Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Instagram Rules Every Business Needs to Know Before Posting

Instagram is a visual social platform (with over 150 million active users), where users capture, customize, and share photos and videos with their followers. While some people think Instagram is nothing more than “selfies”, “what I ate for lunch”, and “look at this sunset through a cool filter”, its potential business reach is substantial. Below are 10 ways that you can optimize your Instagram business account. 
1. Complete your profile
This is the best place to leave a first impression; the place to showcase who you are and what you do. Make sure you fill in all the sections on your profile. Leave a link to your Facebook page, twitter page, and website. Your prospects will want to check out your various profiles to find out more about your services/products. This will lead to more followers on your other platforms.

2. Find your customers by using hashtags
Search for people already talking about your business or your field. Find people in your city (#Indianapolis) or people that share your interest (#health). These are your potential customers. Find them, follow them, like their posts, and engage them.

3. Engage, engage, and engage
Tag others, talk to others, check in to other businesses, and use your location. Adding layers to your posts gives people a better feel for who you are and increases the reach of your message. Instagram is now the media outlet for users to “check-in” (sorry to say foursquare).

4. Be consistent with posts
Post frequently, but do not bombard your followers with thousands of pictures. Consistency keeps your followers engaged. Depending on the type of business you run, 1-2 posts a day is a typically the limit.

5. Show off your products
Everyone loves to browse products, so use Instagram to allow your followers to do some window-shopping. Show off a collection of the products you offer or share a photo of a new or lesser-known product.  Extreme close-ups can also be an interesting and unique way to engage for your followers. Having your followers interested and engaged will fully maximize the potential of Instagram.

6. Introduce your employees
Humanize your brand by using Instagram to introduce your fans to the people behind your company. It’s a great way to show your the personality of your brand. This is an opportunity to have a little fun, in that you can share candid photos of your employees. Use Instagram to portray your company's "behind-the-scenes" as one that is fun and lively. Perhaps you are taking your employees on a company excursion. Use that as an opportunity to show your company outside of the typical work environment. 

7. Take your followers with you
If you are going to a trade-show or conference, use that opportunity to take your fans with you by sharing interesting photographs. Show off any new developments or styles in the field. Your fans might not be able to attend, but through you, they will be better able to share the experience. 

8. Encourage Instagram contests
Businesses often run Instagram photo contests by organizing submissions with a custom hashtag. Come up with a unique hashtag, and encourage fans to share photos. Optimize these contests by integrating them into your other social media pages. Facebook has simplified their restrictions on contests/giveaways, so take advantage of this by running a multi-platform contest. 

9. Take relevant photos
Whether they are photos of your company, employees, or current events, make certain that they are relevant and current. Every photo you take isn’t going to fit with the identity of your company. Make sure that you are taking and posting the right type of pictures that accurately reflect your brand.

10. Take great photos
Using a cool filter cannot fix a bad photograph. Pictures should be in focus and balanced.  There should never be wasted space, utilize the proper lighting, and apply the rule of thirds for most pictures. 

In Summary
Instagram is a great way to visually connect with followers. You can search out potential customers and express what your company represents visually. This is an opportunity for you to flex your creative muscles as well as extend your brand. Photography is just like any hobby, practice makes perfect. 

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