OECU Logo - 1If a picture is worth a thousand words (as the old saying goes), how much are a thousand “likes” worth? How about a thousand followers? They could be worth quite a bit to your financial institution when you incorporate Instagram into your digital marketing strategy.

If you’re not familiar with it, surely you’ve heard of the photo-sharing app which lets users take photos, modify them with Polaroid-era filters and share them with friends – all while using an Android or Apple smartphone.  Originally, Instagram was created for individuals, but it is quickly becoming the go-to medium for brands to show the more human side of their businesses. That’s something so valuable, you can’t always put a price on it.

Instagram is one of the most popular apps in the world right now. It was ranked number seven on Nielsen’s list of Top Smartphone Apps of 2013 and has 150 million active monthly users. According to GlobalWebIndex, Instagram also has one of the greatest shares of 16-to-24-year-olds among its active user base. Nearly 40 percent of Instagram users fall into that age group. That means a lot of opportunities for financial institutions to connect with their customers and members through pictures.

Photos are powerful marketing tools because they grab our attention and either tell a story or evoke an emotion faster than words do. A photo of an injured child or animal generally prompts an emotional reaction in people long before they ever know the details behind the incident. A photo of people laughing at a party prompts a reaction in people before they ever know what those people are laughing about or celebrating.

That is why Instragram works. It bypasses the mundane and taps the emotions. Instagram also satisfies our human need to belong. It satisfies our natural curiosity by inviting us to view those places and events not normally reserved for the general public.

American Express uses Instagram photos to provide its 25,000+ followers with backstage access to AmEx-sponsored events, such as concerts, fashion shows and the U.S. Open. Business Insider recently named American Express one of the top 20 brands to master Instagram for this very reason.

Oklahoma Employees Credit Union takes a different, yet equally effective approach, which you can read about in the latest issue of my monthly newsletter.  You’ll also learn more about the benefits of Instagram for your financial institution, along with a complete section of Instagram do’s and don’ts for your business.

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