Instagram, the insanely popular photo-sharing app, just might be the next hot business marketing tool. This free app allows smartphone users the ability to take photos, add filters to alter or enhance them and share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare or via email. Users keep track of their friends’ photos and discover new pictures by following other users, just as on many other social networking sites. As Instagram’s popularity increases at exponential rates, could your business’ popularity also grow? Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to build your business’ Instagram account. Research It Before venturing too far into this growing community, do your research. Lots of brands are already using Instagram, so take advantage of that fact and see what others are putting out there. You can use websites such as Webstagram or Statigram to peruse photos or just use the app itself ( Explore > Search users and hashtags). While searching, be sure to pay attention to which hashtags are most popular for your brand. This will be crucial when you begin writing your own photo captions. It’s also important to take inventory of what sort of content is already being posted about your brand. This will give you an early idea about how to connect with your community. Instagram is a unique social platform, and it’s definitely not one that’s been created for self-promotion or blatant advertising. Use your research to learn how other brands are actively promoting their brand without, well, actively promoting their brand. Use It First, it’s important that you actually create an Instagram account. Even if you already have one, sign up for a second that’s solely for your brand. And don’t forget to create accounts with Webstagram or Statigram, which will make tracking likes, comments, followers and photos much easier. Then start using Instagram as your default camera. Whenever you take photos for your brand, do it through your Instagram app. Be sure you’ve linked all of your other social accounts ( Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Flickr) to your brand Instagram account so sharing is as simple as it’s supposed to be. Once you’re comfortable using your Instagram account for photo taking, start exploring the available filters. The filters often make photos more dramatic and interesting, thus, increasing the likelihood of user engagement. Instagram currently offers 17 different filter enhancements – translating to 17 different ways to spice up your brand photos to make them stand out. Promote It Once you’ve gotten used to the wonders of Instagram, start dabbling in the promotional side of the app (for some easy tips, check out our post Tell Your Story With Instagram). Taking great photos and choosing the right hashtag for your brand is a good start. But the next step is just as important: Learn how to cross-promote your Instagram content with your other social media outlets. Sharing photos is an important part of content sharing, and Instagram makes sharing your pictures on Facebook, Twitter, etc. really easy. But don’t stop there – be intentional about promoting your Instagram account in the same way you promote your other channels. Tweet at your followers to follow you on Instagram and remind your Facebook fans about your Instagram profile. Though you can’t effectively link to your mobile application Instagram account, you can invite users to follow your account on Webstagram or Statigram (Webstagram even offers a free brand Follow button that you can customize). Running social promotions through your Instagram account is another great promotional tool. Try asking your followers to use a specific hashtag to have their photos reviewed and judged by your business (don’t forget to include official terms and conditions, just like any other contest). For more information on Instagram promotions, check out Statigram’s Contest Toolkit . Just like with any social following, growing your exposure on Instagram will take time. But the benefits of this growing community will be worth the trouble. So get out there and start snapping photos – Instagram is a great opportunity to continue to visually build your brand. Photo Credit
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