How to Use Instasize to Create a Cohesive Brand on Instagram

Growing an engaged following is the goal of any successful brand looking to market itself on social media. A big part of drawing potential followers and connecting with them is your visuals. That’s why Instagram is such a powerful tool for marketing your brand.

Not only is the app intensely visual in nature, but with over 800 million active users per month and one of the highest interaction rates of any social media platform, it is also one of the most effective ones out there. That’s the good news.

The challenge, however, is getting your brand to stand out amid a veritable jungle of competing accounts. We’ve already talked about the different ways you can develop your brand’s voice on Instagram, so now let’s discuss another important aspect of marketing your brand on the platform.

One of the best ways to grab and keep the attention of your prospective followers is to make browsing your feed a visually pleasurable experience that they’ll want to keep coming back to. A well curated feed with posts transitioning beautifully into each other is what you should aim for, and one of the key elements to achieving this is design consistency.

A consistent, cohesive look across your entire feed is not only appealing to the eye, it highlights the care and though you put into your brand. It may seem like a complex challenge, but achieving a cohesive brand isn’t actually that difficult with a plan in place and the right tools.

The first thing to keep in mind is that people look at your Instagram in two different ways. They see your posts individually on their feeds, and they also see them all together in a layout when they visit your profile. Visually interesting posts tend to get people to check out your brand’s profile.

It may take people seeing your posts a few times to get them to check out your profile. Having a consistent and appealing look across your posts will help potential followers recognize your content when it pops up.

Once you interest them enough for them to take a look at your brand’s profile, that’s where they usually decide to follow you. Having a cohesive and appealing look across your posts guide potential followers to this point, which is why a good image editing app like Instasize is such an indispensable tool for anyone looking to market their brand on Instagram. Let’s check out how Instasize can help you attain that cohesive aesthetic for your brand.

The quickest way to find a unified theme for your brand’s feed is to experiment with filters. Instagram has a modest selection that may suit your needs, but if you want your brand to stand out you’ll need a wider selection of filters.

Instasize’s extensive library of filters are a great way to easily apply a consistent but unique look across all your images if, like most of us, you don’t have an extensive background in photography.

Serious brand marketers can gain access to even more exclusive filters by availing of a premium membership. No matter how you want to project brand, there’s probably a theme that conveys it perfectly. If you’re going for something dark and broody, you can try out the A2 filter from Instasize’s Amber collection. Or you can go for a more cool and wintry look with the Spruce collection.

For something on the more light and bright side, why not try H2 from the Havana collection or the M2 and Arya filters?

Dramatic black and whites are more your thing? The app’s Radio and Nova features can give you that serious, dramatic tone.

Don’t forget that you can tweak a filter’s settings to really get a look that’s right for your brand. Once you feel more comfortable editing the settings of your photograph, Instasize lets you create your very own look by changing image settings such as Exposure, Contrast, Brightness, and the like.

Maintaining a consistent aesthetic also extends to the text you use to complement your visuals. Everybody knows that text is a convenient way to include link information or the time and date of your next Instagram Live post.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that selecting the right font, color, and style creates an instantly recognizable look. Instasize makes this easy by giving you an extensive set of options for creating the right text layout and style for your brand, all in a single app.

Besides being able to choose from a number of text styles, Instasize also lets you select the color and font applied to the same style without breaking the design. No need to resize and reposition the words, it’s all automated!

These tips should help you start designing your own brand’s unique, cohesive look. Remember, everything about your brand’s look should tell your brand’s story. So choose everything, from the colors, framing, and text styles with care. Keeping this and mind will go a long way towards getting your brand’s message across, and building an active and loyal following.

8 Surprising Ways You Can Make Money on Instagram

Instagram’s popularity has exploded in recent years. What was once a simple photo sharing app has turned into one of the most popular social media platforms around.

People are using it far and wide for a variety of purposes from keeping up with their inner circle to learning about the latest trends. It’s become a place where influencers and brands are welcomed and embraced for all they have to offer.

The key is finding ways to stand out from the crowd and connecting with a devoted audience. If you’d like to earn some social media side cash or even earn a full-time living online, take a look at these eight surprising ways you can make money on Instagram for inspiration.

1. Try affiliate marketing.

It used to be that you had to have your own website set up to promote affiliate products. These days, you just need an active social media account. Because Instagram is so popular, it’s the perfect choice for promoting the products and services of others in order to earn a commission for yourself.

There’s good money to be made by becoming an affiliate. Platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Clickbank and more offer tons of opportunities to find affiliates to promote that fit within your niche and appeal to your particular follower demographic.

2. Become an influencer.

There are influencers of all audience sizes, depending upon your specific area of expertise and interest. Becoming an influencer involves first cultivating an active and engaged following on Instagram, then making a name for yourself among those loyal users.

You don’t need to reach celebrity status with a cult following, just as long as your audience is engaged and has shown they have trust in your knowledge.

Once you’ve established yourself, you can begin to approach brands to suggest collaborations. Depending on your niche and activity level, brands may even begin to seek you out with proposals of their own.

Typically, a brand will pay an influencer for a sponsored post. Rates vary based on size of following and engagement, but you can earn some good money this way.

3. Sell your digital products.

Promoting and selling your own personally created products through your Instagram feed makes sense. Again, it’s wise to create a brand for yourself and cultivate a following by sharing what you know and showing your unique personality.

