a picture is worth a thousand words!

The photo sharing site Instagram should be included in your social media strategy. If it is not, you are losing an opportunity from a rapidly expanding communication channel that consumers and brands are flocking to.

Instagram grew from 5 million users to more than 30 million since launching in October 2010. With more than 1 billion photos uploaded daily on the site, this mobile-centric, photo sharing platform has generated so much interest, Facebook dropped $1 billion for its acquisition in April and to that date the product had not generated one dime in revenue.

“… For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.” ~Mark Zuckerburg

What’s the appeal? People are visual, and Instagram provides a way for a brand to share its story through a series of photos, and for customers to directly connect with the brand.

Facebook shifted to Timeline to add more imagery. With a photo you get four times as much influence because it sticks in people’s minds. A brand can tell a real story through photographs and more importantly they can capture and engage their customers by utilizing them as the curators of the photography. Think of the unique opportunity you can have to insert brand personality through great photos about your product or service from the consumer.

Food seems to be one of the things that is at the top of the photo sharing items and the food and beverage industry has caught on with sixty percent of restaurants utilizing Instagram in their digital strategies. A quick scan of the users and you will find Starbucks, Red Bull, Whole Foods Market, Dunkin’ Donuts, Church’s Chicken, Caribou Coffee and Ben & Jerry’s along with plenty of others that have all jumped into the photo stream with gusto. Some have even utilized Instagram to introduce new items and flavors.

The channel provides an opportunity to be more creative and showcase products, behind the scenes, team members in a different and more interesting way. A picture can get the conversation going and it’s easy, fast, free and fun for your customers.

Instagram’s growth will continue. Initially supported on the iPhoneiPad, and iPod Touch, the site’s Android app launched in April of 2012 and yielded at least 1 million new users in a single day. Instagram utilizes a “like” component similar to its parent company Facebook showing signs of more integration.

The Instagram component should be an included channel for your brand, just as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are. Today Facebook feeds are cluttered and people are starting to scroll past everything, this channel gives a completely different appeal.

When you post your customer’s photo, it elevates their experience to feel more connected (and loyal) to your brand. Think of the difference of simply posting a comment that could potentially get lost in hundreds of other guest comments. This is a new advertising opportunity that once again proves a picture is worth a thousand words!

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