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Humans re Visual creatures. The More You Give Us To Look At The More We’re Going To Pay Attention.

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Instagram after Facebook’s acquisition and now it’s the largest mobile social network, growing on average 2 million users every month. Marketers need to pay attention to Instagram for the same reason they need to pay attention to Pintrest. I know what you’re thinking, OMG yet another #socialmedia platform to keep up on. It’s true, but believe the hype because Instagram is a simple and easy marketing tool that can help your branding efforts and SEO. In part 1 of this series you will gain an understand about how Instagram can help your company and learn from some companies who are doing it right.

So What Is Instagram?

In case you haven’t heard, Instagram is a SmartPhone application that allows users to snap photos, edit them using various artistic filters and upload them to Instagram’s mobile platform. Users can then share photos on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous and Foursquare. When a photo is posted, Facebook users can share and comment on the photo and Twitter users can re-tweet the photo/ instagr.am link.

Why Should I Care?

Through content, social media and SEO work together to build brand awareness, encourage loyalty and help you reach new customers. Social media’s effect on SEO is not always easy to quantify, but what we do know is that search engines are starting to weigh social signals into their rankings and will do so even more in the future. Although it’s a whole other topic, Facebook likes do help SEO and after Instagram photos are on Flickr, photos can show up on search engines for certain keywords.

Mobile web is also growing to the point where more searches will be done on mobile devices than on laptops and desktops, so mobile applications like Instagram will only become more relevant in the future.

Although Instagram will never be the shining star of your SEO campaign, there are a few ways you can leverage your brand through the fun photo application and help your image rankings.

Companies That Get It

Free People, Redbull and General Electric are all companies that are using Instagram as a powerful marketing tool by creating unique photos while gaining a large brand following. The great side benefits that these companies reap are having a likeable brand. Google has placed more emphasis on ranking brands, not websites, so by creating a well rounded internet marketing strategy you’ll see positive cross-overs in all areas for your efforts. Let’s take a deeper look at these powerful brands and how they use Instagram:

Free People

Free People, a vintage clothing brand is doing a good job of leveraging their brand on Instagram by not simply taking photos of their clothes, but by showing their clothes on people and creating a lifestyle and brand image. For example when the Coachella music festival was happening, Free People was front and center, snapping photos of the entertainment and some of the festie-goers that were spotted sporting the free-spirited brand. How fitting.


It’s no surprise that marketing giant Redbull has also figured out how to use Instagram to brand their lifestyle image. Like with most of Redbull’s marketing material, their Instagram photos are rarely about their energy drink and more about the lifestyle they promote. Sky diving in Istanbul? Yes, I’d like to see a photo of that. You can also tell that Redbull has multiple users taking photos from across the world. The variety in their posted photos makes them an interesting brand to follow.

General Electric

For companies who can’t quite imagine how their product will work with a platform like Instagram, General Electric is a good example to learn from. GE’s digital marketing manager, Brandon Gutman was recently interviewed in Forbes, about how their team has been able to take a 132-year old brand that sells light bulbs and appliances and make their content interesting. GE has tackled the Instagram platform by posting intriguing behind the scene photos that should inspire brands that you can’t wear, eat, listen to, read or drink.

This is the GE90 – the largest engine in the history of aviation.

The first thing you can do to get started with Instagram is to claim your name. Use the same exact name as you do for your twitter account so people can use the @mention tool without any confusion. Here is an example of what could happen if you don’t claim your name. My friend Alice’s Instagram name is @Fenway (the name of the Red Sox) stadium. Here is a look at her feed:

In part two of this series, I’ll talk about tips to get you started with how to build your Instagram platform and bring your strategy full circle by building a user base, using keywords and crowd sourcing content.

What companies do you look up to for their ability to brand their image through unique content? Would love to hear you comments below.