Since its launch in late 2010, Instagram has been a powerhouse. The iPhone and Android app allows users to take photos, apply a vintage filter and post them to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare.
Vintage photo apps on mobile devices have always been popular, but none have matched Instagram's numbers.
The most powerful aspect of Instagram is its social community of users. In fact, the Instagram community was so strong that Facebook dropped a cool billion dollars to snatch up Instagram earlier this year.
As with any social network, businesses want to know how they can use Instagram to market and generate exposure for their company or brand.
If you have a physical location, whether it's a store, restaurant, or park, incorporate Instagram into your social tool belt. A favorite Houston spot for LyntonWeb employees is Discovery Green. Discovery Green has its own Instagram account and shares photos on their Twitter and Facebook streams. You use hashtags to aggregate photos of your business in one place. For example, you can see everything tagged #DiscoveryGreen. You may even consider setting up a slideshow of Instagram user generated content specific to your business.
Midtown Comics in New York City uses Instagram paired with Twitter to show off what's going on in their stores, such as events, new product arrivals, and customers that come into their stores.
What if you don't have a physical location? Fear not, you can still use Instagram! Maybe you are an online retailer that sells clothing. Create a hashtag for your brand and tell customers to take a photo of themselves while wearing your gear. Get that customer to share that photo on Twitter and mention you and the hashtag. Focus on encouraging user generated content that will benefit your brand.
You can also use Instagram for contests like scavenger hunts. Create a list of things that a user has to take photos of and make them mention you in a tweet with a specific hashtag.
Browse Instagram photos in your browser on sites like Gramfeed, as well as sites that help you analyze your photos and interactions from others like Statigram. Using the IFTTT service that we've talked about in past blogs will allow you to collect images with specific hashtags (just make sure you let your submitters know that you may use their images).
Instagram is a fun app, and having well past 80 millions users they show no signs of slowing down. Integrate Instagram into your inbound mix and have some fun while you're at it!