MasseyMedia, Inc

Instagram is a great tool for brand awareness

If you enjoy taking photos with your iPhone, Instagram is probably at the top of your list of favorite apps. Named "App of the Year" in 2011 by Apple, Instagram is a free, photo-sharing application that was launched in October 2010.

This app allows users to take a photo, apply one of 16 Photoshop-type filters to it, and then share it with friends via their social network of choice.

Instagram is integrated with popular social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, so users can post photos from the app directly to their feeds.

Users also are able to share photos on the social network built directly into Instagram.

Through the app, you are able to like and comment on photos, as well as follow users to view their photos in your main feed. The app, like Twitter, utilizes hashtags, making keywords and terms searchable across the app.

After an Instagram filter is applied, photos take on a different look and feel than a traditional photo taken by a camera phone. The filters add characteristics such as a vintage look, bold colors, or soft light.

People who enjoy Polaroids and other retro forms of photography may be especially drawn to Instagram. This app enables those of us who are not professional photographers, and who are lost when it comes to Photoshop and other photo editing tools, to produce beautiful images to share with our friends and family. With 30 million accounts on Instagram, its popularity is apparent.

April has been a busy month for Instagram.

Last week, Instagram announced that they had opened the app to Android phones; before, the app was limited to iPhone users. This created a frenzy of downloads - one million in 12 hours, to be exact. Android users could finally see what all the fuss was about, and began to use the app to edit photos of their own.

On April 9, it was announced that Facebook has acquired the app for the cool sum of $1 billion in cash and stock.

It will definitely be interesting to see where the No. 1 social network takes the No. 1 photosharing app. It seems like a match made in social media heaven!

So we know this app is fun and popular. But can it help businesses? Is there profit to be made with Instagram?

Some companies seem to think so, and are creating Instagram accounts and posting pictures of products.

One particular company, selling glasses and contacts online, encourages users to post photos of themselves wearing the company‘s glasses and to mention them in the photo description.

Because the app is limited to mobile only, it is not helpful for SEO or links; however, it is useful in bringing attention to products and services and driving traffic back to a website, which has the potential to convert to sales.

Whether for work or play, there‘s no denying Instgram is a powerful little app. That‘s an encouragement to the innovators and inventors of this generation - you never know what small idea will turn into the next big thing!

We hope to see more from the Instagram + Facebook marriage in the very near future, but until then, we‘ll keep posting photos. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words - or, if you‘re Facebook, a billion dollars. Happy I