Using Instagram to Grow Your Business
Instagram is a social media application used for sharing photos or videos with people in your network. What sets it apart from its counterpart platforms such as Facebook or Twitter is both its photo-centric approach and the fact that you need a smart phone to operate your account.
With 300 million active users and growing, Instagram is a fantastic outlet for businesses to promote their brand.
Once an account is created, businesses are able to upload cleverly shot, and appropriately captioned images and videos to their profiles. These images will also be displayed in the newsfeed of any individuals who ‘follow’ you.
The free app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone and you can sign up for your account with either a current Facebook page or email address. Then, create a unique username and password and start posting!
With a small space in which to customize your profile, you can also add the name of your business, a short bio such as a tagline or date established, and a website.
When setting up your account, you’ll want to make sure it’s set to ‘public’ (as opposed to private) so anyone who chooses and follow and see your visual sharing with the tap of a button. You can choose to follow other companies or customers as well. There’s a “Followers” and “Following” count at the top of your profile which you can use to determine your brand’s reach.
Interacting on Instagram
To interact with your followers or their posts, simply double tap on any photo in your feed to “like” it or comment in the thread below the picture.
You can also tag other users or brands using the @ sign followed by their username, and be sure to use appropriate #hashtags to make your own posts more searchable.
If you want to single out and search for individual users/brands use the search tab, indicated by a magnifying glass, or see recommended posts and follow the user from there.
Creating a Post
Once you have selected the photo or video you want to post, select the middle camera icon to upload a post from your gallery. (You can also take photos or videos directly from the platform my using the same feature.) Then, trim the length of the video to 15 seconds or crop the photo to square it using the platform’s built in posting tools, write a clever caption, and choose from one of 24 optional filters.
You can also use additional tools and features, as indicated by the wrench icon, to tweak things such as brightness, warmth, sharpness, cover frame, etc.
On the last screen you can elect share to additional social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Flickr, add a location or tag additional users all in before posting.
Advertising with Instagram
Back in 2013, Instagram hopped on the advertising wagon allowing businesses to “sponsor” an ad which populates in the news feed of certain demographics. They’ve also just recently rolled out ad “carousels” which allow people to view ads and swipe left to see up to 7 additional images followed by a link to the brand’s website to learn more about their product, brand or service.