Once people start to connect with you, they’ll likely be interested in what it is you do and what you have to offer.

You can sell digital products like ebooks, white papers, photos, artwork and printables within your niche. Establishing yourself as a trusted expert within your field will encourage folks to want to know what it is you have to say. There’s quite the market for informational products out there.

4. Sell your physical products.

You can also sell your own physical products, as well. If you use your creativity and talents to make things, why not try reaching an extensive audience through Instagram? Just as with any other product you’d want to sell, it’s best to establish your online presence in order to attract more interest in what you have to offer.

You can sell nearly anything that appeals to a particular demographic. You may need some initial startup costs, as well as adequate work and storage space in your home.

Once you make sure you have all you need, you’re ready to start selling. Instagram allows you to tag items that lead potential customers directly to your website or online sales venue.

5. Get involved with dropshipping.

If you don’t have the startup capital, talent or space necessary to product your own product, don’t despair. There are plenty of suppliers out there who will maintain inventory and even ship products you promote through your online properties.

It’s a no-frills way to make money selling physical products that you wish to promote. You set up an online store, promote products you love and your dropship supplier handles the backend. You’ll earn a profit based on agreed-upon commission terms.

 6. Become a brand ambassador.

Influencers who succeed with sponsored posts and other short-term partnerships with brands may be interested in pursuing brand ambassador opportunities.

This role works in a similar way to sponsorships, but it’s usually for a longer period of time and is more detailed. It’s a real partnership between an influencer and a brand, and it involves significant trust and admiration on the part of both.

In order to be chosen as an ambassador, a company must view you as someone they admire whose image and interests are in line with what their own company values. And vice versa.

You should only look to create such long-term partnerships with brands you genuinely believe in. Otherwise, your audience may see you as fake or as a sellout.

7. Teach what you know.

Influencers who have established themselves as trusted experts within their niche can often make money through teaching what they know.

You can provide this information through webinars or online courses that your audience attends either in real-time or through pre-recorded sessions. Some experts also sell their consulting services to others. Why not profit from your hard-earned knowledge?

8. Sell your Instagram account.

Finally, did you know you could sell your Instagram account? It’s true. If you’ve taken the time and effort to create a significant and loyal following with hundreds or thousands of posts, you don’t want to just shut it down should you find that you’re ready to move on.

There are people and companies who may be interested in profiting from your established hard work and reputation. Your online social media property can be worth quite a chunk of change. There are sites like Swapd who can broker fair deals for you that are worth considering.

These are just some of the ways you can make money on Instagram. Each requires dedication and time, but they’re definitely worth it if you wish to work and earn a living online.

7 Tips for Creating Amazing Instagram Videos

Videos can be used in so many ways on Instagram, and people love them. Add them to your timeline, stick a clip in Instagram Stories or even produce a video ad.

There are tons of possibilities. It’s smart to use them to engage your followers. However, it’s crucial you use them in strategic ways if you want your videos to be seen and shared. Check out these seven tips for creating amazing Instagram videos.

1. Tell a story.

Instagram has become a platform where people expect to learn about the profiles they follow. Sure, it’s used by brands both big and small, but Instagram isn’t all about selling. If you want to truly connect with your followers, it’s imperative that you share stories with them.

You can do this in lots of creative ways. Shoot a video telling about your origins, feature your staff or present a short bio of a relevant figure within your niche. Creating a narrative is a great way to create a feeling of personal interest.

2. Know your objective.

Stories are definitely a fantastic way to connect with an audience, but don’t forget your purpose. This is digital marketing, after all. You’re using Instagram for a reason. That may be to promote your brand, make more sales, present yourself as an expert or gain social capital.

It can even be a combination of such motivations. Know your objective before creating a video so that you can incorporate content that meets your marketing purpose in a way that makes sense.

3. Use subtitles.

A trick to creating amazing Instagram videos is to ensure that they can be viewed and understood without sound. People tend to scroll social media while in public places or at work.

They probably have their device on silent. You want them to be able to watch your video and understand it even without sound. Subtitles are the easiest and most efficient way to do this. However, feel free to get creative and create videos that achieve this goal in other ways.

4. Create how-to videos.

Video is the perfect medium for showing how to do something. You should definitely take advantage of this and capitalize on the medium. If you sell a product, create videos that show how to use your best-selling items or to showcase some of the most relevant features a product offers.

If you’re an influencer or want to promote your personal brand, giving demonstration videos in your niche is a great way to establish your expertise, along with showing off your unique personality.

You can expand on the how-to concept in lots of ways that can hold viewers’ attention and that align with your purpose. Always remember that one of your goals is to meet your marketing objectives in ways that resonate with your audience.

5. Inspire emotion.

The videos that are most often shared by users are the ones that inspire emotion and make them feel something. People want to be moved. They want to laugh.

As social creatures, it makes sense that emotional videos are the ones that people will most connect and identify with. Keep this is mind when creating your story. You’ll also want to think of your brand image when deciding which emotion to elicit and how to go about it.

Be sure your content is in line with your branding. You can do this in a number of ways. Use bold colors, fun topics and modern music to convey a current, hip vibe. Include serene music, stark images and sharp angles to tell a serious story of perseverance and inspiration. Just be consistent in your tone and presence in ways that are reminiscent of your brand messaging.

6. Keep it short.

You don’t have much choice but to keep your videos short because Instagram only allows videos between 15 and 60 seconds long, depending upon placement.

