There’s been lots of hype this week over Facebook’s $1billion acquisition of the 2-year-old photo sharing application Instagram. Whether the price tag is justified, this is one app to look further into. It’s been the #1 downloaded app on the apple istore this week and been an instant hit on Google play.

Over 30 Million people have used Instagram and download on their Iphone since the application launched in January 2011. It’s my favourite Iphone app by a long shot, but I know that for many of you reading this post, Instagram may not be an app that you’ve used as part of your social media tool kit. The good news is that Instagram is also now available for Android users too, so there’s a much greater audience who can use and share.

What is Instagram?

Instagram allows you to share your photos in a simple stream with friends to see. You can also play with the filters of the images to create better image effects and share instantly to facebook/ twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, Posterous etc.

You can follow other users’ photo stream and once followed their stream will appear on your news feed. You can also browse through the “popular” section to find users with similar interests to look at.

It’s also a great tool for creating content for those who are not avid tweeters or facebook users. You can download instagram on the phone of your winemaker, chef or staff who have access to content that can be shared in a visual format. Connect up your social networks, given them some brief training on the messages you’re trying to convey and you have a rich stream of photo content to access.

It’s as simple as taking the photo, applying the relevant filters, putting a description and hash tags and then you can send to your social media networks. The integration of Instagram photos within a facebook feed is also a huge benefit – the photos display in a large format and much more of a feature than using twitpic on your facebook page.

Ways to get the most out of using the app

  • Play with the filters – test out what different filters look like on your photos and work out which ones you prefer and which give the best visual effects.
  • Add Hashtags to your posts – it’s a way of finding other like-minded people on Instagram, but be specific in your hash tags to make it easier to find.
  • Follow people with similar interests
  • Geotag your photos – Like using hashtags, geotagging provides another data point that can be used to categorize and display content.
  • Pay attention to what works -occasionally looking at the popular photos gives you an idea about what people want to see and what is most popular.

Some other Instagram related tools/ sites you might not have known about.

There’s literally hundreds of Instagram related sites to help you manage and monitor your Instagram photos stream. Here’s just a few you may like to look into further.

  • Searching for users or Hashtags – Allows you to search for users, hash tags and display these images
  • Viewing Instagram via the web and searching from your desktop (remember this was designed as a mobile platform) – or
  • Backing up Instagram Photos – Instatport helps you download to your desktop
  • Photo Gallery – browse the life of your friends through a series of pictures on Instagram. It searches the Instagram user’s public photo archive from the URL of one photo and shows like Flickr’s photo stream.
  • The analytics behind your Instagram Account – Allows you to look at some of the analytics of your account – who has commented, who follows you etc. There’s also a cool tool to allow you to create a facebook cover of your 50 last instagram photos.

 Why not follow me on Instagram?