How San Diego Zoo Uses Visual Marketing to Build Rabid Fans

Now that some of the initial excitement about visual marketing tools like Pinterest and Instagram has died down, it’s interesting to see what strategies have stuck.

San Diego Zoo has a unique use for Instagram. In addition to promoting its own stream of cute animal photos, the attraction hosts a photo contest to coincide with certain programs each year. The brand recently winded down its Nighttime Zoo program, a summerlong event. To encourage members and guests to attend the events, the park invited the public to submit photos through Instagram of their experiences. Any photo with the hashtag #NighttimeZoo would be entered to win a prize.

Because so many are already taking photos of their kids and the animals while visiting the zoo, it’s pretty simple to enter the contest. The zoo wins because it gets user-generated images that other people will want to view on its site. It also gets additional benefit when visitors also share these photos through Facebook and other social channels.  [Read more…]

Instagram: Everyone’s a Photographer

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Instagram on the Visual Marketing blog. The photo app, available for iPhone and Android, recently crossed into the 80 million users threshold. It’s not just consumers using the app, either. Brands of all sizes are finding ways to use Instagram to promote their products and create a community.

Letting People Inside Your Brand

One trend we’ve seen with different types of social media is having the unique ability to let consumers inside your brand, so to speak. Rather than only seeing the very professional, polished image of a brand, we’re instead getting behind-the-scenes, unfiltered, unpolished glimpses into companies, and we like that. Many brands use Instagram to take photos of employees, products, and events, and consumers are eating it up.

Participating in a Community

Instagram, like so many other social tools, uses hashtags to organize content. So if you run a jewelry company and tag your Instagram photos with #armcandy, your photo will automatically appear with all the other images of bracelets under that hashtag. More people will find your photos, and thus, your brand.

Instagram also serves as a great test market. Not sure about a product you want to launch? Upload photos and see what the response is.

Going Beyond Products

Brands like McDonalds are finding ways to tell stories around their brand, and they do that by sharing photos of more than just hamburgers. As a sponsor of the Olympics, the fast food chain has been sharing images from London this summer, further ingraining its followers into its activities.

Give it a Whirl

You might not be sure how Instagram might help your small business grow. The best thing to do is try it out. Browse viewing tools like Statigram to see what brands similar to yours are sharing. Follow your customers and start sharing photos. Tag your photos to help more people find them, and include a link back to your site. You might be surprised the response you get after a few months of using it!