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‘Practical Techie:’ Instagram as a sales tool

Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

Author Rafael Matos is professor of multimedia at a private university and director of the Caribbean Multimedia Center, a nonprofit media lab focusing on closing the digital divide. Questions should be sent to cccrafael@gmail.com.

If you like to take photos, or are an image reticent biz person, do try to see the light on Instagram for 2014. This lively photograph app is not just for celebrities, bloggers and teens flaunting their best face or funny postures.

Instagram has more than 5 million users, a good flock to deal with, so it can help small (and big) business effectively reach today’s digitally restless audience. An audience that is evermore visual and hell-bent on instant gratification. Even Playboy uses Instagram to promote its products with clean, family-type pictures.

A marketing goal is the same for Instagram as any other contemporary social media. Which is? To gather as much followers as possible, of course. Use common sense tactics to achieve this goal.

First, remember, Instagram is more about optics rather than attractive words. Captions are also important, albeit a lesser part of the game. Go then for persuasive imagery, the type that catches the eye instantly. This is achieved by focusing on your brand, product or service through interesting pictures, but using weird angles, or a mellow play of light or a scene bathed in a certain mood. A shoe brand on an old metal bridge, for example.

Human Interest. Use lots of it. Try to capture images that are loaded with human emotion, humor or situation. Nothing negative, morose, crude or tragic. Cultivate sweet landscape images also, best if they are associated in some figurative or direct way with your type of business. Comical themes always work well with Instagrammers.

Insert your brand into the best photos in a subtle manner. Remember the audience will associate any image they see with your business brand. This will also stimulate commentary, which helps bring in new followers who wish to weigh in on the discussion.

No boring pictures of your products
Try to tell an instant story with your images, or capture a lively moment. Insert your brand subtly in the caption and don’t forget using #hashtag projects when relevant to the captured scene. It’s all about soft sell.

Post regularly. This keeps your followers on their toes and loyal and actively curious about your brand. The ideal is once a day, but no busy businessperson can go out and capture a smart picture every day. So, do it at least weekly.

Examine regularly what’s popular with the users. This trending dynamic will give you clues on what people are interested in at any given time. Sometimes it’s dumb stuff, but watch it frequently.

No matter what, always maintain the quality in your image postings. If you business is about fashion, cosmetics, beauty or health products, go for portraits of interesting people that you deal with. Foodies love table and plate pictures. A bar business? Show pictures of happy hour crowds. Some retailers even have in-store photo contests with Instagram as a platform.

If you’re in the security industry, post Instagrams about places that seem safe and pleasant to be near to due to proper safety design. Avoid crime scenes, as these always scare people and bring all sorts of liabilities about privacy issues. This is something to always remember, respect privacy. Some clients don’t want their pictures on the Web, so always ask permission.

Instagram is a no-brainer for nonprofits, as a tool to show supporters your mission, social actions and achievements. Some even use livestream pics of their funding events.

Try to reply as much as you can to follower feedback. This engages potential clients. Also, seek out new clients by examining other’s people Instagram projects and hash-tagging. Use the peek dynamic to give followers a visual hint about future product or services.

Encourage customers to take pics of inside your store or office and to post on their Instagram. Always be alert that it’s not a damaging image, of course. Use this site http://web.stagram.com/ to view pictures taken of your business by other people.

Finally, share, share, share. Send your pictures to other social media platforms. Use Four Square as a geo-tagging tool. All this spreads your biz networking ad infinito.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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