Instagram 101

Utilizing the image sharing platform to promote your design business



In terms of image sharing social media platforms, nothing beats the exceptional connectivity and branding power of Instagram.  Some might argue that Pinterest is more powerful, but I would disagree. (I read an informative article comparing the two back in June that will help you decide for yourself.)

If you haven’t established an Instagram account as of yet, and you own a smart phone, you should – here’s the link to get you started.

There are a few simple reasons you should consider it your go-to image sharing app I’d like to share.

Filter Branding

There are 20 image filters available for tweaking your pictures, which in and of itself makes for interesting images.  But there’s a hidden branding opportunity in the filters as well.

It may be a hold-over from my undergrad work in photography, the belief that a filed negative carrier should always be used to tell the viewer you controlled the image composition before releasing the shutter, but I almost always use the ‘Hi-Lo’ filter in Instagram.


 ‘Hi-Lo’ Filter

If you use a specific filter over all your images it becomes a visual calling card, subliminally connecting the pictures to your name or brand.  When I first starting using Instagram I ran the same image through all 20 filters for comparison.  You might consider doing the same experiment to find the filter that you like the most.  (Note: you’ll need to take the test picture with your phone – not through the Instagram interface – to accomplish the task.  This link will explain it further.)


Cross Platform Connectivity

There are two ways to share a photo on more than one platform at the same time that I’m aware of other than though Instagram (please jump in here and correct me if I’m wrong.)  The first is through Twitter.  You can tweet a picture, and if you’ve given permission for Twitter to post on Facebook you will have posted on two platforms at once.  The second is though Hootsuite, where you can pre-schedule a social media post with an image across multiple Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. Both are equally effective.

But if you generate an image through Instagram you’re given the opportunity (after saving the filtered image) to share it on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, and via email.  And of course it enters your Instagram image library, effectively posting on as many as 5 platforms, and to countless email recipients.

What’s more you can tag people on Twitter by adding their handle before sharing from the Instagram interface, or add hashtags so that the images enters content streams on Facebook and Twitter.  (Note: you cannot tag someone personally on Facebook as of yet.)


Pinterest Referral Traffic

It will come as no surprise that unique images garner more interest and re-pins than images that have made the rounds on the internet via Pinterest.  My rule for gauging how powerful an image might be for generating traffic: if it’s accessible though Google Image, it’s already a fatigued picture.  You’ll also know if the image has made the rounds when you pin it to one of your boards – because Pinterest tells you what other boards it’s already been pinned to.

That explains why unique images generate more traffic for the site from which they originated.  In our experience here on the blog Instagram images embedded in our posts, and subsequently pinned to our Pinterest boards, garner about 33% more referral traffic via Pinterest, as measured though our Google Analytics.  It makes perfect sense, if you have unique Instagram images embedded in a blog post, and unique images garner more attention than other images on Pinterest, you subsequently get more Pinterest referrals back to a blog or website.

Some would argue that any unique image will drive more Pinterest referral traffic, and in a general sense they’d be right, but they’d have missed the branding opportunity that Instagram filters afford, and the opportunity for sharing on multiple platforms.


You might also be interested in checking out the ‘Instagram for Business’ blog, it highlights how some well established firms are utilizing the platform (Marc Jacobs, Oscar De La Renta etc.)  There’s also a very informative post from Social Media Examiner that highlights 10 ways to effectively use Instagram for business.  And one last thought, if you’re already on Instagram, follow me, I’d love to follow you back!


Written by CJ Dellatore