This short time constraint is actually a good thing for social media and this particular platform. People are busy scrolling to see everything their Instagram feed has to offer, so they’ll appreciate short snippets of information they can process quickly.

An added bonus to short video clips is that they help you to stay on message. Stick with one specific topic of focus so as not to confuse viewers. It’s tempting to try to share everything all in one video, but this only muddles your message. Find your focus and be true to it. You can always expand upon the concept in your next video once you see how well this one is received.

7. Stay current.

Creating timely videos related to current affairs or upcoming days of interest are a tried and true way of capturing viewer interest. It’s good practice to stay on top of the calendar to see what holidays or quirky days of recognition might be approaching.

Find a way to make the occasion relevant to your brand and run with it. Clever and creative videos are likely to be shared.

Current events inspire sharing, as well. Making a video that is related to what’s going on in the world shows you’re connected with the bigger picture. Use trending hashtags to help your content stand out. Don’t be afraid to take a stand on issues that are important to you. There will always be those who disagree, but it’s likely they’re not your target audience, anyway.

These tips should get you started out on the right foot when it comes to creating amazing Instagram videos. Don’t be afraid to use trial and error to discover just what goes over with your audience and what might not. Practice makes perfect.

6 Ways to Develop Your Brand’s Voice on Instagram

Social media can seem like an overcrowded jungle with people fighting just to be seen. It’s true that Instagram is one of the most-used platforms out there, so making sure you stand out from the crowd is important.

One of the ways to do that is to develop a consistent image among your followers. Businesses and influencers that wish to gain a loyal following need to develop recognition and a reputation among their audience in order to succeed.

Your brand voice is the tone, messaging and overall aesthetic you bring to everything you do. It should be the same across all medium so that your customers and followers know what to expect. Maintaining this level of consistency can be a challenge. Check out these six ways to develop your brand’s voice on Instagram for some pointers.

1. Set goals.

Modern social media users are savvy. Gone are the days when you could just post cute memes, inspirational quotes and some random photos, then expect to maintain a loyal following. Now the market is crowded, and people curate their feeds ruthlessly. They know what they want, and they expect high quality from the accounts they follow.

That’s why you need a plan, strategy and goals. Defining your purpose for having an Instagram presence should be your first priority. Then you can outline the actions you’ll take to make that happen. When your purpose is clear, you can then create a brand voice to support it.

2. Consider your message and aesthetic. 

Once you have a plan, you can begin to sketch out how you want to portray your brand. Some consider this a theme or an aesthetic. It’s a culmination of all the things that go into creating the type of messaging you want your audience to receive.

So much goes into your brand voice. You’ll need to decide on the filters and colors you wish to use in your images, along with the types of content you plan to post. Those decisions are based on the kind of feelings you wish to invoke in your audience and what you wish them to take away from your feed.

The tone used in your captions and the ways in which you interact with followers is part of your overall voice, of course. Even the frequency of your posts and the ways in which you work to stand out from the competition matter. 

3. Know your audience.

 Having an understanding of your target demographic is crucial to creating a brand voice that will resonate with your followers. Sure, this is bound to change and evolve over time. However, creating an avatar, or ideal image, for the type of audience you wish to reach will help you develop a voice that attracts just such a crowd.

 4. Find your niche.

There’s a place for nearly any interest on Instagram. With so many users, there’s bound to be a large group of people who are interested in what you have to offer. The trick is deciding what that is, exactly. Your niche is a subgroup of a particular category.

Perhaps you’re a fashion influencer. That’s great. Lots of folks have an interest in this subject matter. But you’ll have to be more specific if you really want to stand out on Instagram. What particular segment of the fashion world do you wish to cover? The answer to this question will inform you of your niche.

Do you wish to focus on high-end apparel? Perhaps plus size fashion is your area of expertise. A knowledge of designers will appeal to some folks. Perhaps an inside look at the garment industry and manufacturing process is what you have to offer.

See how specific your niche can be? Knowing your niche will inform your overall brand voice significantly.

5. Maintain your beliefs.

 Do you have a mission or vision statement? What does your company stand for? How do you wish for your audience to perceive you?

What words would best describe how you see yourself? These are all things to consider when it comes to establishing a brand voice. The messages you send to your potential audience  affects how they choose to interact with you going forward.

This messaging must resonate with individuals in order to reach them and to convince them to stick around for what you have to say or offer. It’s important that what you put out there on social media reflects your core beliefs and who you say you are.

Therefore, it’s absolutely crucial that you understand and establish those beliefs early on in order to live them and portray them to others.

6. Remain consistent.

If you want to establish a significant and loyal following, you absolutely must be consistent in your branding. Your look, tone, wording, messaging and overall vibe should be recognizable to your followers.

This helps them to feel connected to you. It can also lead to increased engagement and loyalty when people know what to expect from your brand.

Easy recognition makes it easier to spot you in an overcrowded space, also. Everything about you should be consistent over time.

This is comforting to an audience and instills confidence in who you are. A big part of this familiarity is also about when and how often you post. Keep your posts as consistent as your branding, and your followers will respond favorably.

These tips will help you to create and establish your brand voice. It truly cannot be overstated how important this aspect is to social media success. Implementing these practices will help you build a more active and loyal following.

6 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid on Instagram

When it comes to social media, Instagram is one of the hottest platforms out there, and with good reason. If you want to build or strengthen your presence on the platform, here are six marketing mistakes to avoid while you build your strategy.

