Tips to Use Instagram for Business

I was asked to prepare a talk discussing Instagram (you know the photo sharing app) and to provide a few tips for beginners about how to use Instagram for business. This post will outline why and how to get started and there's a bit of how-to thrown in as well. During the talk attendees used #PersonalTrustIca. Follow me @CynJustCyn + @CynergieStudio. If you need more help getting started go here.

Why use Instagram? Or any social media channel for that matter.

Back in the day, the Yellow Pages was the go-to place to find a business. Now, we have lot's of channels and the questions (which are probably the same questions) you may want to ask yourself are "Are my customers looking for me here?", "Can I afford to skip this channel?" and "Does this support my business goals?" If you choose to only use Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook for personal projects, the best question to ask is " What am I getting from this experience?"  Here are just a few reasons why I use social media channels in my business:

  • To meet people, potential clients
  • To show that I am connected, open, and innovative
  • To build good will
  • To gain followers, klout, and influence
  • To promote events
  • To be interesting
  • To be found
  • To build credibility
  • To show recent work, artwork, and products
  • To provide links to build awareness

As a way to build followers, goodwill, be interesting, and show artwork, I took part in a community project call RDUBaton. This project gives the Instagram handle @RDUbaton to a different person each day with the intent of showcasing their life and daily activities. My day was October 10th. I had a lot of fun and I gained about 20 new followers. Some of my photos are in the grid below:


Is Instagram a good tool for my business?

Yes! And no. Depends on your business type, your audience and what you want to gain from the time spent. Another good question to ask is "How social are my customers?" Even if your business doesn't seem like it is very photo worthy, your customer's may think differently. For example, If I had to choose a new dry cleaner and one had a hilarious Instagram feed on their website, and the other didn't, I might make a decision to go with the dry cleaner with a sense of humor. (as long as they also conveyed on their website that they take their cleaning very seriously)


Does Instagram own my photos and content?

No, YOU do. This is directly from their T+A, Instagram user photos and videos ("User Content") are owned by the users and not by Instagram. All rights not expressly granted to you are reserved by Instagram.

I don't want anyone seeing my photos, privacy is important to me.

Photo sharing means just that, sharing your photos and the intent is to share. If you are really private and uncomfortable with this idea, then a photo sharing app is probably not a good fit for you.

Basic skills + 10 tips for taking Instagram pictures or video.

  1. Be sure there is plenty of light
  2. Composition is important
  3. Hold steady
  4. Be bold and interesting
  5. Unless your business is promoting these things in particular, try to limit photos of your cat, dog, beer, babies, feet... you get the idea. Although these things are super precious to you, not everyone will think so
  6. Shoot vertical to avoid pre-editing
  7. Use hashtags, many hashtags
  8. Write a thoughtful caption that relates directly to the image. Although you're not constrained to 140 characters I would also suggest NOT writing an essay either
  9. Videos take up lots of space so remember to download them off your phone quickly
  10. Post photos that would make your mother or boss proud

What is tagging and hashtags and how do I use them?

A hashtag is a word or a phrase prefixed with the symbol #. It is a form of metadata tag. The purpose of a hashtag is to catalog a topic, word, phrase, etc. I created #PersonalTrustIca and if you search for that tag on Instagram, Twitter, or the Internet you will find the reference, and by default Cynergie Studio and Cyn Macgregor.

What does Tag People, Add Photo Map, and Name this Location actually mean?

It work the same way you might tag people in Facebook. If you follow a person you can tag them. The photo map is super cool! It makes a map of the all the places you have taken a photo. Name this location is powered by Foursquare another phone app that is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. An example of tagging that was good is the photo I took at the NCSU Hunt Library. #huntlibrary


How do I adjust my push notifications?

In your phone settings + in the Instagram app. These settings are very personal to the person and no one setting will be perfect for everyone. Try adjusting then adjusting again until you get notifications where you like them.

I want to limit who can see my photos. How do I set my share settings?

For high privacy and to use Instagram only with approved friends go to Edit Profile > Posts are Private. All follow requests will need to be approved. (Personally, this setting is super annoying to me as it is like a one-way mirror. You can't see out, but you know others can see in. I know their are good reasons for this, but it simply seems unfriendly to me.) Update: Lots of new privacy guidelines are in the making so I suggest you check your privacy settings frequently.

What happens when I "Heart" or comment on a photo.

If you heart something your Instagram name will show up under the photo. If you comment you comment will also show up under the photo. Hearts are collected as "Likes" and the general consequence is more "Likes" are better.

How do I delete a photo I posted?

Under the photo to the right you will see three dots. Click on this for more options, one of the options is "Delete"

Can I use Instagram even if I don't have a Twitter or Facebook?

Yes! But if you want to post quickly to those other channels, linking those accounts to your Instagram account makes sense. I love this feature as the one button push to multiple channels saves me a lot of time.

Final thoughts...

If you love photography you might like this website that showcases Instagram photos and allows you to download, some for free, and curates if you are inclined to upload a photo you took.

You can have more Instagram fun with smart phone apps like Diptic an photo editing app and Over or Image Blender apps that add stickers or do fancy blends with Instagram images.