Chapter 3: Setting Up Your Instagram Marketing Tools
In previous chapters, we’ve covered how to get started with Instagram and best-practices for brand-building. In this chapter, we’ll look at tools that will help you become more productive and efficient with your Instagram marketing efforts.
The Importance of Tools
A brief word about the importance of tools is in order. If you want to be effective with any social media marketing effort, you’ll find that tools are indispensable. There is simply too much work involved in managing a social media account to tackle it without the aid of productivity-boosting tools. Add to that the fact that you’ll probably need to manage multiple accounts with analytics tracking and you’ll find that it’s a Herculean effort to attempt all of that heavy lifting without some automation.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to assist you in your digital marketing efforts. Many of them are designed specifically for Instagram.
The Best Instagram Marketing Tools
Here are some of the best tools available for Instagram marketing professionals.
- Iconosquare – For key metrics about your Instagram account, you can’t beat Iconosquare. Do you want to know how many of your followers are in a certain geographical location? Would you like to see your overall growth history of likes and comments? The answers to those questions, and many more, are readily available to people who use Iconosquare.
- Crowdfire – This is a popular tool that will help you answer one, simple question: “Who unfollowed me?” The reason that question is so important is because, once you know the answer, you can begin the corporate soul-searching about why the person unfollowed you and avoid taking actions in the future that might lead to more unfollows.
- Repost – If you want to share a great photo posted by somebody else, grab a copy of Repost. It’s an app that will present your Instagram feed in such a way that, with a few simple clicks, you can effectively “regram” another person’s image with appropriate attribution.
- Hyperlapse for Instagram – Although Instagram supports video, it limits video media to 15 seconds. Hyperlapse for Instagram exists to condense your video into a 15-second timelapse so that you can still convey its essence within Instagram’s tight restriction.
- Layout for Instagram – Sometimes, one photo just doesn’t say everything. You might need multiple photos assembled as one image. Fortunately, the creators of Instagram have created a handy tool that will assemble several photos into one collage.
- Giant Square – You can think of Giant Square as the exact opposite of Layout for Instagram. Whereas Layout for Instagram will put many pictures into one update, Giant Square spreads one picture over many updates in neatly fitting pieces. The point of that is to create a banner that catches the attention of your followers.
- ScheduGram – Wouldn’t it be great if you could update your Instagram feed throughout the day by doing nothing? Well, with ScheduGram, you can. You simply queue up your great photos for posting on a schedule that you see fit, and you go about your work day while the app handles the hard work.
- Tagboard – If you’re interested in looking at posts across social media channels that share a common hashtag, then Tagboard is the app for you. Dubbed as the “social search and display platform,” Tagboard assembles updates from multiple social media sites and organizes them by hashtag.
- Takeoff – This is another app that allows you to schedule your Instagram updates. It will also auto-schedule Instagram posts for you so that they appear at a time when they’re most likely to generate engagement.
- INK361 – There’s a lot that’s offered in INK361. You can use it to find followers, locate the most popular Instagram users, create photo albums, and organize the people you follow into circles.
- Piqora – This is a great app for fetching photos that might be of interest to your followers. The app developer says that it’s “the only UGC search engine that pulls multi-language, geo-based content from Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter.” And lest you think that you’ll be stealing someone else’s copyrighted material, the app offers you the opportunity to secure the rights to the image with a few clicks.
- Tapshop – If you’re interested in using Instagram as an e-commerce site, then you’ll want Tapshop. It’s an app produced by Piqora that will transform your Instagram posts into a shoppable site.
- Hootsuite – Last, but certainly not least, is Hootsuite. It’s a tool so powerful that it deserves its own section.
Hootsuite is a comprehensive tool that enables you to manage multiple social media channels from one, easy-to-use dashboard. It also allows you to schedule posts across pre-selected social media sites based on a custom schedule that you dictate or Hootsuite’s auto-schedule feature. Finally, Hootsuite also facilitates the use of “plug-ins” so that it can adapt to more social media choices and additional features. For these reasons, Hootsuite is considered by many social media marketing experts to be the “go to” option in automation and productivity.
To get started with Hootsuite, simply visit the site and select the plan you’d like to choose. Note that, as of this writing, the Pro plan offers a free 30-day trial, so you literally have nothing to lose.
To sign up, you’ll be asked for some basic information plus an email address that you’ll use to validate your identity. Then you’ll use the tool to set up “streams” that represent feeds from your many social media profiles. These are mini-feeds that will give you an opportunity to like, comment, or share the posts of others. It’s an easy way to practice some karma.
Hootsuite also allows you to post to multiple social media channels with ease. You simply enter your text and image at the top of the screen, and use the box just to the left of that field to select the social media sites where you’d like the post to appear. You also have the option to schedule the post or post it immediately.
Be advised: When it comes to Instagram, Hootsuite posts are not completely automated. Once the post is scheduled to go out, you’ll receive an alert on your mobile device and you’ll need to click a few times before the post is actually sent out. You’ll need the Hootsuite app on the same mobile device where Instagram is installed.
How Often to Post
An important question to ask, and answer, for your social media marketing efforts its: How often should I post on Instagram? This is a fine needle to thread because you want to maximize your exposure online but not flood your followers with promotional material to such an extent that they unfollow you.
The general consensus seems to be that you should post to Instagram about 1.5 times per day. Since you’re not going to be posting half a picture, the real answer is that you should post 1-2 times per day.
However, it’s best to spread out your posts so that they’re not back-to-back. That way, you’re spacing out your marketing efforts and potentially reaching more people.
The Best Times to Post
There will never be an end to infographics and charts advising you about the best time to post on Instagram. The best advice is to follow the consensus but also post at odd times to see if your audience is more amenable to a schedule that’s not in line with the averages.
This is why your tools are essential. Some of them, such as Takeoff, will analyze your post history and determine when you’ve received the most engagements. Then, you can use the tools to auto-schedule your posts for maximum impact.
Tactics for Gaining Followers
Now that you understand the basics of Internet Marketing with Instagram, it’s time to move on to some advanced, clever ploys that you can use to build your following and boost your brand.
For starters, follow the followers of your competitors. Hopefully, you already know who your competitors are (that’s part of market research, after all). Visit their websites and see if they have an Instagram icon on the home page. If so, click that link and make a note of the account name.
Next, launch Instagram on your mobile device. Visit the Instagram profile of your competitor, and note the number of followers at the top. Just click the word “Followers” and you’ll be taken to a list of people who follow your competition.
Now, start engaging with those followers. Follow them. Like their photos. Comment on their photos. Do this for as many followers as you can.
You’ll find that some of them start following you back.
Rinse and repeat until you have a following.
Remember, one of the best ways to gain a following on Instagram or Twitter is to find people who are passionate about something related to your niche and follow them. People who are very enthusiastic about a particular cause or subject are great candidates for follow-backs. Just be sure that your account has a long history of posts relevant to that cause or subject before you start following.
Also, use hashtags to make your posts more. That way, other Instagram users who search for images based on a hashtag will see that you’re offering photos that are relevant to their interests and they’re likely to start following you.
Wrapping it up
Now, all that’s left is for you take the knowledge that you’ve gleaned from these three chapters and start putting it into action. Create your Instagram account, develop a strategy, and start using the tools that you need to build a better online marketing effort with one of the most popular social media channels in the world.