1. Using stock photography.

This is a particularly easy thing for lifestyle influencers to use to try to grow faster to get more Instagram followers. While it sounds good at first, the reality is it makes you look like an amateur. The basis of your Instagram account is your real life, even if you do glamorize it and edit it a bit. Stock photography is rarely any kind of indication of what life is really like.

And as a business, stock photography does have its place on your website and in print materials, but not on Instagram. Your audience values authenticity, which you won’t find in stock photography – especially if you are one of thousands of brands using it.

Thankfully, the bar for original social media photography is fairly low, so as long as you have access to a smartphone you can create decent images quickly, without breaking the bank. Taking your own photos with a smartphone will definitely be cheaper than investing in stock photography anyway.

2. Not posting on a consistent schedule.

Posting on a consistent schedule builds trust with your audience. When your following is engaged, they know when to expect new content from you. Many will look for it beyond what shows up in their feed.

Even if it’s just one post a day, whatever you start with, stick with it. Don’t start with three a day, go to one a day, then take a week off, then spam everyone’s feeds with six or more posts. If you do this, you’ll see a decline in your following, more than likely after the spam posts you do to conclude your extended hiatus.

If you need some guidance on the best times to post, take a look at your Instagram Analytics to see when the majority of your engagement takes place. Then, post your content around that time so you know your followers are likely online and ready to engage with it.

You can use a social media planning tool to not only map out your content ahead of time, but even to schedule it to post so that you’re never left wondering what to post and when, or caught without content ready to go.

3. Using bad hashtags.

The more popular a hashtag is, the more people will search for it, and the more people will see your content, and the more followers you’ll get, right? Wrong.

The more popular a hashtag is, the more posts it gets, meaning your photo will only be visible for seconds before it’s pushed out the way to make room for new content that uses it. Plus, you should keep the hashtags relevant to the content and your audience – not just using something because it’s the popular option.

Take time to keep your hashtags varied, because if you’re using the same ones over and over with each post, you’re never exposing your content to new audiences. Relevant hashtags keep you in the recent posts section for longer, increasing the chances you’ll reach an actually targeted audience.

4. Not proofreading your copy.

Even though Instagram is a predominately visual platform, that doesn’t mean you can completely ignore your copy. It should be well written, and tell a story about the image you’re sharing.

It should include a call to action and direct your followers to do something – even if it’s as simple as liking or commenting.

If you don’t take the time to proofread, you could have a profile riddled with errors, which harms your credibility with your audience.

5. Not engaging with your audience.

Without engagement, you’ve got nothing. You can have millions of followers, but if they aren’t liking, commenting, and sharing your stuff, then they aren’t paying attention to what you have to say. You must take the time to engage with them, encouraging them to like and comment, then taking the time to thank them for their effort.

That’s how you build connections, and that’s how those connections eventually become customers. If people are asking questions, take the time to answer them. If people notice their comments are falling on deaf ears, they’ll just stop engaging you.

6. Not following your followers.

When people decide to follow you, make sure you follow them back at least. You do not have to comment or interact with them on their personal account, but taking the time to follow them gives you the chance to get to know them better so you can find out what interests them. You can use the information to get their attention and better meet their needs.

While there are plenty of other marketing mistakes you can make on Instagram and other social media platforms, avoiding these six will surely set you up for success.

By taking the time to create your own quality original photos, researching hashtags that are relevant to your product and audience, engaging with your audience, following them to learn more about them and show you appreciate them following you, and posting consistently, you will be will on your way to Instagram domination.

5 Reasons Why Micro-Influencers Are Vital to Marketing Success

Influencer marketing is on the rise, and while celebrities have an advantage, you do not have to reach their level to be successful as an influencer.

Micro-influencers, or people who have fewer than 100,000 followers – often lower than 20,000 depending on who you ask – are particularly helpful for marketers. Let’s take a look at the reasons why, aside from the fact that they do make up the majority of digital influencers online today.

1. They are more cost effective.

For many brands with limited budgets, it makes more sense to work with micro-influencers because they have significantly lower rates compared to people with thousands, or even millions of followers. Macro-influencers, or those with an audience of 500,000+ tend to charge high fees for sponsored posts. While they can still deliver value, the high fees mean they aren’t a cost effective investment.

Cost effectiveness should be part of your brand strategy, whether you’re just dabbling in influencer marketing or you are heavily invested in it.

If you pay $10,000 for a top-tier influencer to do one post, you won’t get as much from it as investing the same $10,000 in a larger campaign with multiple smaller influencers. You’ll get more posts total, and exposure to a better variety of audiences across the same niche with the micro-influencer campaign.

For smaller businesses that don’t have the budget to even work with a macro-influencer, micro-influencers let them jump in to to compete with the bigger brands, because all that matters is the influencer aligns with their budget and their target market.

2. Engagement rates are higher.

Studies by Markerly and HelloSociety have shown that influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than the top-tier influencers.

Both studies reveal that as audience size increases, engagement rate decreases. Because engagement is a more important metric for brands, it makes sense for them to collaborate with people who they know will get their message across.

Sure, Kim Kardashian may have 135,570,876 followers, but her engagement rate is only 1.96%. Compared to micro-influencer Modern Fit who has 46,076 followers and a 2.62% engagement rate. Higher engagement is always better because it means people are paying more attention to what the influencer is sharing.

