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Chef Kevin Sousa captured a beet dish in an Instagram photo
<p> Chef Kevin Sousa captured a beet dish in an Instagram photo.</p>

How to get the most impact from Instagram

&bull; RELATED: How four chefs leverage the promotional nature of Instagram

Constant Contact, an online marketing organization, collected these six tips to help businesses maximize the impact of Instagram.

1. Use images to tell a story, not blast your branding.

Starbucks does this well. Their photos show lots of Starbucks cups, but the focus is always on what the person is doing while enjoying their coffee—on the beach, reading a book, etc. Keep it subtle and keep the focus on your customers.

2. The best photos fall into two categories: beautiful imagery or humor.

Most users aren’t posting all their random party shots to their Instagram stream; brands should exercise similar constraint. Think of your Instagram photos as high value/low volume.

3. Don’t post too often.

A general rule, don’t post more than three photos in a row or one every three hours. If you post more often than that, you run the risk of hogging your users’ feed.

Keep in mind that with Instagram, the commitment level to an account is low—”unfollows” can happen frequently. Don’t automatically share your Instagram photos—editorially select and customize each one for the appropriate platform.

4. Choose an account name that’s the same as your Twitter handle.

Sharing your Instagram account name and Twitter handle serves two purposes: Your profile will be easily recognizable and easy to find, and when another user tags your photo and shares it on Twitter, that tag will link to your Twitter profile.

5. Use hashtags selectively.

As with Twitter, hashtagging photos broadens your reach beyondf your primary connections. You can use the search functionality on the app to find out which hashtags are often used. Hashtags tend to be somewhat limited on Twitter due to the character length limitations. Because Instagram doesn’t have these limitations, some users stuff Instagram captions with every hashtag imaginable. But doing so makes it seem like you’re trying too hard.

6. Set up an account on a web-based viewer.

Instagram’s focus continues to be mobile, but the app now has the ability to view individual photos on the web through a shareable link. Now your Instagram stream can be seen by those not using the app, and those who do have an account can “like” and comment on a shared photo right from the web. However, using a separate web-based viewer can help you manage your presence and track your progress.

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