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As the premier photoblogging platform, Instagram has grown like wildfire and brands were quick to take notice. Apart from maintaining company websites and separate social media accounts, large and small businesses alike have begun to explore the benefits of brand promotion through Instagram.

In early 2015 Instagram clocked in at 300 million active monthly users, and about 75 million use the social media app each day. According to the Pew Institute 53% of users are in the 18-29 age group while the second largest demographic is ages 30-49, which is 25% of the Instagram population.  If your business caters to these age brackets and has been looking for a new way to reach them, Instagram is the right platform for your business.

If you want your business to be a part of the Instagram success story, follow the tips I’ve outlined below.

 

Sync up.

Connect your Instagram to your Facebook. This can either be done when you set up your Instagram account or at any point in the settings tab. This way your photos will be on your Facebook newsfeed as well as Instagram and your current base of Facebook followers will know where to find you and like your Instagram page.

 

Hashtag every photo.

My partner Rhonda has previously written about the use of hashtags and how it can create a successful brand message, and we both recommend that every business should create their own unique hashtag. This will establish a feed of your content and your fans’ relevant photos that is easily searchable and viewed. Content + Creativity’s unique Instagram hashtag is #CCInstaWisdom and we tag any relevant quotes or social tips that may help our followers and the public audience.

Remember to put your lists of hashtags in the comment below your caption to avoid looking spammy. Try to keep it to 10 hashtags or less. You should use any relevant trending hashtags whenever necessary.  I must stress relevant. There’s nothing more desperate looking than a user tagging a photo with every trending tag at the moment.  It will make others unfollow and ignore you completely. Trending topics can be found under the bottom tab that has the looking glass icon.

 

When your audience speaks, LISTEN.

Whether you have a brick and mortar establishment or are strictly online, any business owner can appreciate a glowing testimonial or a positive exchange with customers.  In days past, when these conversations occurred you probably only told your spouse and kids at the end of the day. Platforms like Instagram now give you a place to share positive experiences with your customers to your audience. With their permission, take a photo of the customer or the email exchange and post it with a quick explanation of the situation.

I’ve written previously about how much of a timesaver curated content can really be.  A great way to gather readymade content and photos is to skim your unique hashtag using the search function in the explore tab.  Once you find a photo you like, contact the owner and ask permission to Regram their content. Regram is a free app that takes a screenshot of a specific Instagram photograph so you can repost it onto your page. It will give the proper credit in the photo which is very important. People don’t like seeing “stolen” content on your page, and will either unfollow or leave a negative comment. Despite the automatic attribution to the source in the photo itself, be sure to include a clickable link to the username in the caption. Some examples of what to post via Regram can be pictures of customers at your store, using your product or even fan art.

 

Don’t just post, interact.

Sure, a consistent posting strategy is important. I’ve written a piece previously about how to market to Milennials on Instagram and that was one of my most important suggestions. But offering great content will be only half of your strategy for success on Instagram. The other half is interacting with your followers and other brands. You can’t expect high levels of engagement on your posts if you don’t talk back!

Try exploring relevant hashtags in your field of business. Let’s say you own a local bakery and coffee shop in Philadelphia. You see a Seattle based coffee shop post their best cappuccino artwork. If you like the photo, double tap, which shows up as a “like”. Showing your interest in other brands doesn’t take away from yours, and in fact it may cause a user or two to check out or even follow your page.

 

Finally

Instagram is not the platform where you need to constantly churn out genius-level content. In fact, this should be the most lighthearted platform in your 4 social site arsenal. All you need to worry about is finding fun, entertaining and ultimately shareable posts for your followers to enjoy. Sometimes the silliest things can go viral on Instagram, so be on the lookout.  Happy posting!