Standout Instagram Feeds
Do These Things Well
- They have a clear mission, philosophy and/or style
- Post quality content
- Post consistently
- Engage others–start and
- Use hashtags to promote & build
or take part in communities
- Are quick to use the latest features
- Serve, don’t just promote
Tips and Resources for
Latest Features on Instagram
Not one to jump on a bandwagon? Don't care about the latest thing? In the world of social media, you should. Facebook, Instagram's parent company, gives priority to posts utilising the latest features.
This is the way they grow the popularity and create user buy-in to their platform. Instagram Live video is the latest big upgrade, and Stories came just before Instagram Live, both in an effort to steal marketshare from Snapchat. Facebook/Instagram have invested heavily in getting users to try video.
Why video? Because video equals eyeballs on each post for longer periods of time. And when your business model rests on advertising revenue, holding the attention of viewers is key to success.
There are Multiple Ways to Connect With Others and Build Engagement on Instagram
DM – Direct Message
Do this with purpose, otherwise, it’s just spam. Just tap the tiny paper aeroplane in the top right corner of your home feed.
Don’t just message saying, “Hey I love your feed.”
Use it if you have something you can contribute to them or a win-win proposal to offer. Make the DM succinct and purposeful.
Comment in a Meaningful Way
“Nice Shot” doesn’t say anything meaningful to the person. “Beautiful – it reminds me of the lighting design on the show Peaky Blinders.” This is an actual comment I left on a famous photographer’s feed and she responded with gratitude.
Using more than four words on a comment helps, the algorithm will see it as better engagement.
Regram or Repost
This is common practice in Twitter and Facebook, sharing or retweeting someone else’s post, but Instagram has not made this easy.
Why repost on Instagram?
If you find an image or info very relevant to your audience, you service both your audience, and the original poster by sharing it. This is an especially nice way to help promote those you follow. Always get permission first, unless they are requesting reposts in their comments.
Reposting can be done by either, taking a screenshot on your phone of the image (normally resulting in lower quality) or by using a third-party app such as Later.com’s Search and Repost feature, or the mobile app Repost offered on both iOS and Android.
The tiny paper aeroplane icon next to the comment bubble, under the image is the “Send To” function. This let’s you send a post to one of your followers with a message.
Tagging someone in the comments on a post is a nice way to give recognition or to otherwise point out the work of someone you admire. For instance: “The colours in this image remind me of @toiledechine 's amazing indigo dyed pieces.”
Hashtags were started by a small group of Twitter users who were trying to identify their group at a tradeshow by placing the # symbol in front of the name. The practice was picked up by others and soon became a ubiquitous way to sort posts by topic or community, like an index for social media.
Every social media expert out there has an opinion about the “right” way to use hashtags. A common argument is how many hashtags are too many? Instagram allows up to 30.
Send a Message on a Story
Because Stories are a newer feature, sending a personal message on a story might get a message noticed more than other messages. But don’t get too excited, most celebrity pages don’t have this feature.
Link in Your Profile
Your profile allows one link. Be sure to use that link to give people an easy way to learn more about you and your business. Most people logically use the link for their website address, but you may want to have a special web page that you direct to just for Instagram followers.
If you write regularly on a blog or release articles, you can use a tool such as Link In Profile by Later.com. to direct followers to multiple links, not just one. Read more about “Link in Profile” in the Tools section.
Or use the free app Linktree. Linktree gives you a URL for your Instagram profile that will go to a page of links directing followers to any URL you like. I've used it on my jigcreative Instagram account to show you an example.
Scheduling & Analytics Tools
The list of Instagram tools out there continues to grow. I've chosen the following because they're not difficult to learn and if you're serious about Instagram, using one of these will save you time.
Later.com (free or paid upgrade)
Later is a tool developed for Instagram users to schedule posts and collect data about their account. It will also help you manage your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest account. Later offer a free version so it’s easy to test out and see if it suits your needs. However, many of their most useful features are for paid-only accounts.
Content will not post automatically, instead you’ll receive a reminder at the scheduled time and it will open in Instagram ready to post.
Here's a quick video show how easy it is to batch upload photos to use for posting.
Preview App (free or paid upgrade)
This is a mobile-only app. There is a free version with in-app purchases for upgrades. Preview allows you to preload images for your Instagram feed and preview how they'll look in your feed, similar to Later, without the desktop version.
Although Preview is only available for use with Instagram and only on mobile, it offers editing and filters that Later does not. This could be a better option for those wanting a free, all-in one tool for edits and uploads.
