As social media marketing becomes increasingly important, business owners are turning from old-school advertising outlets (like TV and newspapers) to new and creative ways to promote their businesses.
A smart phone app called Instagram is making news and growing in popularity as a tool for business owners and individuals to share photos and videos with customers and followers and post them directly to Facebook and Twitter. (Facebook owns Instagram)
Use the Instagram Smart Phone App
A business can share relevant photos with their followers at any time through Instagram’s instant, media-sharing smartphone app. Instagram provides a platform for interaction with your fans and customers to promote your business and generate more traffic to your website. Instagram has 19 “filters” that enable you to edit and enhance your photos so they look very professional
Here are 7 tips to get you started:
1) Use Your Phone to Take Photos
Instead of taking photos with Instagram’s built-in camera feature use your smart phone’s camera. That way you can choose which photos to share on Instagram and you’re using your original photo instead of the one edited within Instagram’s camera. Use Instagram’s Camera Roll menu to upload your photos and then edit them with Instagram’s filters to create unique looks
2) Use Hashtags
Using hashtags and keywords in your Instagram photo captions is absolutely essential, as it allows you to be discovered by Instagram users. When brainstorming hashtags, think of words or phrases that are relevant to your business or photos. For example, if you’re a baker and you want to share an image of a tray of freshly baked cupcakes, use hashtags such as #vanillacupcakes, #freshbakedgoods or #frostedcupcakes. Use words and phrases you think Instagram users would search for. You can also use your business’s name and location as hashtags to help nearby customers track you down.
3) Tell a Story Through a Photo or Video Series
Share a story by starting a photo or video series. For example, take a photo of the beginning stages of a new product you’re creating. Share photos of the product’s daily or weekly progress so that your followers feel like they’re involved in its development. You could also take before and after photos of your new office building or distribute a photo of a product update. Instagram’s newest update now allows you to share up to 15 seconds of video on Instagram that you’ve previously recorded on your phone.
4) Encourage Customers to Share
Ask your customers to share photos of themselves using your products to gain invaluable word-of-mouth advertising. As Instagram allows instant media sharing, your business photos quickly go viral. Your customers will not only become your brand advocates, but Instagram will help you to build stronger relationships with them through social sharing.
5) Use Instagram for Contests
Boost your business’ visibility with Instagram contests. You could award a free product or gift certificate to the winner. Ask your customers to share photos of how they use your product or of them visiting your business location. Ask them to use hashtags or the @mention feature, so you can easily keep track of participants. Announce the rules for your contests, on Facebook applications or in a Google Doc, and link to it in the photo caption for your contest launch. (Also check that you’re in compliance with regulations concerning contests and sweepstakes).
6) Give Your Customers a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Your Business
From your employees to your office space, you can choose the parts of your business you want to share with your customers. Present a behind-the-scenes perspective to your followers. For example, if you own an organic cosmetics business, you will build customer trust if you share step-by-step photos of how you create a product.
7) Check Out What Other Businesses Are Doing
If you’re running low on photo-sharing ideas or just starting to use Instagram for your company, check out how other businesses are utilizing Instagram. A search of your keywords should help you locate your competitors. Think of photos you can create with Instagram to differentiate yourself.
Don’t be a copycat. Get ahead by creating new ways to present your products and services through the images you create on Instagram and share on Twitter and Facebook.
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping readers learn about strategic investing.