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If your small business is not currently using Instagram, then you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. If a picture speaks a thousand words, then imagine the possibilities of posting several thousand. For small business owners, Instagram is the ultimate form of social media for 18-34-year olds, too. Here are six simple tips to get the most out of your Instagram presence.

1.  Strike a Balance between Business and Pleasure

At first, you will likely want to fill up your Instagram account with lots of pictures that highlight your company brand. But no one likes to be bombarded with a constant stream of “buy now” advertisements. If you want to build a loyal following, consider posting some fun images from time to time. Even a picture of a cute, adorable puppy standing in front of your business can generate a lot of new followers.

2.  Use Video

Instagram also allows users to post short 15-second videos, much like YouTube or Twitter’s Vine. Use video to present customer testimonials or videos of employees using your products and services. You can then embed these videos elsewhere online, including your website, blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

3.  Be Consistent

Just as with any form of social media, you have to maintain a consistent schedule.  But try not to saturate your followers with endless posts, 10-times per day and 7-days a week. Otherwise, they might unfollow you. Aim for a safe strategy of 2-4 posts per day with several hours in between.

4. Engage

Many small business owners often forget that social media, by definition, is supposed to be “social.” For the best results, don’t be afraid to tag other people’s photos, leave comments, and follow back new followers.

5.  Leverage Photo Contests

Any business can host a photo contest on Instagram.  Consider asking your followers to post a picture of themselves while using one of your products or services. Use hashtags to organize the submissions and an RSS feed to follow along with the conversations that will soon develop. Then use Facebook and Twitter to promote your Instagram photo contest, as well.

6.  Experiment with different photography filters and exposures

To keep your Instagram site from getting too predictable or boring, don’t be afraid to mix things up. Include images shot with a wide angle or fisheye lens. Post nighttime images or photos with graduated colour filters. Get creative, and keep your followers interested.

Instagram is a wonderful form of social media because it requires very little skills in creative writing. Instead of typing long marketing messages, the pictures do the selling for you. Spending only a couple of hours per week on Instagram is a wonderful and cost-effective way to boost online sales in a fairly short amount of time. We’ve included some more details on how to get the best from Instagram in our handy guide.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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