Instagram to create a buzz around itself – for free. Well, Instagram is free, but the strategy does require some wisely placed resources. While you probably can’t provide your customers with access to A-list athletes, you do have a product or your service.

Give it away to some of your best customers in exchange for their daily updates on Instagram over the course of a week. Work the hashtags, and poof: Suddenly one week, everybody’s talking about you.

Lexus Drives Outside the Box

Lexus recruited 200 Instagram enthusiasts to create what they called the LexusInstaFilm, a photo collaboration that showcased the release of a beautiful, powerful, expensive machine called the 2014 Lexus IS. All 200 participants photographed the car on just their mobile devices and placed each photo into a predetermined frame to create an awesome media presentation.

The Lesson

What Lexus did was associate their brand with something creative and fun. It didn’t matter if those 200 people were ever going to buy a Lexus or not.

Demographically, Instagram users are young, urban, and educated. Get the suits out of the room, get your younger employees involved, and do something imaginative.

Oscar de la Renta Dresses up Instagram

Oscar de la Renta gave Instagram followers an exclusive look at pictures of beautiful models, taken by a famous photographer in New York City. The pictures were from their previously unreleased fall ad campaign – before anyone saw them on bus stop benches or inside of magazines. With each photo, they linked their website.

The Lesson

De la Renta created a sense of exclusivity by giving something to just their Instagram followers. It made the customers feel appreciated and in the know. Then, by including the website, they were reminded to buy. Reward the loyal with a sense of fraternity – a first peek at something, a chance to test something, even something for free for no reason.

Instagram is much more than photos.

Instagram is not the third- or fourth- or fifth-most popular social media network. It serves a different function and reaches a different audience than the rest of the bunch. Should a small business use it? Just ask the big businesses.

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about social media marketing and conducts reviews.

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