InstagramFeaturedImageOne of the most common questions we get asked by people looking to update their marketing is “where do I start with Social Media?” There is no simple answer, as there is no single platform that does everything well (yet).

At the time of writing this blog there are over 500 active social media channels all connecting people with varying purpose. While this can be an intimidating thought, it also shows you that Social Media isn’t just some fad that has sprung up over the past decade. This is the new way your customers communicate with each other and with you – if you don’t embrace it, then there is a good chance your business will grow at a much slower rate.

Now we’re not going to go into all of the available channels here, but for those of you completely new to Social Media we’ll give you a quick overview of the “usual suspects” and how you can apply them to your business.

These posts are designed to introduce complete novices to Social Media networks and are by no means a complete guide.

Instagram

Instagram has been consistently popular with a wide demographic, despite the rise of Snapchat, another image-based Social Media app. It has also (somewhat controversially) recently allowed paid advertising, or “sponsored posts” to appear in users’ feeds.

The basics

• Users create a simple profile- a name and a short bio. They can then directly upload photos from their phone to the app, and share them across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and the Social Media platform popular in Japan, Mixi.
• Once uploaded into the app, users can add photo “filters” which create different effects, eg. a yellowish tint, or convert the photo to black and white. They can also crop and straighten the image, and apply a number of other effects.
• They are able to share photos with captions, which appear on their profile screen, and in users’ image “feeds”. (Provided that users’ privacy settings are “Public”.)
• They are then able to search for others’ profile pages and “follow” them.
• Once “followed”, users can regularly see others’ pictures, and comment on them via their feed.
• Instagram can be frustrating as an account is linked to the users’ phone. This means that while you can view your own feed, profile, and pictures on computer, you cannot upload images. Also, if you manage multiple accounts (eg. business and personal) in order to switch between the two you must log out and log back in. Often there are “bugs” and the app can become confused as to who the user is. Twitter is an example of how this usability could have been handled in a much better way- simply swiping down while on profile screen allows you to switch between all accounts.
• You can also use hashtags on Instagram.
• Another new feature is that you can now send an image privately and directly to a friend, as opposed to your follower base.

How Can I Get the Most Out of Instagram?

Instagram is great for receiving and responding to real-time feedback on your products and services. You can also take “sponsored posts”, which means your message will take precedence along with other paid items in users’ feeds.

Here are 5 quick tips to get you started

1. Be aware that no matter what your business does, it’s likely someone will post a complaint or negative feedback on your products/services. Respond in the same way as you would to a customer complaint on the phone or in person. Show that you are interested in what they have to say and of course, make sure you follow through if the issue can’t be resolved on Instagram. Also be aware that some people love to troll for fun, and are simply trying to provoke you into anger to make you look stupid and/or unprofessional. Don’t engage!

2. Of course you want to look professional- if you don’t have a good “eye” for photo composition, find someone who does to manage the feed! Users who share mediocre photos really stand out in a sea of thoughtfully-composed, beautiful imagery.

3. To drive SEO, make sure you are creating shareable content on your profile. For example, if you are a clothing retailer, put together some stunning photoshoots in an interesting or unusual location to share. Then use relevant hashtags like #fashion, #desert or #seaside, depending on your location choice. A “re-gram” is when somebody shares your post with their followers.

4. Of course, make use of the sponsored posts.

This image sourced from http://socialchacha.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/instagram-sponsored-posts/

This image sourced from http://socialchacha.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/instagram-sponsored-posts/

 

5. As with other Social Media platforms, you can track some analytics through your Instagram Activity page, such as new “Likes”, and comments.

Image sourced from: http://mashable.com/2012/05/29/instagram-for-beginners/

Image sourced from: http://mashable.com/2012/05/29/instagram-for-beginners/

Hopefully this makes the benefits of Instagram a little more clear to some of you. If you’re still having trouble, why not tweet @masamunedigital and we’ll do our best to help.