Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Using Instagram for Business.

Instagram is by far one of my favorite social media platforms.  If you're not already using it, Instagram is an app for iPhone and Android that works very much like Twitter in its quick-posting "happening now" format, except it utilizes photos to catch a moment in your day.  As you gain followers, you can provide them with snippets from your business life and your personal life, making you relateable to potential customers and giving your followers an inside view of your day-to-day.

This infographic from The Social Tree perfectly illustrates eight great uses for Instagram in relation to your online business:

8 Ways To Use Instagram for Business

I really try and use Instagram in all of the ways listed above, and it's always interesting to see what gets a good response. (All photos from Milo and Molly.)

*New products, fresh off the line, some of which are finished late at night (hence the dark photo):

*Work in action and showing off the workspace:

*My dog, Casey, gets a lot of face time because she's too darned cute.

*General life things:

*The infographic mentions contests- which a lot of people do (you see tons of giveaways on Instagram) but I love it for flash sales for slow-moving inventory, for when I have a new product coming out, or just because I'm feeling like having a sale.

Tips and Tricks:

1. Avoid posting blurry photos and videos.  Take good, clear photos as often as possible.  I am guilty of using the old iPhone with the bad camera in bad lighting if need be, but when you can, get a good shot, especially if you're using your account for business.  The more professional your photos, the better you overall image will be.

2. Post original content.  While an occasional regram/quote/meme is okay with your own original caption underneath as it relates to you, followers want to see what is going on with you and what you are up to.

3. Instagram is amazing for advertising, but your whole account should not be comprised of ads.  Instagram is a view into your life- a behind-the-scenes shot.  People follow you on Instagram to get to know you, not to be bombarded with ads.  It's the same as with Twitter- too many ads equals unfollows.

4. Use your account, but not to the point of overuse, either.  There is a delicate balance for posting on Instagram.  You don't want to sign up and then let you account go dormant, but you also don't want to bombard your followers with six shots of the same thing from various angles.  Think of the "insta-" part of Instagram.  It's a quick snapshot into what's happening now, not a running commentary on your day.

5. Don't overuse hashtags.  There is a time and place to jump in on what's trending, or to keep track of people posting about a certain topic (I use #miloandmolly when I post about my shop) but an ongoing list of hastags can just be too much.

6. Tag people and products to make a connection!  I love it when someone who's made a purchase from me tags me in a photo so I can see how they're using my product.  You can also tag a large company or important person if you're mentioning their product- food products, authors, etc.  You never know who will respond back to you!  Similarly, it's nice to comment on photos people post if you feel a connection to it.  It's a social network, so the point is to be social and interact.

7. Instagram can be set up to repost your photos to Facebook, Twitter, and other networks if you choose them to, but this does not mean you need to send out every photo you take to all your networks every single time.  I have my networks linked, but choose if I want to link them on a photo-by-photo basis.  If it's something related to Milo and Molly, then I may send it to Facebook and Twitter.  If it's a photo of the dog, I may just keep it to my IG feed.  However, not every post is relevant for every network- it's important to remember that they all serve their own purpose.

8. Be yourself.  There are plenty of apps you can download to doctor your photos- filters, text, stickers, and more.  They are handy and fun, but they should be used sparingly and not overtake an already pretty picture.

Do you use Instagram?  Do you have tips and tricks to add to the list?
Who do you like to follow?

Written by Kristen of Milo and Molly.  Kristen runs her business while staying at home with her two small children. Fueled by an endless supply of tea, she sews late into the night when the house is quiet, most often accompanied by her faithful poodle, Casey.

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