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Instagram has recently and quickly expanded to become a massive social media network. With over 300 million monthly active users or “Instagrammers” (Instagram December 2014), this social media network is built to share “real moments,” shared experiences, creativity in all forms, and so much more. For businesses, Instagram’s visual platform allows users to connect with their favorite brands, musicians, celebrities, artists, bloggers, and local businesses in a “behind the scenes” manner. As a customer, the chance to witness the creative musings and developments of the things we love is well, pretty magical, and is like a fan’s backstage pass to your brand.

Instagram allows a user to learn more about their digital crushes– you know, the things we “geek out” about, rave about to our friends, or use exclusively. Ranging from inspiring to enviable, this visually detailed and personal look at a brand or company is an easy and human way to connect with fans. Along with the most compelling visual media around, this social media platform commands attention, is mobile, and effectively communicates a brand’s message. While it’s a great way to engage with loyal customers, it’s also a great way to build something even more important– a brand’s identity. Like many people, I’m more inclined to invest in a company that has built a positive persona in my mind. One way to achieve that is for a business to share the unique and special things they do outside of their normal marketing or communications. Instagram is great for companies who want to build a deeply trusted brand with a unique voice.

While Instagram isn’t as globally massive as Facebook, it’s already a powerful marketing tool, especially if it hits your business’ niche demographic. As of January 9th, 2015, the Pew Research Internet Project concluded that Some 26% of online adults use Instagram (up from 17% in late 2013). While almost every demographic group of Instagrammers saw a significant increase in the proportion of users, the most notable was the increase of young adults: 53% of young adults ages 18-29 now use the service, compared with 37% who did so in 2013. No matter your demographic, research has shows that social media users are more likely to interact with a picture than any other form of post, and Instagram is all about pictures. So if Instagram sounds like a good fit for you and your business’ needs, be sure to check out the following user details and tips.

Using Instagram Is:

  1. Easy. Users simply take a picture on their phone, upload it, and then edit it in the app. Posts can even be simultaneously shared with other social media platforms, like Facebook.
  2. Interactive. Users have the ability to “like” (or “heart”) images, comment, regram or share images, use hashtags, tag people in their images, and more.
  3. In the Moment. As its name suggests, Instagram is all about being “in the moment” and posting an image the instant it happens. It’s spontaneous, fresh, and modern marketing. However, don’t feel bad if you post something a few days (or weeks…) late. The big idea is to keep your fans “in the now” with your work. Plus, there’s always #TBT (#ThrowBackThursday) for those older posts and images.
  4. Personalized Marketing. Giving your fans a sneak peek at your work in progress, finished projects, new products, personality, and community involvement are great ways to build and improve your brand’s image.

Instagram Tips:

  1. Account Authenticity. Instagram authenticity is critical for the survival of your account. That means brands and companies should work towards receiving a verified badge. If your account appears “spammy” to Instagram, it could get deleted.
  2. Good Communication. Try to respond to your fans whenever possible, and especially if the same question arises. When communicating with other users, be sure to use their username (“@….”) in your comment. This allows them to receive notification of your message or response.
  3. Public vs. Professional Accounts. Business accounts should be made public so that anyone can easily follow. Make sure your posts are professional and appropriate. Create a private account for your personal images. With private accounts, users must request and be approved (by you) to follow you.
  4. Engaging Images. Instagram is a visual tool. Use that to provide captivating images that make users want to follow you to see more. An engaging image can also help lead users to your website or blog post, and many users will post a link to their website in their company profile. Before you start posting images, follow businesses and users you like to see how they post, edit, and present their work. You’ll find great inspiration and hopefully, a visual “voice” of your own. Be sure to try out the filters and editing features, but use them in a way that aids the look, feel, style of your brand and product. The filters can be fun and exciting, but they can be distracting and tell an unintended story.
  5. Give Credit While we recommend only posting your own original content and images, if you ever repost or “regram” someone else’s picture, be sure to give credit to the original maker or instagrammer. Many users (particularly artists and photographers) find their images on other people’s accounts (and other social media platforms) without credit, which makes it hard to know or find the original maker of such content or art. Again, we caution you against posting anything that isn’t yours. For more details on this, read #8.
  6. Protect Your Images and Property. Users who want a public account but are worried about their content being distributed elsewhere have a couple options. One option is not to post anything you don’t want stolen or ever seen…by anyone, ever. Another option is to watermark your images, but that it’s distracting to your pretty pictures and beautiful work. Plus, it can be removed with photo editing software. There’s a whole lot more to this topic, so be sure to check back in the coming weeks.
  7. Instagram’s Special Permission Clause. Instagram doesn’t claim ownership to users’ images, video, or other materials, but when you sign the user agreement you do give them special permission to use, modify, delete from, add to, publicly perform, publicly display, reproduce, and translate your content– and it’s likely without credit. However, if your account is private, your content won’t be shared outside the Instagram services.
  8. Post Your Images-ONLY. To avoid legal issues, it’s best to be safe and only post images, video, and content you created or own the rights to. Plus, that’s better for creating an honest brand identity anyway! As part of Instagram’s terms and agreements, agreeing users state that they own the content that’s posted and such content doesn’t violate anyone else’s privacy rights, publicity rights, copyrights, contract rights, intellectual property rights, or any other rights. By agreeing to this, you – the user – “agree to pay all royalties, fees, and other monies owing any person by reason of Content you post on or through the Instagram Services” should you be sued. Basically, don’t take any pictures from the internet or other Instagrammer’s accounts and post them on your Instagram account. Keep things simple, honest, and safe by only posting your content, and everything should be fine. You can read more here.
  9. Mobile or Desktop Ready. Instagram is well known for its mobile capabilities, but content can also be viewed on a desktop through instagram.com or at Websta.

Connect With Your Fans

At Smarter Searches, we love Instagram (we aren’t affiliated or paid to say this). We believe this unique viewing of our favorite brands is a modern and honest way to improve your brand’s image and engage with customers. It has all the tools to continue to be a great social platform, and it’s growth and statistics seem to say so too. Bottom line: We urge you to connect with your fans in a way that matters to them. Give Instagram a chance.


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