Business owners always wonder how to create a better brand.  Unlike huge corporations, small businesses have the disadvantage of fewer customers and less exposure.  However, thanks to social networks like Instagram, it is now possible not just to create a brand but to give it personality and grow it within social circles made up of current and potential customers.

Using Instagram socially is very simple: See something you like, take a picture, apply a filter, and share.  It is primarily a mobile network, meaning users are on frequently throughout the day for short periods of time.

Using Instagram as a business is also simple, but it requires a bit more thought.  In order to effectively contribute to your business’s marketing efforts on Instagram, you need to define your brand, find creative images that add to that definition, optimize the caption for searches, share, and then interact with the community.

Here are some tips on each of those techniques:

  • Define your brand: This is something you should do before trying to market your brand in any capacity.  Come up with certain keywords that you want your brand to be synonymous with, and pursue associating with them. (For more on this, read 20 Questions to Help You Differentiate Your Brand on the 60 Second Marketer blog.)

  • Find creative images that add to that definition: Post photos of events, employees, your office, your products and services (both staged and in everyday situations), celebrity or executive involvement, charity, production process, and other things that provide an exclusive glimpse into your brand.  You can create images to announce upcoming releases, events, or contests.  Be creative and consistent in your branding.

  • Optimize the caption for searches: Like other networks, Instagram uses hashtags to identify topical association and help users search for photos of interest to them.  Avoid overloading the caption with hashtags, but be thorough to ensure that potential customers can find you in search results.  Consider adding shortened links to your captions to point followers back to your website or to a specific page or post related to the photo.

  • Share: You can post photos from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, and other networks (though keep in mind that not all mobile devices can view Instagram photos from within the Twitter app) by simply selecting them just before you publish your picture.

  • Interact with the community: Make sure you are following current and potential customers.  Like and comment on their photos as you see fit.  Consider creating a hashtag for your company or blog (e.g. #60SecondMarketer) to help monitor mentions and encourage participation.  Share photos of customers at events.  Like other social networks, social interaction should be the primary goal, which helps personify your brand.

At the end of the day, Instagram’s primary benefit is going to be adding personality to your brand.  Use it with the apparent social manner of an everyday user but the expertise of a marketing strategist, and you will find that your presence on Instagram will result in the fostering of a community centered on what you want your brand to be.

About the Author: Samantha Gale is a social media and content marketing specialist working for 60 Second Communications, a full-service marketing agency working with brands around the globe.

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