How to Use Instagram For Business
- August 5, 2013
- /Nigel Milne
- /Instagram, Local Social Media, Social Network Marketing, Video & Photo Sharing
- /No Comments
Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has grown from a photo-sharing community of one million users (December 2010) to 130 million monthly active users today. So, what’s so great about this app, and how can you leverage it for your business? Here’s a quick and easy guide to getting started on Instagram.
First, download the Instagram app on your mobile device. Then, choose a username. For continuity, you can choose the same username as your Twitter account. Once you have a username, set up your profile by adding a short bio (150 characters) and a link to your website.
If you want to share photos via third party social networks, make sure you link them with your Instagram account. Instagram allows you to share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Flickr. To manage which accounts are linked, go to your profile, tap the Options icon in the upper-right corner and tap Sharing Settings (under Account). There, you’ll be able to check off which accounts you want synced.
Another optional step is to set up a location page for your business so users can check in and add your location to their photo map. This feature is powered by Foursquare, so if your location page already exists on Foursquare, there’s no need to re-add it.
Using hashtags in photo captions is a great practice for using Instagram. Whether you’re using popular hashtags or creating your own for an event/campaign/hot topic, it’s an effective way of organizing photos and getting discovered by an audience interested in your topic. If you choose to share your photo to Facebook and Twitter, the hashtags will “translate” and become clickable on those channels as well.
Newer features include photo tagging and video*. Photo tagging allows you to tag a friend or company in your photo. Depending on privacy settings, users will be able to see all photos of a specific user in one place. However, you cannot tag yourself in a photo you didn’t upload. Additonally, you can’t tag people in videos, you can only mention them with the @ symbol in the video caption/comments. Instagram Video is a fun feature because you can apply filters the same way you do to photos. Plus, an Instagram Video can be 3-15 seconds long versus only 6 seconds on Vine.
While Facebook (which owns Instagram) has strict policies on running contests, Instagram’s guidelines are not as defined. With photo contests, the possibilities are endless. For example, users may enter by submitting captions, liking or reposting a photo. Instagram even wrote their own blog post about how to host your own contest. All of these actions increase your content’s visibility, and by extension, your brand.
For special events, share photos leading up to, during and after the event. This will help create buzz around a special occasion. Behind-the-scenes content is a strong incentive for people to follow you, so if it applies, make sure you include that in your strategy. Another tip is to share these photos on your other social networks. This alerts different audiences to your presence on Instagram. However, it’s important to note that Twitter does not support a card for Instagram photos. This means that tweets that link to Instagram photos do just that—they link to the photo URL (that opens in a browser) instead of expanding the tweet view to show a photo preview.
While Instagram is a great way to share visual content to promote your business, every social network has its drawbacks. For example, this particular app specifically targets mobile users. Though Instagram enabled a web/desktop version of the site to view profiles and manage settings, you can only upload a photo/video with a mobile device.
Another disadvantage is being unable to manage more than one account per device. Right now, the only way to manage multiple Instagram accounts on an iPhone is to download a third party app. Android phones that run with the Jelly Bean operating system are able to manage multiple Instagram accounts, but not within the app itself. Devices with this operating system are also the only ones capable of using the Instagram Video feature (for now, older devices may only play videos). Also, Android devices do not yet have the capability to share photos by other users.
Instagram allows you to share visual content in a new and exciting way. Sign up for Instagram today and begin expanding your business’s social presence!
*Note: Instagram Video is not fully supported on all Android devices.