Tag Archives: Instagram

Instagram: Direct Inbox is now used by 375 million people

Four years ago, Instagram introduced Direct, for private messaging, and today the Facebook-owned company announced that 375 million people are using the feature. In addition, Direct is getting an update that merges the sections containing normal messages and ephemeral ones, with the goal of making it easier for you to communicate with friends and keep track of all your conversations.

Ephemeral messaging within Direct became available in November, at which time Instagram said 300 million people were already using the permanent messaging tool. Since then, Instagram Direct has offered two distinct areas, one dedicated to just ephemeral messages in a Stories-like row and a list of permanent conversations that don’t expire after 24 hours. The company declined to share the breakdown between permanent and ephemeral messages over the past five months.

Instagram claims it “wants to make Direct the best place to have fun, visual conversations with your friends,” and blending the two areas together could help ingrain Stories-like messaging in people’s minds. Instagram may also have been watching to see whether people would adopt the feature before merging the conversation tools.

The 375 million people using Direct account for nearly 63 percent of the photo-sharing app’s 600 million monthly active users.

Within the new Instagram Direct, users can tap on the blue camera icon located at the bottom of the screen or in an existing thread to take an ephemeral photo or video. When you’re done, tap the arrow to select the individual or group of friends it should be sent to, and that’s it. New ephemeral messages sent to you will be highlighted in blue within the Direct Inbox and can be viewed twice (the first time and then replayed once). The sender will receive a notification when the message has been replayed or a screenshot has been taken.

The latest update is available on Instagram’s iOS and Android app.

Social – VentureBeat

Instagram launching comment control and follower removal tools to curb abuse


Instagram is shoring up its defenses against abuse with the launch of tools people can use to restrict who reacts to their photos and videos. The photo-sharing company announced on Tuesday that it now supports the ability to restrict who comments, removing people from private accounts, and a way to anonymously report those you might think are posting about injuring themselves.

The release of these new features are said to be part of Instagram’s efforts to make the service a “positive place for self-expression” — basically not have it be a troll-infested environment similar to Reddit and Twitter.

With the new commenting control tool, if you find that someone has posted something that’s mean-spirited message on a photo or video you’ve shared, you don’t have to just sit there and take it. On top of the ability to filter out comments by keyword, you can now disable them from entire posts. This ability was only available for “a small number of accounts,” but “in a few weeks” everyone can use this. Prior to posting, tap the “advanced settings” option, choose “turn off commenting” and that’s it. Comments can be re-enabled by toggling this option.

In addition, soon Instagram will allow its more than 500 million monthly active users to heart individual comments, not just the photo or video itself. It hopes that by bringing liking to the commenting level, it will “show support and encourages positivity throughout the community.”

Instagram will soon let you disable commenting on posts.

Above: Instagram will soon let you disable commenting on posts.

Image Credit: Instagram

For those of you with a private account, Instagram now lets you remove followers without blocking them. Why this hasn’t been done now is unknown, but if you let someone see your posts, there previously wasn’t a way for you to get rid of them without resorting to blocking the account. Now, you can remove them by going into your list of followers, tapping the … menu next to their name. When this action is taken, no notification will be sent that lets them know you don’t want to be friends.

Instagram now lets you anonymously report someone who is threatening self-injury.

Above: Instagram now lets you anonymously report someone who is threatening self-injury.

Image Credit: Instagram

Lastly is a feature social networks need to have in place, a way for people to let others know someone is threatening self-injury. Instagram chief executive Kevin Systrom explained: “From time to time, you may see friends struggling and in need of support.” So if you happen to see a post from someone that suggests self-harm, the service now lets you report it anonymously. There’s a team working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week around the world to review the reports and will connect that person with organizations that can help.

For many, Instagram has been a place where people not only share what they’re seeing, but also heir art. It has blown up into a community, but with more people on it, the danger of harassment and abuse increases. No more so if you post content around politics, national and world issues, and social progress. We’ve seen it on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and many other sites. Today’s release is an attempt to likely stem any potential offenses that may be made. Right now, Instagram hasn’t been in the news about this, unlike its counterparts, but with such a large audience, that could soon change.

