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6 Tips For Getting Started on Instagram

Remember when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock?  Zuckerberg and co. was on to something: the power of visual social media.

Instagram is an online photo sharing and social media service that lets you take pictures with your smart phone and post them on a variety of social platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.

And here’s the beauty of Instagram: you don’t need to be a professional photographer to create awesome photos. The service has tons of digital filters and borders to enhance your shots, and the Polariod-esque square display makes just about anything look frame-worthy.

No wonder Instagram has taken the social Internet by storm. It boasts over 500 million active users, with many businesses and big-name brands amongst them. Ease of use allows communities of likeminded people to connect quickly and naturally, all for the love of beautiful and compelling images.  And it’s downright fun.  Especially when your posts get lots of attention.

Users measure popularity by the number of “Likes”, comments, and social shares their posts get from other users.  Like Twitter, Instagram enables hashtags for posts to help users discover specific images and other users. This also makes it easy to build huge user followings, fast.

Have I tugged at your social media heartstrings yet? If Instagram sounds like an excellent platform for you to grow your visual social presence and attract customers to your business, read on. We have 6 tips to help you get started:

1. Check it out with a personal account

Take a look around with a personal account to determine if your target audience uses Instagram. Like we’ve said before, social media shouldn’t be approached like a Chinese buffet. If your prospects aren’t on Instagram, you don’t need to set up shop there just yet.

An easy way to find your customers is to search relevant hashtags and users on the “Explore” page. This is a great place to hunt down your competitors, too.

Using a personal account first will also help you get comfortable with the platform’s functions and prepare you to make a strong impact with your business account.

2. Keep an eye on your competitors

Look at their posts, read their comments, and browse their followers. Study the posts that get the most attention from users, and make note of underlying themes and strategies.

This research will help you craft a unique angle for your company on Instagram, one that offers something fresher than the rest. It will also give you valuable insights into what appeals to your users, and what doesn’t.

3. Define yourself

What will users gain from your Instagram profile? Determine your plan of attack before getting started. You want to be consistent with whatever brilliant visual offerings you bring to the table, and ensure that your Instagram presence aligns with your broader social media strategy. And yeah, you want it to compel users to visit again and again!

Some ideas to consider:

  • Showcase your stunning product or services in action.
  • Give users a peek into life around the office.
  • Go behind-the-scenes: show how your products are made.
  • Show off your daily specials, promotions, and/or new items.
  • Tell your business story, visually. The people involved, the storefront or office space, and the projects and customers that define your passion.

4. Enjoy those hashtags

#Hashtags expose your posts to a much wider audience than those who already follow you on Instagram, much like they do on Twitter. So go ahead and include a few relevant, specific hashtags with every post to maximize its reach and increase your following.

But don’t go nuts. Any more than three hashtags per post clogs up your comment section and looks spammy. Just like it would on Twitter, right?

Hashtags are also handy for holding contests on Instagram and building even more hype around your business. We’ll talk more about that in an upcoming blog post.

5. Promote your posts across platforms

Adjust your Instagram account settings to instantly update your other social media accounts (such as Twitter and Facebook) whenever you publish a post. You can even promote your Instagram pictures on your WordPress blog with software that connects the two platforms (contact us for more information on this for your website!).

This ensures that your visual masterpieces reach all your social followers and spread amongst an even larger pool of prospects.

6. Play nice to get popular

That foolproof social media philosophy stays true on Instagram: you get what you give back.  To nurture a large following on Instagram, do these things:

  • Follow your prospects, industry partners, and likeminded community members.
  • “Like” their posts as often as you see fit. Add thoughtful comments to their posts. Be friendly!
  • Find even more users to “Like” and chat with through specific hashtag searches.

A picture can say a thousand words; on Instagram, the conversation is just getting started.

What do you think about Instagram for business? Let us know in the comment section below!

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