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10 Creative ways to use Instagram for Business

Are you thinking about putting your business on Instagram? Are you looking for content ideas for this increasingly popular mobile social platform?

Read further to discover how you can use Instagram to give your business extra visibility and better engage with the Instagram community.

What Is Instagram?
Instagram is a free mobile photo-sharing app with 80 million users and counting. It has seen many changes lately. Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April 2012, launched a redesign on iOS that includes a new “Explore” tab and is rumored to be developing a web presence (so that users can see photos online, not just on the mobile app).

Social media management platform HootSuite also recently announced the addition of Instagram to its app directory. This gives HootSuite users access to almost all of Instagram’s features, which include searching, viewing and liking content, adding comments and sharing photos to other social platforms.

Clearly, Instagram is an up-and-coming photo-focused social platform not to be ignored. So what can your brand do with it? Here are 10 creative ways your business can use Instagram.

#1: Show Your Products
Everyone loves to browse products, so let your followers do some mobile window-shopping! Show off a collection of the products you offer, share a photo of a new or lesser-known product or zoom in on a product and engage your Instagram followers by asking them to guess what it is.

Got a service-oriented business? Show off some of the equipment and supplies that play a role in the services you provide. For example, fitness trainers could show off their favorite workout equipment, photographers could reveal their most prized camera lens and mechanics might give us a look at their most sophisticated diagnostic equipment.

Rogue Ales, a craft brewery based in Newport, Oregon with over 3,000 Instagram followers, shared a photo of its many varieties of ales, porters, lagers, stouts and spirits, effectively reminding fans that they have something for everyone.

Rogue Ales shows off its beer selection.

Rogue Ales shows off its beer selection.

#2: Show How It’s Made
The longevity of the show How It’s Made is a testament to our curiosity about where our manufactured goods come from. Let followers in on the origins of their favorite products with snapshots taken at various points in the manufacturing process. If that process is a long one, you might consider making it a multi-part post that follows the process from planning to production to delivery.

Bloomington, Indiana-based Oliver Winery used another app such as PicStitch or PhotoGrid to create a collage of photos to demonstrate how its wine goes into its bottles.

Oliver Winery takes its Instagram followers through its bottling process.

Oliver Winery takes its Instagram followers through its bottling process.

#3: Go Behind the Scenes
Getting ready to launch or promote products and services is hard work, but presents many opportunities to get some great content for Instagram. Doing a photo shoot for a catalog or ad? Filming a commercial? Getting made-up for a media interview? Or getting ready to step out on the red carpet? These are moments that very few people get to experience in real life. Think of Instagram as a way to give all of your followers an exclusive backstage pass!

The fashion-forward retailer Nordstrom treated its 27K Instagram followers to a rare look at what goes into the production of its catalog.

Nordstrom takes fans along on a photo shoot.

Nordstrom takes fans along on a photo shoot.

#4: Show What Your Products Can Do
Sometimes our imagination only takes us so far. Use Instagram to create demand by helping consumers imagine new or novel uses for what you offer. This is also a perfect opportunity to invite user-generated content. Have fans submit their own photos demonstrating creative use of your products and pick the best ones to post on Instagram.

If your business provides a service like makeup or hair design, landscaping, decorating, auto body repair or interior design, show your Instagram followers the impact of your work with a shot of your subject before and after you work your magic. The side-by-side comparison will add the wow factor to your Instagram content and maybe even get you a few new customers.

Cosmetics retailer Sephora used Instagram to spotlight an unusual product that most of us do not have in our makeup bags, giving followers a better idea of how it might look out of the package and on someone’s lashes.

Sephora helps makeup enthusiasts imagine what it would look like to don lashes with spots and highlights.

Sephora helps makeup enthusiasts imagine what it would look like to don lashes with spots and highlights.

#5: Give a Sneak Peek
Everyone likes to be the first to know… well… anything. Make your Instagram followers feel special and give them exclusive previews of products and services, or virtual tours of your new stores, production facilities or offices in the making. Things never seen before make for particularly shareable content, so be sure to publish the post to Facebook and Twitter as well, since Instagram does not yet have a sharing or reposting function.