Hootsuite (free or paid upgrade)
Hootsuite is a tool for multiple platforms, more recently, Instagram was added their service. Hootsuite allows users to track conversations in addition to scheduling. It's a great tool if you want to monitor what is being said about you and your business.
If you already use Hootsuite for other social media platforms then it might be the tool for you. If you don’t, it’s not the easiest to navigate, and will take a little more training to get up to speed using. This app is feature-rich, so you may feel it's worth the time investment.
Iconosquare (Starts at $81 a year)
Iconosquare offers scheduling and tracking features though there is no free version, to test it out you'll need the 14 day trial.
Like Hootsuite, Iconosquare is more than just a scheduler, it allows you to have conversations from the app and offers in-depth analysis, but this one is Instagram specific. In addition, it monitors Instagram trends, such as hashtag popularity and competitor performance.
This tool is for those who want to become serious Instagram marketers, not part-time users.
Photo Editing & Video Apps
There are hundreds of apps available, these are the only apps you'll really need. If I were to choose just one, Snapseed is very full featured and easy to learn.
Snapseed (Free, iOS and Android)
This is by far the most complete and simplest editor I’ve found. It’s available for both iOS and Android phones. It’s always been a great editor but when Google acquired it the app improved it’s User Interface even further.
Camera+ (Free, with a paid Pro option, iOS only)
NOTE: There is no Android version, but Open Camera looks like a brilliant alternative for Android users.
Camera+ is a great app for extending the camera features of your humble mobile phone.
My favourite feature is the sliding exposure tool. This tool will help you quickly set the right exposure regardless of time of day or weather.
Here's an example. The photo below was taken while I was out walking at around 1pm. While the lighting was nice in the shade, my images were still overexposed using the built in iPhone camera app. I switched to Camera+, adjusted the exposure, then shot the photo again.
The difference, the white areas aren't over exposed and there's more overall depth helping draw the eye in.
A nice photo editor and filter app for those who want to get arty with their smartphone photography. It’s a favourite among serious photographers but the tools may feel a little foreign and take some getting used to.
A Color Story (American spelling)
Another photo editor and filter app. This app is for getting playful with colour in your images. If you're going for a bright and cheerful look, this could be a great app for you.
Hyperlapse from Instagram
This app will allow you to speed up video at varying speeds, great for start to finish progress video.
Later.com has some great articles on their blog. Here are three well written how-tos.
More About Stories
Another great article about how to use Stories, on The Verge.
Social Media Examiner Website
I don’t love the juvenile design of the Social Media Examiner website, but the design doesn’t detract from its usefulness. It’s a good source for keeping up-to-date with the lightning fast changes in all things social media.
A variety of “experts” write for the site so you get a cross-section of information and opinions in common language, no need to be a techie. Social Media Examiner also offers info in various channels – blog posts, podcasts, webinars, and reports. In the “Browse Categories” search box type Instagram and a list of articles will pop up.
It can be tricky to know what advice to follow and often opinions are conflicting. Here are a few ways to learn more about Instagram as well as some trusted training platforms.
Instagram Help Pages
Instagram has it's own support pages where you can read step-by-step instruction, but they aren't visual, which is ironic.
Instagram Press Pages
The Press Pages is where to find announcements and information about the latest features.
Observe what others in your industry are doing. Read conversations in the accounts of businesses who share your audience. Ask yourself what might your customers gain from visiting your feed and how can you creatively engage with them.
It’s now inexpensive to take online courses for just about anything. Three affordable course providers are Udemy, Skillshare and Lynda.com – but keep in mind that Instagram changes so rapidly that any course older than 6 months may be of little value. If you find a course you like that’s older, be sure the instructor has added an update.
If you want to learn it, chances are someone’s made a tutorial video for it. Just click “Videos” after you perform a Google search. I typed in “Learn Instagram for business” and nearly 3,000,000 videos popped up.
Here's an example of an Instagram Basics "how-to" video found on YouTube.
People & Businesses Mentioned,
Watch and Learn
Ian Barnard @ianbarnard
Cathy Cullis @cathycullis
Swallows and Damsons Florist @swallowsanddamsons
Mark Bustos @markbustos
Katie Coston @illyriapottery
Riverford Organic Farmers @riverford
Sole Survivor Shoe Repair @solesurvivorshop
Kiffanie Stahle @kiffaniestahle
Tamsin Ainslie, @thetinydeliciousartshow
Lisa Congdon, @lisacongdon
Crystal Moody, @crystalmoody
Helen Dardik, @helen_dardik
Aaria Baid, @surelysimplechallenge