Did you hear the big news? Instagram recently unveiled several new features that are making its users all giddy.
For those uninitiated, Instagram finally updated its system so that users can edit captions on their posts – previously this was a head scratching limitation. As the press release states, “a typo shouldn’t get in the way” of capturing your favorite moments. The other update was improvements to the Explore page which now features a ‘Photos’ tab and a ‘People tab. This will make it easier for you to find the accounts that you think are more interesting or relevant.
Even without these new features, Instagram was already an established powerhouse. For example, it has over 200 million monthly users who share 60 million photos everyday. For marketers, however, the power of images is the most appealing reason for joining.
It is no secret that social media users are crazy about pictures. In 2012, Socialbakers reported that 85% of the most engaging content on Facebook are photos. One year later, that percentage increased to 93%! In short, if you’re not creating visual content, you’re missing out on a big opportunity to connect with your audience.
If you want to take advantage of the new Instagram features – and the power that visual content has on social media – for your business needs, here are 10 recommended platforms and apps to give your Instagram campaign a major boost.
1. Collecto (formerly Followgram)
If you’re an Instagram power user, then you’ve most likely come across Followgram in the past because it’s just awesome. This amazing platform gives you the ability to boost your presence on Instagram by providing stats on your account and a dashboard with the most recent images from people/brands you’re following. This gives you the chance to engage with influencers and your audience from Collecto’s dashboard
What really makes Collecto amazing, however, is how easy customization. For example, you can create and collect custom photos albums, receive a vanity URL to display your albums, and even take personality quizzes.
Collecto offers three separate plans. There’s a free plan – which offers the RSS feed, stats, and up to five custom albums – as well as Pro (around $12 a year) and Brand ($210 a year) plans if you want to take advantage of the additional features.
2. IconoSquare (formerly Statigram)
Another popular Instagram platform that has changed names recently is Statigram. Despite the name change to IconoSquare, this is still a top-notch platform for managing and improving your Instagram account. This is achieved by offering tons of stats, including the number of followers you’ve gained or lost within a week, growth history of comments/likes, best time to share images, and what your engagement has been like over the last month.
Other features include a viewer for easy navigation through images/videos, the ability to run a contest, and management of conversations – for example, you can direct messages through Twitter. Perhaps the best feature is how convenient it is to promote your content onto other social media accounts. You can install a photo widget to allow your Facebook followers the chance to see your content even if they aren’t on Instagram.
Just sign-in using your Instagram account information and you’re ready to use the beneficial features of IconoSquare.
3. Ink 361
Ink 361 is another incredible platform that you should be using for your Instagram account. Like Connecto and IconoSquare, Ink 361 can be used to organize your images into albums – which can also be used to share with non-Instagram users – and you can even set-up alerts for your followers. There’s also stats that you can analyze, a Facebook page app, a Facebook timeline cover photo generator, and Twitter background generator that use your Instagram images.
However, the most promising feature is the ability to make meaningful connections. You can do this by exploring the profiles of the people who you are following. After logging into your profile, you can view the profile description, their latest five images, and their follower stats. This is a great way to discover influencers and users that can help you network on Instagram.
4. Search Instagram
Search tools are kind of important when a business wants to connect with its audience or attract new followers. That’s where there are a wide range of tools, like Google Alerts or Social Mention – that clue us in on trending on social media. But, what about discovering what’s trending on Instagram?
Search Instagram gives you the ability to search for images related to your industry by either hashtag or location. Just type in the keyword and see what kind of content appears based on your search query. You can also hover over the selected images and see how popular they are by viewing the amount of likes it has received.
Unlike other social media platforms, it’s been challenging to schedule Instagram posts in advance – apparently this has something to do with not being allowed to upload via the API. In other words, you can’t use scheduling tools like HootSuite, Buffer, or IFTTT to automatically post content onto Instagram. While there have been some tools that have assisted with this, Post So was a popular choice but you have to pay for it, TakeOff is a free application that can help solve this problem.
TakeOff comes from the developers of JustUnfollow – a very cool management tool that notifies you of your followers and non-followers. You can use TakeOff to schedule Instagram posts in advance by selecting the times when your followers are most active. So, if your followers are sharing your images at 9am, 12pm and 6pm, then you can schedule posts for those times. TakeOff will also suggest relevant keywords for your caption based on the image description.
TakeOff may not have completely solved this problem – it won’t automatically upload the images, instead you receive notifications, and it’s still in beta – this is a promising app that should be able to help boost your Instagram account.
Have you ever wanted to monetize your Instagram images? Now you can by using Like2Buy from marketing and analytics firm Curalate. Essentially, you display your products through Instagram-inspired images, customers click on the products they like and are taken to item page on the retailer’s website. Nordstrom and Target have already jumped on board, which probably means that Like2Buy may be out of the range for a lot of small businesses.
If that’s the case, you may want to like into other platforms that can help convert your Instagram images into profits. For example, there’s Inselly. All you have to do is sign into your Instagram account, take pictures of your products, add relevant keywords – along with the #inselly tag, and sell your products . Best of all? Inselly doesn’t take any commission and you get paid via PayPal – who will unfortunately take a cut – which makes this tool convenient and easy-to-setup.
7. Websta (formerly Webstagram)
Websta is another powerful platform that can improve your Instagram account. While it provides the usual suspects of features like stats, web viewer and ability to create albums, it also features a number of other unique options, such as search tools, a Follow Me button, and Repost This.
On top of these useful features, it the community that Websta has to offer. There’s a blog where Instagram users can interact and seek advice, a board to organize posts into groups and the ability to send direct messages to Instagram users.
Don’t be confused if you thought that Twtrland was used only for Twitter. Originally, it was. Today, however, this platform can also be used for Facebook and Instagram to spice up your online presence. This is done by entering a simple search of a name, location, or skill. The results will give you a profile of the company/individual, how influential they are, and what their top content is.
You can use this information to discover important information – such as audience demographics – in order to effectively target your fanbase. You can also use this tool analyze your competitors. For example, you can see what kind of content they are posting and who they interact with. It’s a fairly simple way to discover and influencers in your niche.
If you weren’t impressed with the scheduling capabilities of TakeOff, then consider looking into Latergram.me – no this isn’t related to #latergram – when post an image to Instagram at a later date. This app has an impressive interface containing a calendar where you can easily drag over the posts that you wish to schedule from your desktop or mobile device. You can even schedule Facebook, Twitter, and text messages whenever you want to push a piece of content.
The Latergram app is available for free – all you have to do is sign-in with your Instagram account – but there’s also a premium version that allows up to two members, the scheduling of 250 posts per month and the ability to search Instagram if you need to “regram” a post.
Speaking of regramming, you should make use of this pretty neat app – which is available on both iTunes and Google Play. You can repost your favorite images and videos on Instagram while still giving attribution to the original Instagrammer. In fact, that’s pretty much it. Find an image and repost it. It’s kind of like retweeting on Twitter.
Repost also gives you the ability to select the filter of your liking, as well as where to position the attribution button.
This is a great way to like images, discover new Instagramers and the ability to build a community by engaging others users.
With the latest updates and improvements with Instagram, we can all expect the photo and video sharing social network to continue its impressive growth. In fact, with Instagram paying attention to the wants and needs of its users, don’t be shocked if this growth exceeds expectations.
If you marketer who uses Instagram, what are your favorite apps, platforms or tools that you rely one?
Featured Image: Pixabay
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