Expert Column: Will Instagram Be the Golden Ticket for Grocers in 2015?

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Expert Column: Will Instagram Be the Golden Ticket for Grocers in 2015?

By Bill Sussman , Collective Bias - 01/22/2015

Instagram recently surpassed Twitter with more than 300 million active users and is now valued at $35 billion. While food sharing and “foodspotting” quickly became popular after the platform’s inception in 2010, the recent domination of Instagram presents a unique opportunity for grocers today. The following are four ways grocers can capitalize on the power of Instagram to engage and inspire their current and potential shoppers.

Integrate Your Products With Recipes & Party Planning Tips

Use Instagram for what it was made for: This social tool’s emphasis is entirely visual. Employ the platform to show off visually pleasing recipes and party spreads using products that can be found in your store aisles. For example, post a high-quality photo of a birthday party spread or a Thanksgiving stuffing recipe fully executed. But where do you put tips and instructions without overloading mobile consumers with text they likely won’t read? The app currently doesn’t have the capability of clickable links in captions.

However, there are a few ways around this. Within your profile is a place for a website URL that can be edited anytime. If the recipes and tips you are referencing can all be found on a single company blog, link to it in your bio. If the recipes are on different blogs or websites, change the bio URL with each post and include “Full recipe link in profile” in your photo caption. This is a simple way to drive traffic to your new online food content.

If you do put a link in the caption, keep it short. Share these recipe posts on other networks like Facebook and Twitter where links are live and clickable. Whole Foods Market exemplifies this in their feed by posting unique dishes with a prompt for followers to check out the recipe link in their profile.

Maximize The Potential Of Short-form Video

Exhibit the various services within your stores through the power of video. Instagram videos have a maximum length of 15 seconds – meaning your content will be “snackable” enough for consumers to consume while scrolling through their feed. Hosting a special in-store event like a wine tasting or cooking class? Record and post a video to drive traffic to future experiences and demonstrate to your followers what makes your stores stand out from other grocers.

Fuel A Fun Competition

Connecting with your fans and prospective customers is the number one reason a business should have an Instagram account. Provide your followers with an easy way to engage with you such as a photo contest with a hashtag they can follow. Accommodate a cookie-decorating showdown or a creativity contest using products from your store with minimal rules so imaginations can run wild.

Encourage your followers to post their best work to Instagram using the contest-wide hashtag like #CookieMasters with prizes for images with the most likes or comments. Repost the winners to spotlight their participation and your continued appreciation for your shoppers. H-E-B recently ran a festive contest #HEBJoyvilleSweeps, inspiring shoppers to share pictures of their favorite holiday dish, drink and decor ideas.

Showcase Your Fans

In today’s world of mega-sharing, people love to post images of everything from the trips they are taking to the food they are eating. Embolden your fans to tag your account in photos with recipes they made, parties they host, or aisle selfies they snapped. Post a weekly or monthly roundup of your favorite images, thereby giving your customers a reason to mention your brand in their own feeds.

Check out Mariano’s Market feed: this grocer does a quality job of showing off their customers’ photos in a weekly photo grid. They also use a designated hashtag (#MyMarianos) which, when searched, serves as a visual feed of “fan art”.

Final note: Don’t forget to showcase your brand’s culture beyond store walls. Supporting a great cause? Winning an award? Snap a picture! Customers are more likely to connect with brands with a heart and a personality. Kroger did a great Instagram campaign last October supporting Breast Cancer Awareness month, spurring their followers to show how they were #SharingCourage in their communities. When utilized in the right way, Instagram is the ultimate platform for giving your grocery brand the human touch it needs in an increasingly connected market.

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