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#Instagram – The next big app for business growth

Nothing matters more to a business establishment than growth and expansion and in these days of technology, it is expected of entrepreneurs to make use of smart applications or apps as they are commonly called to work smarter and grow faster.

Among the many trending apps for creating visibility in the market-place is the Instagram which helps users to promote their products and services in unique and personalised formats.

However, what came to be known as Instagram today began in 2010 in San Francisco, United States, when Kevin Systrom and Brazilian Mike Krieger chose to focus their multi-featured HTML5 check-in projects, Burbn, on mobile photography. The name “Instagram” was formed from the combination of “instant camera” and “telegram.”

In January 2011, Instagram added hashtags to help users discover both photographs and each other. Instagram encourages users to make tags both specific and relevant, rather than tagging generic words like “photo,” to make photographs stand out and to attract like-minded Instagram users.

Aside from the fun side of Instagram which allows users to upload short videos and photos before their massive followers to get updates of their everyday lives and activities, the App is gradually gaining ground as a means of promoting businesses on social media.

According to Wikipedia, Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. The maximum duration for Instagram videos is 15 seconds compared to Vine’s 6 seconds.

The service rapidly gained popularity, with over 100 million active users as of April 2012 and over 300 million as of December 2014. Instagram is distributed through the Apple App Store, Google Play and Windows Phone Store. Support for the app is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Andrioid handsets, while third-party Instagram apps are available for Blackberry 10 and Nokia Symbian Devices.

The service was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately US$1 billion in cash and stock. As a result of the acquisition by Facebook, popularity of the App, in 2013, grew by 23 per cent, while Facebook, as the parent company, only grew by 3 per cent.

Owners of small scale businesses, including the multinational ones, are now taking solace in the comfort offered by the App as a green ground to grow their businesses and to further stay in touch with their customers. Let’s not forget, over 90 percent of the 150 million people on Instagram are under the age of 35 which is why it is such an attractive platform to so many brands.

Here are few vital statistics to help you make the choice of tapping into the many benefits of Instagram for your businesses:

  • Instagram has 15 times the engagement and double the engaged user base of Facebook.
  • 58 per cent of Instagram users interact daily vs 23 per cent of Pinterest users.
  • 17 per cent of online adults are on Instagram (Pew Research).

Beside these statistics, Instagram has older users with higher incomes than an average Snapchat user.

Below are some key Instagram tips for small business:

First, uploaded pics shouldn’t just be on your products or services alone. You have to tell a story behind your brand that allows people to make the human connection. E.g, what is your team environment like? What do you do every day? What does your brand stand for?

Secondly, let people get to know the faces of those who are behind the scenes in your business. Take candid shots at work or during team events.

Thirdly, if you have products that can be used in several ways, show people how you do it with your Instagram pics. You could take this a step further by featuring customers using your products.

Use #hashtags: According to Autopilot, hashtags are a great way to get your brand noticed. If you look around at the larger brands on Instagram, 80 per cent of their posts will contain at least one hashtag, while the average post has at least three.

Reach out to your customers by re-posting customer photos they have taken using your hashtags or with your product. It’s a low-cost way to build engagement and can encourage more users to post their photos using your product or service. As a side note, the hashtag #discount is well-trafficked on Instagram.


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