Every few months there are new toys that spring up in what is becoming the social revolution. Some come, most go but the special like Twitter and Facebook stand the test of time. The latest looking poised to make that leap is Instagram.
Much like Facebook's early restrictions to the Ivy League and then later the .edu email extension, iPhone users were blessed with being the fortunate focus group for the popular photo-sharing mobile application.
The game changed recently when Social Networking giant Facebook bought the 13 employee company for a whopping $1 billion in stock and cash. Not a bad deal for those lucky 13 employees who will split the purchase proceeds based on length of tenure.
But to understand what Instagram means for your brand you must first understand Facebook's thought process. The social space has shifted to in two distinct ways: Its now visual and threaded. Where it used to be a hodgepodge of random updates networked together in an irradic fashion, users now demand it all make sense and tell a visual story. This is evidenced with Facebook’s move to the Timeline last month. Photos and video create much stronger engagement with fans and followers and the new format hopes to capitalize on that. By design, Instagram's entire model was built to threaten Facebook's ability to make that transition. The acquisition prevents Instagram threatening its stronghold on 800-million people worldwide's spare time.
So what does this all mean for your brand. It can't be overlooked that Instagram is strictly a MOBILE application. Now available on Android's newly branded "Google Play" applications store, Instagram allows users to engage via mobile device wherever they are and whenever its happening.
Is your website optimized for mobile engagement? Mobile optimization has been stressed in the past but now its absolutely vital. You MUST know how your site looks on a tablet and smartphone. Where is most of your traffic coming from? If you're not cultivating visitors on mobile you are probably missing opportunities.
Take a quick look at your website's traffic stats (Google Analytics is the most popular) and keep taps on where your visitors are coming from. Facebook currently claims that 50 percent of its activity occurs via smartphone. Are you making the mistake of claiming to be smarter than Facebook? In just a few months with the daily increase in mobile engagement apps its expected for those trends to continue. Its time to ditch the flash, perpetually scrolling page formats and slow loading assets in favor of a much cleaner, leaner format with easier share-ability across the many mobile enabled social tools.
Focus on the Big Picture. If a picture tells a thousand words, when loaded online it may tell a few more. With each Facebook user now sporting more friends than they have in real life, its impossible to keep up with every update, post and like. This is why images, static perhaps even more than video, have distinguished themselves as the ultimate form of engagement.
Take time each week to invest in creating visual imagery that tells the story of your brand. Use photos to give fans a behind the scenes look at your business. Snap pics of new product developments and encourage customers to share their own images of your products in use. Let them feel like they're part of the process. Just as important sift through your existing digital assets and old paper photos. We all love looking at old pictures. Don't be scared to share embarrassingly old images of the brand in its infancy. What images can be re-purposed? What photos can be edited with the use of Instagram's filters?
Even if you’re still dipping your toes into social, Facebook and now Instagram, keep your eye on mobile.