Anand Srinivasan

How to Use Instagram as a PR Tool

By: Anand Srinivasan | January 23, 2019 | 

Instagram as a PR Tool

Instagram is traditionally seen as a great way to build brand awareness and create a sense of community around it.

Visual in nature, it is compatible with the short attention span of the younger generation (i.e., millennials and younger).

PR has largely been the mainstay of traditional media. But smart brands are beginning to realize the power of using Instagram as a PR channel.

Essentially, it provides a simpler way to communicate, through images or videos.

This resonates extremely well with tech-savvy users, young and old, who use Instagram as a social networking tool to stay in touch with friends and family.

Moreover, a simple image can often times get the point across in a more succinct way than a blog post or tweet can.

With more than one billion users, your audience is most likely already on Instagram.

Now, the platform is very useful for companies with visually appealing brands.

These can be fashion brands, beauty companies or fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies. However, this doesn’t mean other companies can’t also utilize the full potential of the platform for PR.

Here’s how you can make the most of Instagram as a PR tool.

Showcase Your Products on Instagram

Your product is the soul of your company.

And blogs and tweets can be a good way to communicate about your new products.

But nothing beats a visually striking image or video post on a platform where users are looking for that exact kind of content.

Moreover, seven out of 10 hashtags on the app are branded. These hashtags aid in content discovery and optimization, and are the soul of marketing campaigns on Instagram.

Alternately, a fixed-length video posted to Instagram, featuring your target demographic and product can get the message across like no other platform.

You can also tag products in your posts. And by using product tags in your Instagram Stories, you make the product even more accessible to the customer.

According to these statistics, more than 70 percent of businesses are on Instagram. And 80 percent of users follow a business on Instagram. With 65 percent of top-performing posts on Instagram featuring a product, this may be the best place to focus your product-led PR strategy.

Promote Your Company Culture

Instagram can be a great channel to give your customers a sneak-peek or behind the scenes look into your company.

This is because Instagram content is typically informal in nature. Its users are looking for fun and quirky content to consume, so save the boring press releases for the company website.

For example, SAP’s account showcases a healthy mix of company news, motivational content and a behind-the-scenes look of their day-to-day at work.

instagram pr tool

And Hubspot does this masterfully, showcasing the company through the eyes of their employees.  By using the hashtag, #hubspotemployeetakeover, employees take over the account and show how they work.

Go Live!

In 2016, Instagram took a page out of the Snapchat and Periscope playbooks to introduce Instagram Stories and Instagram Live Stories.

The idea behind this was to capture both highlights and real moments. While this a great feature for traditional users, it can also give your PR efforts a big boost.

A live product launch, interview, or even a behind-the-scenes adds an element of realism to the content.

And more importantly, it creates FOMO with your followers since live streams expire in 24 hours.

You can also collaborate with other brands and influencers by inviting them to join in live to your live stream.

For example, J. Crew offers exclusive deals to users who join their Instagram Live Stories by showing a link. The deal only lasts until they begin streaming live. Any ideas for a live flash sale?

instagram pr tool

Shopify takes the #employeetakeover to the next level by allowing their biggest clients to take over their Instagram Live Story.

instagram pr tool

This is a great brand building exercise and can gain you new followers as well.

Viewers can chat and send comments, giving live streams an edge as a real-time engagement platform.

Perhaps the only drawback of using Live Stories is the inability to provide a link to users outside Instagram to watch your live stream.

Live stream content can be highly engaging due to its interactive nature allowing viewers to chat and send comments in real-time.

Creating exciting content for your Instagram live stream should be a key discussion point in your next PR strategy meeting.

Tap Into The Influencer Community

Though it can require careful navigation, influencer PR may be the best area where social media and PR can intersect.

Influencer outreach is one of the most effective PR exercises.

And while this tactic has been used for a long time, social media (especially Instagram) offers a new way for customers to interact with celebrities and influencers.

Fortunately, Spin Sucks has covered this topic extensively, delving into how artificial intelligence can help you choose influencers, do’s and don’ts, and ways to extend your current influencer campaigns.

Moreover, a targeted influencer strategy can give you access to a highly engaged and niche audience which may not be available via traditional PR channels.

Using micro-influencers (10K – 100K followers) to promote your brand will have a much higher rate of engagement than a million follower influencers.

This is because these micro-influencers have a highly active and engaged audience. Moreover, micro-influencers will be a lot lighter on your PR budget, too.

You can begin by combing through your follower list to find an influencer who is already following you.

Or better yet, use their powerful search & explore feature to find an influencer who is the right fit for your brand.

An influencer already following your brand is an easy sell and a great way to kick off your influencer PR strategy.

The Best Way To Learn? Dive In

It’s time for companies and brands to start taking Instagram seriously as a PR tool.

With a large influencer community, engaged user base, and a killer feature set like product tags and Stories, Instagram can be a great way to offer your brand to a larger audience effectively.

A photo may or may not be worth a thousand words. But, the right photo with the right strategy on Instagram? Absolutely worthy of your next PR plan.

Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash

About Anand Srinivasan

Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. The Hubbion Project Management tool was ranked among the top 20 apps in its category for 2017 by Capterra.