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Recently a jewelry store owner asked in an open LinkedIn forum, how to promote her business on Instagram. With some modification, here was my response:

Setting up Instagram is easy. Many companies and retailers are using Instagram to market their business, products and brand. Right now it is free, like Facebook used to be. Predictions are however, that some day in the near future, accounts opened for commercial business will likely have to pay to reach all of their followers, as they now must with Facebook. Remember Instagram is owned by Facebook. But for now, go for it. Some tips.

1. Use the same logo/avatar/icon for Instagram that you use for Twitter & Facebook or other social media accounts. Brand consistency is important.

2. Keywords are the way people will find you. I have experimented with this and I have gone back in and added keywords to photos one or two years old and received new visits and likes. My preference is to write one or two sentences (max) without hashtags and add hashtags at the end for readability.

3. So say you are posting a necklace for sale. Write a description, item number. Then add descriptors. #jade #silver #vintage #modern #blue #red #jewelry #fashion #accessory etc. people search for all kinds of things. People will say, only use 1-3 hashtags or else. Well, Nat Geo has hundreds of thousands of followers and they heavily hashtag most of their pictures.

4. Make sure your website is in your profile. That way you don’t have to put it in the post with the image. You want the text that accompanies your image to be as conversational as possible.

5. Follow some people, again using the hashtags of what your target audience might use. Comment on their photos or like them. Don’t spam or promote your photos as comments on their photos. If you comment on their dog photo and say “cute puppy, I have a lab too” they will check out who you are and find out about your product. If you spam them with a “buy this” type of comment they may block or report you. Be who you are as the account administrator, who just happens to have a business. The more genuine you are, the better. Search for hashtags such as #jewelry #necklaces #fashion #earrings and see who is talking about those topics and follow a few.

6. Occasionally post photos about things you like – don’t just sell. Be a person and a personality.

7. Occasionally link to your Twitter, but not all the time. When you do, those posts should only have 2-3 hashtags. You can edit Instagram later to add more ###’s, but this allows your Twitter audience know you have an Instagram and vice-versa.

8. There are apps and widgets that allow your Instagram feed to appear on your website.

9. I am not a fan at all of posting once and going out to all your social media accounts. That is considered lazy. Hashtags are not well-appreciated on Facebook and are a no-no on Pinterest. Audiences are completely different on each of these platforms. If all your posts are identical across all platforms you will gain one place, but lose in another. Tweak for each platform.

10. Look at other vendors on Instagram. The ones with lots of likes (hearts) and comments are the ones you should study and emulate.

11. Talk about your industry. If a famous person is wearing something interesting, comment about it, perhaps mention you have something similar.

12. Like Twitter, it is best to follow a few at a time, build your following list, then follow more and go back and forth like that and build your following gradually. If people see you are following 1,000 people but you only have 15 following you, they might not take your seriously.

I also love these suggestions from Holly to make your photos on Instagram creative and interesting!

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