I, for one, would appreciate a crackdown on trolls and spammers on Instagram. Nary a day goes by when I may post something along with hashtags that spur “commenters” to post about how to get new followers or tag me in random comments. This results in me having to either ignore it, or spend extra seconds to block and report the offending account.

Systrom promised that these features are only the beginning and more could be released in the future.


Social – VentureBeat

How to Use Instagram Stories: A Simple Guide for Marketers


On Tuesday, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, a new feature with remarkable similarities to Snapchat.

Stories provides Instagram users with a place to share posts at a higher frequency. While Instagram photos are typically reserved for perfectly composed shots, Stories allows you to share the little moments that may not be as picture-perfect.

Instagram is positioning this feature as a solution to overposting. Stories live in a separate space, and you can post as frequently as you want without worrying about over saturating your friends’ feeds or filling the grid on your profile page. Download our essential guide to Instagram for business for more helpful tips  and tricks.

So how do you build a Story? And what does this mean for your strategy? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.

How to Build a Story on Instagram

Ready to get started? We’ll walk you through the basic steps for building your first Instagram Story, and fill you in on some cool features along the way.

1) Tap the plus sign in the upper left corner of your screen to get started.


Image Credit: Instagram

2) Take your photo by tapping the round button, or take a video by pressing down for up to 10 seconds.

The thunderbolt icon turns on the flash, and the two arrows allow you to switch between the front and forward facing cameras.


Image Credit: Instagram

Want to upload something from your camera roll? You can. Simply swipe down to chose your photo or video. This includes Boomerangs and Hyperlapses.

3) Select one of the three pen type options to doodle on your photo, add an emoji using your keyboard, or swipe right to select a simple color filter.


Image Credit: Instagram

Pro Tip: While it may seem like it at first glance, you’re not limited to the colors that appear at the bottom of the screen. To open up more advanced color options simply press and hold one of the colors to pull up this screen:


4) When you’re done, tap the checkmark icon to share.

Your Story will appear here, at the top of your friends’ feeds. It’ll also be visible on your profile page by tapping your profile picture.


Image Credit: Instagram

Once your Story is live, you can save your masterpiece by opening it and tapping the three dots on the bottom right, then selecting “Save Photo.”

6) Check out who saw your Story by swiping up when viewing the photo or video.

Realized someone’s seeing those photos who shouldn’t be? Tap the “X” next to their name to block them from seeing anything you add to your Story.


Image Credit: Instagram

Want to keep your stuff private? You can adjust your privacy settings by going to your profile and selecting the “Settings” icon in the upper right. From there, you can chose to hide your Story from certain users, and restrict who can reply to your messages.

Wait, Isn’t That the Same Thing as Snapchat?

One only needs to look as far as the name to realize Stories is a Snapchat competitor. Similarities include photo/video functionality, a 24-hour window before the content disappears, basic filters, and the doodle tool.

However, there are a few advantages Snapchat has right out of the gate. For one, Instagram Stories is lacking Snapchat’s new “memories” feature, and there’s no screenshot notification. Not to mention, there are no stickers in Stories, and the filters leave something to be desired. And facial recognition — one of the most addictive Snapchat features — is noticeably absent. (If you can’t turn yourself into a bee, why bother?)

However, Instagram Stories does have one big advantage over Snapchat: As part of the larger Facebook/Instagram umbrella, they have less of a hurdle to jump in regards to adoption. Snapchat’s 150 million daily active users look like chump change compared to Instagram’s 300 million. Snapchat has much more ground to cover, while Instagram already has a captive audience.

What Marketers Need to Know About Instagram Stories

If you have an active audience base on Instagram, you should jump on Stories quickly. You have the opportunity to create ephemeral, lighthearted, Snapchat-like content without the challenge of building up a Snapchat audience or launching a new channel.

In addition to the built-in audience, you also have the opportunity for increased discoverability. The content you produce on Snapchat needs to be promoted regularly across other channels or else no one will see it. On Instagram, there are hashtags, geotags, and the Discover section to increase your chances of being found. Snapchat content can disappear into the void unless someone knows exactly what to look for.

If you’ve wanted to experiment with Snapchat-style content without making the leap, this is your chance.

But will it stick?

