Why Your Business Needs Instagram

Instagram for Business

Instagram for Business

Instagram isn’t just for selfies anymore: companies that incorporate it into their social media plan are increasingly finding a use in posting daily pictures with descriptive captions and original hashtags. Visuals capture the attention like nothing else, and when you can easily promote your brand with an app that many smartphone users have at their fingertips, why not try it out?

One of the huge benefits of Instagram is the ability to develop and share your specific brand identity with an audience of millions. Snap a picture of your employees at work, a new product coming soon, or even of the view from an especially scenic office window—customers want to see the everyday workings of a business they support, and it’s a good way to draw in new business as well. It brings the business closer to the customer, and the customer gets to know the business better by seeing daily or weekly visuals relevant to the brand. Teasers of new products or daily pictures leading up to a reveal inside the business are intriguing to the everyday Instagram user and will get them talking about the brand. Feeling a personal connection to the business is important for the customer and makes them more likely to recommend your services to others.

Using hashtags is a big part of Instagram as well. Mixing it up and using hashtags specific to your brand as well as general hashtags that people may search is a simple way to keep it balanced. Hashtags are how people find what they’re searching for—don’t use one that’s too complicated or unrelated to the picture. You can track your customers this way as well by searching the original hashtags you create specifically for your brand.

If customers write comments on your pictures, comment back! It’s thrilling to get a comment back from a brand that seems faceless, and it adds a personal touch that is hard to achieve in some cases. If someone compliments the picture or asks a question, it’s a nice touch to send a quick note back that shows you’re not disconnected from your audience. This is also an easy way to post a picture asking for opinions or questions (ex: “What’s your favorite color for this product?”) and to get people to engage and talk about your business. You can respond to your favorites or insert a quick comment to stimulate conversation.

Instagram photo contests are an easy way to get your followers talking to their friends about your product. Start a contest where the best photo relating to your business in some way wins a coupon or something similar—use hashtags to track the entries and promote the contest daily. Customers are always looking for a way to save, and this gets them involved in promoting your business with your specific hashtag.

Choosing Instagram as a social media site for your business is a smart decision, especially if you’re lacking a personal touch with your customers. Take a few pictures every day, apply a creative filter and attach a few thoughtful hashtags and your Instagram will start to take off. Communication with your audience is key to maintaining and building new contacts, and it’s as easy to begin as downloading a free app available on the App Store.

 

by Blair Callahan on LinkedIN at: www.linkedin.com/in/blaircallahan

Using Instagram for Business

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free popular photo sharing app.  This app allows you to take pictures and share it with the world and also apply filters to your photos to spruce them up a bit.  A boring photo on a phone could be turned into a visually aesthetic photo and earn a top spot on Instagram’s “popular” page where the popular photos of the moment are listed.

Photos that are taken can be shared with different social media networks within the app so you only have to upload a photo once. The social networks that have access to share a photo from Instagram are: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

What is Instagram?

Instagram photo sharing app

A user also has the ability to geo-tag photos which then allows the user to share their location on Foursquare by checking in.

Instagram photo map

Instagram profile, photo sharing, and photo map.

Instagram Features

Should professionals or businesses use Instagram?

Sure! Instagram allows a professional or business to share their brand visually.

Let’s discuss Instagram’s features and how businesses can get involved.

Currently, there are 17 filters that a user can apply to their photos.  Filters are different effects that a user can apply to their photo to enhance the look of it. Here are three examples of different filters compared to the original photo:

Instagram normal filter

Instagram normal filter

 

Instagram earlybird filter

Instagram earlybird filter

Instagram sutro filter

Instagram sutro filter

Instagram kelvin filter

Instagram kelvin filter

Instagram inkwell filter

Instagram inkwell filter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instagram is fairly easy to use. You simply take a photo through the app itself or choose a photo from your phone and apply a filter to it. Once you’re happy with your photo effect, you press the share button and it is shared on your Instagram profile and any other social network mentioned above if you’ve choosen to do so.

Instagram VS Other Social Networks

This social media app it started out being available to iPhone users only. It is unlike other social networks because it’s specifically for sharing photos.

There are no status updates, messages, and games just to name a few differences.  However, you can:

  • “follow” people,
  • create hash-tags,
  • “tag” friends,
  • “like” photos,
  • view your newsfeed, and
  • display your profile to the world or make it private for your friends and family viewing pleasure only.

Later, Instagram came to Android devices as well. For now, the only way you can get an Instagram account is by having an Apple or Android device to sign up.  You must download the app from the app store on your smart phone to get started.

Many people wanted to be able to view Instagram outside of their phones, and now that’s possible.

Several sites that have been developed to do just that.  Some examples are http://web.stagram.com and http://followgram.me.

Webstagram instagram web viewer

Webstagram Instagram web viewer

Followgram instagram web viewer

Followgram Instagram web viewer

 

Using Instagram for Business

Businesses are beginning to use Instagram to their advantage.  Instagram allows a business to get their brand out  creatively and visually. It’s being used as another marketing tool just like other social networking sites.  Businesses are appealing to audiences that like images more than words.  No doubt, a photo will catch a person’s eye quicker than a bunch of text.

A business or professional can share photos of conferences or events they attend, behind-the-scene exclusive photos, customer photos, new product photos and more.  A business can share a photo without using a lot of words in the caption and draw more people to their site or product by simply catching their attention with an awesome photo.

Below is an image of  Mashable’s Instagram account.

Mashable is one of the biggest sources for all of your social media and technology news.  The iPhone 5 was recently unveiled and Mashable posted a picture to their Instagram account of it.  The iPhone 5 is big news and Mashable visually shared this with their readers.  If someone wanted to know more about the iPhone 5 they could simply visit Mashable’s website to get all of the details.

Mashable's Instagram profile

Mashable's Instagram profile

Would you like to see more? Here’s a quick video on how to use Instagram for iPhone or Android:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JETkbUfWY-4 via SmartphoneNirvana.com

So if you love to take photos of your products or display what your business has to offer to the world then you should definitely give Instagram a try!  Go to your smart phone’s app store now to get started.

Still not sure about using Instagram for your business? Get a lot more information and examples of business use via Instagram’s official website: http://help.instagram.com/customer/portal/topics/43530-instagram-for-businesses

Kia Tinsley is a software consultant with a degree in Information Systems and Operations Management from UNC Greensboro, and worked as a Social Media Intern with Martin Brossman & Associates over the summer of 2012.

Martin Brossman & Associates is a Raleigh based firm providing social media training, workshops, management, talks and advising to micro businesses, small and medium sized businesses, professionals, associations and communities. Contact info@martinbrossmanandassociates.com.