Makers of rugged bags and footwear Keen posted a picture of its future headquarters in the midst of construction to satisfy the curiosity of those who might be wondering where their favorite shoes will be coming from.

Keen shows off its future home.

Keen shows off its future home.

#6: Show Your Office
People who follow their favorite brands on social media have probably asked at one time or another, “I wonder what it’d be like to work there?” Well, show them!

Post photos that provide a glimpse of a-day-in-the-life at your office—work areas, the corporate gym or play-field, decked-out cubicles, brainstorming meetings in progress, training sessions, employees at lunch, employees at play—the opportunities here are countless. If you’re hiring, be sure to point people to your online job postings in the caption.

Beloved online shoe store Zappos shows fans that even its employees work in cubicle-land, albeit a very fun, colorful one that matches its friendly brand personality.

Zappos shares a glimpse of its colorful workspace.

Zappos shares a glimpse of its colorful workspace.

#7: Take Us With You
Going to a trade-show or sponsoring an event? Use that as an opportunity to take your Instagram followers with you wherever you’re going. Followers in those locations will be tickled to know you’re in their neighborhood. Folks can also get a better feel for your brand by learning about the events or causes you attend, support or sponsor.

Major League Soccer team the Seattle Sounders gave fans an off-field glimpse of its players doing something quite ordinary, standing around waiting at an airport with luggage in hand.

The Seattle Sounders soccer team takes its fans along to LAX.

The Seattle Sounders soccer team takes its fans along to LAX.

#8: Introduce Your Employees
Humanize your brand by using Instagram to introduce your fans to the people who make your company what it is. Spotlighted employees will enjoy the recognition (and a few seconds of fame) and Instagram followers will get a chance to see the people behind the brand. You might even want to make this profile an ongoing campaign that takes fans around the office to meet staff serving a variety of roles within your company. Be sure to punch up the post and share a little about each employee in the caption.

Keen put a human face to its brand with a shot of a spreadsheet-wielding employee.

Keen employee at work.

Keen employee at work.

#9: Share Celebrity Sightings

Let’s face it. We live in a society that is crazy about celebrities—we know who they’re dating, what they’re eating and where they go to vacation. Cash in on celebrity cachet and share pictures of them interacting with your brand, whether they’re signing autographs at your sponsored event, speaking, visiting your office or even using your products or services. These posts will be sure to get followers talking.

Sony Electronics shared a photo from a celebrity appearance at an Xperia event to grab the attention of Maroon 5 fans on Instagram.

Sony shares a shot of Maroon 5 signing autographs at one of its events.

Sony shares a shot of Maroon 5 signing autographs at one of its events.

#10: Share the Cuteness
There is no denying the appeal of animals in social media. Lolcats, Cute Overload and the countless other awwwww-inducing blogs out there are proof that there is capital in cuteness.

Whether they’re pets visiting the office, starring in your ads or animals sporting your schwag, never miss an opportunity to get a snapshot to share on Instagram. Our furry friends can be counted on to get likes and comments from followers.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art gave its followers the warm fuzzies (and collected many likes) with a photo of a dog sporting an SFMOMA t-shirt.

Canine decked out in SFMOMA schwag.

Canine decked out in SFMOMA schwag.

Read full article: 10 Creative ways to use Instagram for Business »

4 Tips for increasing Pinterest traffic to your Blog

Do you want more traffic coming to your blog? Getting lots of pins from your blog posts can increase engagement and drive traffic. It can also help boost your performance on search engines because pins to your post are ‘do-follow’ links.

Pinterest’s recent growth has been unstoppable. According to comScore, Pinterest has grown by 4377% since May 2011. Many blogs are using Pinterest effectively to increase traffic and build engagement. Below you will find 4 tips to get more traffic to your blog from Pinterest.

#1: Share a Lot of Content

One of the best ways to promote your blog is to pin a lot of images onto your boards. You need to share both your own content and content from other people. Aim to create content-rich boards where people come searching for articles on your particular topic.

If you have good boards that are followed by people who regularly view and share your pins, you can boost your blog traffic by pinning posts from your own blog. Make sure you pin content from your blog and other blogs together on the same board so your pins will seem more credible and clickable.

