Person using Instagram on mobile - Building following in Pinterest and Instagram

For businesses creating a presence in the social media world, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have had the market cornered for a long time. But the time has come for them to share the spotlight, because Pinterest and Instagram are two more social media channels that franchisees can use to generate leads and sales, and drive customer engagement. Both of these channels are picture-based, so to build a following, businesses will have to embrace the idea of using photos or images to reach their audience.

Let’s explore how Pinterest and Instagram can be used by franchisees from any organization to build a loyal following. Pinterest and Instagram work just like other social media channels — the more followers you have, the greater your chances of success and the more likely you’ll be to gain customers.

Why Do Images Work?

You’ve probably noticed that in your personal social media feeds, posts that contain pictures receive more attention than those that don’t, in the form of more Likes, retweets, shares, pins, and comments. In general, pictures, photos, and other visuals capture viewers' attention much more strongly than words on their own do. Therefore, for a business, using images is a great way to generate interest in your products and/or services while building your fan base. Following that, you can work on converting the people who make up that fan base into customers!

If you are a franchisee who sells products, you can feature your product line, spotlight new products, and offer “sneak peeks” of what’s to come. On the other hand, if you run a service-based franchise, you’ll be able to show your team in action doing their jobs or helping customers (be sure to obtain a customer’s permission if you plan on using their image). Showing your products or services in action will help potential customers visualize how your business can help them out in their lives.

On both Pinterest and Instagram, it’s best to share images that are visually appealing or intriguing, and either strike an emotional chord with people or make them think. This is a perfect opportunity to get creative and showcase your brand's personality. If you use images that you think are compelling, this will come across to the people you’re trying to reach.

Building Your Fan Base With Images: The Basics

  • Present your product line, showcasing new products and offering "sneak peeks" of what's to come
  • If you run a service-based franchise, show your team in action as they help customers or clients
  • Share images that'll strike an emotional chord with people or make them think

A Note About Attribution

If you can use photographs you take, images you create, or those that come from the franchisor, that’s great, because you won’t have to worry about attribution or copyright. These days, it’s so easy to take a great photo with your smartphone, and even enhance it with filters and other photo enhancement apps. But if you are searching for a particular type of image or photograph and find one online, be sure to read about any attribution guidelines or restrictions imposed by the site you've found it on (if you’re using an online image library).

If you’re not confident in your photography or design skills, there are tons of great resources online through which you can find excellent photos and images to use, often for free. There are some sites on which it’s necessary that you pay for images, but with so many other resources out there, unless you want something extremely specific, you won’t be restricted to purchasing a photograph. However, be aware that when you do a general Google Images search for something, you’ll really have no way of knowing where any image has originally come from, so you may end up violating copyright without even knowing it.

Don’t worry about being literal with your images. Sometimes, you may want to convey a certain emotion or feeling, or perhaps use an image in an unexpected way. This is a wonderful time to open your mind and let your creativity flow.

Below are just a few sites you can use to find the right images for your posts. Don’t forget to read the terms and conditions for attribution before using images off these or any other sites (look for information on Creative Commons licensing, although some sites do use other licensing types).

Using Pinterest and Instagram to Build Relationships

Social media involves a lot of give and take. People are going to continue following you if they think you’re somehow adding value to their day-to-day existence. In order to be successful in doing so, you’ll need to engage with your followers by responding to their comments or questions, sharing their posts, and otherwise opening up a virtual conversation.

Pinterest open on laptop - Building following on Pinterest and Instagram

This laptop user is currently browsing Pinterest.

It’s beneficial to find ways to get your followers involved with the business so that they become more invested in your brand. You can do this by asking questions, by encouraging them to share pictures of themselves using your products or services, or even by holding a contest (for instance, to see who can come up with the best photo caption, or get the most Likes for a photo). These contests can be based on a theme, such an upcoming holiday, and it’s best to offer a small prize in order to help amp up the interest level. On Pinterest and Instagram, as with every other social media channel, it’s all about having fun.

Relationship-Building Ideas in Brief

  • Respond to followers' comments or questions
  • Share followers' posts, when appropriate
  • Ask followers for opinions on your brand
  • Encourage followers to post images of themselves making use of your products or services
  • Hold theme-based contests, offering a small prize for each
  • Have fun!

Optimizing Your Accounts

Both Pinterest and Instagram have tools in place to make it easier for franchisees to manage accounts and interactions. You can set up an account for your business that is completely separate from your personal accounts, consequently allowing people to truly engage with your brand, which will build your business’s following. Both channels offer complete analytics, so you’ll be able to track how your posts are performing and how your efforts are helping your following grow. The recent introduction of analytics serves as proof of how effective Pinterest and Instagram are as channels for a variety of businesses, and how franchises that have a presence on these channels are able to gain a real advantage over their competitors.

The main objectives of setting up a business account on a new channel are best described as generating engagement, strengthening the business's presence on social media as a whole, and most importantly, building a loyal following that can be converted into a group of faithful customers. As a franchisee, before you open your new accounts on Pinterest and Instagram, you must be sure that you understand the franchisor’s policies or guidelines in regard to social media. If they have a plan in place, find out how you can make your channel as locally oriented as possible, in order to build your business's specific customer base. With a focused effort accompanied by a pinch of enthusiasm, you'll have a growing number of people trickling into your establishment much sooner than you'd think.

To stay up to date on the latest franchise news, to learn more about franchising or a particular franchising opportunity, and to gain access to our complimentary collection of Franchise Disclosure Documents, sign up for your free membership to Birkhoff Research Group»

image 1: public domain; image 2: We Are Social (Creative Commons BY)
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