Considering how obsessed Asians – especially Singaporeans – are with taking photos of everything, especially food – it’s no surprise that a low-participation-cost tool like Instagram has gradually and fairly quietly gained immense popularity here. It is said from July 2011- July 2012, the growth in the share of visits to Instagram, for Singapore, was 8121%. (Though, frustratingly, it is not clear it is 8121% of what figure.)
Instagram is owned by Facebook, and it would seem that the recent trend of youths abandoning Facebook has been partly because they’ve been drawn to Instagram instead. Unlike Facebook, Instagram is more focused in its agenda and simpler to participate in – snap, filter, tag, share.
In designing my Online Community Management for Social Media #issocm course, one of my foci is Singapore case studies. Specifically, case studies of Singapore companies using social media to drive community and engagement. During my research and in the course of using Instagram myself, I’ve found companies using Instagram to connect with customers, and quite effectively too. It’s a pleasure to see these companies find success in a way which is still not quite commonplace in Singapore. Here are some of the ones I’ve encountered:
G2000 Singapore (http://instagram.com/g2000singapore)
On their Facebook Page, G2000 Singapore showcases their Instagram feed in an app. First ‘gram went up on 28 Feb, 2013, and they currently have 412 followers. G2000’s Instagram features an attractive and colourful variety of photos, from fashion statements (both professionally taken as well as informally posed), glimpses of lifestyle and modern living, humour as well as the occasional inspiring quote. (“Being male is a matter of birth, being a man is a matter of age, but being a gentleman is a matter of choice.”). All in all, an impressive presence on Instagram. #g2000
G2000’s social media presence is handled by Vocanic, Singapore.
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Obolo Cafe (http://instagram.com/obolosg)
Sometime in September 2012, I sat down at Obolo Cafe, and ordered a Yuzu Cheesecake. My friend had a Cassis. It was while we were both instagramming our cakes, as any true Singaporean would, that I noticed Obolo had an Instagram presence. “Tag us #obolosg to get featured” is the instruction. With nearly 1600 followers, Obolo has been ‘gramming since then in September 2012 (though one notes that their follower:following ratio is inverse, with some 5 times more following). Besides the usual food photos (lots of macaroons), Obolo also features customers and staff, and discount deals as well as job openings. There’s also a quaint Instagram of their humble beginnings. #obolosg
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Nutrifirst Pte Ltd (http://instagram.com/nutrifirst)
Nutrifirst, a health & fitness supplements company, calls upon customers to “tag us @nutrifirst if you wish us to repost your photo and stand a chance to get a one time sponsorship!” A win-win scenario taken up by mostly men, apparently, involved in bodybuilding/training, as seen on their Instagram feed. Instagrammers get to show off their muscles, receive gifts from Nutrifirst, and advertise the company’s product at the same time. Their first Instagram was posted on 24 April 2013, but the account currently has over 500 followers, which is not bad for a month’s work. #nutrifirst
Nutrifirst also has an impressive Facebook page boasting over 30,000 fans.
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Public Library Services, National Library Board (http://instagram.com/publiclibrarysg)
(Not a commercial business, but worthy of mention). I used to work at the NLB, a member of the Digital and Knowledge Services division where I worked on social media/online engagement and knowledge sharing services. Their Marketing folks have always been proactive on social media and it is with no surprise that I found them on Instagram. The Public Library Services, which handle all the libraries except the National Library at Bugis, have 616 followers to-date and post a great variety of Instagrams, from featured books to various promotions, events, happenings involving the public libraries, visitors young and old, and even art. Among the very useful things they post are notices on the days the libraries are closed. All in all, a very lively and useful account to follow if you’re a frequent library visitor. Tag @publiclibrarysg to get their attention.
I’m pretty sure I’ve only scratched the surface. I feel that in Singapore, where many smaller businesses may not have taken full advantage of social media yet, Instagram is a viable opportunity, or at the very least, a good platform for testing the waters. For one thing, it’s a heck of a lot easier to explain than Twitter! Instagram is:
- Lost cost of participation – for both yourself and for followers.
- Already popular among Singaporeans, especially the 18-29 demographic.
- Relatively “light” and clean engagement. Compared to Facebook or Twitter, Instagram crises are almost unheard of.
- Attractive, being entirely focused on the visual.
- With diligent hashtagging and geotagging, you can quickly build up content and engagement around your social as well as physical “locations”.
All you need is someone among your staff who has a good taste in filters.
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Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/dustofhue
Online Community Management for Social Media Course (Jul/Sep/Dec 2013) #issocm
I’m developing an Online Community Management course at the Institute of Systems Science, National University of Singapore. Do check it out – if you find yourself attending, we’ll be certainly playing with Instagram hands-on. #issocm.