Instagram is starting to become everyone's social media darling, having been acquired by Facebook earlier in the year. With more than 80 million registered users and nearly 4 billion photos, it's no surprise that brands have been trying to jump onto the bandwagon. Some brands will find it hard to promote themselves in this vintage filter-laden wonderland, that much is certain (how many vintage picture of plywood sheets can you take?) But brands in highly visual industries like fashion and travel have been using Instagram to their advantage.
Here's where it gets interesting: of the top 10 brands currently on Instagram, 9 out of 10 are consumer-oriented, with GE (General Electric) being the outlier. You may know GE as "those people who make lightbulbs", but their portfolio spans a large variety of industries – from healthcare, finance, aviation, even oil & gas.
How does GE dig Instagram gold?
A cursory search through GE's Instagram will reveal that lightbulbs aren't the only thing the company takes pictures of. Wind turbines, trains, and planes oh my!
GE is using its Instagram account to show the company's latest innovations – or in GE's words: "the groundbreaking research and technology that GE has been developing since the days of Edison". The company offers a behind-the-scenes look at what would be perceived as a rather hush-hush operation – the company recently took a camera mounted to a remote-controlled helicopter into their Laurel, MD plant to see what their healthcare division's up to (hint: it involves baby panda warmers).
Taking pictures makes your audience feel as if they're a part of your company and everything that goes on. You form connections and get people interested about what your doing, even if panda baby warmers sound like the most boring subject on earth.
GE Instagrammer Contest
Showing off wasn't the only thing GE was doing with its Instagram though. Occasionally Instagram contests would be launched, but this time they were looking for a new Instagrammer for the company. Originally, GE hired photographer Noah Kalina to take photos for their Instagram and Tumblr accounts. But in November of last year they went on an Instagram-wide search for the next brave Instagrammer, going straight to the source. By adding the tag #GEInspiredme to your GE-inspired photo, you're entered into the contest and your photo shared on Facebook. Then fans get to vote on their favourite photos, with finalists eventually chosen by a panel of GE judges. The top picks are flown out to the UK and brought to a GE plant where they get to put those Instagram skills to the test (possibly land a job as Head Instagrammer).
The GE Instagram story is a classic tale of how a less than sexy product can lay its claim on social media – by thinking outside the box.You might think that your brand doesn't lend itself to being plastered all over Instagram. But if done right, it can help increase customer engagement and get some discussion going about topics that surround your brand.
That goes without saying, social media may not necessarily be for everyone. It certainly won't be the cure for all that ails your business. Like any sound online marketing plan, an audit would have to be done to see whether it will be of benefit to your company.