It’s worth noting that Stories is the complete opposite of Instagram’s current value proposition. Each social network has its differentiating factor, and Instagram has always been a place to showcase the most beautiful, curated version of your life. Stories is at the other end of that spectrum: ephemeral, unpolished, and silly.

And the way we see it, Stories is part of a larger shift we’re seeing towards ephemeral content — a format that Snapchat has seen a ton of success with thus far. Now, rather than painstakingly adjusting the colors and shadow on each picture, Instagram users have the opportunity to embrace and create content that’s transient. As a result, the stakes aren’t as high — especially considering Stories can’t even be “Liked.”

Between the lack of public feedback and the time limitations, Instagram Stories take the pressure out of sharing content on the platform. So regardless of which platform ends up leading the pack, the popularity of ephemeral content won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

So can these two conflicting ideals live in harmony within one platform? And if so, will users adopt Stories and abandon Snapchat?

Chances of Stories catching on is much higher because it’s housed within the Instagram platform, and not the Facebook platform. The demographic overlap between Snapchat and Instagram makes it much more likely users will simply migrate their goofy stories to the other platform. But only if Instagram gets on the facial recognition game, and quickly. Millennials love that puppy filter.

Are you experimenting with Instagram Stories? What do you like? What don’t you like? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

how to use instagram for business

HubSpot Marketing Blog

How to Run an Instagram Contest: A 10-Step Guide


With 400 million monthly active users and more than 80 million posts per day, Instagram has established itself as an obvious platform for brands looking to expand their reach and engage with their audience.

Figuring out how to launch a successful Instagram contest, however, is much less obvious. Sure, it sounds like an effective strategy for stirring up conversation — it capitalizes on user generated content (UGC) and typically requires very little commitment for participants. But where do you start? And how can you be sure that you’re covering all the bases? Download our free introductory guide to A/B testing here. 

To help give you some direction, we put together a detailed list of steps to run through when planning an engaging Instagram contest. From setting goals to monitoring submissions, we’ve covered all of the basics below — and we’ve included some inspirational examples along the way. Check it out …

Disclaimer: This blog post includes some information on legal issues surrounding internet marketing, but legal information is not the same as legal advice — applying the law to a specific circumstance. We’ve conducted research to better ensure that our information is accurate and useful, but we insist that you talk to a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is accurate. In a nutshell, you may not rely on this information as legal advice, nor as a recommendation or endorsement of any particular legal understanding, and you should instead see this post’s info as for entertainment purposes only.

How to Run an Instagram Contest: A 10-Step Guide

1) Plan objectives and goals.

Before you dive into a contest, it’s important to plan it out first. The key to running a successful contest is to have a purpose — one that aligns with the interests and behaviors of your target audience.

Whether you’re looking to grow your brand presence on Instagram or build out your list of followers, it’s important that you set a specific goal so that you’re not left wondering whether or not you were successful in the end.

To help narrow your focus, think about the audience you’re trying to reach: What kinds of posts do they like seeing on your account? What kinds of posts do they enjoy posting on their own feeds? How do they behave on the platform? If you’re looking to drum up a lot of engagement, you should aim to center your goals and purpose around content that your audience actually wants to post and engage with.

Don’t forget to establish a time frame and budget for your contest, as determining these logistical details upfront will help you design a more effective contest.

2) Create an entry method.

Although the most effective and engaging Instagram contests are those that actually prompt your audience to post their own photos, there are number of different ways brands can create contests on Instagram. Because of this, it’s important to establish and emphasize what it takes for your audience to actually enter the contest.

Here are some ideas for how your audience might enter your contest:

  • Have your audience post a photo or a video to Instagram with a specific hashtag and a specific theme.
  • Have your audience solely follow you or do so in addition to creating a post.
  • Have your audience tag your brand in their post.
  • Have your audience Like or comment on one of your posts.

Make sure you establish what the guidelines are for entering the contest, and make that clear on your promotional materials. Maybe your contest is centered around a hashtag that doesn’t include your brand name. If you still want your brand to be tagged to gain recognition, you have to make that clear in your rules.


3) Find the perfect hashtag.

A good hashtag is a key to any engaging Instagram contest. Without it, there’s no link between the contest and the content being generated. In other words, hashtags help create brand and/or contest recognition by serving as a mechanism for sharing and driving participation.

