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Instagram – What’s all the fuss?

Let’s face it – there are so many social media sites around, sometimes it’s hard to keep up… let alone remember your password to all of them!

The announcement has just been released that Facebook has bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock and suddenly the internet is rife with “Facebook snaps up Instagram” puns. Chief Exec of Facebook, Mark Suckerberg, posted on his wall this morning “we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests”.

For the normal small business person out there who hasn’t yet used Instagram, you might be wondering if it’s something that can help your business.

So here’s the low down of what Instagram is and the pros and cons from a business angle…

What does it do?

Essentially, Instagram is a photo sharing app. It allows you to take photos or upload photos and modify them. On the Instagram website it says:

“Meet Instagram – It’s a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented. Oh yeah, did we mention it’s free?”

We’ve uploaded this photo (chocolate gooey mini muffins from the Easter Weekend) to show you three of the different effects it can produce.

Here’s what we started with…

Here’s the same picture modified with the X-Pro effect

…and with the Toaster effect

You get the idea. You can then share your photos. Simple.

You might also like this article from the Guardian which shows some other effects on Famous photos: Instagram makeover: see Obama, Bush and Blair transformed! Well, sort of

The Advantages

Though smartphones are amazing, there are limits. It would be great to have a full Photo Editing package available on the move, though chances are we wouldn’t use it because, well, we’re on the move. This is a template driven photo editing suite that also shares – which is pretty useful.

Being able to post from anywhere and to Facebook & Twitter at the same time is great.

It works with other Android apps you may already be using on your phone such as Gallery apps and HDR Camera apps.

Downloads straight to your SD Card – pretty good if you’re aware of the memory restrictions on your phone.

The Disadvantages

These are my reasons for not using Instagram myself – you decide your preference (by the way, this is from an Android user perspective):

Instagram is strictly smartphone only – so you can’t use it from your computer as well. This is a big one for me as I like to be able to do my social media via the device I’m using at the time.

It’s listed on Google Play as a 12MB app, though it’s actually about 5MB. It may not be a problem, but it could mean if you’ve downloaded a lot of apps and don’t have an SD Card, you may have to make some room.

You can’t post to your Facebook Business Page without an app like Hootsuite. For small business users, this is the kicker. As the app only works with your Facebook and Twitter Apps – and you can’t ’Use Facebook as [Your Business Page]’ via the Facebook App – your only way to make use of Instagram for your business is post to your personal profile and then share it again. Not great. Though in fairness this isn’t Instagram’s fault – it’s a limitation of the Facebook app. May be it will be improved now?

In the meantime there are ways around it, though I imagine that most business owners will just find it easier to skip the Instagram bit and post via their favourite Social Media App.

Remember, this is a look at Instagram at the moment and with Facebook’s backing it’s likely to change significantly.

I admit I am a Pinterest fan and I also like to keep my Social Media simple – which means keeping the apps I use down to a minimum. Try it though, it’s free, it works (always a bonus with apps) and you might find a use for it.

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