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Instagram is good for business: Every day some 55 million photos are posted daily across the world on Instagram, that’s an audience for your business you can’t ignore. Launched only in October 2010 it is one of the fastest growing social media networks and since it deals only in rich-media its engagement levels are impressive. You can share photos (and now video), improve (or alter them) with creative filters and then share them with your followers. You can have followers on Instagram but you can also share straight from your smartphone app to other social channels like Facebook and Twitter too. If you’ve not seen it, why not? In terms of ‘buzz’ it is the place to be. Particularly if you have a visual product to share you should be using Instagram to push your business and raise your brand awareness.

It is easy to use but don’t rush headlong into it. Before you commit your business to it use it first as an individual. You don’t have to share personal photos, they can be non-descript things of object, places or spaces, but get the feel for it first. Then make sure you choose your handle / username carefully for your business. It’s like a domain name, make sure it works written and spoken and make sure it fits in with the rest of your branding. Most important of all, don’t rush into your business posts, build a strategy and with proper planning you will soon begin to see the benefits.

Here are 6 things to build into that strategy to ensure you get the most out of Instagram for your business:

Watermark your images

You could still a brand logo in the top right of every image you share on Instagram like you see on TV, but that’s a bit crass and people will think twice about sharing your image if your brand promotion is so obvious. With a watermark however, you can assert your ownership and spread your brand awareness without pushing it too much. Watermarking via a smart phone is easy, there are countless watermarking apps available. iWatermark is a good starting point as this is available for various platforms, in paid and free versions, and offers the chance to watermark a logo or text. You just have to remember to take your photo first, run it through the watermark app and then upload to Instagram, but that little extra effort is certainly worth it.

Hashtags are your Instagram keywords

just as you would use keywords on your website to grab organic traffic from search engines, so hashtags provide you with the opportunity for the same on Instagram. This organic growth will pick you up a surprising number of new followers, many of whom may not have been reached by your traditional forms of marketing. The best thing is that the people monitoring the hashtags on Instagram who subsequently pick up on yours are also far more likely to be savvy Instagram users so there’s a higher probability that they will have bigger (and also more savvy followers) and also more likely to share your stuff.

Cute is still a winner

I’m not advocating more pictures of cats on the internet or dogs wearing your branding and please don’t see it as an invitation to post up pics completely irrelevant to your business, but it would be silly to ignore the fact that cute still sucks in engagement. It could be we are all bored with our lives and love a little release every now and then. Making us feel good is why cute works. So be creative and think strategically. If you can find an image that makes you smile, the chances are it will work for others too and those are the ones with shareable value too.

Insider secrets intrigue

The reason social media is so successful is human beings are nosey by nature. Trawling feeds of friends for gossip, following celebs for insight and checking out photos for sheer inquisitiveness, you are guaranteed interest from followers i you give them a sneak preview of how you work, your new products or even who you have met. Instagram is a massive hit in the fashion industry due in heavy part to their sneak previews and production line / designboard shares.

Show the importance of your customers

Celebrating your customers not only shows you as a decent business person but also nudges that customer into probably sharing your celebration too. Pics of you with customers or even about to send out orders to customers are often winners. Even pics of you on the phone to customers when posted and tagged correctly are likely to get a share or two.

Guest contributors are set to trend

Guest blogging is now fairly universally accepted and Facebook and Twitter hours are something most have heard of if not been involved in, so having a ‘well-know’ guest posting to your Instagram account is a fairly logical step that some brands are beginning to experiment with now, so get on the wave as it rises.

Happy Instagram-ing

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