Influencers with 100,000 followers have around a 1% engagement rate, meaning only about 1,000 people are interacting with the content. But a smaller influencer with audience of 10,000 followers and a 6% engagement rate puts you in front of 600 people.

While you’re still losing exposure to 400 people, the difference in rate between the larger influencer often means you’re getting a much better per follower/engagement cost than you would with the larger influencer.

3. They’ve got authenticity.

Higher engagement rates generally mean that many followers have been there from the beginning, so they’re invested in the influencer and connected to them personally. Micro-influencers cherish their growing communities, and as such, are there to reply to comments, attend events, and engage their community both online and off.

Celebrities and other high profile influencers are often in high demand and have other commitments that stop them from being so readily available and personal with their following. Let’s be honest – no one really has the time to reply to 300 Instagram comments in a day, so the smaller audiences get more interaction from the influencer.

The other thing that makes them more person is the fact that their audience trusts them, which is not as a common with macro-influencers. Because these macro-influencers are known to regularly work with a variety of brands and consistently take on paid advertising projects, it means the audience doesn’t readily trust all of their recommendations.

4. They’ve mastered quality content creation.

Because micro-influencers are working toward building a macro-influencer status, they are focused on creating quality content their audience loves. They may not have a huge following, but you can bet they’ve mastered what it takes to create quality content.

Whether it’s the written word, imagery, or multimedia content you’re after, you can find an influencer to get the job done well, on budget, and without compromising quality. Instagram influencers are great at visual content, and many of them are great storytellers, using the captions to enhance the photos and videos they post.

5. They’re willing to go above and beyond.

Many brands love working with micro-influencers because they are great to work with. They are willing to go beyond what’s necessary to impress clients and keep them satisfied because they are so grateful for the chance to work with a brand that values them and their audience.

Because they aren’t as busy with other commitments as macro-influencers can be, it’s often easy to reach them via email to communicate with them directly, rather than having to go through a talent manager. Micro-influencers are generally more willing to explore out-of-the-box options, as well.

Micro-influencers are a great way to deliver marketing messages because there are plenty of them out there, and they deliver authentic, natural, and genuine recommendations. They are not affected by ad blocking software so there’s nothing standing between the content and consumers.

The marketers who understand the power and value of engagement in influencer marketing create better, and more powerful marketing campaigns. Leveraging smaller influencers in your marketing strategy allows any brand to succeed.

6 Essential Tips for Making Mind-Blowing Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories came about as a way to compete with Snapchat. It’s a fun feature you can use to string together image and video content to share with your followers. Your Stories will show up for only 24 hours, so folks will be encouraged to check back with you regularly.

Companies and influencers of various levels use this tool to engage their followers and to keep them interested. Using it can have a bit of a learning curve, though. Give these six essential tips for making mind-blowing Instagram Stories a try and see what a difference it makes.

1. Employ editing software to keep your videos short.

Video is a great addition to your Stories. It can be a fun way to shake things up and add real personality. People generally love them. However, Instagram only allows you to insert 15-second videos into your Instagram Stories. To get the most professional and efficient results, you’ll need to use editing software.

By editing your videos in advance, you’ll make sure things come together in a way that’s pleasing to viewers. Editing software lets you crop and splice segments of video together, adding music and transitions to improve the flow.

You can also adjust lighting, change speed and add filters to your videos. Try shooting in portrait mode since most people browse Instagram on their phones. There are a number of software possibilities to consider. Each has their own benefits, based on your skill level and equipment.

2. Use geotags and hashtags strategically.

If you want to gain followers quickly, you’ll want to use geotags and hashtags in your posts. You can do this in your general feed and in Instagram Stories.

Geotags allow you to add a location tag to your post, which can be as specific as a particular building or as broad as the city you’re in. Hashtags can be customized to reflect your specific niche. Both of these are like maps that lead your users to content that interests them.

You have to be careful to use tags strategically, though. There are lots of hashtags mistakes people make when just starting out. Do an Instagram search for relevant keywords in order to start your hashtag research. You can also check out what similar accounts are using to get ideas. Try not to be too vague or broad. The more specific, the better. Don’t forget to geotag your Stories with a location.

3. Take advantage of fun Instagram effects.

There are lots of native effects and features within Instagram that will let you enhance your Stories. You’ve probably seen others use some of them. Discovering which ones work with your content and appeal to your audience can take practice, but it’s well worth it as a way to up user engagement.

Play around with font options such as classic, neon, typewriter or modern. Try the boomerang effect to create fun video loops to add some unique personality and fun. Use text frames to break up the look of photos and highlight your text. Stickers are also a simple and fun way to add pizzazz to your images.

4. Trying going live.

Live video is becoming popular across social media platforms. This feature can be used in a lot of unique ways that really let you show off your personality or your products. Going live in Instagram Stories is a strategic way to engage with your followers in real time and share with them an interesting aspect of your brand.

Try featuring an expert within your niche for a Q&A. Live tours of company headquarters also tend to go over well as a way to give a behind-the scenes view to your audience. Introduce a new product line with a live stream or bring in a popular influencer to collaborate with your brand.

5. Boost engagement with polls and shoutouts.

If you want to gain followers and increase engagement, try creating polls and mentioning individual users with shoutouts. A poll allows you to ask questions about your brand or your industry and to gain feedback from your followers. People like to give their opinion, so why not ask them directly? This will also help you in creating future content that’s relevant to your audience.

