Instagram is a photo-sharing tool that has recently exploded onto the social media scene.  A free app that can be found on both the Apple and Android mobile platforms, it provides users with a novel way to connect with a whole new group of people.

According to Instagram’s website, “It’s a fastbeautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.  Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram.  Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”

If you regularly take pictures on your phone and share them with others, you should consider using Instagram as a networking and marketing tool.

How you can benefit from Instagram:

  • Capture moments from your business events.  Photos of conferences, openings and special celebrations can be filtered to capture the tone or mood of an image.  These can then easily be sent right to a tab or album on your business Facebook page.  Clients and contacts who visit the page will be able to get a feel for what kind of energy existed at these events and may be motivated to learn more about your business. And once you share photos from Instagram to Facebook, it’s easier to access and use these photos in other places, like Pinterest and your website, as well.
  • Make your business feel more real by taking and sharing photos from around the office, your production process, etc.  Before someone signs on to work with you, they can get a glimpse of what it might be like to actually work in your business.  What does a typical day look and feel like?  These images can share many valuable details about the day to day of your business environment.
  • Share photos as subtle business messages.  Your business can take pictures of happy customers for instant testimonials, parties, fundraisers, and training events to share with customers, contacts and team members. Share photos of people having fun with your products, too. By using appropriate tags, users will be able to find them easily.  Remember that Instagram is a social network, so you should share these images as well as images that are personally important to you.
  • Connect with a new group of people. Use Instagram to browse other photos that appeal to your personal and professional interests.  By following users who share such images, you can connect with a wider range of people who may become part of your broader business network. Remember to give as much as you get by taking the time to like and comment on images that appeal to you.
  • Engage with customers regularly by inviting them to share photos of themselves using your products on your Facebook wall.  Encourage users to comment on photos and even hold a contest where people vote on their favorite every month.  Instagram can be a tool that helps you keep an ongoing conversation about your products and business.

Maintaining a social media presence can be overwhelming if you try to participate in too many.  Don’t rush to use Instagram if you don’t feel you have the time to invest in it right now.  It’s a great tool for those who already enjoy taking and sharing pictures.  Now you can use that passion to benefit your business.

Are you already using Instagram in your business?  How have you benefitted from it?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!