Now that most 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. Actually, Zuckerberg invited Systrom to sign up with 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 led to Systrom becoming Silicon Valley’s, and Stanford University’s, latest internet billionaire.

Instagram is really a free photo sharing social networking 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 been wildly successful from the beginning. 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 offered to android users. Seeing a threat to its social networking 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 businesses utilize Instagram? First, you need to register. To register a company you need to have a location page. In order to generate location page for your business, you need to create an account in Foursquare. Foursquare is a location based social media marketing site for mobile users. Instagram uses Foursquare’s location database to tag a photo to that location. If 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 making use of your brand because the user name.

2. Add a profile picture, information about the company along with a link to your website

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

Since you now have your account set up, you can commence to build a presence on Instagram. Among the strategies which you can use are:

1. Share compelling content. Where have you ever heard that before? Whoever has followed inbound marketing, seo, and building an online presence recognizes that all of it starts with content. Don’t be afraid to try out your photos. Request feedback from your followers. What do they like probably the most? How about the very least?

2. Use hashtags to locate more followers and share your photos. When you use hashtags, be specific. This will help you find like-minded people who will be more likely to be considering your products or services. So rather than simply saying #car, say #bmw. Try to engage the people who are most directly interested in your product. Look at how many other businesses are doing in your industry. They probably used ideas that have not occurred to you personally.

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

4. Make sure your photos tell the tale you would like to tell. Posting a photograph of that great steak dinner you’re about to eat won’t would you much good in the event you own a tire shop. Be authentic. Your users will be able to know if the photos you are posting are actual or otherwise not

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

Among the criticisms of Instagram is the fact that its filters destroy good photographs. This complaint has arrived mainly from professional photographers who may be feeling the warmth of competition. Their standards of what is appropriate are typically greater than people at large as well. For the majority of business purposes, the photo reproduction in Instagram is “adequate”.

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One other criticism is the fact Instagram has no business structure and little if any income. But that is certainly Facebook’s problem, not yours. As more online searchers conduct business on mobile phones, it is the prudent internet marketer that will benefit the most. Leveraging apps like Instagram pays dividends down the street.

Instagram is not really the area to easily share product shots constantly. Think about the experience people have using what you’re offering, or perhaps the benefits it gives people. Even better, show real-examples. Requesting user-generated content out of your audience is one way to do this. Which means that users share their photos using a hashtag you provide.

You don’t need to cram every hashtag you can think of in just one post, but you will need at the very least a couple of. A hashtag is definitely the # sign followed by descriptive words concerning your image as in this example, I used #marketing and #ctaconf, that was the conference I had been attending during the time. Whenever a user clicks/taps on the hashtag or types a hashtag to the search box, it brings up all images designed to use that hashtag. The consumer can even sign up to still follow that hashtag.

The hope is definitely the user will spot your photo, head to your profile and best-case scenario, follow you and also get engaged with more of your posts! However, when hashtags are incredibly popular, the competition to show up in the results is fierce. Much like SEO keywords, the better popular an expression is, the harder it is to remain at the top from the search results. Thus, my illustration of using #marketing really lwvnib futile if I desired to get any traction from that post.

You need to help make your hashtags relevant to your business and location, but in addition engaging enough which a user would type them into Instagram’s search box. Make sure you let people know that their images might be featured on your own page and also you can increase your Instagram content in a major way – for free!

Regardless of how you make use of Instagram for the business, be authentic and true in your brand. It’s just what the platform is all about, and it’s going that will help you increase your business, gain Instagram followers and attract sales or leads.

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