You can mention users who are doing interesting things relevant to your brand or those who have interacted with you through hashtags and mentions. Just share that content in your Story and give those individuals a mention. They’ll appreciate it and will likely follow you back if they aren’t already.

6. Feature Story Highlights.

While Instagram Stories are fantastic for gaining followers and increasing engagement, they’re only around for 24 hours. However, you can pull parts of your Stories to be featured in Instagram Story Highlights that are permanently featured at the top of your profile. Another advantage to Highlights is that you can categorize them so that users can peruse which topics are of most interest to them.

You can switch up your Instagram Highlights as often as you wish to keep things fresh and share your latest content. It’s a great way to re-use your best Instagram Stories images and videos in a prominent way.

Keep these tips in mind to improve your Instagram Stories. You definitely want to be using this feature to engage your audience. Take time to find which aspects work best for you and have fun with it.

5 Instagram Trends to Pay Attention to in 2019

If you’re getting serious about Instagram, either as a brand or an influencer, these are the trends you need to focus on and become part of this year. Awareness of what’s going on in the Instagram world ensures you are better able to craft a strategy for growth and engagement.

1. It’s all about micro-influencers.

If you’re just starting out on Instagram, there’s no need to worry about growing your audience to huge numbers before you can start benefiting from influencer status. If you have less than 100,000 followers, you fall into the micro-influencer category, and many brands prefer to work with influencers at this level.

But now, everyone has a chance to become an influencer. Nano-influencers, or those with as little as 1,000 followers are increasing because brands want to work with average users on brand campaigns and sponsored posts.

Why?

Studies by Markerly and HelloSociety have shown that influencers with smaller followings have higher engagement rates than the top-tier influencers. Both studies show that as audience size increases, engagement rate decreases.

Beyond the rise of micro-influencers, we’re seeing an increase in micro-brands. Small businesses that are competing with big retailers and able to do so well because of low customer acquisition costs thanks to social media.

It’s often more cost effective for brands, particularly those that are strapped for cash, to work with nano and micro influencers because they see a clear ROI.

2. Instagram Stories.

The majority of Instagram users use the Stories feature. According to the Preview App, 86.6% of users surveyed use the feature. But, the same source reveals only 36.6% of people watch Insta Stories, while 63.4% watch posts.

This means you should keep the main focus on your posts, but it doesn’t mean you should give up on Instagram Stories. In fact, if you include them in your strategy and factor them into your overall feed aesthetic, you can really make them work for you to increase engagement and build solid relationships.

3. Influencers double down on authenticity.

Social media is all about authenticity. In the early days of Instagram, we saw a lot of posed photos that were over processed with filters. These days are over, as people are flocking to Instagram for more authentic relationships and genuine experiences. In 2018, a new breed of Instagram influencers came to light, those particularly focused on authenticity. Take for instance, Jenna Kutcher, a body-positive Instagrammer who gained more than 500,000 followers in a year, growing to over 800,000 without paying for any of them.

Influencer marketing has grown significantly thanks to Instagram, with global ad spend on influencers expected to reach over $5 billion by 2020.

In 2017, major fashion and beauty brands, such as Revolve, Chloe, and Benefit Cosmetics invested in influencers by sending them on outlandish vacations, all with the focus on selling their products. Though brands are excited about the potential Instagram influencers bring for their brands, users have started to see through the “perfection” and #sponsored posts.

In an effort to keep brand deals without losing followers, we can expect Instagram influencers to become more authentic and personal, even down to discussing their sponsored posts.

4. Dark social hits Instagram.

Dark social may sound scary, but it’s just the term used to describe social media activity that cannot be tracked because it’s private. When someone shares links or posts in direct messages, we see the traffic, but cannot tell where it’s coming from.

Instagram Direct has improved greatly because we can now use GIFs and video chat. It has moved from one-on-one texting to a group chat platform, with many people using it instead of WhatsApp and Messenger.

Because of the tagging, sharing, and reply features on Instagram Stories, it’s easier than ever to start private conversations on Instagram.

This year and beyond, Instagram will continue building features for Direct, and we may see DMs go away from Instagram altogether. It’s possible they’ll spin into a separate app like Facebook did with Messenger.

5. Planning your feed in advance.

Data from the Preview App also shows ⅔ of Instagram users plan their feed in advance. Of those people, 63.5% plan their posts less than a week in advance, and 36.5% plan a week or more in advance.

This is particularly useful for brands who want to ensure their content is ready for various launches and promotions. And it’s useful for influencers who want to make sure they’re following along with a certain visual aesthetic, and continually producing content. Planning in advance also keeps you on track and prevents you from having lulls where there is no new content available to engage your audience.

That said, while many people plan their Instagram feeds, they do not plan their Instagram Stories. Only 21% of people surveyed indicate that they plan their Stories, meaning 79% of people create their stories on the fly. This could be why many people don’t watch Stories. Try planing yours in advance then see how it affects viewership.

No matter what the trends are for 2019 and beyond, one thing is certain. People love Instagram! Preview App data shows that most people spend between one and three hours a day there. If your brand isn’t part of the network yet, you are really missing out. Even if you don’t have a shoppable feed, you can still cultivate relationships to turn casual social media followers into loyal customers.

