Tuesday, 19 February 2013

How to use Instagram for Business

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Instagram flourished when Facebook bought it for $1 Billion last year (2012), now with over 100 million users on instagram increasing daily, many business are using this medium to position their brand in front of potential users. Instagram
You must be thinking NO, not another social media platform, how many can one manage, we have Facebook, Twitter, two years ago we added Google Plus, last year was about Pinterest, and now one more. Well the truth is yes its another social media platform, but we should not get demotivated and work our self up, but instead work smarter, we can easily interlink all platforms together, so in theory you are just updating one platform, but all get updated. On the other hand we can also delegate tasks to our team members and staff, which takes the load of one person who has to manage all platforms. Bottom line is that it where your potential customers could be, many large brands such as National Geographic, NPR, NBC News, Playboy, Pepsi, CNN, Starbucks, Grammys, and even David Blaine, have already jumped on and created their profiles which have a large number followers.

What is Instagram

Instagram is a Free application, which allows you to take pictures on your phone and share it online. The application is mainly a mobile application as you can't upload pictures via your web browser, the application also allows you to sync your facebook, twitter tumblr and foursquare accounts, so that your picture will also be posted on these other platforms.
Instagram is only accessed via smart phones such as iphones and android devices, even though you can manage your own personal account online, you can't really search for other users or use hashtags online, however there are third party websites which do allow this such as:

Some facts & figures about Instagram users

Some statistics that were announced last month January 2013
  • 90 million Monthly Active Users
  • 40 million Photos Per Day
  • 8,500 Likes Per Second
  • 1,000 Comments Per Second

How to post photos

Posting a picture is straight forward, you either upload a picture using the instagram camera or you select a photo from your gallery.
Once you have chosen or taken your picture, you will be able to change the settings of your photo by updating its contrast, colors, and resolution, which is one of the main features of Instagram, Once you are happy with your picture, you add your comment and upload.

Instagram Camera
When posting a photo, I would suggest to use hashtags, similar to other social networking sites, as this helps in the discovery of your photo, so that you get the most exposure. Here are the top 20 tags on Instagram:

Using instagram for business

1. Upload your products

Many large brands and organisations have already started to share their products on instagram, something similar to Pinterest. Even though instagram recommends that self promotion should be avoided, which I'm sure you would agree, if you are following a brand or a company which continuously just shouts about them self, and its me me and me, you would get fed up. So you need to make your photos interesting so that it entertains your audience. Such as sharing photos of your office, your staff, and just being social about it.

2. Your main source of Photos

We are all now used to sharing photos on Facebook and Twitter, what we could do is whenever we want to share a photo we post it on Instagram first, and then link our Facebook & Twitter account so that the same photo gets shared across all the platforms.
So instagram, becomes our main camera for the business, whenever we want to take a picture we would use it instagram and share it accordingly.

3. Use Instagram API

Instagram offers an API for developers to add images into websites and into their development work. For business this can work out great, where you could build platforms or sections on your website to display images that you upload onto instagram.

For example you could build your site to display the images from instagram in the background design of your site, or in the presentation banners of your website. This will keep your website fresh and updated with new images fed in from Instagram.Instagram Hash Tag

4. Run Competitions

You can run competitions on instagram, to drive engagement with your customers, You can ask your customers and followers to maybe upload and share photos of your products using a certain hashtag, or just general photos depending on the type of contest you are running. By doing so, you are putting the fun side into your online presence, and also connecting and engaging with your audience.
Even though recently there was a fake Emirates Account on instagram promoting a competition which was too good to be true, but the overall concept of running a business and connecting with your audience is a brilliant concept. Keep it real :)

5. Show off your company

We all like to see what happens behind the scenes of a company, such in the production office, in events, on the streets and so on. Use your business instagram profile to upload images of employes working, general office banter and just putting a human side to your instagram profile.

7. Its all about your followers

You could have a follower of the day,where you share and mention their profiles, on your social media platforms, everyone wants some sort of recognition. If you start doing so, you will notice your followers increase and also your engagement with them. Sometimes its small gestures like this which have greater impact.

My 2 pence

I have just recently started using instagram, its soo much better than writing up a tweet or updating facebook status. Yes I'm too lazy to type, taking a picture and uploading it does the job and as they say “A picture is worth a thousand words.

You can get creative on instagram, and create one photo mixed up of others using DipTic app.

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