Trouble is, creating the perfect hashtag can be tricky. If your contest is going to have a timeframe (and it should), you want to create a hashtag that you’re not going to want to use over and over again. Not to mention, there are tons of hashtags being created each day, making it difficult to land on something unique and catchy.

To help you come up with the best fit, consider these contest hashtag guidelines:

  • Short: Create a hashtag that sticks in people’s minds. The more readable and identifiable your hashtag is, the better it is for your contest.
  • Relevant: Make sure you’re creating a hashtag that is very clearly related back to your brand name, product, or services. If you settle on a generic, crowded hashtag such as #ThrowbackThursday, it’s likely that you’ll have a hard time figuring out who your participants actually are.
  • Memorable: Users are likely to see promotions for your contest prior to actually posting the content. This means your hashtag needs to be memorable enough for users to think about it once and remember to act sometime later. Try to make your hashtag catchy, easy to search, and easy to write. Avoid weird spellings and confusing word choices.
  • Universal: Think about your audience. Does everyone speak the same language or use similar words? If you have an international audience, make sure you’re careful about using slang words or region-specific terms that might confuse people.
  • Rare: Do a search before you choose a hashtag. Are there lots of users using your ideal hashtag for some other purposes? If so, you may want to head back to the drawing board.

An example of an effective, engaging hashtag:

Earlier this year, Mint.com, an online personal budgeting and financial management company, hosted their #MyMintMoment contest.


The contest was well-designed for a number of reasons, one of which is its hashtag. The hashtag — #MyMintMoment — is simple, short, memorable, and easy to understand. It stayed on-brand and had a clear theme.

The goal of the contest was to get users to post about the things they were saving for. Participants posted pictures of tattoos, vacations, weddings, children, cars — you name it.


This is a great example of an effective hashtag, but it’s also a great example of how UGC can be used to drive marketing decisions. Think about it: Mint asked participants to share posts about things they were saving for. Sounds like an easy way to gain insight surrounding the unique motives and interests that fuel the usage of their service, doesn’t it?

4) Clearly define a theme.

Because most Instagram contests are UGC-based, it’s important to pick a theme so your users know what kinds of pictures and videos to post.

Ideally, you want to a pick a theme that aligns with your market, product, or services. But you can also take advantage of holidays, seasons, and events that align with your product or brand.

An example of an effective theme:

Last summer, D Magazine, a city and lifestyle magazine based in Dallas, used the Texas summer heat to create an effective #StayCoolDallas contest. The contest encouraged participants to submit photos of ways to stay cool in the Dallas heat. Submissions included everything from cold drinks at favorite bars and restaurants to fun summer activities.


This contest and hashtag worked particularly well because of the double meaning of the word “cool” — which ultimately left room for participants to get creative with their interpretations. This is a great example of how to make engagement super easy.

While the hashtag wasn’t totally brand-specific, the theme was very much in line with their brand and passion for all things Dallas. And as a result of the contest, they were left with a ton of new material to get ideas for their next issue.


5) Decide how winners will be chosen.

Part of a well-designed contest is informing your participants of how the winner will be chosen. Most contests are determined based on one of two ways: a vote or a jury. Let’s explore how each option works …


A great way to boost the virality of your contest is to have participants compete for the most Likes. If the prize is valuable enough, your participants will likely share their posts with their friends across channels in order to get as many Likes as possible.

This strategy helps maximize your audience’s reach. At the same time, it can be detrimental to your contest, as you run into issues with folks using Like bots” to gain artificial Likes. To avoid any complications here, you’ll want to put forth very specific rules that address the use of these types of workarounds.


For the sake of quality and overall fairness, the jury method is the clear winner. With the jury method, you select a group of experts to decide upon a winner, rather than relying on a voting system.

There are pros and cons to votes or juries, but no matter the way you choose, make sure to clearly state your method so your users know what they’re vying for. Many brands choose to have a mixed-method approach and use a combination of voting and jury to determine the winner.

6) Choose an appropriate award.

When determining what the award for you contest should be, you need to consider your target audience, your budgetary constraints, and how aggressive your goals are.