8 Ways to Hack Your Way Into Instagram Stardom

In the old days, if you wanted to become famous, you had to be noticed by the right people. Usually, it involved lots of hard work trying out for parts in the movies, sending recordings to record labels in the hopes that you would get picked up, or competitively fighting for your spot in pro sports leagues.

However, there’s a new level to fame thanks to the popularity of social media. Instagram in particular is an exceptional platform where you can get noticed and become a star, even if you’ve never been on TV or scored the winning touchdown at the Super Bowl.

But if you want to be an Instagram star, you’ll still have to put in the work to make it happen. It starts with getting more Instagram followers and maintaining a consistent brand to keep them interested. Here are 8 ways that you can take your Instagram account from unknown to stardom.

1. Enter a niche that you love.

First of all, you can’t hope to be successful on Instagram if you don’t have a super-specific niche with a targeted audience to keep you going. Consumers follow brands that they can relate with and that provide high-value in a specific avenue, and if you go too broad, you’ll struggle to reach enough people to become famous.

Most importantly, Shane Baker of Medium says, “This needs to be something you’re passionate about. Something in which you have a good deal of knowledge and interest. Just because someone else is doing something and is successful, doesn’t mean you should too.”

If it’s not something that you’re passionate about, you won’t want to keep it going. You’ll see it as work instead of something you love doing, and your followers will notice the lack of enthusiasm—what a downer.

2. Start with a 10,000 followers goal.

According to Nicole Martins Ferreira of Oberlo, getting started isn’t easy. “Truth is, your first 10,000 Instagram followers are the hardest to get,” she says. “Why? No one knows who you are yet. You’ve still got to prove yourself as a successful brand and influencer.”

Once you’ve reached the 10,000 followers mark, if you stay consistent and use your resources the maximize your reach, getting more followers is a lot easier.

She recommends curating a strategy that include joining Instagram engagement groups, using automation, reposting others’ content, seeking promotional opportunities, leveraging user-generated content, and other excellent strategies for boosting engagement and getting followers to stick to you like flies on honey.

3. Improve your Instagram bio.

Once you’ve switched your personal account to a business account, your bio is essential to making a good impression on followers. However, you only have 150 characters to make this first impression, so you have to make those words count.

When considering what to say in this bio, think about how you would describe your business when introducing yourself to thought leaders in the industry. Use keywords and unique details to make your account searchable and relevant.

Most importantly, include a link to your website or blog if you have one. Consider using software to link to two pages on your blog or changing your links periodically to increase engagement.

4. Let your captions reflect your brand.

While your photos will catch followers’ eyes first, your captions will make them fall in love with you—as long as they’re totally on-brand. Brands with no personality will turn off or even confuse your users. It’s the fastest way to become forgettable or lose followers.

Develop a consistent voice, with keywords, key phrases, hashtags, and inflections that reflect your brand. The consistency will create a sense of familiarity, which in turn creates loyal followers.

5. Evolve with your brand.

It’s not uncommon for brands to shift perspective when they realize that what they’re doing isn’t working and there’s a more successful avenue ahead. It’s okay to make this change as long as you’re willing to be authentic about the change.

“About three years ago, my brand started to shift,” Nicole Loher (@nicoleloher), an Instagrammer who was once focused on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society shared with Hubspot. “I went from being a girl who worked in fashion and beauty, to a competitive triathlete. It wasn’t something I set out to do — it just shifted as my life shifted!”

Let yourself make changes where you need to, but don’t lose the spark that makes your brand clearly you.

6. Get better at photography.

Hubspot also interviewed Chelsea Martin (@passporttofriday), and she said that one of the best things she ever did to spur fame was work on her photography skills. “A professional camera and a great lens could make the difference between a good photo and an amazing photo — which has more potential of being reposted by other accounts, therefore growing your audience,” she said.

A good editing tool and the use of consistent filters can also help you get more Instagram likes. Since the billion Instagram users who are on the platform every single day log on to see great visuals, don’t disappoint with amateur photography.

7. Use Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories is a useful feature for many reasons, but one of the best is its ability to improve your storytelling abilities. It’s probably the biggest trend on Instagram, and for good reason. It increases the chances of engagement with consumers and maximizes your ad spending, particularly since Instagram’s algorithm gives priority to businesses that use this feature.

Stories offers many features, including live video, captioned photos, fresh filters, boomerangs, swipe polls, and more. One of the best features for those looking to increase their fan base is the swipe up feature. If a consumer finds your content particularly appealing, they can swipe up on a story to go to your bio where they can see more of your content.

8. Choose strong hashtags.

Hashtags are being used all over Instagram, so it’s important to have a good strategy to stand out. It’s good to choose hashtags with high search volume, but beware.

“High search volumes imply high competition too,” explains Shane Barker. “So the chances of your post being discovered using those hashtags is bleak. Instead, choose hashtags that have decent search volumes that maximizes your chances of appearing in the top posts. Ideally, use a combination of hashtags varying in search volumes from above 10,000 to 1 million.”

You can also create your own hashtags and encourage user-generated content. When you become even more well-known, users will jump on the chance to publish their own content with your hashtags attached.

A 11 Step-Guide to Running a Successful Instagram Contest

Instagram is one of the most rapidly growing social media platforms out there today — with more than 800 million monthly active users. Compared to just two years ago, that’s more than double their active user growth.

But what’s better than a massive user base is that Instagram has higher engagement rates and overall, less competition compared to other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Running an Instagram contest is a great way to increase your follower account and brand awareness.

