Four Instagram and Pinterest Marketing Lessons from Big Brands

The popularity of photography apps and image sharing sites proves just how powerful visuals can be. A single image can convey a lot more than a whole paragraph can, and tap into as many emotions as a compelling online video does.

Apu Gupta, CEO and co-founder of Curalate, says that consumers share nearly 5,000 images on Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram each second. That’s in addition to the amount of visual content Pinterest’s 40 million users share each day.

Getting into the online visual trend isn’t just about posting images in your blog and Facebook wall, or improving your website’s graphics. Gupta says that “to be relevant and to be loved, your brand must think visually, natively and cross-channel.” Integrating image-sharing networks like Instagram and Pinterest into your online marketing efforts is one of the most important steps in leveraging visual content.

Here are a few Pinterest and Instagram marketing lessons you can pick up from brands and entrepreneurs that created successful campaigns on these two networks.

Sephora and Red Bull: Know What Excites Your Audience

Knowing what type of images interest and excite your audience allows you to build a more effective visual marketing strategy. Checking out what type of brand-related user-generated content is popular among your existing fans and customers can give you a good feel for their preferences.

Sephora: Sephora noticed how many Pinterest users were sharing their beauty products on their pinboards, and that this was helping even more people discover their brand. Sephora has since built several Pinterest strategies around these pinners’ behavior, including their initial “Color Wash” campaign that encouraged pinners to share Sephora products on color-coordinated pinboards, and “It Lists” where their staffers shared their favorite products and beauty tips.

Red Bull: Being a popular energy drink brand and extreme sports event sponsor, Red Bull is naturally associated with excitement. They use their Instagram account to post high-energy photos that spark their followers’ interest and inspire them into action. The photos they post are extremely popular among their followers, each with thousands of likes.

Guess and GE: Encourage Contribution

Getting customers involved in your visual campaigns improves your relationship with them and allows you to put user-generated content to good use. Many Instagram users love taking and sharing images of their favorite products without even being prompted, but a little incentive and content curation always helps.

Guess: Guess held the “Color Me Inspired” contest on Pinterest to promote their line of color-coated jeans. They asked people to create a pinboard called “GUESS My Color Inspiration”, and to choose one of the four available colors to use as a theme for their pins. The contest ran for a week, with four lucky winners getting a free pair of colored jeans.

General Electric (GE): Industrial parts like turbines are often too technical for most people to get excited about, but GE held a contest that managed to get people participating. The “Be the Next GE Instagrapher” contest encouraged people to take photos inspired by one of four themes (Moving, Curing, Powering, Building), and use the hashtag #GEinspiredME. They allowed other users to vote on their favorite photos, and the person who gets the most votes won a trip to GE’s UK aviation facility.

Starbucks and Tiffany & Co.: Tell Your Brand’s Story

Written content isn’t the only way you can tell your brand’s story. Sharing photos of your company’s people and inner workings gives your followers a more intimate look into your brand.

Tiffany & Co.: Tiffany & Co. gives their followers a virtual tour of their workshops through their Instagram account. Their photos show their jewelry creation processes in great detail, from the tools and equipment to the techniques their technicians use.

Starbucks: Starbucks uses its Instagram account to share photos of its coffee flavor testing and development processes at their headquarters, and photos taken inside their different stores around the world.

Peugeot and BMI: Think Outside the Box

Don’t limit yourself to simply telling your followers and fans to repin themed images or use specific Instagram hashtags. Think creatively and come up with different ways to create unique contest mechanics using your medium’s unique features.

Peugeot: Peugeot Panama launched a campaign that is now one of the most popular examples of a creative Pinterest campaign. They used their pinboards’ thumbnails to create puzzles with pieces missing. Pinners had to search for the missing pieces on the company’s Facebook page and website, and the first five people to complete their puzzles won prizes.

British Midland International (BMI): BMI launched a Pinterest lottery and gave away free flights at the end of every week the contest ran. They set up five destination-themed boards with nine photos, each with a different number. They instructed pinners to repin up to six photos from any of the boards, and they generated a random, winning number at the end of each week.

Adding Instagram and Pinterest to your online marketing campaigns gives you the chance to collaborate with your audience and get creative. Contact us to learn how you can develop creative marketing strategies that improve your relationship with your customers.

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