Independent Thinking Blog

Instagram, Photos, and the Power of Visual Marketing

Are you using Instagram?

I don’t understand the hype around Instagram. I didn’t use it initially because of the Apple app exclusivity (I’m an Android girl). By the time there was an Android Instagram app I was happily sharing photos directly to Twitter, Facebook, and (later) to Google+. Then Facebook bought the app and—well, nothing much has happened after that. Except…

Instagram is insanely popular.

The statistics point to over 150 million active users (versus 70 million for Pinterest), 16 billion photos shared (about 55 million daily), and 1.2 billion likes each day.

The addition of a Vine-like video component has only enhanced the fandom.

Instagram has a lot of fans.

I got the “it” factor when it was the first app that let you wrap your photos in hipness or retro and instantly share them with the world. And I know that a lot of people are using it to share photos with family and friends. But as a brand platform? Still not there.

Reading Instagram Power: Build Your Brand and Reach More Customers With the Power of Pictures didn’t change my mind about prioritizing Instagram for business. It did, however, offer new insight into how a company might use the platform for brand-building and, ultimately, sales. Written by Jason Miles, who also wrote YouTube Marketing, the book takes a good look at how Instagram compares to other popular social media platforms and walks the reader through some strategies for using photography to bond with your customers and prospects.

For example, Miles identifies 12 emotions that a good photograph might trigger in your audience: love, desire, desire to belong, desire to collect, curiosity, storytelling, greed (bargains), urgency, instant gratification, exclusivity, ownership (engagement), and justification (of a purchase). Miles notes that “if people start expressing a positive sentiment about your Instagram images, then you’ve got allies rallying to your side. You’ve got a tribe, and the members of your tribe are helping you deliver the message.” The book also contains a terrific section on visual marketing for nonprofits.

The strength of Instagram Power is less about Instagram and more about the power of visual marketing. As the social Web becomes increasingly attuned to visual imagery, it has become more and more important that businesses understand how to use visuals to communicate and tell our stories.

*Disclosure: I received a preview copy of Instagram Marketing in exchange for agreeing to review it–but without any restrictions on what I might say.

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