For as long as I can remember, I’ve been telling the world about using social media. I’ve also said that if you are not using social media to market yourself or your products or services, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Hundreds of social media platforms are available, and most of them can be used as platforms to market yourself.Now, don’t get stuck on that last part, where I said hundreds of social media platforms are available. Don’t think that you should use every single social media platform (although I do, but it’s part of my business). Instead, consider your target audience, consider where your potential client or next sale might be.
Statistics show that a good percentage of users ages eighteen to thirty-five have moved on from Facebook because they believe it’s for old people. This same demographic is still busy on Twitter but are moving to platforms like SnapChat and WhatsApp. Bottom line, they are trying to be anywhere their parents aren’t. So if your target market is this age demographic, that’s where you should go to market. If your demographic or target audience is fifty-five and older, Twitter isn’t your platform. The fact is that many of us oldpeople just can’t keep up with the speed of a tweet, and in 140 or fewer characters? Absolutely not!
Let’s talk about a platform you may not have considered. Many of those in the eighteen to thirty-five market are here. And you’ll probably find a few baby boomers here, too. But if your target market is beyond this, fuggetaboutit! I’m talking about Instagram. Yes, Instagram.
First, a little history. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger founded Instagram. It launched in October 2011. Instagram is a mobile, social media, photo-sharing platform that added fifteen-second video sharing to its platform in 2013. As of April 2012, the site had over 100 million users. If you want to find out more about the social media giant, visit their Website. (Find Instagram’s app at the Apple Store, Google Play, Amazon Marketplace, and other app providers.)
How can Instagram help you market your service and products? Easy. The same way Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms are helping millions get the word out about their products and services. If you’ve been with Facebook and Twitter, you know that, in the beginning, they were more geared toward “text” posting. If you think about the evolution of both, and even Google+, these platforms are now gearing their services toward visualization. People are more apt to pay attention to and follow through with photos and videos than just plain text. I read and manipulate words for a living, so if I see a post with too much text, I skip over it real fast.
Instagram allows users to upload photos through mobile devices to share with their followers. In addition, it allows users to link their Facebook and Twitter accounts, so posts will be shared with other followers who otherwise may not follow them on Instagram.
Let me give you an example of how this works. If you have a flyer or a photo, you can upload it from your PC to your smart phone via your phone’s USB cable, or you can just email it to yourself from your PC. Once you email the flyer, download the flyer to your phone. Download it to your SD card rather than your phone’s internal drive to save space. Keep the file size small, and make sure the photo is small, but not too small. Once you upload a photo to Instagram, you will likely need to crop the photo. If it is too big, some of your flyer or photo could be cut off. The average specs for an Instagram photo is 612px x 612px. If you’re an avid Photoshop user like me, this should be easy to fix if your photo is larger. If you don’t use Photoshop, any photo resize or manipulation program should work.
Once you upload your photo or flyer, add a caption and information. I’ve searched my Instagram account and cannot find a word limit for captions on Instagram. However, there is a limit of five mentions (@johndoe) and thirty hashtags (#springbreak). When posting, keep in mind that Instagram’s main purpose is visual advertisement. Don’t post a lot of text in the caption box. When in doubt, use Twitter’s concept of no more than 140 characters. I would say 200 characters should be enough to get your message across, especially if you’re posting a Website inside the post.
Though a shameless plug, this is how I’d tag or market a post after attaching a flyer or photo: #buy #27FlagshipCove now. #crime novel #bestread #bestselling @ymjauthor @thtliterarylady #amazon #barnesandnoble www.yolandajohnson.com.
This is about twelve words and under 140 characters. Since this post is about my latest crime novel, I’d likely post a photo of my book. It’s really that simple.
Another great example is PR Powerhouse Pam Perry. She knows how to properly use Instagram for marketing. I don’t think she’ll mind if I give her Instagram info—search for Pam Perry on Instagram and friend her. An example of one of Pam’s posts:
Great running into @womanishrev at @nnpablackpress #nnpa #sanjuan womanishrev. You are fabulously gifted! Our virtual worlds collide n a face-to-face real time meet.
This post is about twenty-three words and fewer than 140 characters. I think you get the point. Social media is a great free way to market your brand, product, and services. Instagram is another great and fun way to do this. I challenge you to join Instagram atwww.instagram.com and see what your friends, family, and others are posting. Then start snapping and posting away. (Please read the FAQs and Instagram etiquette to see what is acceptable and not acceptable use for the social media platform. I’d hate to see you kicked to the curb for violating the company’s Terms of Service.)
Start posting and best of luck!