The second-best thing about Instagram is it makes extremely amateur "photographers" like me feel as though we're capable of taking professional-quality pictures.
The first-best thing: Instagram offers almost everything a business user could want in a social network, so much so, it's (dare I say) the most effective platform out there.
Here are the top four reasons why:
- It forces us to be visual. Do you remember "show and tell" from your elementary school days? This is the exact approach social media business users should be taking. Too often businesses merely tell followers why their product or service is worthy of a purchase. The best social media practitioners show and tell -- and the most time- and cost-efficient way to do so is with pictures. Instagram not only offers easy and effective photo-sharing on its platform, but also on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and foursquare.
- It enables customer service and interaction. Instagram is mostly a public social network. (Users have the option to make their accounts and pictures private, but most people keep them public.) Many IGers (as the users are called) naturally hashtag company names and products/services, which means business users can see who's sharing pictures about them by searching for applicable hashtags. Businesses with a physical location that's listed on foursquare can do the same, because Instagram gives users the option to "check in" at the location they took the picture. Once you've located the relevant pictures, appropriately "like" and comment on them, thereby generating interaction and customer service outside of the traditional marketplace.
- It forces us to be "mobile" thinkers. Most of today's social networks are mobile friendly, but some of them are inherently more computer friendly because of their complexities. For instance, many applications installed on a Facebook page are easier to view and use on a computer. By contrast, mobile-only mediums are usually simpler and more concise. After all, you can only share and take in so much information on a 2x4-inch screen. Instagram, a mobile-only medium, forces us business users to think about content in "mobile" terms, which is a huge plus -- because mobile use is expected to surpass computer use this year.
- It has several awesome mobile apps. Instagram's "cool" factor has inspired a myriad of third-party developers to create complementary mobile applications that enhance the Instagram experience. There are too many to list, but my personal favorite is InstaRepost. As the name indicates, this app allows people to repost other users' Instagram pictures on their profile, with attribution options. In other words, USER-GENERATED CONTENT!!! User-generated content is a content marketer's best friend because (1) it's essentially free and (2) it comes from a "trusted" source. (In other words, if business owner X posts a picture of product Y, this picture is probably going to resonate less with a customer than if the picture was taken and posted by another customer.) InstaRepost allows business users to fulfill both these points.