By:  Bayshore Solutions Corporate Marketing Team

For those of you who don’t already know or who maybe have heard some buzz about Facebook buying the photo sharing application Instagram for $1 billion dollars, here’s a tip, go download the app now. This user friendly platform makes it easy to take pictures on your mobile device and share to your social network in one click.  With Instagram, you can apply a series of filters to your photos, much like Photoshop, making them look artistic, engaging and frankly, turn yourself from an amateur photographer to a pro. The trend was kick started with chefs taking pictures of their dishes to attract visitors and generate business.  I know I have been guilty of snapping a photo of my entrée at a restaurant to share (and brag) with my social network.  By sharing pictures of your food on Instagram and the location of the restaurant, you are essentially marketing the chef and the restaurant quickly and effectively, with very little effort from the brand. Instagram can reach as many as 50 million users.  With this in mind, it’s no wonder brands like Pepsi, CNN, Starbucks, Red Bull, Playboy, Tiffany’s and even sport teams like the Boston Celtics and Bruins have taken advantage of this opportunity to share snapshots of their brands. The fashion company, Burberry sent a photographer to its September London runway show to present Instagram followers with a real-time photo-feed of the runway.  This gave fans the privilege of seeing their new collection before it was available anywhere else.  Another large brand, Puma, sent a few influential Instragrammers (with 100,000+ followers) to awesome events to take pictures, ensuring the photos and their products would be shared with their many followers. Several effective ways to incorporate Instagram into your marketing plan include: First, create an Instagram account for your company.  There is no better time than the present to begin targeting mobile users and making them aware of your brand. Second, brainstorm opportunities in which you can take pictures showcasing your brand.  Instagram is a chance to share your unique story with users.  You can create a photo collage; share how your business was founded or what your company does through photography.   Are you hosting an event soon?  Take your followers behind the scenes; show them set-up, introduce them to the staff, wardrobe, etc…  How about a photo contest?  Users can take pictures of your product and send it to your brand’s accounts via Twitter, Facebook or their respective Instagram accounts.  Just like on Twitter, users can use hashtags to bring you views. Lastly, remember it’s important to engage your followers.  Everyone loves some attention and to be thanked.  Letting users know they’re appreciated goes far and is successful in welcoming fans and hopefully future followers. What ways have you used Instagram to promote your business or service? To see some create ways brands are using Instagram, visit: http://business.instagram.com/blog/.

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