#Branding: Why and How to Grow Your Following on Instagram

#Branding: Why and How to Grow Your Following on Instagram

#Branding: Why and How to Grow Your Following on Instagram

A few weeks ago, while grabbing dinner at Eli’s Table, I asked the server for his recommendations on appetizers. He pointed out one that was best for sharing, one that’s the restaurant’s specialty, and one that’s best for…wait for it…Instagram pics.

Earlier this year, I also visited Miami for the first time. Specifically, I stayed in Wynwood, Miami’s super-unique art district where nearly every building is covered with incredible, vibrant graffiti murals. Wynwood was crawling with visitors, but most of them weren’t admiring the art. Instead, they were using the pieces as colorful photographs for their Insta-photo ops.

In fact, full-blown photo sessions were taking place, including costume changes, props, and creative direction from the photogs themselves. I actually heard one girl tell her friend, “Ok, now act like you’re laughing at something…Good. Good. That was really cute.”

I kind of wanted to vomit.

And here’s an example of an actual Insta post from someone I follow:

“Haven’t shared a shot of this whole room yet… #nobetterplaceforthedogbowl #smallhouseproblems #weareallfamily #cottonstemheartsboho #decorcrushthursday #chalktotheboard #blackandwhitefarmhouselove#ikeafarmhouse #wayfair #kitchen #breakfastnook #blackandwhitedecor #bohochic #bohostyle #bohofarmhouse #bohovibes #macrame #feelslikehomewednesday #dropclothcurtains #homegoods #mybohovibes #thedailydiyhome #bohostyle #thenewbohemians #myeclecticmix

You can’t make this up.

But here’s the deal: whether you like it or not, this is reality we live in. We order food based on how well it’ll photograph. We think about hashtags more than the hash browns they go with. We treat art destinations like selfie backdrops. And we feel like an experience is only validated by the number of likes it gets.

So how do we use the reality to better market our brands and businesses? Here’s our take on three keys to success.

Cool Factor: You have to create a brand that’s cool enough to photograph, brag about, relate to, and share. Tito’s Vodka has done with exceptionally well with its Insta account, Vodka for Dog People, featuring tons of user-submitted photos of their pets plus Tito’s branding. It proves that even if you don’t have a super photogenic product (clear liquid?), you can still find a hook to make your brand worth capturing.

Incentivize: If your brand isn’t quite cool enough, you need to incentivize to try and get users to submit their photos and images that you can use in marketing materials. Try creating a loyalty program that earns points toward future orders or offering cheap swag for Instagram photos. Consider the cost of doing so an investment in brand photography. It’s not the same quality, but the authenticity adds its own value.

Insta Shop: Once you build a base of user-generated images, try tapping into Instagram to make a sale. Rainbow OPTX is totally nailing this. You can “Shop Insta” on the sunglass brand’s site. Clicking on any image from the Instagram feed will take you to the product page to buy yourself the pair of sunglasses from the photo.

Whether you love it or hate it, the Instagram generation is here to stay and their purchasing power is growing every day. Better get on board before you get left behind. #FOMO

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