Use Instagram for picture-perfect brands

Looking to build a brand for your organization or yourself? It’s a snap with photo sharing site Instagram.

Next to Pinterest, Instagram is one of the Internet’s newest and most popular sites. (Facebook acquired the company in April for $1 billion.) Instagram is also simple to use. With your smartphone you take a photo, choose a filter to alter its look and post it to Instagram. You can share the photo simultaneously on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. And you can “like” and be liked by followers.

Individuals can use Instagram to chronicle their lives, their vacations, their cities and towns. Businesses can use Instagram to forge closer ties with their customers. Two examples: Women’s online retailer ShopExcessBaggage created a trend-setting page where followers can post and vote on popular styles. And accessory boutique RequiredFlair uses Instagram to showcase the many ways to wear the company’s jewelry. The experience is visual, personal and interactive—all of the ingredients for social sharing.

Ready to share your brand? Here are a few tips from Mobile Media Lab co-founder Brian DiFeo.

  • Start with your existing audience. Announce your presence on Instagram on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter and through communications channels such as websites, email lists and newsletters.
  • Post photos that are consistent with your brand, or that will advance your causes.
  • Use relevant hashtags such as #fashion so users searching Twitter will discover your work.
  • Run contests that encourage interaction with followers.

Once you’ve collected a few photos on Instagram you’ll want a central place to display them. While you can view your collection on a smartphone you can’t see them at the Instagram website. For that you’ll need another service like Gramfeed, which can display your work and that of the people and companies you follow. From there you can pin your images to Pinterest. You can see my collections at Gramfeed and Pinterest.

Want more information? Mashable has a solid primer on its website.

— Jeff Widmer

The business end of social media

What’s the hottest trend in social media and how can we jump on it? If your marketing team is investing in this brave new world, those are the wrong questions to ask. That according to Jay Baer, a social media speaker, author, consultant and co-author of The NOW Revolution.

During a webinar this week Baer listed the right and wrong questions agencies ask about social media. I’m not going to spoil an entrepreneur’s work by divulging all eight but three may convince you that Baer knows whereof he speaks.

  • What is the best way to get Facebook “likes” and Twitter follows? A better question is, How can we encourage existing fans to take action in social media?
  • How can we create a killer social media campaign that gets noticed? A better question is, How can we develop a sustained, ongoing social strategy that turns customers into advocates over the long run?
  • How can we make a viral video that gets thousands of views? A better question: How can we optimize a video so our customers can find it?

His bottom line when marketing via social media? The advice you live by in all of your business dealings: Strive to be helpful.

Monroe libraries to present local book expo

The Associated Libraries of Monroe County will present the second annual Monroe County Book Expo on Saturday, July 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eastern Monroe Public Library in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The event is free and open to the public.

The expo will highlight books written and/or published by residents of Monroe and other Eastern Pennsylvania counties. The day is intended to encourage aspiring writers and support the exchange of ideas about the creative process and the publishing industry. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet and visit with local authors, and to purchase copies of their works. Books will be sold by the individual authors at their tables.

Two special programs will be featured during the day. At 11 a.m. there will be a panel discussion entitled “Self-Publishing: Pitfalls and Rewards.” This will be followed by a presentation at 2 p.m. by author Alissa Grosso, whose debut novel for young adults, Popular, was recently published by Flux.

Authors may register to participate online.

For more information, call library Director Barbara Keiser (570) 421-0800, extension 13.

The Monroe County Book Expo is a project of the Associated Libraries of Monroe County, which includes Barrett-Paradise Friendly Library, Clymer Library, Eastern Monroe Public Library, Pocono Mountain Public Library and Western Pocono Community Library.