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9 Ways to Kill It on Instagram

If there’s one thing I’ve found while researching the tips and tricks to ‘making it’ on Instagram, it’s that all the articles I’ve read, and all the videos I’ve watched, basically say the same thing, just in different orders.

So what can I do as an article author, to bring something new to the table?

Well, I’m going to go about it a different way, I’m going to be blunt and keep this as grounded in reality as possible, so that if you’re new to Instagram, the first thing you see will be hard coded into your brain for the rest of time, and you’ll have some stable ground to stand on.

1. You need to give it time.

Amazon.com wasn’t built in a day

Jeff Bezos is currently the richest man living on Planet Earth (2018). With a net worth of around $130 billion, he’ll never have to worry about money ever again. The thing is, even Bezos had to start somewhere.

(I’d highly recommend reading The Everything Store by Brad Stone to get an idea of just how driven Bezos is. And yes, I’m seeing the humour in linking to Amazon for a book about Amazon.)

How is that paragraph relevant to you and your business?

Well, the world is fast paced, everybody wants everything yesterday, and you want to start your career right this second – that attitude is good, however, like everything in life, perspective and moderation is key.

If you expect instant success, not only are you not going to find it, but you’re going to get very bored and very depressed, very quickly, and stop.

As mentioned in the first paragraph of this piece, all the articles and videos for growth on Instagram say the same thing, but the one thing I’ve never heard mentioned in any reinforced form, is that growing a following on anyplatform, takes a lot of time, and a heck of a lot of work and perseverance. This work and perseverance is also known as ‘the grind’, memorise that phrase, because it’s going to be the theme in a lot of your early professional career.

They who thoweth the most at the wall, will eventually get something to stick

It’s easy to look at the titans of industry with large followings, and get incredibly deflated. They have succeeded in every way that you want to succeed, with a loyal and engaged audience. But what most of us forget, is that it takes time, effort, dedication, adaptability, discipline, drive, and the occasional despairing emptiness, to achieve that.

Whenever you look at somebody you follow, always check their early work, a lot of the time their archive goes back years. YouTubers like PewDiePieCasey Neistat, and Lilly Singh go all the way back to 2010, Jackfilms even goes back to 2006Outside of youtube, Twitch streamer Richard ‘Ninja’ Blevins has been a professional gamer since 2011, that’s 7 years at the time of writing this article. Brandon Woelfel, arguably one of Instagram’s most influential photographers, with a following of over 2m, has been on the platform since around 2012, meaning that he has had 6 years to build up his audience.

The point is, things take time, you cannot expect instant success, and even when something seems like it came out of nowhere and is now the ‘biggest thing in the world’, there’s likely a lot more going on behind the scenes.

2. Giving value

Why do you consume what you consume? It’s because you like it, and it’s enjoyable to you – it gives value to you.

This is where I feel that the biggest pitfall that countless people fall into, comes from. In order to get any kind of an audience, you need to create content that gives value to other peopleYou need to give people content that they want to see, content that will give them some serious FOMO (fear of missing out), if they don’t follow you.

This is why selfies do so badly when it comes to engagement, not because of any inate hate towards selfies, but because the only people that care about selfies, are the people who take them, and that person’s social circle.

Put it this way: you come across a selfie, you have no idea who that person is, you’ve never seen them before, the selfie is just a standard picture of them, maybe they’re not even looking at the camera, maybe they’re not even smiling. Do you care about this picture? Do you want to see more pictures like this? It’s highly unlikely that most people would, unless you are already extremely well established like Kendall Jenner.

3. A consistent theme

Having a consistent theme means sticking to one specific niche. Let’s take Chris Hau for example. Hau is a travel photographer, his niche is taking interesting pictures in interesting places. Whenever somebody new stumbles across one of his pictures, they may decide to check out his profile to see if they like it enough to follow him. When they see his feed in ‘The Grid’ (we’ll get to why that’s capitalised later on), they will see one consistent theme: high quality travel photography. So now that they know what he’s about, the decision to follow him becomes infinitely easier. They know exactly what they’ll be getting.

It may feel like sticking to one very specific niche is creative death, but you need to remember that you need to treat social media like a business, because that’s how you should be thinking about it.

Now let’s switch things up, and I’ll use myself as an example this time. Let’s say that I didn’t have a consistent theme, instead, I decided to upload anything I liked, without regard to lighting and editing, or my audience for that matter: pictures of my dog, pictures of clouds, pictures of a half empty energy drink, pictures of snow, pictures of my friends and I hanging out – rapidly changing qualities, inconsistent topics, and generally low tier pictures.

That hashtag-surfer would instead come across my image, click on my profile, and see a jumbled mess. That potential follower would see that I didn’t really have any idea of what I was doing, and the decision to not follow me, would be an easy one.

Now there’s nothing wrong with simply using Instagram or social media in general, just for entertainment purposes, if that’s what you want to do. If you want to upload 25 selfies a day followed by 7 videos of your dogs chasing bubbles – have at it. But if you’re going for business, you need to think and act like a business.

Here’s an example of trying to build a business without thinking like a business:

Let’s look at Apple, they make technology, both hardware and software. Hardware in the form of phones, tablets, and computers. Software in the form of MacOS and iOS (and probably WatchOS). If Apple suddenly decided to expand into the travel industry, building airports and flying customers to and from holiday destinations, not only would it be met with an immense amount of confusion by the public, and the person or persons who pitched the idea, fired on the spot, but it would also do something else in terms of public perception: it would be extremely detrimental to what Apple have built themselves up to be, a technology company.

