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instagram for Your Business
Instagram, in case you've been living in a social media-free cave, is one of the hottest platforms available today. It is a visual social networking app that allows you to share pictures and images straight from your smartphone. While most people use it to share pictures of their dinner or their kids latest antics, it has, in fact, become a very popular platform for businesses to use to connect with their target markets. If you aren't familiar with Instagram go here to find out the low down.
I started taking Instagram seriously about 4 months ago and in that time I've played around with quite a few apps to try to make the creation of my posts and images as painless as possible. I'm busy y'all (5 kids will do that to you) so making graphics tends to happen on the fly or in those rare moments where I get a bit of inspiration and power through to create them in bulk (this is hands down the best way to do it but I struggle to get the kids to leave me alone long enough!). Long story short in my experimentation over the last few months these are the tools and apps that I've found that have made my life a lot easier – and helped me to organically double my following in just a few months.
I kind of have an arsenal of tools I use depending on my mood but these are my favorites some are desktop tools and others are for your phone – I use all of them at different times depending on what I'm trying to create.
Stencil – Stencil is a great desktop graphics creation tool it comes with well over 600,000 images you can use straight from the site or you can upload your own. It also has a huge database of quotes built in so you can seriously have a graphic done in 2 minutes! What I also love about Stencil is that you can preview your posts, it has all the sizes for all the different platforms built in (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.) and my absolute favourite feature is that you can create on your desk or laptop and then text the image to your phone for easy upload to Instagram – this is huge because with other graphics tools I had to save to Dropbox then download to my phone – a bit of an effort but with Stencil it's so easy! You can check it out by clicking on the image below and check out all it's great features – there's even a free trial so you can see if it fits your needs!
PicMonkey – This is another fantastic desktop graphics tool and even has an app so you can use it from your mobile device. It's very affordable and easy to use with great tutorials available so you can be a pro in no time. I love to use PicMonkey to resize pictures, change colors and add fun graphic overlays and I love that I can upload my favorite fonts. Check out PicMonkey Here
Canva – I adore Canva and probably use it the most out of the four I'm listing here. What I find most useful is that it saves all my creations and I can reuse them and edit when I need to. Canva has pretty much everything you need to create amazing graphics for Instagram or any other platform that you need. It has a whole library of free images plus the option to purchase licensed images for only $1. Because I have branding with my blog and business I've upgraded to Canva at Work and I am completely in love with it – so check it out there is even a free 30-day trial. They also have fantastic support, tutorials and a blog with great tips and ideas. There is also an iPad app which makes it handy for on the go as well.
Design Wizard- There is a new kid on the block and you are going to love it! Design Wizard recently launched and I've been loving playing around with it! There is a free level that allows you to create, a small amount of storage and you can pay only for the premium images and templates you use (there are lots of free images too). The paid versions give you more storage for your works plus access to the premium images.
I really love their templates there are some great options and they are updating them all the time. It's a similar interface to Canva but gives you more options even with their free level. You definitely should go and check it out!
Phone Apps for Graphics
I'll be straight and to the point here – there are a tonne of overlay and graphics apps and I've tried a lot of them but when it came down to saving space on my phone – I deleted all of them except Wordswag it's available for both Android and iOs and with it's recent revamp it's my go-to app for making my graphics on my phone and on the fly. It has a whole boatload of copyright free images available along with great overlays and bells and whistles to make great images. Go and check it out if you aren't already using it.
If you've been using Instagram for a while you'll know that you can't put clickable links in your captions for your photos – you get one place to put a link and that is in your bio. For some people this in no big deal, but for bloggers and direct sellers/businesses, who may want to switch up their link every day, or even several times a day, it can be a pain. Enter: Link in Profile.
After you link your Instagram account to Link in Profile, you only need to do two minor things to each Instagram post:
- Include the web URL that you want to associate that post with, in the caption – so this can be a link to your blog post, facebook page or the webpage of a product.
- Direct your audience to click the link in your profile to check it out.
Link in Profile will monitor your account for links, and will associate the link on your caption with the particular photo it appears under. When someone actually goes to click the link in your profile, they’ll be taken to your Link in Profile feed, which is a stream of your Instagram images. Each image is clickable… straight to the link that was in the caption for that photo. When you log in to your Link in Profile account, you can also see how many people have clicked on your link, so analytics are there too!
This is super helpful for bloggers that want to send you straight to a recipe, tutorial, or most recent blog post. It it's even more amazing for direct sellers/businesses that want to make their feed more “shop-able.” After the 30 day free trial, the tool costs $9.99 per month. If you really want to make it easy to drive traffic outside of Instagram it's well worth the investment. Below is a picture of my feed – when someone clicks on the link in my profile they are taken to this page and then they can click on the photo that they were interested in and it takes them straight to the outside link associated. This means I never need to change the link in my bio and it gets rid of the problem of having posts that say ‘link in my bio' and it taking them to something irrelevant because you've changed your link to something else!
If you really want to be found on Instagram you use hashtags (if you want to find out why check out this post) I’ve loved Hashtagifyme from the beginning, but this mighty little app is even more helpful than ever, since Instagram quietly got rid of the “Trending Hashtags” section of their Explore tab. Hashtagifyme helps you identify trending and popular hashtags on Instagram. It also suggests related hashtags, and allows you to copy your selected hashtags (up to 30) to your clipboard, and paste them elsewhere. You can paste them directly in to Instagram, or put them in Evernote or some other note app for later or check out this handy hashtag hack you can use on your phone. Another great app I use is Grama.
I've also created a handy hashtag library you can check out here.
Create multi-photo “grids” with Giant Square. Each Instagram account’s “grid” (the 6-9 account photos that are visible when someone clicks over to your profile) is a uniquely individual and creative place. If used correctly you can create an amazing look to your feed. One of my favorite accounts to use as an example is @twigyposts – a stock image website. Instead of posting just a singular image in each post, she creates a giant collage of her stock photography, and posts just pieces of it each day. The end result is beautiful (see below). You can even create some suspense using this method so that people want to check in and see what you are creating!
A Color Story
A Color Story is like the ultimate photo effect power app. Not only does it have some amazing preset filters that you can use on your photos, but also photo editing tools, and some pretty cool effects like flares and color fogs. The coolest feature is that when you are done making changes to your photo, you can save it as your very own custom filter. One way to create a cohesive look and feel on your Instagram feed is to use consistent filters or photo lighting. A Color Story makes this so easy, and it’s unique to YOU. Not one of the filters being used by millions of other people on Instagram each day, if you really want to set yourself a part A Color Story could be for you!
Ok so Postagram, isn't actually for your feed but it is an amazing way to use your Instagram account offline and create a cohesive marketing message consistent with what you are doing online. With Postagram, you can send your Instagram photos as physical postcards through snail mail. For many small businesses, the personal touch is a way to differentiate. Can you imagine following up with a recent customer to send them a coupon code for their next purchase or thank you for hosting a party? Instead of including the coupon code in the package with their order, maybe you could send them a postcard a week or two later. And how about the opportunity to re-purpose your Instagram photos and use them elsewhere? Heck yes! You spend a lot of time making the perfect graphic and this gives you one more place/reason to use them.
I hope you find these tools helpful and if you have any tools that you love – please share them in the comments I love finding new things to help make my online social life easier!
Don't forget that part of making you Instagram feed work for your business is building it around your ideal customer – if you want help with that, make sure you Download my free workbook.