Maybe you’ve already jumped on the Instagram wave, or are wondering if you should and how to best use it. Perhaps you avoid it, fearing it’s going to be another social media wormhole for you to fall into and fritter away precious hours of productivity. Many businesses have discovered Instagram to be a great tool to engage followers (customers) and find other people with similar interests. The CVB has recently started using the app as well, so we thought we would share some tips on how to make it work for you.
If you’re completely new to it, Instagram is an app for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone that is for photo sharing, video sharing and social networking. Users snap photos, apply optional moody-looking filters (the purists among us go without filtration) and share with their followers – push a button and it’s out there in the world, easy as that. You view it on your phone or computer (computers are good for viewing and managing your profile, but you can only take photos and share with your smartphones) in a vertically scrolling feed. It’s a very simple and elegant design that puts the emphasis on the visuals.
The first step after downloading the app is to start building a network. Use the search function to find people you know – or companies you’re interested in and follow them. Once any Instagram user is in your network, you can send them a quick note by using the @ symbol and their username, that’s a great way to let them know you’re following and get them to follow you back.
The search option lets you choose between finding other users, or searching for hashtags (#). Hashtags are used to reference specific subjects, for instance #calaverascounty, #goldcountry, #ebbettspass. Type any of these and you’ll see hundreds of images pop up that have been hash tagged from this region. So, if your business is in Arnold and you post a photo on Instagram, you’ll want to use hashtags like those above, the idea being that anyone who is also using or looking for that hashtag is going to find you and start following your feed. Add in the @username to get the attention of specific Instagram users that you want to connect with at the same time.
Now, as with all social media sharing, it’s real value is in what kind of stuff you’re sharing and with whom. Keep in mind, Instagram is all about the image (you can now also post short videos) so your photos should be something that you want to share with the world that serves the purpose of reinforcing whatever your message is. For all of us here in Calaveras, our goal is to create a great experience for visitors, and promote the lifestyle and culture of where we live.
Spend some time just browsing the world of Instagram and see how other people and companies use it to get some ideas for your own strategy. Be sure to follow the CVB @gocalaveras and notice how we’ve started using the hashtag #lovingcalaveras on our posts. Use that same tag on your Calaveras County posts and we’ll build a fun and diverse visual library that promotes our region.