While visual social networks are on the rise, Instagram is one of the more popular photography sites. Having over 50 million users, Instagram is a social media site of its own, and can be linked with Facebook and Twitter to share your newly edited photos, making users look like they are skilled photographers.

So you might be wondering, “what is Instagram?” It is an application that can be downloaded on iPhones and Androids for photo editing and sharing. To use Instagram you can either take a new picture or use an existing one you have already taken. It then allows you to use different filters to make your pictures look more professional. Once edited, the photo is then shared on the Instagram database where your followers and other Instagram users can see it.

Being its own social network, Instagram allows you to follow your friends and look at their pictures on your home page. On your news feed you are able to see news about your own photos. The other option is “following” which shows you what the people you follow have liked or commented on.  Instagram can then be linked with your Facebook and Twitter accounts to make it easier to upload your new picture.

Instagram has three million followers on Twitter, a great deal because they have an auto-follow policy. This means when someone uses Twitter to display pictures from Instagram, they automatically start following them. Both programs use hashtags, making it easier to find trending topics while both Twitter and Instagram use hashtags to create trending topics that explain what the tweet or photograph is about. Instagram started a project called The Hashtag Weekend Project, in an attempt to to challenge users to take pictures of what the weekend’s hashtag was. This past weekend was #streetartistry and followers sent in their pictures of the street art they found, shown here on Instagram’s blog: http://blog.instagram.com/

Facebook however, has recently bought Instagram for almost a billion dollars. Mark Zuckerberg is hoping to create a more effective product while it continues to stand on its own, but who knows how long that will last.  With Instagram in the hands of the Facebook team, users are afraid their pictures will no longer be private.  There are already rumors of how the two will
combine, using face recognition to tag pictures on Facebook.

So why did Zuckerberg invest in this company?  Some think he was afraid of the competition of a new social media; however, the two are hardly comparable, having much different capabilities. Other sources say that Zuckerberg wanted an application that was strictly a mobile app. Facebook is mainly a site used online, while Instagram is only available through mobile, giving Zuckerberg another outlet to dominate. Because Instagram is linked with Facebook to find friends and upload pictures, it now brings the two together.

Like other social media, Instagram can be a great help to you and your business. It has been proven that posts with pictures have much more traffic than those without because people are simply more drawn to images than text. Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Using Instagram, take pictures of your product. Try out the different filters and write captions that will grab people’s attention. You can then post this picture on other social media, or your company’s blog to grab your customer’s attention.
  • Involve the people who follow you. Ask them to post their own pictures from Instagram of your product. Retweeting these pictures will bring a sense of community between your company and your customers.
  • Be real with your pictures. Your followers see enough advertisements in a day. Take pictures of your product without making an obvious effort of trying to sell it. Use pictures that capture who you and your company are and not just the product.

Try using Instagram with your company and leave comments about what you think!