Instagram is a social media platform that enables users to upload pictures and short videos and share them with their followers. Launched in 2010 and bought by Facebook in 2012, it now has more than 300 million users.
This success has been driven in part by growing consumer appetite for browsing images and videos online, as well as social sharing. Instagram makes it easy. Users can take pictures and videos on their mobile phones and publish them immediately (more than 70 million photographs and videos are shared each day).
Where consumers gather, businesses soon follow. As a result, many firms have found that Instagram offers new and effective ways to engage with their customers. But how do you get the most out of using Instagram for business?
1. Get started with video
For businesses that have yet to post video content online, Instagram offers a simple way in. Instagram offers longer clips (15 seconds) compared to the six seconds on Twitter’s Vine app and it’s more accessible than YouTube.
2. Improve your images
Not every picture you take is going to be top-notch. Instagram allows you to tweak the exposure and use one of many filters to add a special feel — be it nostalgia, warmth or drama. There’s a lot you can do to make your images stand out. Try taking shots from a new angle – such as above – or photograph your products in an unusual setting.
3. Get sharing
Instagram offers integration with other platforms so you can easily share images on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook when you post them on Instagram. Like other social media sites, hashtags (#) help users find relevant content, people and brands to follow. Make sure you use the right hashtags on Instagram to ensure others find you.
4. Your customers are on Instagram
Image-based sites such as Pinterest and Instagram have become window-shopping platforms where consumers browse before they buy. If your customers are there, you need to be there, too.
5. Show your brand in a new light
If you think your business is too boring to be featured on Instagram, think again. Use your imagination and see what other businesses are doing. You could post ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots if you offer a service such as interior design, for instance. Be helpful – short videos are ideal when you need to show how something works.
6. Go behind the scenes
People love to see the people behind the brand. You could use Instagram to introduce new employees, give followers a peek at your latest team-building session or show how your products are made.
7. Let your customers do the talking
Customer testimonials are incredibly powerful promotional tools and Instagram is a great platform for user-generated content. Engage with your followers and encourage your customers to upload their own images and clips about your brand.