Now that most of us have finally figured out how to spell Pinterest along comes Instagram. Instagram is a mobile application that is the brain child of Kevin Systrom, a university friend of Mark Zuckerberg’s. In fact, Zuckerberg invited Systrom to sign up with him at Instagram when the social media site was still just an understanding in Zuckerberg’s head, but Systrom opted to stay in school. That decision has resulted in Systrom becoming Silicon Valley’s, and Stanford University’s, latest internet billionaire.

Instagram is actually a free photo sharing social media site launched on October 6, 2010. It allows users to download photos, process them via a digital filter, and share all of them with other users these are attached to. Instagram continues to be wildly successful in the first place. 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 available to android users. Seeing a threat to its social media 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 companies utilize Instagram? First, you need to register. To sign up a company you have to have a location page. In order to produce location page for the business, you have to create your account in Foursquare. Foursquare is a location based social networking site for mobile users. Instagram uses Foursquare’s location database to tag a photograph to that particular location. If your location will not be already listed on Foursquare’s database, you can add it by using these steps as recommended on Instagram’s webpage:

1. Sing up using your brand since the user name.

2. Add a profile picture, details about the company as well as a link to your site

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

Since you now have your account set up, you can commence to create a presence on Instagram. Amongst the strategies that you can use are:

1. Share compelling content. Where have you ever heard that before? Those who have followed inbound marketing, seo, and building an internet presence recognizes that it all starts with content. Don’t hesitate to experiment with your photos. Request feedback out of your followers. Exactly what do they like probably the most? Think about the least?

2. Use hashtags to discover more followers and share your photos. When using hashtags, be specific. This will help find like-minded people who could be more apt to be thinking about your product or service. So as opposed to simply saying #car, say #bmw. Attempt to engage the people who are most directly interested in your product or service. Look at the other businesses are doing within your industry. They probably have tried ideas who have not occurred to you personally.

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

4. Make certain your photos tell the tale you would like to tell. Posting a photo of this great steak dinner you’re planning to eat won’t can you much good if you own a tire shop. Be authentic. Your users will be able to determine if the photos you might be posting are actual or not

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

Among the criticisms of Instagram is the fact that its filters destroy good photographs. This complaint comes mainly from professional photographers who may be feeling the temperature of competition. Their standards of the things is acceptable are typically more than people at large as well. For most business purposes, the photo reproduction in Instagram is “sufficient”.

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The other criticism is the fact Instagram has no business structure and virtually no income. But which is Facebook’s problem, not yours. As more and more online searchers conduct business on cellular devices, it is the prudent online marketer who can help the most. Leveraging apps like Instagram pays dividends down the street.

Instagram is not the spot to easily share product shots constantly. Think of the experience folks have using what you’re offering, or the benefits it gives people. Even better, show real-examples. Seeking user-generated content from your audience is a sure way to do this. That means that users share their photos employing a hashtag you provide.

You don’t need to cram every hashtag you can consider in just one post, but you do need at the very least a few. 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 was attending at the time. Each time a user clicks/taps over a hashtag or types a hashtag into the search box, it brings up all images that use that hashtag. The user can even sign up to continue to follow that hashtag.

Anticipation is the user will see your photo, head in your profile and finest-case scenario, follow you and also get engaged with additional of your posts! However, when hashtags are incredibly popular, your competition to show up in the results is fierce. Much like SEO keywords, the greater popular an expression is, the harder it is to remain at the top from the search results. Thus, my example of using #marketing really lwvnib futile if I wished to get any traction from that post.

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

Regardless how you use Instagram to your business, be authentic and true to your brand. It’s what the platform is all about, and it’s going to assist you increase your business, gain Instagram followers and attract sales or leads.

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