Step 1: Consider Goals and Objectives

As tempting as it may be to get a contest idea and run with it, if you want it to be truly successful, you must take time to plan, which means thinking about goals and objectives. Your contest should align with business goals, and fall in line with audience interest and behaviors. The most common Instagram contest goals are growing brand presence and awareness, and increasing your follower count and engagement.

Planning your goals ahead of time ensures you’ll be able to measure how successful the contest was, so you can make adjustments for the next one. In this stage, you’ll determine the metrics you’ll track, and how often you’ll track them – which generally depends on how long you decide to run the contest. Some metrics you may wish to track include:

  • Number of entrants and comments
  • Follower count
  • Engagement levels
  • Website/Landing page traffic
  • Number of purchases
  • Number of mail list signups
  • Feedback – both positive and negative

No matter what your goal, having specifics in mind makes it easier for you to determine how well your contest worked to help you reach the goal.

Step 2: Choosing the Type of Contest You’ll Run

Instagram easily facilitates multiple types of contests, and it’s easy to combine elements from multiple types to create your own. All that really matters is you keep the barrier to entry low because if people have to do too much to enter, they just won’t. That is unless the prize is huge and they perceive the work they have to do to enter worth it.

  • Like contests: Post a picture of your product on Instagram and invite users to like an share the photo. When it closes, choose a winner at random and notify the winner by email. Send the winner free product. Combine this with follows to increase both follower count and engagement.
  • Comment contests: Ask your followers to comment on one your brand’s photos for a chance at winning the prize. You can also vary this one by asking them to answer a question, and choose the best answer to win the prize. This is a good one if getting feedback is one of the goals.
  • Photo challenge contests: This one helps you get user-generated content to use all throughout your social media and marketing. Ask your followers to post a photo with your products and your hashtag on their personal profile. This can also be a selfies contest.
  • Tag-a-Friend contests: Ask your followers to tag one of their friends in the comments of one of your brand photos for a chance to win a prize.
  • Reposting contests: This one helps with brand awareness and increase reach because you ask your followers to repost your Instagram photo on their personal profiles.
  • Voting contests: Let your followers vote on their favorite photos and get a free product or a gift that’s related to the photo contest.

Step 3: Entry Methods

Depending on the contest type, the entry methods may vary. Simply following your account or commenting on a post could be an entry, but you could give participants additional ways to enter, such as joining your email list, re-gramming your post to their followers, or tagging a friend.

Step 4: Deciding Contest Rules and Duration

When it comes to running any contest, but especially those on Instagram and other social media platforms, it’s critical to ensure you have clearly defined contest rules. Plus, you need to know how long the contest will run, so everyone has a fair chance of winning.

It’s entirely up to you how long the contest runs, but the longer it runs, the more effective it will be. Ideally, you should run it at least a week. But, if you want to run several shorter ones, or always keep one running, you can do that, too. Whatever you choose, all that really matters is that everything is clear to your audience.

Step 5: Creating a Unique Hashtag

You want to create a unique (branded) hashtag so you can track entries. If you use something too generic that others are likely to use, then those posts will get mixed in and could mess up your entry counts and analytics as you try to measure the success of the contest. You want the hashtag to be easy to remember and avoid complex or difficult spelling. Keep the hashtag applicable to your brand, services, or products.

Step 6: Selecting a Prize

For best results, choose a prize that your ideal customer would want. This way, you work toward building targeted followers – not just any followers. The more effort the contest requires, the bigger the prize should be. Options include:

  • Gift cards
  • Coupons
  • Giveaways
  • Free services
  • Goodie bags

Step 7: Deciding the Theme

If there’s a theme around the contest, it will be easier to market. Remember, the people participating in the contest are working for you – and if you’re asking them to post content you can use in your marketing, then it helps if they know what kind of content to post.

For best results, choose a theme that aligns with your market, products, or services. Launch a contest around events, holidays, or seasons that align with your band.

Step 8: Determine How Winners Will Be Chosen

Will you use a random number generator? Will the followers vote on the best entries? Will a special team of people you choose on your staff determine the winner? However it happens is fine, just make sure you’re clear when you’re creating the rules and promoting the contest.

Step 9: Promote the Heck Out of It

You won’t get participation in the contest if people don’t know about it. Promote the contest before it starts, when it starts, and periodically while it’s running so people know what’s going on. You may want to consider using paid advertising to promote it if your audience is fairly small at the beginning.

Write a blog post about the contest. Talk about it on your other social media channels. Post it on your Instagram Story. If you have an email list, send out a message to those people to let them know you’re running the promotion.

Step 10: Monitor Submissions and Participation Level

Keep track of all the submissions to make sure they’re following along with the rules. Track participation to see if you need to continue promoting it, or if others are doing a good job promoting it for you.

Step 11: Follow Up, Rinse, and Repeat

Follow up with the winner to make sure they receive your prize. Announce the winner and thank everyone for their participation in the contest. Take a look at the contest entries and all the other metrics you choose to track and compare everything to what it was before the contest started to determine how successful it was. When you’re ready, launch another contest and repeat the entire process again.

Instagram’s promotion guidelines are fairly broad so you have more freedom to get creative with your contests and its guidelines. To improve your chances of success, get creative with the types of contests you use so you always keep your audience guessing. Make sure you’re offering the right prize and using targeted hashtags so you’re building the best possible audience for your brand.