Remember that by asking your audience to participate in the contest, you’re asking them to take action on something. As with any effort like this, you’ll need the value of the prize to outweigh the cost and energy required to enter the contest. While people might gloss over an opportunity to win a free t-shirt, it’s likely that they’d be willing to jump through a few hoops for something like a free trip.

While your prize should match the entry action, it should also align with the interests of your target audience. Ask yourself: What might my target audience like to have? Your list of answers for this — budget not considered — might be huge. Sure, everyone wants that free trip we mentioned earlier, but that’s not the point. The goal is to find a prize that’s both valuable and relevant to your brand.

Gift cards, free services, coupons, giveaways, and product goodie bags are all common prizes that brands use for contests, but we’re always in favor of getting creative, too.

Example of a creative contest prize:

One of our favorite examples of contest prizes was Sperry’s Photo Real Design Contest. Sperry encouraged users to post “epic photos” that represented an “odyssey.”

Participants then submitted photos of all kinds of things — nature shots, colorful art, real people, etc. — to be judged based on creativity and the number of Likes it received.


The winner that was chosen received a unique pair of Sperry shoes featuring their photo. Talk about a creative prize, right? Not to mention, it served as a great example of how brands can use contests to inspire real product ideas.

7) Create terms & conditions.

Don’t forget that when you create a competition with a prize, you must follow legal guidelines. The laws that will apply to you depend on where you’re based and who you allow to enter your contest, so you should consult your lawyer for help drafting your terms and conditions. Creating a terms & conditions page is a must.

Here are some common terms people include:

  • The name and contact details of the promoting brand
  • The dates of the contest
  • The rules of who can enter (such as age and employee restrictions)
  • The guidelines for how people enter
  • The guidelines for how a winner is chosen
  • The date and way winners will be announced
  • The date and way the winner will be informed
  • The time period the winner has to respond and claim their prize
  • The specific of the prize (including number of prizes, description of prizes, and any caveats)
  • The details of how the prize will be delivered
  • Acknowledge that the promotion isn’t sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram or any other social media used throughout the contest.

Note: Check out Instagram’s Promotion guidelines and make sure to comply with their rules.

8) Promote like crazy.

Now that you’ve got a solid plan in place, it’s time to promote the heck out of your contest.

Where’s the best place to start spreading the word? The possibilities are seemingly endless, but here are a few ideas to inspire your promotion efforts:

  • Your blog. Write a post on your site detailing the contest, and use it as a launch point for your contest’s landing page.


  • Social media. What better place to launch a social media contest than on social media? Direct your existing followers to the contest by including a shortened link in your bio and referencing that link in your promotional posts.


  • Email. Extend the invitation to participate to your email subscribers by sending over a quick and friendly email to announce the offer.


9) Monitor submissions.

Monitoring both your promotional efforts and the level of participation during your contest is essential for meeting your goals and creating a plan to follow up on your contest.

Make sure to determine what metrics you’d like to use and how you’ll keep track of them. Here are some metrics to consider using:

  • Number of submissions – Total number of posts submitted in compliance with your terms and conditions.
  • Likes per submission – Helps you keep track of potential winners if your contest is decided by vote.
  • Number of participants – If users can submit more than one submission, how many unique participants contributed to your contest?
  • Top participants – Who shared the most content during your campaign? Keeping track of this helps you better engage with your biggest fans.
  • Total Likes – Measures the total number of Likes on all submissions in your contest.
  • Total reach – Captures the number of followers of your participants at the time of submission. Meant to show you the potential reach of your campaign.
  • Follower growth during contest – Measure how much your following increased during the contest’s time period.

If your current audience is relatively small, and you don’t expect more than 30 submissions to your contest, you may decide to monitor your contest manually. To do this, assign someone the task of keeping track of submissions each day. At the end of the contest, someone will have to go through each submission and measure and write down the results from each submission.

If you’re monitoring your contest manually, try using a tool like Tagboard or Google Alerts to keep track of when your hashtag is being mentioned online, making it easier to track submissions. (HubSpot customers: You can set up a custom Stream in your Social Monitoring tool to keep tabs on a specific hashtag. Learn more here.)

If you’re expecting well over 30 submissions, however, you can imagine how difficult monitoring your submissions might be. If that’s the case, you may want to explore an Instagram-specific tool such as Iconosquare.

10) Follow up accordingly.

