Instagram-for-brands

Two years ago, it would have been hard to believe that a simple iPhone app designed to recreate the look of traditional polaroid pictures would grow to be the most popular picture sharing service in the world.

Well, believe it or not, that’s exactly what has happened. With over 100 million users and 5 million photos uploaded daily, Instagram has changed the way we share stories and record our lives. Earlier this week for example, photos tagged with the tag #sandy (for hurricane sandy) were being uploaded at a rate of 10 photos per second! And as one of the priciest acquisitions of 2012, Instagram is not going anywhere soon.

Not surprisingly, marketers are flocking to the platform in hopes of capitalizing on the tremendous amount of traffic and engagement, just as they did with Pinterest earlier this year. However, with no advertising options in place, marketers are showing a tremendous amount of creativity in the ways they are using the platform to reach their audience. For your inspiration, a few possible uses are listed below:

Employ User-Generated Content

With visual content on the rise, Instagram can be a goldmine of user-generated content. Major brands like Ford and Sony have used their customers’ Instagram photos in major marketing campaigns. One innovative restaurant also made news recently for allowing customers to create an entire menu from tagged instagram photos.

Hopefully, you have customers that love and support your brand and are actively sharing that support with pictures of your product and team — or of themselves rocking your free gear. Your audience and potential customers love to see that your brand has enthusiastic fans.

Document Your Next Live Event

In all the madness of planning and managing an event, remembering to take pictures often falls through the cracks, and hiring a professional photographer can be expensive. However, it is highly likely that your attendees are already taking pictures for you! Encouraging them to tag their Instagram photos with an event hashtag creates a neat, organized way to document every moment of an event. You can check out all of the wonderful photos taken by our users at our annual conference last week by searching for the #pardot2012 hashtag.

Go Behind the Scenes

No matter the size, industry, or age of your company, your people are your most valuable asset. Customers understand this concept and are always eager for a peek behind the scenes at your business. Instagram can be a great platform for showcasing your staff, office space, and company culture. Don’t worry if your pictures don’t contain any marketing messages or highlight any of your products. Your audience is looking to engage with your brand and see the human side of your company.

When platforms lack traditional advertising options, it provides an opportunity for you to think outside the box and truly get creative with your marketing. The ideas listed above are merely what has been done up to this point. In the next few months, we will see a litany of new and creative strategies employed on Instagram.

How are you using Instagram? We would love to hear about it!