Instagram is definitely a platform that looks as though it is here to stay. The photo, and now video, sharing social network was purchased by Facebook last year in a deal that was in the region of $850 million. While it may not have as many users as Facebook Instagram does have over 100 million users and so it is a great way to communicate with prospective clients, particularly if you have something visible to sell.
Like any social media property you will first need to register with the network and create your profile. You can upload a profile pic, this could be your logo or a picture of the person who will be managing the account. You should update your bio on Instagram to cover the usual things such as who you are, what you do, when you are open and maybe add your phone number if it is applicable. You can also include your homepage in your profile and this is visible every time somebody accesses your profile.
If you have images of your products you can post them on Instagram so that other users can see them. You can also add a message to your pictures and other users can comment on your pictures. This allows you the same sort of interaction as you would get on Facebook or Twitter.
You can also use hashtags to attach to your images. This allows you to spread the word further about your products by using relevant hashtags. If you had a pair of shorts that you wanted to sell then you might want to tag your image with terms such as #summer or #fitness. Although there are no official analytics for the popularity of Instagram hashtags you can get a feel for their popularity by searching for a particular term. If you look at the images in the first couple of columns of results then you will see how long it is since they were posted and from that very flaky piece of data you will get some idea of how popular the hashtag is. If you can see that all the recent images were posted in the last 10 minutes then it is likely to be a popular hashtag, if they were all posted weeks ago then it is not. Instagram users do search by hashtag to discover other Instagrammers to follow.
As with all social media it is all about communicating rather than broadcasting. One of the best ways to gain followers for your own account is to follow other people. If you have a stall on Blackburn Market that sells unusual mobile phone covers then you might well be only interested in people who live in the Blackburn area. Search for the hashtag #blackburn and you will see all the images that have that hashtag and from there you can gain access to the owner of the image. You can then either follow them so that you see everytime they post a pic to Instagram or you can just like particular images that they have posted.
What you will find is that when you like somebody elses images on Instagram they will often like some of yours back. There is a very reciprocal element to Instagram. This feeling of indebtedness is instigated by you liking their image, they feel that they should like something of yours in return and so they will browse your gallery until they find something that they like.
This then means that when you are using Instagram you are better to post your own image and then look for other people’s images to like. Your feed on Instagram is chronologically ordered with the most recent images appearing at the top. These are the users that are most likely to be online at that time so if you like their images then you are most likely to get a response from them, but you must make sure that your new images have been posted first. If you have a new range of products and you are going to upload images, or videos, of them to Instagram it is best to upload your own material and then start to like other users images.. This will give your content maximum exposure.
At the time of writing Instagram is an ad free platform that is hugely popular with 16-25 year olds in particular. It is also a social media stream that very few brands are exploiting at the moment, but if you use it thoughtfully you may very well find that it can have a very positive influence on your brand awareness and your bottom line.