The first time I tried Instagram, I must have spent an hour going through all the different ways one can touch up a pictures. I sampled a photo against all the available filters, with and without frames, and tested how I could share my posts through other social channels. It amazed me, too, how quickly I gained followers after a short time, and of course the social media strategist in me wondered how I could utilize this neat tool for clients.
If you are not familiar with Instagram, it is an application that works exclusively with mobile as a photo sharing program. Users may download the app and post pictures – untouched or enhanced with filters that give the photos a retro look – to a public feed. As with most social networks, users can follow each other and like and comment on pictures buy instagram views. While one can access Instagram feeds through various websites, users can only add new photos through the app.
Since launching in late 2010, Instagram can claim over 30 million registered users and the interest of Facebook, which has bid to purchase the company for one billion dollars. Numerous services that allow users to turn their Instagram photos into postcards, stickers, and magnets have also launched in the last two years, further solidifying Instagram’s influence in mobile.
As a business offering product or services, you may wonder how you can use Instagram to your benefit. The app is used for sharing photographs, so naturally your first inclination is to populate your feed with relevant photos and encourage likes and comments. The one challenge with Instagram is that one cannot link a photograph to another site, so you can’t count on it for site referrals. You can, however, use the app to get people involved in sharing your brand.
Instagram users, like Twitter users, may often tag the photos they upload. One idea to promote your company would involve contests where users can tag a themed photo according to your contest rules. Not only have you branded yourself on the network, but you present the opportunity to go viral as followers of entrants pick up on the tag and the feed.
It’s important to note, too, that Instagram may be integrated into Facebook pages and multi-purpose Web applications. You can set up an Instagram tab on your Facebook page to pull in pictures with a specific hashtag, and encourage users to tag their photos so they show. People who use Hootsuite, for example, can easily share Instagram photos through Facebook and Twitter profiles. Present the opportunity for people to share your photos – it makes for a nice contest that can go viral.
As people turn more to mobile application to communicate, your business needs to think outside the box and use social media to reach people. Play around with Instagram and see how it can benefit you.