Instagram is arguably one of the hottest, most popular, cutting-edge social media platforms on the internet at this very moment. Originally launched in the fall of 2010, who would have predicted that this unknown social networking service would organically grow into the driving force that it is today?
Now with an estimated 100 Million active users worldwide, and following a successful $1 Billion Dollar acquisition takeover, it’s not surprising that small business owners from every industry are starting to take notice of the lasting impressions that Instagram has on both its customers and its competition. Well having originally asked ‘What is Instagram?’ and ‘How can Instagram benefit small businesses?’ ourselves, untitled™ have been following and using Instagram for some time, in fact we have integrated it into website such as Beautiful Minds
What is Instagram?
Well Instagram is a completely free, extremely fun and slightly addictive, online photo-sharing and video-sharing social networking platform, which encourages all its users to take multiple pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share amongst a variety of social media networking sites including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Tumblr.
The application is very easy and free to download and is available through multiple outlets including the Apple App Store, Google Play and the Windows Phone storee store, with 25 different languages available to use.
The Journey of Instagram
Developed by Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger, the name from the popular social media platform originates from their shared passion of cameras from their time spent together as kids. Combining the words “Instant” and “Telegrams”, words that old cameras marketed themselves as, to give you what you see today, Instagram.
The platform was officially launched shortly after in October 2010, and following no real notable marketing strategies, the social media service quickly caught exposure with an estimated 30 Million registered accounts with a further 1 billion photographs uploaded to its service by April 2012. Later that month, the service was acquired by social networking giants, Facebook, for a deal approximately projected to be $1 Billion US dollars in both cash and stock.
Although support was originally only available for Apple products such as iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, following the takeover, extra support was added for Android camera phones then later available for Windows based phones.
7 Small Business Benefits of Using Instagram
One very appealing feature of Instagram is that the platform is compatible with almost every device and social media platform out there, there’s no exclusivity so a wider audience can enjoy the Instagram experience!
With the platform now available to download through numerous outlets such as the Apple App Store, Google Play and Windows Phone Store, Instagram is compatible with and supports numerous operating systems such as Apple’s IOS and the Linux-based Android. As of November 2013, Instagram became available for any Windows 8 based Phone. To see a full list of devices that Instagram supports, please visit the Instagram Support FAQ
Not only do Instagram have further plans on making the iPhone & Android experiences as solid as possible, they are also working on developing the app so it’s available on Blackberry, Windows Phone 7 and iPad devices.
2. Pictures Can Say a Thousand Words
Before & After photos provide a great advertising promotional tool to show off your business, your products and your skills, and it works for a variety of industries! For example, as a web-development agency, when re-developing a website, we love to see what the website previously looked like, then seeing the complete make-over in full effect. If you restore things, such as rebuilding cars, remodelling homes or for even demonstrating weight-loss, it’s an easy marketing tool that really speaks for itself.
Demoing Products is also a clever, cost-efficient strategy for any small business to promote any special offers, new products or even their services in effect. For instance, if you are in the catering industry, why not take a photo of today’s special, or highlight a dish to the menu?
3. Video Sharing
Although Instagram was initially an exclusive photo-sharing service, Instagram introduced Video Sharing in June 2013. The feature allows all its users to record and share videos that can last between 3 and 15 seconds. Like photos you share, your video will automatically appear on your profile and in your latest feed. The release of the application has been regarded as Facebook’s answer at competing with Twitter’s video-sharing application, Vine.
Following its introduction, a variation of businesses have found the video sharing application as beneficial, allowing them to provide preview clips for future products and services. For a full list of features on Taking & Sharing Video’s, please use the Instagram FAQ Service
4. Build Your Business Personality Profile
Your Instagram business profile is the perfect opportunity to mould your business advertising and marketing strategies, to not only build your online-personality, but as a way to build trust and allow customers to follow and approach you.
Almost like a Facebook-like cover, the top of your profile provides a rotating collage of your Instagram photos. User’s visiting your profile can click on any of the images to see a maximized version, meaning the perfect marketing visual to promote your business. With an added Bio description and the opportunity to add your business URL, customers can get a real insight as to what your company is about.
Smaller companies have taken this one step further by providing behind the scene photos, including a picture of the office or even the employees. Its small steps like these where customers will feel a more intimate connection to your business profile.
5. Live Portfolio
Numerous businesses will benefit by uploading and customizing examples of their work on Instagram. Not only can it demonstrate the perfect representation of your services, your portfolio will remain online 24/7 meaning potential leads can witness your products around the clock.
With a Live Portfolio, multiple businesses can share their services and features, for instance, if you run a hair salon, why not share photos of finished hairstyles? Run a cafe; why not demonstrate the lunch time specials. It’s a completely free marketing tool that can entice new and existing customers.
Just like all rival social media platforms, it’s vital that small business continue to interact with customers, contacts and other business. You will discover that users will feel more comfortable when dealing with smaller businesses as they normally feel that personal touch.
Don’t be afraid to interact with other business and rival competitors, follow them and allow them to follow you. It’s better to keep an eye on the competition than not at all! The interaction feature is also beneficial to provide customer service and as an opportunity to interact with customers and clients, again establishing relationships.
Following the importance of interaction, searching and adding hashtags is a great way to brand your message and a perfect way to keep an eye on the competition. When you are providing updates or photos, look to include hashtags as not only are they a conversation starter, it allows users to search and find your business.
From originally being sceptical of another photo-sharing social media service, exploring Instagram has been a real eye-opener in terms of how much it can benefit business, especially smaller business. Even in some cases, businesses have gained world-wide recognition, purely by using the service. Instagram is a growing business that’s only going to get bigger.