Like it or not, Instagram is pretty big right now. It’s cool. It’s cross-platform (available for Apple and Android devices). It has a lot of users (about 30 million – and growing). It takes beautiful pictures no matter what your level or experience in photography is. Let’s not forget, too, the fact that the photo sharing app was acquired recently by social networking giant Facebook for approximately $1 billion in cash.
If you’re managing or marketing a business, it makes perfect sense to use Instagram as a marketing channel of sorts. The only question is: how?
To answer that, Lakeshore Branding came up with this quick guide on how to use Instagram for your business – and enhance your visibility on the Web. If you’ve only gotten started with the app, we hope you find these tips useful; if you’ve been at it for awhile now, let us know in the comment section below how you think Instagram supports your Internet marketing, social media marketing, and SEO efforts.

Optimize the actual photos

Instagram is not going to be the star component of your SEO campaign, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t make your photos easier to find. When adding photos to your Instagram stream, always write captions, use #hashtags, and indicate location information.

Enable social media sharing

Instagram is a great addition to your social media marketing channels. Like you ideally would on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you’ll do well to keep your Instagram stream fresh and regularly updated with new content. After all, no one wants to follow, like, or comment on empty, dust-gathering photo streams.

Enable geo-tagging

Geo-tagging means adding geographical metadata to your photos. By enabling this option on Instagram, you increase the chances of someone finding your photos – and discovering your brand or business – especially if they’re new to the area where you are.

Starbucks on Instagram

Search and engage

Are other Instagram users already talking about – and taking photos related to – your brand? You can find them (and their photos and your mentions) by using the Instagram search function and typing in your brand or business name. You can engage socially by liking, retweeting, and sharing the best of these users’ photos. They’ll thank you for it, too.

Organize contests or submissions

If there aren’t many users taking photos related to your brand, you can organize something like a hashtag-based contest, photo campaign, or submission event. This will make it simpler and easier for you to generate photos from your own followers. Following the Instagram Help Center, you can encourage Instagram users to tag their photos according to a certain theme (e.g. #CoffeeBeanCustomers). If you want to add an element of social interaction and turn the whole thing into a contest, you can allow Instagram users to vote on their favorite hashtagged photos and reward the winner with a freebie or special discount.

Take unique, beautiful photos

What’s great about Instagram is that it can take a not-particularly-exciting brand and help it connect to a community of users in an intimate, interactive, and exciting way. To do that, though, you have to make sure that you spend time taking high-quality photos that are meant specifically for your Instagram profile; don’t waste time recycling old photos from your company blog or Facebook albums. If you feel like you need a new twist on the kind of photos you usually take, how about going behind the scenes of your day-to-day business operation? You can also take pictures of your happy customers and employees, or post beautiful snapshots of your office, say, or branch location.