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Instagram, a mobile online photo and video sharing social media platform that connects users through the power of visual content. Though a mobile platform, users can share photos via Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Forrester Research found that millennial users are commenting, liking, and sharing photos on Instagram more than they are on Facebook or Twitter—pretty good boasting rights.

With this statistic in mind, marketers are driving businesses to Instagram in droves. It creates a challenge for the business, though: how do they market themselves solely through photos? Instagram now offering videos as long as 15 seconds (compared to Vine’s 6.5) gives marketers greater room for expression, but with photo sharing as Instagram’s claim to fame, the art of telling story through photo must be mastered.

We laid out 12 tips on how to use Instagram for business. Apply one or all, but don’t make the mistake of ignoring Instagram without due consideration (that being it’s the most powerful sharing platform on the web).

  1. When you’ve signed up, be sure to fill out your profile and picture to let the world know what your brand is. Forgetting or skipping on the “About your profile” section is a huge mistake. That’s where interested users will click to find out your website or email address. Make sure the photo is a clear representation of your business without cutting off any part of your business name.
  2. Don’t be pushy. Don’t just pump out sale pitchy images of your business’s latest sale or products. Decide what the story you want your business to share is. If you run a restaurant, you could share pictures of your dishes, employees hustling, the happy diners eating it, the sweet Ferrari in the parking lot, and so forth. If you’re a hair stylist, share pictures of your clients’ new ‘dos and your zany outfit of the day.
  3. Connect with your business Facebook account so Facebook fans know they can find you on Instagram and will follow you across both channels. And on Instagram, just as you want fans to follow you, be sure to do the same back. Fans love it when their favorite brands follow them back, and better yet, respond to their comments.
  4. Host contests to increase engagement. Invite your followers to share photos revolving around whichever topic you want to see. If you run a chip or snacks company, you could invited followers to share a picture of themselves with a bag of your chips doing something fun for a chance to win a gift card, box of chips, or whatever you like. Tell them to use the designated hashtag to enter (#funwithchips). The possibilities of photo subjects are endless!
  5. Showcase your team! Give followers an inside peek at your world by snapping pics of employees and their work spaces. And your employees will enjoy sharing those moments with all of their followers!
  6. Brand your own hashtags. It might just catch quicker than you think. Run a dog grooming salon? Start a trend like #MondayMutt and send out a photo of the cutest pet in your salon that day. Another example? #SalsaSaturday if you’re working a Mexican food truck or diner, featuring your newest salsa creation of the week.
  7. Follow popular trends. Don’t want to create your own? Follow what’s trending and put your own spin on it. Who doesn’t know and enjoy Throwback Thursdays (#tbt)? Upload pictures of your company’s past and enlighten your audience with a fun peek into the history of your brand.
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    Several filters are available to transform your photos

  8. Show off your artistic side. Instagram offers several filters to lend an artistic twist to your pictures. Choose the one that you feel works best and shake it up now and then.
  9. Connect with others. We’ve already mentioned how you should follow your fans and creating your own hashtags. Don’t forget to use hashtags others might be looking up to find someone in your line of business. Architect firm? Use hashtags like #architecture and #design on a regular basis.
  10. If your business has a Facebook account, use it to help your Instagram account and vice versa. Alert FB fans to an Instagram-only contest or use photos submitted on Facebook on your Instagram page. Fans love when their favorite brands highlight them and they love exclusive contests!
  11. Create videos. Now that Instagram allows for videos, market your brand with this 15 second platform. Read more on Instagram’s blog here. (http://blog.instagram.com/post/53448889009/video-on-instagram)
  12. Create a posting schedule for your Instagram account. Making it ahead of time will keep you from over-sharing as well as under-sharing. Once a day, 3-5 times a week is ideal.

Another tip is to check out what your competition is up to. If they’re not on Instagram yet—great! You’re a step ahead and you can set the standards! If your competition is on Instagram, see what works well for them and what doesn’t, and then use our tips to make your own brand stand out.

Instagram is one of many social media platforms to market your business. Read our article about which businesses should utilize which platform for the best results and then stay tuned for our next article!

By EricVogel Nov 10, 2014 2 responses
  • Stanley Smith

    There’s an ocean of possibilities for business in Instagram, and you have enumerated most of them, but not the supportive applications. Nonetheless to make an instagram account really nice you have to filter your audience, because you don’t want to be following not interested people. Fast-unfollow.com is a way to get rid of all those users quickly, making up to 5 000 unsubscriptions per day. You can unfollow 1000 for free after registration. Another kind of awesome apps is schedulers. it’s a common knowledge among instragramers that posting time is very important, so i personally use postso.com to plan it ahead. And the last but not the least, instagram now has some tools for business but they’re only available in US, so you might wanna check iconosquare or simply measured for detailed statistics. Hope it’s useful!

  • Simon

    I wigged out when I found your article. Thanks for this. Now i’m going to use your strategy and combine it with schedugram for analytics. Oh yes, I almost forgot about zengram.net. CHeck it for new followers and legit app

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