By Kara Svenson – Marketing Communications Co-op
With so many new and rising social media platforms, it can be overwhelming to pick which channels to focus on. One excellent platform is Instagram. With more than [400 million monthly active users](https://business.instagram.com) and 3.5 billion likes daily, Instagram proves to be an exceptional way to connect with your customers.
#### How do you know if Instagram is a good fit for your business?
Is a large portion of your target segment Millennials? If so, you should consider Instagram. [26 percent of Millennials](https://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/millennials-social-media/) use Instagram on a daily basis and it is growing in popularity every day. Instagram is perceived as a more trendy social media platform than older, more traditional ones like Facebook. Instagram is also a great platform for businesses that can showcase their products, services or overall brand equity through striking, visual photos.
#### How to leverage Instagram
The biggest emphasis on creating Instagram content is posting highly visual photos. You may also post 60-second videos, which can be an ideal length for the users’ increasingly short attention span. Photo content should be a mix of fun images and photos highlighting the business to [showcase brand personality and company culture](http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/instagram-for-business-tips/). The photo is significantly more important than the caption. Captions should be kept short and sweet – around one or two sentences at the most. You can also tag the location of the photo, adding to the background story of the post. Additionally, some users use the location of the photo as a second opportunity to write a humorous comment about the photo.
Instagram has many hashtags that users participate in to quickly locate relevant content and participate in topical communities. These include: #MotivationMonday, #ThrowbackThursday, and #OOTD (outfit of the day). These hashtags make it easy for businesses to create and organize recurring content. Using hashtags also increases the visibility of posts, as users will often search them. To gain further exposure, businesses should consider getting endorsement from a highly influential Instagram user. Many users follow celebrities and other prominent people on Instagram for a peak into their lives and for inspiration.
Instagram’s sponsored ads are a great opportunity for businesses to reach their target audience. These sponsored ads are non-intrusive and seamless in the user’s newsfeed, making them highly effective. The only signal that the post is an advertisement is the word “sponsored” in the upper right corner. I often have to double take to realize a post on my feed is an ad. Ads on Instagram can be [purchased and overseen on Ads Manager and Power Editor, Facebook’s self-serve interface](https://business.instagram.com/advertising/).
Finally, Instagram [recently announced](http://blog.business.instagram.com/post/145212269021/new-business-tools) that it is rolling out new tools to further help businesses leverage their accounts. These new features will be available in the US, in the next upcoming months. Businesses will have the option to create “business profiles” rather than the standard profile. This will allow you to see real-time analytics on your posts and followers. Additionally, you can convert a post into an advertisement instantly through the app. These new tools will take Instagram to the next level, proving even more that it is a prominent social media platform for businesses.
How else do you leverage Instagram? Share your thoughts below.