What is Instagram? Launched in 2010, Instagram is an online photo sharing service that has taken the world by storm. By its third month of existence, it had gained its first million registered users. Today, it boasts millions of users with hundreds of millions of photos uploaded. The company was purchased by Facebook for around a billion dollars in cash and stock in 2012.
* Filters – Instagram makes it easy for users to manipulate their photos by using filters. Each filter employs preset adjustments to color, tint and brightness to give the picture a unique and professional look.
* Portability – The Instagram app is available for free for iPhones and Android devices. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can take a picture, choose a filter, add a caption if you like and instantly post it to your Instagram account.
* Social features – Instagram is as much about social networking as it is about photo sharing. Users can follow one another’s photo streams, allowing their photos to show up in their feeds as they are posted. They can “like” and comment on photos as well. Users can also easily share their Instagram photos on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
* Photo Maps – Instagram users can choose to display their photos on a Photo Map, which organizes the pictures according to where they were taken. Photos can be added to the map when they are uploaded or anytime thereafter. You can also remove photos from your map or turn off photo mapping altogether at any time.
The popularity of Instagram has not only made it a star on the social networking scene, it has also made it a useful tool for businesses. Marketers can share photos of products, services and events with their followers, enticing them to interact with and learn more about their businesses. They can also set images to post to their other social media accounts, giving them an easy way to add content and additional opportunities to engage their audience.
Instagram’s quick growth and ease of use have made it a must-have app for smartphone users, and you don’t have to be an expert photographer to get the most out of it. Just jump in and give it a try – you’ll be adding filters, tagging and sharing your photos like a pro in no time at all!
Creative Ways to Use Instagram
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Instagram has done a wonderful job of proving that old adage. This simple app does little more than make it easy for users to share and comment on photos, yet it’s taken the world by storm.
Even novice photographers have built a following, giving them a creative outlet that they otherwise might never have had. This is great news for businesses that want to take advantage of Instagram’s popularity but don’t have a professional photographer on staff.
Building a following on Instagram is less about photographic talent than creativity. Here are some creative ways to use Instagram so that users will take notice.
* Go behind the scenes. If you want to make a personal connection with your Instagram followers, offering behind-the-scenes photos is a great way to do so. If you sell products, you can share photos of them in various stages of production. Service providers can share photos of their offices, their desks, or themselves working on a project. Even random photos of you and your staff can be interesting if you spruce them up with a filter and add an interesting or funny caption.
* Show happy customers. Get customers’ permission to take their photos and post them on Instagram. Try to get a photo of them using your product if possible, and include a short testimonial in the caption.
* Pile on the cuteness. Photos of kittens, puppies, babies and other cute beings are always a hit. Find a way to work the cuteness factor into your photos, and your followers will love you for it.
* Give a sneak preview. Use Instagram to introduce a new product or promotion. You could take a super-close-up of your new product and let followers guess what it is, or write a coupon code in the sand and post the image.
* Show results. Post before and after photos of what your products and services can do. If you’re promoting something that produces results over time, you could even post a photo every day or week to show progress.
* Have a contest. Post images as clues to a puzzle, and offer a prize for the first person who figures it out. Or ask users to post photos of themselves using your product and have followers vote for their favorite. Any kind of contest will generate interest and help you gain more followers.
These are just a few of the creative ways you can use Instagram to promote your business. Once you’ve gotten started and seen what other users are doing, you’ll find many more.
How You Can Use Instagram in Your Business
Social networking has created a wealth of opportunities for business owners. Facebook and Twitter make it quick and easy for them to get their message out to their audience, wherever they may be. But the world of social networking is constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep up. Relatively new networks such as Instagram offer even more opportunities for marketers.
Instagram is basically a photo sharing app, but its social networking features are among its biggest draws. They also make it a wonderful tool for promoting your business. Here are some of the most effective ways you can use Instagram for business.
* Show off your products. Instagram is excellent for promoting products with visual appeal. Some businesses use it much like a catalog, simply posting photos of their products. That can be effective in some cases, but a better approach is to show your products in action. If you sell cosmetics, for example, you could post images of customers using and wearing your products. These types of photos make it easy for the customer to visualize herself using your products.
* Show the results of your products. Not all products have visual appeal, but perhaps they produce visible results. Weight loss products are an obvious example where you could show before and after photos. This can also work well for a number of other products, such as anti-aging serums or plant food.
