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Why Instagram Matters For Small Business

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At the very core of why any social media platform is useful is this: having an online presence is your digital reputation. While in the old days when your reputation mattered in a small community, today your reputation matters in person and online. If you're not online in some format, that leaves folks wondering why? What's there to hide? We are in the age of the digital reputation.

I have to be honest here: I love social media, but not all of it. I started using Instagram for fun, because it's photography based. I've been trying out all of the other types of social media outlets to see if they are useful both on a personal level (do I like using it?), and for work (will it help me engage with folks?). Instead of sharing every single media platform, I want to share how Instagram is useful, and what types of businesses could use it best!

The truth is that any business can have a presence on Instagram. The best analogy I can find is thinking of Instagram like a magazine. Any type of business could place an ad in a magazine - with a photograph and text. Think of Instagram like a digital option to create a magazine ad in snapshot slices. The fun thing about it is that folks can discover you based on your words (hashtags) and location (if you tag it).

Now that Instagram is big, you can pay for sponsored posts so that adds for car insurance or new movies show up to everyone, and that is not what I'm talking about here. I'm suggesting that it can be a direct, fun, locally focused way to promote your business.

Instagram is like a show and tell outlet to engage your fans or to help new fans find you.

For me, I share behind the scenes, what inspires me and my photography work. That shows off my style and what it may be like to work with me, which attracts folks who may want to hire me to photograph them.

A snapshot of my Instagram account @hollimargell

Instagram Snap Shot @hollimargell

Here are my top 3 tips to make Instagram work for you:

1. Name relevance - if you're a small business owner like me, then choose your business name or a personal spin so that folks know how to find you easily. And, if you're a business with a popular term in the name, for example Espresso, add a local spin to it like EspressoHat206.

2. Photos relevance - based on what type of business you are this is either fun or a challenge. For example, if you're a restaurant you can photograph each menu item, favorite customers, your interior or exterior decor, etc. If you're a service business, such as a housekeeper, you could think of your theme and focus on anything clean and organized related. Before and After snaps would rock! But like any marketing material, make sure you have client approval first.

3. Words matter - Hashtags, captions, tags, oh, my! Yes, that stuff matters too. If you're local, you can tag your city. If you're a business with specific niche, your hashtags need to align with that niche. This is as easy as thinking of the words that describe your business. I suggest you come up with 5 key tags to use though some experts recommend at least 20. Experiment and remember you can always delete a post if you need to!

And remember that like any other part of marketing, experiment and see what works best for you.

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