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Over the past couple of months there have been some noticeable disagreements between social networking sites Twitter and Instagram. The battle between the two has well and truly come to blows this week.  It all began when Facebook casually bought Instagram earlier this year for a cool £629 million and the two rivalling networks have been throwing punches back and forth ever since.

This week Instagram has disabled the feature on Twitter that allows photos to be embedded in tweets, and has also updated their smartphone app with additional features. Cue an almost-immediate response from the Twitter camp: the release of a new version of their app which, surprise surprise, includes a range of Instagam-esque styling filters for images.

The conflict between the two networks could actually be interesting news for internet marketers. We’re well aware of the opportunities for brands on Twitter but this challenge in competition could also open doors for businesses that have a good understanding of social media and are using Instagram as a marketing platform.

It seems insane that many businesses don’t use Instagram, especially considering their 100 million user database (and counting). The combination of Instagram’s updated smartphone app and the facelift of their online offering make Instagram more user-friendly and ultimately more desirable for SEO purposes.

This is just part of the bigger picture and conveniently reminds us of that all important buzzword: content marketing. Brands that are providing unique and desirable content via social media platforms are leading the way in internet marketing by taking increased ownership of the web. For those of you out there who are already intrigued, here are some starting tips for brands using Instagram.

Optimise your public profile

Instagram have recently updated their public web profiles and optimised user profile URLs. This means that we could potentially start seeing Instagram public profiles and individual photos – appropriately tagged with titles and tags – ranking in the search results pages. In the future it’s a possibility that search engines could start placing as much authority on Instagram profiles as they do on Twitter and Facebook profiles. For now, activity on Instagram could be seen as an additional social signal and although it is unclear what value Google places on these signals, it couldn’t hurt right?

Take Jamie Oliver, for example, who has over 700,000 followers on the network. Each photo uploaded has an average of 7 thousand likes and 50 comments. Jamie Oliver is a perfect example of how a brand should use Instagram (let’s face it – Jamie Oliver is a brand). His description has a link to his website and he interacts with his Instagram audience by posting a balanced selection of personal and professional incorporations of his brand. This leads us on very nicely to my next point.

Know your audience

Like every other social network, you need to know your audience, and Instagram is no exception. Users haven’t bought into Jamie Oliver’s brand, they’ve bought into his lifestyle; posting photos of products on Instagram just won’t do – you need to be clever about it.

Take Rogue Ales, for example, a relatively small craft brewery out of Ashland, Oregon with over 6 thousand followers on Instagram. Their profile doesn’t just include photos of beer; it presents a way of life: showing how the beer is made, employees doing their daily tasks, and even their pets! They have tapped into their wider audience’s landscape and have given them a reason to believe in their brand.

Show your audience something new

This is again reinforcing that idea that you’re not trying to continuously push your products through social media – obvious, perhaps, but increasingly difficult to do. Take them behind the scenes, show them the making-of, give them access to exclusive events and hint to new products and services that will excite them and cause that all-important, unforgettable buzz.

Content marketing is proving very successful for smart brands and is paving the way forward in internet marketing. You need to explore every avenue where you can drive your brand through unique and engaging content, and Instagram could provide a head start.

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