Writing is my modus operandi. I live and breathe it, and it makes up a huge crux of, well, everything, including online content. However, after attending this year’s Comic-Con, I was reminded just how prevalent and effective visual content is in our everyday lives. One of the standouts for self-generated, on-the-go visual content in the last couple years is Instagram.

Understanding Instagram

Instagram made a big splash with the hipster crowd when it was released back in late 2010, and it has only gotten bigger. The past year saw some big achievements for that hip, filter-filled mobile app. It extended its reach to Android devices and was bought by Facebook soon after.

Instagram’s charm is in its simplicity. The mobile app allows you to take pictures, add a vintage/toy camera filter, and share with friends across multiple social networks. You can instantly make your everyday photos look better without having to enroll in a photography class or use photo editing software.

Then, of course, there’s the huge Instagram community made up of supportive individuals from all walks of life, all interested in photography, art, and creativity throughout various mediums.

How to Use It

Instagram can be used by anyone. Even large corporations such as Starbucks and Pepsi have used the app to great effect. Remember that Instagram is all about taking pictures on your mobile device. Not all brands have the time, effort, or opportunity to post photos regularly, so here are a few ideas to promote yourself and capitalize on Instagram:

  • Connect with your audience – Instagram is currently made up of over 50 million registered users. Even a fraction of that is a huge pool for you to dip into. This is yet another chance to interact with potential customers, broaden your horizons, and give a face to your brand. The Explore tab and hashtags make it easy to extend your network.
  • Photo contests – Instagram makes a great platform for creative contests. Organize a scavenger hunt. If you sell a particular product, have your customers post photos using that product with the contest hashtag. If you promote a dog sitting service, have clients post pictures of their canine companions. Encourage even more interaction by having followers vote for their favorite submissions.
  • Location – Instagram allows you to geotag your photos, which is an easy way to gain the attention of locals. This is especially effective with entertainment venues, restaurants, and brick-and-mortar shops.

Of course, Instagram is only one of many burgeoning social mobile apps for sharing visual content. Socialcam and Viddy have recently been doing the same for video. What are some ideas you have for promoting or connecting with visual content?

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