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Social media is so often associated with noise and distraction, so it’s a breath of fresh air to have a platform that promotes appreciation for art, storytelling, and compelling imagery. That, most of all, is what Instagram has become known for.
With a community of 500 million people sharing the world’s most intimate moments, Instagram—often referred to as IG—has become the go-to outpost for beautiful photography and storytelling. It deviates from instant thought bursts and quick mentions that fill other networks, as Instagram users tend to be more meticulous with the way their images and videos look and how they translate their personality, beliefs, and values to the world.
Whether it’s a photo of your dog or a runway model wearing your latest creation, Instagram presents you with a set of tools to prep your photo the best way possible. The app is mobile-based where photos you take are cropped to square dimensions of 1080 pixels on all sides, with optional wide photos available now though at the same smaller size. You can edit the photo in-app using Instagram’s editing tools, with its tools that can quickly turn ordinary phone photos into professional-looking snapshots. You can configure and apply up to 23 pre-made digital filters to your photo, from black-and-white Inkwell to the sepia tones of Crema, or can hand-tweak your photo’s brightness, contrast, and other photographer-orientated settings. Once you’ve chosen the best filter for your photo, sign it off with a great caption and post it to your followers.
Instagram also supports 15-second videos, which you can enhance with any of its filters as well. Cutting extra footage is easy, and audio is muted until you tap on the video to hear it in its entirety. This format flexibility and the 15-second restriction helps creators get creative with their media.
Instagram is designed to make sharing fast and efficient. Its strength lies in its ability to share to multiple services—such as Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter—with just a few taps, something that keeps your photos and videos from being trapped in the network. But unlike most social networks, you can’t reshare previously published photos and videos within the Instagram network—something designed to protect creators and the general community from copyright infringement. Core interaction is either through likes with the heart button, or comments and @ mentions in the post.
Another limitation is the lack of active links in Instagram posts to prevent spam on the network. Instead, users can place links on their bios, and point followers to their profiles if they wish to view the page. That makes it less convenient to use Instagram to promote your site, but it is a limitation to sustain the quality of the community. And when spammers do manage to get into the network, you can easily report and block them for good.
Instagram first started out as a place where people could share photos of their favorite moments with their friends and loved ones. Today, large brands including Adidas, Coach, and McDonald’s have taken to the app to use visual storytelling to market their products and services. And since its acquisition by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has built an an ad-driven business model that brands can leverage to promote brand awareness, increase sales and mobile app downloads. To take part of the program, a brand needs to have a Facebook page and process their ads through Facebook.
From the user’s perspective, ads are disclaimed on the post itself with a built-in Learn more button below the photo to make it easy for people to get to know the brand. If you feel that an ad shouldn’t be on your feed, you can hide it for good, so you can control the ads being displayed on your feed. And, at the same time, that feedback helps Instagram learn the best ads to display based on your interests.
Even with its immense growth over the past years, Instagram remains true to its mission of giving people the tools they need to capture and share the world around them. Art, performance, illustrations, and even stories of rescued animals are just some of the fascinating things you can discover on your feed. In a way, you get to appreciate the finer things in life after all. And as a business, you can use that network as a way to promote your products in a more clever, artistic way.
Tools to use Instagram for Your Business: