Using Instagram for Marketing

It’s an up and coming social network, it’s already passed the 50 million users mark and adds 5 million new users per week, and used correctly, it can be great for so much more than sharing vintage looking photos of your lunch. I’m talking about Instagram, of course.

Since it was opened up to the Android community and snapped up by Facebook, the social networking giant has gone from strength to strength. As the user base continues to grow, it makes sense for marketers to go to where their audience is, and take advantage of the unique opportunities offered. Although it may seem overwhelming to begin with, with a few quick tricks it can become a fun and engaging part of your social media marketing efforts.

Find your audience

The first step to using Instagram for business is to find your potential audience. At first glance, Instagram can seem like an impenetrable network with few opportunities to find other users. If you branch out and use web based clients, finding new users will be a breeze. Quickagram, Statigram and Followgram are a good place to start.

Master the #hashtag

Just like Twitter, hashtags are important to making sure your content is discovered by the right people. Likewise, you want to make sure they you’re jumping in on the right conversations and being seen in the right places.

Keep an eye on the top hashtags and trending hashtags. Don’t feel the need to jump on popular hashtags just for the sake of it. Your pictures will only get lost and ignored. Your time will be much better spent researching the appropriate hashtags. Remember, there’s a 30 hashtag limit, but using this many may come across as spammy, 7 to 15 is a more approporiate amount to use.

If you have a good community following you could branch out into creating your own hashtags and encouraging engagement

Integrate with your other networks

Instagram has a way of making it easy to capture beautiful pictures that look great when shared across other social networks. You can set up your photo feed to automatically push your pictures to Facebook, Tumblr, FlickR and FourSquare. You can also use the images to decorate your blog posts and e-mail marketing campaigns.

As with all social media marketing endeavours, it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’re going to use it. Will you be using it to promote products? To share special offers? To give behind the scenes insight into your business? Or even build up the perception of your brand and the lifestyle attached to it? There is no reason to limit yourself when deciding how you’ll use it; be as creative as you like, but make sure your intentions are clear to your audience so they have a solid reason to follow you.

Check out these great Instagram campaigns for some inspiration!