A blog with a great Pinterest brand page is The Next Web. Their brand page has several boards onto which a lot of content is pinned. And the boards are mainly on topics like technology, social media, mobile, etc.—the subjects The Next Web publishes articles on.

Pin a lot of content from your blog and other blogs.

Pin a lot of content from your blog and other blogs.

An example is the board Tech & Design, where as the title mentions, they pin articles on the subjects of technology and design. If you look closely, you’ll notice they mix content from their blog and content from other websites. And this works for The Next Web too. When they pin images of their posts, they can expect likes, repins and increases in traffic.

When people follow this board, they know what to expect.

When people follow this board, they know what to expect.

Another great board is TNW team, where they pin images of writers, staff, editors and contributors who play a big role in creating all of the wonderful content. This works well as it brings their authors and their fans together and will help them connect as a part of The Next Web. Doing this not only helps them build a good work culture, but it also helps their regular readers get to know their favorite writers better.

Pinning pictures of your writers can improve work culture and boost morale.

Pinning pictures of your writers can improve work culture and boost morale.

#2: Create Taller Images

In a recent study, Dan Zarrella shows that taller images get more pins and repins. So if you want the images on your blog to be shared more on Pinterest, focus on creating taller images. This doesn’t mean that you need to create more long infographics, but that you need to create taller images in general.

Think of ways in which images can be elongated, either when you combine several images or stretch images wherever possible. An example is the image on the post Make Your Own Cake Flowers on the Wedding Chicks website.

This massive image is a combination of many images.

This massive image is a combination of many images.

If you take a look at the image, you can see that this is actually a combination of images. This single long image is very pinnable and repinnable. If you want proof, look at the image below and you’ll find that it’s been pinned more than 49,000 times. Yes, that’s right. The image above has been pinned more than 49,000 times!

So before you publish that post, take a look at your images and try to figure out if it’s possible to put all of your images together and create one long image.

#3: Add Images to Every Post

A blog post can be pinned onto a board on Pinterest only if it has at least one image on it. This image should also be a minimum size of 110 x 100 pixels. If there are no images on your blog post or if the images aren’t big enough, you won’t be able to pin the post. So try to add at least one image to every post.

A great blog with beautiful images in every post is Live Well For Less run by Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s is a chain of grocery stores located all over the UK. On their blog, they post recipes of food made out of affordable ingredients. On the top of their recipes, they have an attractive and big-enough photo of the end product. This makes the recipe pinnable.

For example, take a look at the photo of their Eton Mess recipe. There’s a large and beautiful photo, which is quite prominent. If you click the Pin It button, you’re asked if you want to pin this image and you’ll want to pin it because it looks so good.

A photo of the end product of the recipe.

A photo of the end product of the recipe.

So make sure you add images or photos to your post so that people can pin them. If you want to take it a step further, you could add several images to your post instead of just one.

You can learn more about the advantages of this by reading 6 Ways to Drive More Pinterest Engagement, about how Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman adds many images to her posts.

#4: Add Default Images to the Entire Blog

Another option would be to add default images to your blog that will be visible on every page and post. This way if your post doesn’t have an image or if you forget to add the image, you can always be sure that one image on your posts can always be pinned. This image could be on your blog sidebar, header or footer. The image of this blue bird can be seen on every page and every blog post of Ching Ya’s blog.

The image of this blue bird can be seen on every page and every blog post of Ching Ya's blog.

The image of this blue bird can be seen on every page and every blog post of Ching Ya's blog.

You can see a default image on the header of Ching Ya’s blog Social @ Blogging Tracker where there’s a cute little blue bird on the top.

If you visit every page and every post, you’ll notice that the image of this bird is always present and you can pin it. Click the Pin It button and try it for yourself.

This image is very pinnable and fits perfectly into her blog as it resembles the Twitter bird, which is relevant to the topics they post here on social media. So even though it’s very general, her readers should relate this image to most of the posts.

Don’t just create a default image; create a relevant default image that suits your posts.

These are 4 ways to get your blog to thrive on Pinterest. Follow them all if you want to get the most out of your blog through Pinterest.

