Instagram announced recently that it now has 400 million users. Many brands small and large are capitalizing on the platforms’ “magic” that allows them to connect with their audience on a casual and artistic level. The average Instagram user is spending approximately 21 minutes a day.

Instagram’s focus is on sharing photographs and videos. The application’s core feature includes “filters” to make your digital media look professional. A small business owner considering creating an Instagram as yet another venue for marketing may find the account challenging. Never fear! With a few easy tweaks, your business will be “Instagreat” in no time.

This application is different from other social media platforms because it can only be operated from a mobile phone. You can create an account through an already existing facebook if you have an account or you can create a separate account. Once you create a username or log-in through Facebook you can start working on your account.

At the bottom of the Instagram screen, there are five buttons. In order from left to right there are images of a home, magnifying glass, a camera lens, a heart inside a bubble, and a silhouette of a person.

 

The home

This is where you see the pictures from all the people you follow. The feed is continuous and goes starts at the most recent photo posted.

Underneath photos on your home page, there are three little icons giving you options to either, like, comment, or share the picture. By tapping the heart image or double tapping the picture, you are “liking” the picture. The heart turns red when you “like” the image. If you tap the speech bubble icon that occurs second, you are given the option to leave a comment on the picture. If you tap the arrow button you are given the option to “share” the picture with other people.

 

The magnifying glass

This is called the “explore” page. On this tab, you can find pictures that are popular around the world and you can search for people to follow if you type in the search bar in the upper part of the screen.

 

The camera

Once you hit this button you are ready to post an image. You can either take a picture or video spontaneously or you may go into your photo library and select an image you would like to post.

 

The heart bubble

This is where you see your personal notifications. It alerts you with updates such as: new people following you or “liking” your images.

 

The silhouette

This button brings you to your personal profile. This is where you can edit your profile, view people you are following, people that are following you, pictures you have posted and any pictures you are tagged in.

 

How to post an image

When posting a picture, there are many filter and editing options to enhance the photo. You can add a caption and location to the photograph before you post the image. Adding hashtags is a great way to connect with other people and have your picture discovered.

If you post an image and realize something needs to be edited, you have this option if you tap the icon to the far right of your photograph with three open circles. That icon will give the options to delete, edit, or share the image. Editing gives you the options to edit the caption, location, etc.

The delete option takes the images off the platform.

Sharing gives you the ability to repost the image on any other social media platforms you may also utilize (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

 

What is a #hashtag?

A hashtag begins with the pound symbol (#). This symbol goes before a word or phrase that excludes spaces (#WhatIsAHashtag). Once the word or phrase is “hashtagged” it is grouped together with other pictures that share the same hashtag. Review the platform’s discovery tool to find trending hashtags. Create unique hashtags with your brand, and products.

 

TIP: Always check how any hashtag is being used before adding it into a social media campaign. No one owns a hashtag. Anyone can use any hashtag.

Lastly, it is critical before starting any social media advertising campaign to review corporate policy, any required legal disclosures, and approach the project with a solid plan and message. Keep things clean, politically correct, and neutral to avoid a social media public relations storm. Consider hiring a professional to help with content, and do not make the mistake of placing an unsupervised person in charge of the account (ex: a college kid who has a personal Instagram account) because management is unfamiliar with how to operate the account.

Is your small business using Instagram? What challenges does your business face when planning social media content. Comment below!

 

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