Instaprofit: How to Use Snapchat and Instagram for Business

As two of the fastest growing social networks in the world, Snapchat and Instagram present businesses with a unique and exciting marketing opportunity. While the current commercial uptake remains slow, the momentum is building and it won't be long before your business starts to look at ways to use these platforms effectively. But why wait until then? 

This article looks at the advantages of incorporating Snapchat and Instagram into your current social media campaigns, which industries they are best suited for, and why you should be using them alongside Twitter and Facebook.

Any good business in 2016 already knows that a strong social media presence is an essential cog to their brand-building and online marketing strategy. With Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook dominating social networking for some time, it is the new platforms that are making all the recent headlines - and any wise business would be a fool to ignore them.

The new kids on the block

Set up in 2010 and 2011 respectively, Instagram and Snapchat came along some seven years after Facebook. Yet being fashionably late to the party hasn't hampered their success, as Instagram recently reported a total of 400 million active users: 58% of which log in on a daily basis. With usage doubling in the last two years, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media networks in the world.

But there is another app that occupies the screens of many smartphones across the globe. Snapchat was started five years ago and is now the fastest growing network for millennials. With 8 billion (yes, that's 8 BILLION) video views each day, Snapchat is already trading punches with the heavyweights of social media.

So let's take a look at some of the advantages these newcomers offer when it comes to promoting your business... 

The advantages of Snapchat

According to a 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, Snapchat is on a strong growth trajectory: 'Only 5% of marketers are using Snapchat, yet 16% plan on increasing their Snapchat activities and 28% of marketers want to learn more about Snapchat.' 

In case you're unaware of how Snapchat's interface actually works, it basically allows you to take a photo or short video, send it to many people, but only make it visible for 1 to 10 seconds. After that, the content disappears forever (unless they screenshot it, in which case you get notified). Snapchat have recently included a variety of new elements such as a revamped messaging platform and tons of new filters and face swaps.

Now that you know the basics of how it works, here are some very good reasons you marketers should consider utilising Snapchat ASAP... 
Genuinely exclusive content

The unique 'disappearing photo' interface of Snapchat can cause confusion for some. 'What's the point in it?' is a phrase my Dad has muttered more than once (having said that, his proficiency with technology died with the fax machines). I guess the point is not to see Snapchat as a 'photo sharing' interface, but more as a brief window into somebody else's life. 

The beauty of Snapchat is that it can target a demographic that is otherwise hard to reach via traditional media.

This means that Snapchat can deliver exclusive content that is unavailable on any other platform - a huge advantage in a world where content transcends all media. This gives the app pulling power and a desirability factor, which has been proven through such astronomical growth figures.

From a marketing point of view, this allows your business to conduct live video streams of any events you're attending, competitions you're running or even in-office antics. By going 'behind the scenes', you break the fourth wall, making your audience feel part of the team and giving your company a more personal touch. 

Brands such as Michael Kors are renowned for giving their Snapchat audience an exclusive glimpse of new fashion lines before they hit the high streets.

Team up with influencers

The beauty of Snapchat is that it can target a demographic that is otherwise hard to reach via traditional media. One idea could be to team up with a social media influencer (bloggers, vloggers and generally anybody with a massive following). 

An example of this was when Sour Patch Kids teamed up with social media star Logan Paul, in an attempt to gain a large following on the platform. Logan Paul already had over 500,000 followers, so when he posted this snap... 

... you can suddenly see the potential of teaming up with an influencer.

Slightly different but still worth a mention, larger brands are able to use Snapchat to perpetuate their already existing partnerships. As of May 22nd this year, one of Hollywood and Wrestling's most loved stars, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, finally joined Snapchat despite his age being some 10 years above the standard demographic. [And if you're reading this Rock, I'm not calling you old... please don't beat me up].

The Rock already has a huge Facebook and Instagram following, so you can bet his Snapchat will soon enter orbit as well. One of his first videos was of himself in the gym, unboxing his all new pair of Under Armour training shoes. 

Of course a lot of this comes under the umbrella of 'celebrity endorsement', something most brands cannot rely on, but it is also an example of the power of Snapchat in action.

