The photo-sharing website Instagram hit the Internet like a tsunami–so much so that it threatened Facebook’s Internet-domination. Zuckerberg figured out how to ride that tidal wave and bought the small, thirteen-man company for $300 million in cash. That gives you an idea of just how valuable this site is.

Instagram is a program that allows you to take photos with your Smartphone, apply filters and other creative features, and share them on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. In today’s fast-paced world, a picture tells far more than a thousand words–because a thousand words might not even be read. A picture, on the other hand, attracts a tremendous amount of interest.

Instagram is a powerful way to engage consumers and promote your product. You will not want to miss out on this essential part of Internet marketing. Here are a few tips to help you use Instagram:

  • Have a plan.

Do not post disjointed images that seem to have no rhyme or reason. Decide what kind of message you want Instagram to convey, and coordinate your photos as such. Maybe you want to show the world how you build an intricate steel staircase. Or perhaps you simply want to show how much fun your staff have. Either way, make sure there is a common theme throughout.

  • Take high-quality photos.

This is how you will attract interest. While you don’t have to be a professional photographer to do this, it does help to have a good eye. If you are not a keen photographer, get someone else to help you or read some good tips. Look at other photos and get a feel for what is attracting attention.

  • Use photos that tell a story, not blast your branding.

People do not want to be inundated with promotion; they want to see an interesting image. For example, Starbucks would not post product pictures, it would post pictures of customers enjoying a good coffee on the beach, at the bookstore, or other interesting locations.

  • Establish a routine.

Be consistent on your posting schedule. Your followers want stability and predictability. If you post pictures on a daily basis, continue to do so. If your routine is more of a bi-weekly thing, stick to that. Just make sure you don’t post too often, as followers may get frustrated if their feed gets clogged. A general rule of thumb is to avoid posting more than three photos in a row or one every three hours.

  • Engage your followers.

Instagram is one of the best ways to do this. Get followers involve by encouraging them to post pictures of your product; this will attract more followers and you will expand exponentially. Some companies even hold contests, such as giving out prizes to the best photos.

  • Connect and share.

Do not wait to integrate Instagram with other networks; this is an essential marketing move. Minimally, you should be connected to Facebook and Twitter. It is good to expand to Flickr and Foursquare, as well. Use hashtags to share images on other networks, and apply proper SEO to bring in many views.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter with tips on using hashtags.