Read full article: 4 Tips for increasing Pinterest traffic to your Blog »

Pinfluencer shows the most important Metrics on Pinterest

Pinfluencer Shows The Most Important Metrics on Pinterest

Pinfluencer Shows The Most Important Metrics on Pinterest

No social network puts a person’s desires, goals, and personal taste on display quite like Pinterest. The virtual pinboard shares virtually no demographic information with the outside world, but in many ways, its contents are just as revealing as Facebook’s.

Pinfluencer is an analysis tool that tracks a website’s content on Pinterest. Founded in 2012, the company recently raised $1.4 million from Baseline Ventures and Freestyle Capital. Its newest offering, Pinner360, shows companies who their top pinners really are by showing them what they like.

Much like Twitter, Pinterest allows people to follow others without requiring permission or a follow back. Although pinning is more about finding images than finding people, users can still discover new things through others who have similar tastes. Pinfluencer shows which of a company’s top pinners have the most — and most engaged — followers.

Most people will need to work up to streamlining their contacts. Because many Pinterest users initially joined through Facebook, they start out by following their friends, who may or may not share their interests.

When users log in, Pinterest scatters the newest pins from their contacts across the homepage in no particular order. For this reason, the most important feature on Pinterest right now is the search bar. Pinners can find what they’re looking for by choosing a category from the pull-down menu or by typing in a keyword.

Pinfluencer can tell companies when is the best time to pin new images to reach people as they’re logging in. It can also show which boards are doing well and which pins have the most traction, giving each pin an engagement score of up to 100 points.

Pinfluencer can also track a company’s competitors to see what its followers are pinning from other sites. Companies can learn a lot by this, not only to see where they stand, but also for getting ideas on what to include on their boards.

Website owners will find that much of their content enters Pinterest straight from their websites, and not necessarily from their own “pin it” buttons. Pinterest users will simply copy and paste a link and add it to their boards. But the activity is harder to track, which is why Pinfluencer and other tools have popped up to fill in the gap by showing all the activity associated with a company’s website.

Pinfluencer also hooks up to Google Analytics to show how many clicks a URL gets per pin. If the goal is to direct traffic back to an e-commerce site or even a publication, a direct pin from a user is as good as a repin from a profile page.

Read the full article: Pinfluencer shows the most important Metrics on Pinterest »

Social Media influences less than 1% of Online Purchases

Ecommerce businesses should concentrate more of their efforts on traditional online marketing tactics like search and e-mail than social media. That’s the conclusion of a Forrester study released Tuesday, which examined 77,000 online transactions made between April 1 and April 14. The study found that less than 1% of them could be traced back to social networks like Facebook or Pinterest.

Determining how web activity influences purchases is tricky; although many often credit the last touchpoint for a sale, Forrester found that half of repeat customers and a third of new customers touch multiple touchpoints prior to a purchase. As such, certain funnels, like display advertising and e-mail, may be undervalued.

Nevertheless, ecommerce websites still convert more highly than any other channel, accounting for 30% of transactions. Thus it’s smart for retailers to promote their domain names as much as possible.

Following direct visits, organic search and paid search are the two biggest drivers of purchases from new customers, accounting for 39% of new customer transactions. That’s because the web continues to be a useful tool for what Forrester calls “spear fishers” — consumers who know what they are looking for and find it through search.

For repeat shoppers, e-mail is the most effective sales influencer: Nearly a third of purchases from repeat customers initiated with an e-mail. As such, businesses should up their efforts to collect e-mail addresses, and tailor their e-mail marketing messages to each recipients’ device and prior purchase behavior.

Social media’s potential as a shopping portal has yet to be realized. Less than 1% of transactions from both new and repeat shoppers could be linked to social networks, Forrester found. That said, the researcher believes social media can still be a powerful marketing tool, and that social media’s influence on purchase behavior likely can’t be measured in the 30-day attribution window the report examined. Forrester also asserts that social media is a bigger sales driver for small businesses, which were not included in the study.

Social networks may one day figure out a way to drive more purchases, but for now, retailers seeking higher sales conversions should concentrate on the products that have longed performed for them — search and e-mail marketing — as well as in the marketing of their URLs.

Read full article: Social Media influences less than 1% of Online Purchases »

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