Instagram for businessGuest post written by Judi Gray, Blue Bird Internet Marketing and Social Media

Are you wondering what the "heart" Instagram is all about and if it is suitable for your business? Here is the low down on what those little heart's mean, what type of social media profile Instagram is and the do's and don'ts if you choose to use it.

What is Instagram?
Instagram is a mobile phone based app for iPhone products & android systems. Instagram allows users to create a profile and share images and short videos that are taken predominantly on their phones or tablets, uploaded to Instagram, and then cropped to a square shape. Instagram provides options of editing the images with filters and borders, image rotation and brightness adjustments. Users view a feed of images provided by those they have followed which are viewed by scrolling down to view a stream of images on a smart phone or tablet device.

 

How to get started with an Instagram Profile:
Firstly you will need to download the Free Instagram App from the App store or Google Play.
You will require a username (similar also to Twitter). I recommend if you are using Instagram for Business Purposes, you use your Company Name, alternatively for personal use, use your personal name or a variant of. A profile picture can be added which is cropped into a circle shape (similar to Google +). For business, use your logo to ensure customer recognition. 

 

When starting your profile, ensure to provide a short description and add your web or blog address to your profile. 

Instagram Privacy Settings:
To gain the most interaction for your business profile select an "Open" Profile for your Business Instagram Profile, so everyone can view your pictures, hashtags and like them. For personal use, I recommend choosing a "private" setting, which only allows your Instagram friends to view your profile and images.

Those little hearts:
The little heart located under your Instagram photos with a number beside it is the number of likes that are contributed to your image. Viewers can either press on the "Like Button" under the post or simply double tap the image to add a like. When only a few "hearts" have been added Instagram will list who has liked them, when there are multiple for example images on the @Australia Page will list the like numbers.

Comments:
Comments can be added the same way as any other social media profile. Click the comment button under the post to add your thoughts. Keep it short if possible! Comments under another person's post can be deleted by "flicking to the left" of the comment, a rubbish bin icon will appear. Photo information cannot be edited at this time (hopefully this will come). The only way to remove an error in your own post is to delete it and start again.

Image Hash Tags:
To create interest, users use #Hashtags attached to all of your posts (similar to Twitter). For Example a business would always tag themselves e.g. #mybusiness and to tag someone else in the post, e.g. someone you want to link to your image you use the @symbol - much the same as Facebook. Hashtags can be searched just as they are on twitter. This is generally how your photos will be found and liked by others who do not currently follow your profile. Thinking of creative hashtags is always a challenge but it can be done. Choose not only your business name to tag, but the location of your business, the content, genres etc.

What type of Photos should I Add?
It is time to get creative! Photography is fun! If you don't like taking images or generally don't notice the beautiful things in the world around you - hand this job to someone in your business that does, preferably someone with a creative eye. Alternatively work in with other friends or colleagues who are photographers and "trade" skills.

Remember your photos can be shared to Twitter and Facebook profiles by anyone – so ensure you only add images that you are happy for the world to see.

A few ideas to get you started:

  1. Consumers always love to see your products, but don't overload them with them. Show them in a unique way – how are they used, the process that they are made etc.
  2. Behind the Scenes - show your work office, the set-up of a photo shoot, the creative process in making a product, not always just the finished result. Users will feel like they get an "inside look to how your business works".
  3. Introduce your employees - images of your employees do not need to be boring - showcase their favourite desk items, pair of shoes, or projects they are working on.
  4. Preparation - are you preparing for a project? Show the finished product of your work along with the work involved.
  5. Where are you and what are you doing? Are you attending a conference, meeting someone new from another business - why not showcase their businesses as well? Instagram has the option adding the location of your photo also to create a photo map of your images. Take a photo of your favourite funky coffee shop and share. Food images are always popular also... but only good ones (leave the mediocre meals off Insta!) Always remember to add the information of where the image was taken so credit can be given to the photographed business.
  6. Sneak-Peek's - offer consumers a sneak-peek into your upcoming product launches or projects. Let them feel like an insider!

The Do's:

  1. Set up your profile as per our business recommendations and ensure that your profile is professional while being fun.
  2. Create your own images rather than poaching other peoples from the internet. Apps such as Over and Font Candy are great for creating original quotes with funky font and text options.
  3. Thank people for positive comments. Take the time to like and comment on other posts.
  4. Add your Instagram feed to your Facebook Page or your blog and website. Statigram has some great free widgets and apps to use.
  5. Add text to all posts. A short description is great along with a few relevant hashtags. Web links can be added but keep in mind they will not be "clickable" in the comments section. Ensure your website is listed in your profile information and refer to this as it is a clickable link.
  6. Share your Instagram posts elsewhere. When uploading you have the option of sharing to your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare Profiles and by email also. You can choose to select or deselect these options every time you post an image.

The Don'ts:

  1. The most important thing to remember when using Instagram (or any form of internet based marketing) is to always consider Copyright laws. While it may seem that "everyone" is ripping off other people's images and screen shotting their way to popularity – the risks are not worth it. As with all sites, ask for permission before posting anything that is not your own original content and if permission is granted, always add a credit to the image.
  2. Don't over post! There is nothing worse than logging into Instagram and scrolling through your home-feed to see 10 posts in a row from the one person or business – this is a sure fire way to be "un-followed".
  3. Only add good quality photos. The beauty of this is you can take a few photos and choose the best one to upload – send the blurry ones to the trash.
  4. Don't feel obligated to follow everyone who follows your profile. When you log into Instagram, you also want it to be an enjoyable experience and don't want your newsfeed clogged up with teenageer's selfies. Users can see who you follow, I recommend only following businesses or people that you really like or are associated with or interested in on a business profile.

What is the future for Instagram?
What is coming next with Instagram? Since Instagram was purchased by Facebook in April 2012 it has since made some improvements, for example, the photo feed is now available to view on your PC. Instagram also introduced Photo Direct where you can send images directly to another user along with the option to also upload short videos. Advertising is something that is coming and has been trialled by selected businesses since November.

Instagram and I:
I first started using Instagram for personal use in 2012 when travelling, as a quick and convenient way to share images of my day's adventures to share with close family and friends. I fell in love with Instagram's ease of use and the relaxing "entertainment" it provided through beautiful images. Now many of my clients are using Instagram to interact with customers on a daily basis. I personally love Instagram and enjoy how easy it is to scroll though some beautiful images while having a cup of coffee. I also manage various Instagram profiles for clients.

You can follow my journey of Instagram creativity at @bluebirdsocialmedia .

You might like to check out these innovative business pages on Instagram:

  1. Alana Lowes @alanalowes: Alana is an Australian Chef and her Instagram profile is a treasure trove of posts with amazingly vibrant images of her food creations, places she visits and her life in general. They are creative, enjoyable and inspiring.
  2. The GRID Hybrid Arts Collective @thegrid: The photos of the "behind the scenes" goings on from the Grid's performances, workshops and exhibitions are creative and artistic without overloading the viewer with too much information. The images leave you curious to know more about the subject, thus resulting in a visit to their Gallery or Facebook page.

 

Instagram for Business

Judi Gray from Blue Bird Internet Marketing

We are dedicated to providing professional services to enhance business profiles, increase customer traffic and achieve better results for your business and offer a suite of social media services for all businesses and specialize in the Tourism & Hospitality industries. Services include Profile Health Checks, Strategy, Profile Management, Page Management, Staff Training, Internet Marketing and Email Marketing.

 

 

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