Instagram has been gaining popularity in the past couple of years, and some businesses are beginning to take advantage of the app’s growing audience. A couple weeks ago I listened to one of Social Media Examiner’s Podcasts about marketing opportunities in Instagram. SME’s Michael Steltzner interviewed Sue B. Zimmerman, a Cape Cod fashion boutique owner who successfully uses Instagram to draw business to her store. She also helps other businesses implement marketing strategies within Instagram.
Although Instagram is most effective for businesses that sell attractive, picture-ready products, Sue claims she could make any business successful. The photo app is perfect for showcasing employees, behind-the-scenes projects, inspirational quotes, and other content, even if no actual products are included in the images.
Why Businesses Should Use Instagram
Many businesses can benefit from an Instagram account. Google Trends shows the growing online interest in the app since 2010:
Instagram has over 150 million users who share about 55 million images daily! That is one engaged and consistent user base of potential followers. One of Instagram’s biggest appeals is that it’s predominantly mobile. It is very dynamic and allows for real-time content sharing. In addition, with 20 different filters almost any image can be turned into a photo masterpiece, making Instagram easy and fun for anyone.
Sue spent a lot time during the podcast talking about the marketing benefits of Instagram hashtags. People follow different hashtags that appeal to their interests, and businesses can identify the hashtags their target audience follows and incorporate those in their images. Common hashtags are adjectives that describe the image, brand name, or location. There are also several tools online that marketers can use to identify what hashtags they should be using, such as Tags For Likes and many others.
Analytics and Management
According to this Social Media Examiner list of Instagram tools, there are now several apps that help with the management of Instagram campaigns and offer additional features that the native Instagram app lacks. Marketers can now see what images received the most attention, generated most followers or comments. Some tools offer scheduling, so that you can plan your posts ahead. There are many marketing opportunities within Instagram thanks to these third-party apps, and I highly recommend reading this article and make use of them, whether you are marketing a business or your personal profile.
As if being a broke college student isn’t enough – now you constantly have to be on the lookout for scams, unauthorized transactions, and small chunks of money gradually leaking out of your account. With the recent Heartbleed bug uncovering, we are all learning a valuable lesson: check your bank statement. Check it every day or as often as you need to, as long as you can tie every transaction to a living memory of you making the purchase.
Today, however, I am not going to talk about Heartbleed or online security problems. Today I want to talk about a bold-faced lie that a sales associate of Charming Charlie thought she could pull off. The girl offered me “two absolutely free copies of Lucky and Glamour magazine” at the register to which, of course, I said yes. If something is free, I’ll take it.
This isn’t the first time something free turned out to be a scam, so maybe there’s another lesson in here that I need to learn.
Anyways, I went on with my life, got my two free copies in the mail. The magazines were awful – no content whatsoever, just page after page of ads. Thanks, but no thanks, I will keep reading my Cosmo.
In light of the Heartbleed incident I went to check my bank statement to make sure none of my credit card information has been compromised and used without my knowledge. What do you think I discovered? Charges for Lucky and Glamour yearly subscriptions. I freaked out at first because I never gave them my credit card information. How could they have gotten it?
Then I did some research and found out that there are many people out there who were in the same boat – a Charming Charlie sales associate offered them free copies, said nothing about a paid subscription, and then passed their credit card information along to the magazine distributor. If you ask me, that’s absolutely outrageous and probably illegal. And the worst part – if I hadn’t looked in my bank statement, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the $30 charge.
Now, I got the issue resolved by calling the magazine customer service and requesting to cancel my order (and refunding my money). They weren’t surprised at all, it seems like they get these calls every day. The customer service rep confirmed that my credit card information came from Charming Charlie.
That’s when I called Charming Charlie to understand how something like this could happen and whose fault it was. The customer service rep at CC apologized profusely and explained that the sales associates were instructed to offer a discounted subscription to Lucky and Glamour, as well as two extra free issues to their customers. He said that the sales associate must’ve accidentally left out the part about a paid subscription in my case. Um, that’s kind of an important part to leave out. How can you charge me for something that I am not even made aware of?
So, Charming Charlie just lost a very important customer (I love sparkly things!) and I will do my best to warn my friends about the unethical tactics of CC’s sales associates. Not so charming anymore, are they?
What to do if you were scammed at Charming Charlie:
- Make sure you recently shopped at CC and that your bank statement shows a charge to CNP Lucky Mag and CNP Glamour Mag
- Call Lucky Magazine customer service and request to cancel your order for Lucky mag and Glamour. Explain that you never authorized this transaction. They’re used to it by now. Number to call: 1-800-777-4058
- Call Charming Charlie and file a complaint. Make sure to tell them you were never informed of the subscription or the cost associated with it. Number to call: 888-675-2275