Once the contest is over, you can’t forget to follow up on the rules you set in the first place. Keep your terms and conditions in mind when reviewing the submissions to ensure that you’re being 100% fair in your evaluation.

Again, this is why establishing your terms and conditions early on is so important, as it will provide you with an documented plan for selecting, contacting, and awarding the winner.

Once you’ve selected and notified the winner, don’t forget to make the announcement publicly. Here’s an example of how to do so from D Magazine‘s #StayCoolDallas contest:


Ready to Run a Contest?

Now that you know everything it takes to run a successful, engaging Instagram contest, go put your knowledge to work for your brand.

Not only will you end up engaging and expanding your audience, but you’ll also end up with great new content you can use to inspire future content and contests.

What tips do you have for running a successful Instagram contest? Share them in the comments below.

how to use instagram for business
HubSpot Marketing Blog

Instagram Stops Chronological User Feed and Now Curates Content Instead


This certainly makes sense. Can you keep up with your Instagram feed?

Instagram Ditches Chronological User Feed, Curating Content Instead

Facebook Inc.’s picture-sharing app Instagram said it is reshuffling feeds to display curated content that users would “care” about first. The sequence of posts would be based on the likelihood of interest in the content, the user’s relationship with the person or timeliness of the post, Instagram said in a blog post. On an average, users miss 70 percent of their feeds, Instagram added. Instagram is the latest addition to the growing list of social media platforms reorganizing…
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Seven Tips for Getting More Instagram Followers


Instagram is one of the hottest social sites right now. Here are some insider tips on how to get more followers.

Branden Hampton’s 7 Tips for Getting More Instagram Followers

“I’m Branden and I have millions of followers. I caught on to the social media game early. Now it’s what I live and breathe,” Branden Hampton writes on his site. Hampton is no stranger to the strategies that work for attracting lots and lots followers or creating an engaging audience on social media. In fact, he’s managed to grow some of the most popular handles on social…
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Instagram Adds View Counts to Videos

Facebook wants more advertisers to use video advertising on Instagram in order to compete with YouTube.

Why Instagram Is Adding View Counts to Videos

Instagram is to show how many views a video has received in a bid by the Facebook-owned service to compete with rivals such a Google for advertising dollars. Videos posted on Instagram will now show a view count where the number of likes used to be, similar to the way Facebook shows the number of views on its site and app. The idea, according to analysts, is to attract more brands and content producers – which has been YouTube’s tactic for a while – to platforms like Facebook…
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Instagram Allows 60 Second Videos for Advertisers


Video advertising keeps growing. Now you can promote videos of up to 60 seconds in length on Instagram.

Instagram Rolls Out 60-Second Video Option for Advertisers

While most social-media platforms emphasize their commitment to brevity — Vine’s six-second videos, Twitter’s 140-character per tweet limit and Snapchat’s vanishing messages — one company is hoping to extend attention spans. Instagram is rolling out a new feature for advertisers today: an option for minute-long ads. Previously, advertisers had a maximum time limit of 30 seconds to convey their messages, which is double the 15-second limit users have for their videos.
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Extend the Life of Your Social Media Content

Social Media Content

Managing social media can be a chore for marketers. Always coming up with new and share-worthy content can be very challenging. Here are some ideas on how to extend the life of that content.

How to Extend the Life of Your Social Media Content

Wish you didn’t have to keep creating new content? Do you need a better return on the content you create? Having a plan in place for posting, and repurposing your best content will give your content a longer life and make the most of the time you spend creating it. In this article you’ll discover how to get more value out of your social media content. Here’s the dilemma. Some of your customers and prospects spend their social networking time on Facebook, while others favor…
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Instagram Is Crushing It on Brand Engagement


People love pictures and videos. Instagram is taking advantage of this. Focus on your company’s Instagram account, and use the proper hashtags.

Instagram Is Crushing Twitter and Facebook on Brand Engagement

Getting customers to engage with your brand on social media is gold. And right now, Instagram is the social-media platform that wears the crown. Brands that use the photo and video sharing app, which was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in April of 2012, generally see higher rates of engagement there than on any other major social network, according to a new report. While that is true for brands in most industries, there are two exceptions: consumer products and telecommunications companies…
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