In March 2012, the infamous Mark Zuckerberg, owner of Facebook, purchased an application called Instagram. Before this deal hit the press, I am going to guess that about 10 percent of the U.S. population had any clue of its existence. This is because Instagram literally took the social media world by storm, launching in November of 2010 and 17 months later they were bought out for a cool $1 billion. It’s hard to fathom such rapid growth, particularly since the company is just a mobile app.
Yep, just a little app (not a website – an application for smartphones only). In fact, the thing was only available for iPhones until about a week before the acquisition when the Android version hit the streets.
What is Instagram?
Instagram lets people snap pictures and then pretty them up with funky filters and cool tools that previously had only been available to professional photographers who had invested thousands in their top-of-the-line lenses and cameras (talk about an industry crusher). Here is how Instagram describes themselves:
Instagram – A beautiful way to share your world. It’s fast, free and fun!
Pick from one of several gorgeous filtered effects to breathe a new life into your mobile photos. Transform everyday moments into works of art you’ll want to share with friends and family.
Share your photos in a simple photo stream with friends to see — and follow your friends’ photos with the click of a single button. Every day you open up Instagram, you’ll see new photos from your closest friends, and creative people from around the world.
• 100% free custom designed filters and borders.
• Lux works its magic by making your photos more vibrant and brings out details in your photos you couldn’t see before.
• Instant sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare (Flickr coming very soon).
• Interact with friends through giving & receiving likes and comments.
• Works with Android versions 2.2 and above that support OpenGL ES 2.
• Full front & back camera support .
• And much much more…
If that sounds like a bunch of fluff to you, it is. But it’s rather addicting fluff.
Why is Instagram so popular?
We live in a visual world, people are drawn to glossy magazine images that are zero reflection of reality, but no one cares, we live to dream. Think about your customers. How do you entice them to buy that shiny new object on your showroom floor? You use amazing photoshopped images to highlight the detail of the machine, the elegant shine of the chrome, the soft leather seat. Either that, or you go the sex-sells route and showcase an airbrushed to perfection woman to draw in the male eye to say, “Yeah, I gotta have that even though I can’t afford it.” Am I right?
What about Pinterest?
The competitive app to Instagram is called Pinterest. Now this app has a companion website, allowing users to play around with images either online or via their mobile phone.
This thing is addictive, you’ve got to try it and see what you think. The first time I tried it, I was sitting at my son’s baseball practice, so I decided to download it and start shooting pics of the Wired magazine I had sitting on the table before me. Before I knew it, I had uploaded several images of various graphics within the magazine to Pinterest, and within 15 minutes I already had people “following” me and “repinning” my images! Kinda freaky actually, I mean how exciting are my little snapshots? Apparently more exciting than I realize.
How does Pinterest work?
Basically you do one of two things on Pinterest; upload your own pictures to a “board” or look at other people’s boards and “pin” the images you like to your board. Sounds boring, but I’m telling you, it’s intriguing mainly because Pinterest arranges your images in a way that is so appealing to the eye. The images are bound together based on a certain topic, like this sample board I created based on various OEM units I liked. I threw in some aftermarket products that I thought were rather hip and voila, I’ve created a masterpiece.
From there, people can start pinning my images to their boards if they care to, or I can start pinning their images to add to my spiffy collection. I know what you are saying at this point; show me the money already!
How To Cash In
Here’s where the opportunity and cashola comes in. Do what Motorcycle Superstore is doing and post images of your product, including descriptions, giving potential customers yet another way to find what you have to offer. Or, find potential customers simply by searching interests, like what Kirk Wells has been doing with racing. Kirk’s been pinning for nearly a year, and the guy is likely spending a boatload of money on his racing hobby. Isn’t a no-brainer to connect with him if you sell the products he seeks?
Bottom line, it’s all about connecting. Connecting for real, not because you want something or because you are selling, but because you share a common interest. This may be too touchy-feely for some of you, but it’s the way the world is headed, so either dive in or be left in the dust.
And remember; to be successful in this social world, you must follow the cardinal rule: show genuine interest. Be there because you want to be, not because you have to be, and the flock will follow every time. MPN