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October 18, 2012

Cindy Penchina, President

instagramMaybe you heard that Facebook bought Instagram.  Maybe you thought "insta-what?" Instagram, it's the new giant in the social networking world.  After just two years, Instagram has over 80 million active US users, of which 7.3 use it daily (comScore).  That’s more daily users than Twitter! 

What is Instagram? 

It’s a free app for photo sharing on smartphones (including iPad & iPod Touch).  This app allows you to improve the quality of your mobile phone shots.  With Instagram you can edit your photos using various filters.  You share them with users on Instagram as well as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.  You can follow other users and instantly see their photos.  Likewise, they can follow you.  Viewers can “like” photos and leave comments.

Instagram has a search function so you can find people and businesses by name.  Also, you can find users already connected to you on other social networks.  Want to see what’s trending now?  You can browse the most popular posts, too.

Can businesses use Instagram? Should it be part of your social media mix?

Certainly.  You can create relevant and unique visual content to promote your business, showcase products, create fans and generate customers.  Here are some ideas of what you can show:

  • Your products - new, best sellers, lesser-known ones
  • What they can do
  • How they are made
  • Your employees
  • Photos of the “behind the scene” action
  • The equipment you use to provide your services
  • Before & after photos
  • How-to photos
  • Sneak peeks of upcoming events, new products, stores, offices, facilities
  • Photo document events & provide a live-stream

Who should be using Instagram?

If you use images to promote your business, you need to think about how Instagram can connect with your customers and whether is should be a part of your social media strategy.  Instagram users skew heavily to young adults, 18-29 years old.  If you market to this demographic, you should add Instagram to your social marketing mix.  But don’t think Instagram’s demographics won’t change.  As more and more mobile phone users replace their old cell phones with smart devices, Instagram's use will increase among other age groups.

Who’s using Instagram? 

The sports, fashion and news industries are already big users.  The food and beverage industry, retailers and nonprofits are also looking at how Instagram can help them connect with their audiences.  If you host or sponsor events, Instagram can help you promote them.

Here are a few of the big names using Instagram:

  • Starbucks
  • Red Bull
  • Tiffany & Co.
  • General Electric
  • Boston Celtics
  • Coach
  • NFL

It’s not just the big boys that can profit from Instagram.  Local businesses like hair/nail salons, home builders /remodelers, real estate agencies, landscape contractors, auto dealers, florists/gardening centers, jewelers and antique dealers can promote their businesses with Instagram.

If visuals are important to promoting your business, you need to look into using Instagram.