Instagram has gained popularity since it started up in 2010. It has grown so fast among social media platforms that its numbers are astonishing: 200 million users per month, with 7.3 million postings a day. With that kind of traffic small and medium sized businesses can achieve public relation points without a lot of effort and costs that traditional PR can cost. For smaller businesses this is a boon to the bottom line.
A new way to get the word out.
Instagram is the new way to get the word out about new products, achievements, and events. It is also a way to create good-will among followers and gain new customers as well. Businesses that use this free social media platform can let followers see their new products in real-time with exciting and interesting pictures instead of long product descriptions that are often not actually read by potential buyers.
Businesses can also use Instagram the way press releases are used to tell people about future events. Unlike press releases that must go through a couple of steps: provide information to a journalist who will then share the information through the traditional media. Instagram circumvents those steps with a simple posting. The business can then tag that posting with relevant hashtags, share on Facebook, and tag other relevant users to spread the word.
Benefits for start-ups using Instagram.
Start-ups by their nature tend to have very tight budgets in the beginning that may limit advertising dollars. Instagram is a free platform that enables start-ups to share their information, pictures of products, and excite interest by sharing their news, events, and even contests.
It is vitally important that businesses, whether just starting out or in the game for a longer time to use Instagram properly. Posting a picture is the main focus, but one must use the whole machine to get the most benefit:
- Fill out company profile completely
- Engage in dialogue with both business peers and customers using fun and informal content.
- Like and comment on other posters pictures to engage and create goodwill.
- Use Photomap application to actually show where an event will be taking place
Be wary of potential pitfalls.
One issue that can be a potential burn for a small or medium-sized business is the photos used. One should take special care selecting the pictures to post and pay special attention to the DCMA Act of 1996, which is intended to protect photographers against infringement of their copyrights.
Businesses can lose large sums if sued for improper use of online photos, even if they did not intend to do so. The DCMA makes particular note of Fair Use for other people’s work. Fair use essentially means that businesses are financially liable for posting copyrighted images. The best counter to this law is to hire a photographer.
Another issue to be aware of is that Instagram has stated in its rules that it becomes the owner of the pictures on their platform and they may use the pictures, even without permission. Business should ask a lawyer about this caveat and how you it may affect the business’s product and intellectual property rights.
Additional Pros and cons to think about.
Sometimes businesses experience public relations crisis. For example, a meat company may have an e-coli outbreak resulting in a recall of their product and illnesses among some people who ate their product. This situation can kill a business. Another example for a smaller business, perhaps a product for babies that has been found to cause health issues that may cause people to complain online and cause loss of business.
Both of the scenarios can be handled via Instagram with “Crisis PR.” Instagram creates a sense of intimacy between businesses and their customers. A business can use that intimate feeling to foster connections without having to defend their business. Instagram also feels more genuine than an old-school press release. It also provides a means to manage the business image rather than having to trust the media to care about the businesses interests.