Instagram, just like Pinterest, has been a social platform that businesses leave to the everyday consumer, not quite understanding how to level a brand message without sounding sell-ish or robotic. It could be that marketing or P.R. teams have no idea how to harness the power of hashtags or the use of them in marketing campaigns. It could also be that they #use #broken #hashtags versus knowing how to utilize the trending ones correctly to gain more followers and brand exposure. Below you’ll find my suggestions to market any company on Instagram throughout the week.
Man crush Monday
#mancrushmonday: 487,139 photos
You could also use: #mcm
Most of the weekday hashtags are self-explanatory, and man crush Monday is definitely one of them. Although this gallery is choc-full of Jake Gyllenhals and James Francos, companies can easily leverage this hashtag. Say, for example, you’re a tech recruiting company and one of your salesmen outperformed everyone in the division. You could do the following:
- Write a short, interesting bio of him (maybe include a funny quote from him or a random fact).
- Snap a picture. Use basic photography rules. It doesn’t have to be GQ, just make it witty or realistic. Just please not grainy or blurry.
- Upload to company’s Instagram account
- Make sure your company’s brand page is connected to its Facebook page
- Include bio, hashtag #mancrushmonday and link to your site in the text
- Select to upload to company Facebook page as well
Above and below: As you can see, people use this tag to show many facets and ‘man crushes’ of their lives. From a cross country runner to a thoroughbred, cross country jumper. It goes to show that companies can pretty much have a ‘mancrushmonday’ on just about anything. As long as it’s interesting, shows a human angle and somehow relates to your company’s goods or services, you’ll be portrayed as participating and joining the social conversation with consumers, not selling a product.
#transformationtuesday: 2,064,778 photos
You could also use: #tt
Another tag you could figure out with context is transformation Tuesday. From a company standpoint, you could use this tag if you’re a car dealership that customizes cars, or any other brand could use this approach for any ‘Before After’ services that they provide.
Above: This individual user is already taking advantage of the ‘transformationtuesday’ tag and marketing his Mustang to sell after a restoration.
Above: If your company sells fitness products, dietary products, gym memberships or any other health-related good or service, this Tuesday tag is well-known for users posting ‘Before and Afters’ pictures related to their health endeavors. This would be a great opportunity for these brands to get exposed to this target market and show actual customer-submitted photos of weight loss or other positive fitness results. In the case of the man pictured above, you could market to the user by mentioning him in a photo comment as to how your product could help him fight through, etc.
Above: For our website, I posted this on Facebook to show a ‘Before After’ shot of a local pharmacy’s site that we redesigned. If I uploaded this to Instagram, of course I’d remove the ‘Like’ graphic and tag it #transformationtuesday
Way back Wednesday
#waybackwednesday: 157,098 photos
You could also use: #wbw
This Wednesday tag can also be used for just about any marketing angle, if you can get creative. Below you can see a food blogger’s leverage of the Instagram tag for exposure as well as to demonstrate her clean eating habits with her online community.
Above: A regular Instagram user’s version of #waybackwednesday
Below: UTHS School of Nursing out of San Antonio has also taken this popular hashtag and now uploads Way Back Wednesday posts each week to their Facebook page. This is excellent cross marketing ever since Instagram was acquired by Facebook. Now the social platforms are merging their social identities as networks, and Facebook is even considering integrating hashtags.
#throwbackthursday: 20,326,072 photos
You could also use: #tbt
Throwback Thursday was really the first tag to really go viral across a vast variety of Instagram users (As you can see by the 20 million plus pictures). #Tbt is pretty much the same concept as Way back Wednesday, however you can appeal to a larger audience and target your niche by additional hashtags:
Above: If you sell vintage jewelry, sunglasses or other accessories, this would be the perfect picture to upload and market under #throwbackthursday. It also wouldn’t hurt to add a #vintagesunglasses or #vintage jewelry tag to possibly root out your audience across the platform.
Below: If you were a hotel located in Bora Cay, you could engage visitors by asking them to share their vacation pictures on Instagram that portray their stay. To do this you’d need a marketing campaign that encourages them to tag your location such as #[yourhotelname]boracay. You can tag the pictures #throwbackthursday and any others that would root out a niche market such as #boracay #beachvacations #beachhotel (You’ll have to do your own viral hashtag research here, depending on your industry and what your target market is).
#friday 7,340,176 photos
#saturdaynight 5,873,281 photos
#saturdaymorning 102, 865
Although this day is dedicated to setting the cell phone camera to ‘self portrait’ mode, businesses can also take advantage of this hashtag to build community. For example, if Starbucks wanted to leverage the virality of the tag, their team could launch a #starbucksselfiesunday engagement campaign to display user-submitted pictures of patrons with their steaming, brand-splahed cups of coffee. Not only does this show Starbucks adaptability in the social media strategy arena, it also gives their fan base a feel-good, humanistic relationship with the company.
Below: Continuing with the Starbucks example, it’s obvious that their Instagram fans are there, they just need a clean, social campaign strategy to round them up and engage them.
Moving forward to market your brand on Instagram
If you’re involved in social strategy, SEO or any type of content marketing then you’re more than likely well-versed in the etiquette of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. The problem is that many are professional, social ninjas on their personal profiles, but don’t quite know how to translate that to the company Instagram account. The key is to leverage these viral hashtags and other social trends to display your brand as humanized, sincere, engaging, relevant and most importantly, not trying to push something to sell in the users’ face. The company that’s engaging and coming across the right way doesn’t come across as a company, if that makes sense.