* Inject some personality into your marketing efforts. Even businesses that provide services or create products that are not “pretty” enough for Instagram can use the service to their advantage by showcasing their human side. Simple photos of you and your team in action will be interesting to many users, especially if they are accompanied by a fun or thought-provoking caption. It’s also good to show your business engaging in charitable work. You could even post photos of your employees or clients along with brief profiles.
* Entice others to help promote your business. Photo contests are great for getting your business noticed on Instagram. Simply come up with a theme, and ask users to post images using a unique hashtag. You can offer a prize for the winner or simply feature the best photos on your website. If you can’t afford to run a contest, simply finding photos users have posted that include your products and giving them a mention can help encourage others to post similar photos.
Instagram offers a simple way to promote your business. It doesn’t require a large time commitment or even a great deal of marketing expertise. Why not give it a try?
Promoting Your Instagram Profile
Instagram is an excellent tool for promoting your business and its website. But in order to get the best possible results, it’s important to promote your Instagram profile as well. Here are some of the best ways to get the word out.
* Get a badge. Instagram makes it easy to link to your profile by offering official Instagram badges. Just go to your account, choose the badge size that you want, copy the code and paste it on your website or blog. It’s that simple.
* Include a link on your other social networking profiles. The more ways that people can follow your brand, the more opportunities you have to market to them. So take a minute to add a link to your Instagram profile on your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and any other profiles you have.
* Use hashtags. While it’s important not to overuse hashtags, including a few relevant ones can get your images more exposure. This in turn will draw more users to your profile page.
* Use Instagram to post to other networks. Instagram also offers the option to post your photos to a number of other sites as you upload them. If you choose to do so, they will show up in that network’s feed along with a link to the image’s Instagram URL. Visitors who click through can view your other Instagram photos and follow you if they choose.
* Add an Instagram feed tab to your Facebook page. Statigram offers an app that will create such a tab, which will then display all of your Instagram photos along with a link to your profile. Just install the app and post to Instagram as usual, and it takes care of the rest.
* Have a photo contest. Ask fans to post photos related to a specific theme to their Instagram profiles using a unique hashtag, and use Instagram to announce the winner. Statigram also offers a toolkit that is a great help in running such a contest.
* Use your mailing list. Drop subscribers a line when you start using Instagram, give them a link to your profile and ask them what kinds of photos they would like to see. You can also send them a link when you post something special – just be careful not to overdo it or they may become annoyed or lose interest.
Promoting your Instagram profile will help you better keep in touch with current customers and prospects, and it can also help you gain new ones. And once you’ve gained some followers, you can easily integrate Instagram with your other marketing efforts.
Using Instagram to Drive Traffic
Instagram is a fun app that allows users to share and comment on photos. But can it really be used to drive traffic?
Getting traffic from Instagram isn’t as straightforward as some methods, but it can be done. In fact, when used correctly, Instagram can be a wonderful source of traffic. Here are some tips for maximizing its potential.
* Include a link in your profile. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to forget. While your profile is probably not the number one way that users will reach your site, it’s important to make sure that they can do so if they choose.
* Watermark your photos. A watermark is most often used as a means of preventing photos from being used by unauthorized sources, but one that includes your web address is also a good way to promote your site through your Instagram images. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be attractive. It should also be light and unobtrusive enough that it won’t detract from the image it’s placed on.
* Include links in your captions. Captions are great for driving traffic, but only if your links do not appear spammy. Make sure that your caption is interesting and makes sense without the link, and link to a page that is relevant to the image if possible.
* Link to fresh content. Post images related to your latest blog post or press release, and include a brief introduction in the caption along with a link. Give viewers just enough information to get them interested, and make them click through to learn more.
* Link to more photos. If a user is interested in one photo, they will probably be interested in related photos. Instead of posting them all on Instagram, post one or two and include a link to a gallery on your site that they must follow if they want to see the rest.
* Post only a small portion of the photo. Use photo editing software to crop a small portion of a photo and post it on Instagram – for instance, a face with a funny expression. Invite viewers to click a link to your site to see the rest of the photo and find out what was going on.
Instagram’s immense popularity makes it an ideal source of traffic if you know how to use it. All you have to do is put links in the right places and find ways to pique the user’s curiosity.