Which industries suit it?

Snapchat lends itself nicely to digital media outlets, blogs and news channels. Some of the big players currently using Snapchat include Sky news, The Mail Online, IGN, Mashable and Buzzfeed.

This doesn't mean if you're not one of these types of companies that you shouldn't use it though. Snapchat can be a fun way to interact with your customer base, showing them the more personal and endearing aspects of your business.

The advantages of Instagram

Did you know that more photos are now taken every 2 minutes than were taken throughout the entire 1800s? Such is the popularity of snapping every moment these days that there are whole new inventions to cater for it - such as the selfie stick, or Instagram.

In a nutshell, Instagram allows users to upload photos and videos, apply countless filters to make them look even cooler, then post it to their audience of followers (much like Facebook's newsfeed). Comments can be left and 'hearts' can be given - these are basically Instagram's version of the 'like' button.

Alongside YouTube and Pinterest, Instagram is one of the more visual social networks - by which I mean it relies a lot less on written content than Facebook and Twitter. However (similar to Twitter) Instagram utilises the power of 'hashtagging' to collate relevant content.

50% of Instagrammers follow brands, a higher percentage than any other social network.

This is all great news, and I'm sure you're all going to go search '#cutekittens' or '#puppies' immediately but, before you do, check out how Instagram can pave an entirely new path for business marketing in 2016... 

Use industry-related hashtags

The most successful way to build any kind of relevant following on Instagram is to become familiar with the industry-related hashtags you should be using. Here is a list of some great standard hashtags (listed by industry) to get you started. What you'll find as you start to immerse yourself into the Instagram world is that new hashtags will develop over time, allowing you to reach a more niche audience.

Instagram has got its feet under the table to dine with the big boys
(image credit: Daryna Kossar)

Getting the balance right between super specific hashtags and more general ones is key if you are to use this technique effectively. For example, if you're a car dealership selling a Porsche 911 Turbo, your general hashtags would be along the lines of #car, #carforsale, #supercar, #luxury. Then your more specific hashtags would involve things like #Porsche911 #Turbo #Metallicblack #tanleather. You get the idea. 

This technique of general and specific hashtagging means that you hit a good range of potential customers and begin to establish your company's brand in relevant circles.

Merge your Twitter and Facebook accounts

If your business is already well-established on Twitter and Facebook, then why not interlink your new Instagram account with them? With every post you make on Instagram you will be given the option to post it to your Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. This will then market your new Instagram account to a larger audience who are already aware of your brand.

Always keep tabs on what you're independently posting to Facebook and Twitter though, so to avoid posting duplicate content when using the Instagram app. Merging is simple and easy to do and you can toggle them on and off at your own will, as this screenshot shows:

To ensure your posts are always hitting the sweetspot on Instagram, you can use automated software to do the work for you. Companies like Schedugram or Hootsuite let you manage your Instagram content more effectively and choose exactly what time your posts go out. This means you can kick back, watch the likes flow in and maximise your brand-building.

Which industries suit it?

The first, most obvious industries suited to Instagram's platform are photography, art and digital media. However, it can be far more diverse than this - as the constant photo feed function equally suits fashion and retail - acting as a 'digital shop window' for the consumer. 

Industries such as law and medical are less suited, as not only does the style of the platform not allow for in-depth content, but the key demographic are not likely to associate Instagram with such sectors (and therefore will struggle to discover you organically).

Did you know that more photos are now taken every 2 minutes than were taken throughout the entire 1800s?


Whether you're a business that's been considering using Instagram or Snapchat for a while, or just curious as to how you can enhance your existing social media campaigns, I hope this article has provided you with some useful information to take away.
The more creative you are on these platforms generally leads to greater success, so try to establish your own 'style' of posts. This style will quickly become associated with your company and serve to increase overall brand awareness. Experiment along the way and discover how you can use the live video and filter options to suit your business.

If the figures continue to soar for these two social media giants, then you'll want to be a part of it sooner rather than later. So... what are you waiting for?

Written by Jon Clarke

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