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This has been a fun run, right? I hope you are snapping pics and Instagramming up a storm. I'll admit, it took me a minute to get into the idea of using Instagram myself, especially since it was iPhone *exclusive* for so long, and, being an Android person myself, well… But, once I started using it and realizing the benefits of all of its features, well, I can't imagine marekting my business on social media without Instagram.

When you first start trying to work social media into your marketing plan, it is overwhelming and extremely time-consuming as you lean the ropes and try to fit it in between all of the other things you have to do to run a business. That's why the people who have not yet jumped in tend to keep dipping their toes in and pulling them rapidly out of the water, like a kid deciding whether or not to jump in the pool. Instagram is a floatie that helps you get into the pool and navigate the social media waters without killing yourself. It has been quite challenging trying to find easier ways to get business owners into the social media pool when they can't or won't use Instagram. One of the big challenges is if you don't have a smartphone as a business owner. Once you get into social media, you have to be able to respond to concerns in real-time and a smart phone will help you do that. But, I digress…. if you have an Instagram account and have a smartphone, why not use them to their full potential?! Make Instagram work for you!

Today I have two final strategies for getting the most out of Instagram for your business' social media presence.

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If you are a retail store or someone who has regular face-to-face interactions with your customers, then this strategy is going to be super easy and fun for you! Most people love to “see their name in lights” and you can make that happen for your customers via Instagram. Consider showcasing your customers via Instagram. They will then share with their friends, who will be come new followers and potential customers, and it will build excitement about your brand. Followers will want to see who is featured next, if they can get featured, and what all the hype is about.

Urban Outfitters (@urbanoutfitters) does a great job of regularly showcasing fans from their stores on their Instagram feed, like these fans at an in-store event (see photo at right).

Here are some ideas to try:

  • Take a photo of a customer of the week or month in your shop
  • Post photos of you with your students while teaching a craft class
  • Highlight one of your customers wearing or using your product or creation. For example, if I made scarves I would take a pic of a customer trying on a scarf.
  • Invite customers to select items from your shop or craft fair booth as their “picks” and pose for the camera with them.
  • Share projects your customers have created with your products. If you are a licensed designer who creates products or a retailer selling craft supplies, clothing, etc, you can showase your customers' handiwork on Instagram
  • Take a pic of a customer with their “haul” from your store or craft fair booth — don't you want everyone to see what they bought? Ask them to share a little of the story behind their purchase–maybe it is for a wedding, or graduation, or just because they got a new job! Hashtag those moments, #wedding, for example …
  • Even if a customer is not BUYING something, you can still take a pic of them. This is great for craft fairs and farmer's markets — maybe you se someone with a gorgeous bag or shirt they made and you ask to take a pic …. it gives you fun and interesting content and you connect with someone (and all of their friends/fans/followers, aka potential customers) who you might not have connected with otherwise.

Always be sure to TAG the person whose photo you took. Tagging is when you type the “@” symbol and the person's name. Instagram recently added tagging to their platform – you'll need to “Follow” the person before you can tag them on Instagram, however, if you tag someone using their twitter handle (@ symbol+ their twitter handle, i.e. @hydrangeahippo would be mine) then it will tag them on twitter.

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The keyword in social marekting is “SOCIAL”. It is all about connecting with other people, businesses, and groups who have similar interests as you! Instagram is another tool that helps us connect.

 

Alexa Westerfield, aka @swelldesigner, is the social media chica over at ilovetocreate.com but she also is a fab designer, writer, and marketer in her own right. Alexa is a regular contributor to buzzfeed and here she shares how she is one of their top contributors by posting a screenshot, that she then added text to with an app, and then she tagged @buzzfeed to make sure they saw her post. Yeah, she is kind of a big deal as far as doing everything “right” on social media :) If you are sharing about another person or company who also has a social media presence, tag them!

Here are some ways to connect:

  • Always follow back everyone who follows your company. You will not get innundated with emails when someone posts 100 photos of their new kitten every 10 minutes so there is no worry about following too many people on Instagram. With other social networks, like Facebook, if you have too many “firends”, for example, you might start to get annoyed by people who don't share as many interests as you.
  • Connect with and follow other companies whose products you use or with whom you work. For example, I work with alot of Clearsnap product so @hydrangeahippo follows @clearsnap on Instagram. This also allows me to tag @clearsnap whenever @hydrangeahippo uses their products in a project I am posting.
  • Use hashtags to search for people with similar interests. Chances are, you are not the only tastemaker and trendsetter in your industry or niche. Find others like you and conect with them by following them, favoriting their posts, and commenting on their posts.
  • Share the love. Take a few minutes each day to scroll through your Instagram account to see what the people you follow are doing. Leave comments and click the “heart” button to “favorite” any posts that resonate with you. The more you connect in a genuine way, the more genuine connections you will get from your followers. Karma, divine inteventin, faith, goodwill, whatever you wanna call it, you get back what you put out :)

I hope you'll try all of the strategies I have shared over the last month to help your business tackle the social marekting mountain. Please let me know how they worked for you by leaving a comment here or visiting my Facebook Page, Jennifer Priest РSocial Media Virtuoso.

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SM-for-crafters-buttonjennifer-priest-sm-fb-button Jennifer Priest Jan 2012

Happy Instagramming,

Jennifer

Author: Jennifer Priest

It started with jewelry, beading, sewing, home decor, painting, basket weaving, pottery, and cross-stitch. Marry that to an entrepreneurial spirit & at 9 years old a girl is selling her wares at craft fairs as far as her parents and grandparents would drive her. These days, Jennifer enjoys crafts of all genres from sewing to scrapbooking to jewelry with a little dabbling in the mixed media world. Her style is approachable and she wants everyone who sees her work to feel that they too can embrace creativity and make their home and life beautiful.

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