Now that many of us have finally worked out how to spell Pinterest along comes Instagram. Instagram is a mobile application that is the brain child of Kevin Systrom, a college friend of Mark Zuckerberg’s. In reality, Zuckerberg invited Systrom to sign up for him at Instagram when the social networking site was still just an idea in Zuckerberg’s head, but Systrom opted to stay in school. That decision has resulted in Systrom becoming Silicon Valley’s, and Stanford University’s, latest internet billionaire.

Instagram is actually a free photo sharing social media site launched on October 6, 2010. It allows users to download photos, process them through a digital filter, and share them with other users they are linked to. Instagram has become wildly successful in the first place. By December 2010 they already had over 1 million users. By April 2012, 30 million users were downloading over 150 million photos on Instagram. Also in April, Instagram became available to android users. Seeing a threat to its social media marketing dominance, Facebook acted fast to neutralize its latest competitor. Again in April, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion.

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How can local small companies utilize Instagram? First, you must register. To register a business you need to have a spot page. In order to produce location page for the business, you must create a free account in Foursquare. Foursquare is really a location based social networking site for mobile users. Instagram uses Foursquare’s location database to tag a picture to that particular location. Should your location will not be already listed on Foursquare’s database, you can add it by following these steps as recommended on Instagram’s webpage:

1. Sing up utilizing your brand as the user name.

2. Add a profile picture, information regarding the company and a link to your website

3. Link to our other social media marketing accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)

Now you have your bank account set up, you can begin to develop a presence on Instagram. Among the strategies that you can use are:

1. Share compelling content. Where have you heard that before? Anyone who has followed inbound marketing, seo, and building an internet presence knows that all of it begins with content. Don’t be afraid to test out your photos. Demand feedback out of your followers. Exactly what do they like the most? Think about minimal?

2. Use hashtags to discover more followers and share your photos. When using hashtags, be specific. This should help you find like-minded individuals who could be more apt to be interested in your products or services. So as opposed to simply saying #car, say #bmw. Try to engage those who are most directly considering your product or service. Examine how many other companies are doing inside your industry. They probably have used ideas who have not occurred to you personally.

3. Share the photo on other social media sites. Instagram lets you easily share photos on Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. Once these users see your photo they will go to your site, or commence to follow you on Instagram.

4. Ensure your photos tell the story you need to tell. Posting a photograph of the great steak dinner you’re about to eat won’t do you much good if you own a tire shop. Be authentic. Your users should be able to know if the photos you are posting are actual or otherwise

5. Stay consistent. Don’t over-saturate your posts, but post often enough to keep our followers engaged.

One of the criticisms of Instagram is the fact its filters destroy good photographs. This complaint comes mainly from professional photographers who may be feeling the warmth of competition. Their standards of the items is appropriate are typically greater than the public at large as well. For many business purposes, the photo reproduction in Instagram is “adequate”.

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The other criticism is that Instagram has no business structure and little or no income. But that is Facebook’s problem, not yours. As more and more online searchers conduct business on cellular devices, it is the prudent internet marketer who will benefit the most. Leveraging apps like Instagram will pay dividends down the road.

Instagram is not really the spot to merely share product shots all the time. Consider the experience folks have using what you’re offering, or the benefits it gives people. Even better, show real-examples. Seeking user-generated content out of your audience is one way to get this done. That means that users share their photos utilizing a hashtag you provide.

You don’t have to cram every hashtag you can consider in just one post, but you will need at least a few. A hashtag will be the # sign then descriptive words about your image like this example, I used #marketing and #ctaconf, which was the conference I had been attending at the time. Each time a user clicks/taps on the hashtag or types a hashtag into the search box, it brings up all images designed to use that hashtag. The user can even sign up to still follow that hashtag.

The hope is definitely the user will see your photo, head for your profile and best-case scenario, follow you together with get engaged with additional of your own posts! However, when hashtags are extremely popular, the competition to show up within the results is fierce. Similar to SEO keywords, the better popular an expression is, the harder it really is to keep on the top of the search results. Thus, my demonstration of using #marketing really lwvnib futile if I wished to have any traction from that post.

You want to make your hashtags relevant to your business and location, but also engaging enough that a user would type them into Instagram’s search box. Make sure to let people know their images might be featured on your own page and also you can boost your Instagram content in a big way – at no cost!

Regardless of how you utilize Instagram to your business, be authentic and true for your brand. It’s what the platform is all about, and it’s going to help you grow your business, gain Instagram followers and attract sales or leads.

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