You’re on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest… what’s next? If you’d like to continue to diversify your social media efforts, read on.

Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram is proof of the company’s promise. You might not consider Instagram a top source for your own business, but it’s time to reconsider. Your customers are online, and online readers are excited by photo-rich content. Nobody’s reading anymore, it seems, but people can’t resist a great photo.

The key word to keep in mind is “great,” because anyone can snap a photo and put it online. However, the lenses Instagram offers appeal to a younger crowd and audiences more sensitive to vintage touches. If your customer base is under 35, they’re not going to be happy with a photo that looks like it was taken at a Yuen Lui studio. Whether you’re a motorcycle attorney or snowboarding gear company, image matters and Instagram can help.

Instagram + Online Presence

You probably have a Facebook page for your business. Hopefully, it’s a solid social media presence with daily posts, updates and photo albums. It really means something when someone likes your page, because they’re gone out of their way to keep in touch. Respect this nod of approval and keep your fans entertained and informed.

How many times have you passed over another post from a page you liked? Long, boring posts that are completely unrelated to your customers can quickly get you axed from a newsfeed. However, your fans will linger for a while on a photo. They’ll really take an interest in an Instagram photo that appeals to their style, likes and age.

Use Instagram as an Engagement Tool

Hosting a competition is one of the best ways to engage your current customers and drum up a larger customer base. Use Instagram to make it even easier, asking for Instagram photo submissions related to your business. If you’re a shoe company, ask for Instagram photos of customers in their favorite shoes. Running companies can ask for snapshots from their customers’ most recent runs.

A good competition has a prize that contestants really want. This can be free merchandise or services. Make sure that the prize is truly worthwhile and, ideally, worth a substantial amount of money. You might not be able to get a good competition with a $10 gift card, but you can with a year’s supply of cupcakes.

Let it Work for You

Technology is meant to make your life easier, so take advantage. Instagram lets you instantly and easily change and improve photo images. Forget Photoshop or other expensive, difficult programs. Start getting acquainted with the tool that’s designed for quick use.

Remember that Instagram is a lot more than a fun way to share photos of your last family reunion. It’s a true marketing tool in its own right, and it’s completely free. You need to speak to your customers on their level, and for many younger customers that means Instagram and Facebook. So snap (and filter) away. Need inspiration? See how some other brands are using Instagram.

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