Last week, Facebook purchased Instagram, the barely 2-year old photo sharing startup for $1 billion dollars. The New York Times recently chronicled Instagram’s road to success, struggling as a fledgling start-up to keep up with server demand as thousands downloaded the iPhone version of the app and began uploading pictures hours after it went live. It isn’t exactly clear how Facebook will leverage their purchase, but the 11 members of the Instagram team and the venture capitalist that backed them hit a home run.
After recently reading a Nation’s Restaurant News article titled “How to make the most of Instagram”, which reviews this image-sharing service and best practices for restaurants, we decided to download the app and see for ourselves how restaurants can use this service to connect with their patrons. But first, let’s review some of the cool features that make it a winner:
- The built-in Hipstamatic-like programing allows you to add retro looking effects to your pictures.
- Instantly find and connect with your friends and customers using the “Find friends” option that allows you to find people from your phone’s contacts, Facebook or Twitter.
- Automatically share pictures you take with social-media services: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Posterous and FourSquare. In addition, you can automatically forward pictures you take to any email address.
- Supports the use of #hashtags in descriptions of your photos, which makes them searchable on Twitter and other social-media sites.
- Your followers can add comments to your photos, or they can share your tantalizing pictures on their social-media sites.
After recently spending the afternoon snapping pictures at the Boston Marathon in sweltering heat, applying Hipstamatic-like filters and sharing photos on Facebook and Twitter it’s easy to see how a restaurant could use this technology to connect with patrons by posting pictures of specialty dishes, interior shots of your restaurant, special events or contests, charity work in the community, league sporting events you sponsor and even photos of willing patrons that want to share their foodie experience with the entire social universe.
Pinkberry’s Pamela Naumes, Director of Digital, summed it up perfectly for NRN: “Engage with your audience: Don’t just post images, connect with the community.” “Instagram is passionate,” she said. “Respond to comments, ask questions, follow back, listen and develop a relationship. You’ll earn trust and gain advocates … and learn something new.”
Brands like Pepsi and Red Bull have been tinkering with Instagram for months trying to figure out to monetize the app to connect with consumers. People love pictures, so why not let Instagram do the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is download the iPhone or Android app, start taking pictures and add content to your photographs. Remember to add #hashtags to keywords or phrases to make them searchable on Twitter. Prior to uploading pictures, spend time on Instagram looking at the larger chains such as Pizza Hut and Pinkberry to get ideas from the photos they upload.
Please share your experiences with Instagram by posting your comments.