You can still be creative in all the ways you want to be, just remember to only upload the content relevant to your niche.

4. Hashtags

Every article I’ve ever come across, every video I’ve ever watched, has had one thing in common: none of them can agree on how many hashtags are effective. Is it 7? Is it 11? Is it 30? The truth is likely that it doesn’t really matter.

I personally have a rule that every one of my posts gets 30 hashtags, which is the maximum amount that Instagram allows, and plenty, if used effectively. Even if I’m really struggling to find decent quality, decently populated, decently active hashtags, I’ll find a way to get it to 30, because it matters to me to do so.

Think of it like this, each hashtag is a digital marketplace, each marketplace contains varying amount of people looking for a variety of different content, you’d want to maximise the amount of people that see your content, wouldn’t you? So if you’ve got the opportunity to put your content in thirty different marketplaces, you wouldn’t stop half way and be done with it, you’d take every opportunity and throw your content into as many places as you could.

So how do we go about finding relevant hashtags?

First of all, I think the best place to start is in the big hashtags. If you’ve taken your picture on a Canon camera, a good place to start might be a hashtag like #canonphotography, which has 8.5m posts, from the big hashtags you can find the smaller, more niche hashtags.

Next, click on all of the top 9 featured posts, and cherry pick the best ones by click on them and checking their quality, population, and activity: quality refers to the visual look of the images both on their own and in The Grid (yes hashtags can have The Grid as well), population refers to the size of the hashtag, and activity refers to the age of the most recent image(s) submitted. You can check how active a hashtag is by clicking on the most recent post submitted and checking the date. Anything older than say 1 or 2 weeks, I’d consider dead.

Personally I’d stick to using hashtag with under 1m posts, because the bigger the hashtag, the higher the chances that your content will get lost in the sheer volume being submitted.

After clicking on the second image, I’ve come across the hashtag #canonlover, with 96k posts, it’s niche, it looks high quality, it’s got a good amount of posts, and it’s got The Grid, so I’ll use it. Now I’ve got two hashtags, 28 more to go! Rinse and repeat.

When you’re scouting for hashtags, it’s good to remember that your post will be appearing alongside all of these posts, so ask yourself, do you want your content appearing alongside those images? Do they reflect what you’re striving for?

Also to note! If you’re using hashtags in with your captions to form a sentence, remember to count those as well, because otherwise you’ll be in a situation where you count the hashtags at the bottom of your post, but completely forget about the one(s) in your caption, so you’ll go to submit your post and Instagram won’t let you because you have more than 30 without realising!

I’d recommend limiting the amount of hashtags with over 1m posts to around 2 or 3 per post, the ideal Goldilocks zone would be hashtags with between ~3,000 and ~800,000 posts. You can go lower if the hashtag is to your liking.

Finding niche hashtags is simply achieved through hashtag-surfing, I do it every day at around 7:00pm, roughly 1 to 2 hours before my post is due to go up. Those of you who want it the most, will do the same. Every day.

I also think that creating your own hashtag is very beneficial in the long run. My hashtag is #lynxcordeau, it’s the name of my account, and it was available.

5. Hierarchy of Hashtags

Now this is something that I personally do, that many people may not. There’s no practical purpose for it, its purely for aesthetics: I enjoy putting my hashtags in alphabetical order with my hashtag taking precedence over every other hashtag. It’s not just content, it’s my content.

So when people tap ‘more’, the first thing they’ll see will be the caption, and 15 dots down, they’ll see my hashtag. Constant exposure to hashtags can make them just become a block of tightly wound blue links before your eyes, but mine will be easiest to find for the eyes, as it’s on top.

6. Diversification

What I’m doing right now is called diversification, I’m writing an article for Medium, which I hope gets published. It’s an article about Instagram, which I hope will drive traffic to my Instagram, which I hope will grow my audience.

(The value I’m bringing to Medium is that of people who want to make Instagram their full time job. Medium hopes that articles like this are thrown up on the first pages of search engine results, creating more traffic for their website, giving them more exposure, generating them more revenue, and possibly even catching a few people who’ll start writing articles themselves. It all comes full circle. So my goal is to write such amazing content that the editor will get FOMO if they don’t publish my article. That’s my value on this platform. Now we’re getting meta…)

Every article you read about growing on social media, and every video you watch about succeeding in business will tell you a little bit about the author both at the bottom of the article and in the description of the video, linking off to their work.

If you’re doing Instagram or any other social media platform, I don’t care if you’ve been doing it for one day or five years, you need to be doing something else which will expose you to a wider audience. Start writing articles, start making YouTube videos, start tweeting, start a Facebook page, start a podcast (yes, even with just you), start connecting with others, start doing something. If you’re flashy and like attention, print out a bunch of business cards and just leave them around a major city and do a silly dance while having somebody film it. If that sounds like social suicide, utilise something else, like the internet.

Your work should not exist in a vacuum, you should support yourself. It’s really easy to let it sit there , it’s really easy to just upload it to the internet and sit and wait for the platform to do the heavy lifting for you. But things gets better, and you feel so much more in control when its you whose putting your work out there.

Theyeth who want it the most, will never stop trying.

I want it, and I want it badly, I’m sitting here on a hot summers day in the UK, in my underwear, on my bed, throwing things out into the world with this article and my Instagram account.

Start thinking like an entrepreneur, don’t take the opportunity, make the opportunity.

7. The Grid

The Grid is simple: it’s the cohesive look of your feed when viewed as a collective.

This one can be difficult, very difficult, one that I struggle with a lot, and while it may seem insignificant, it’s actually one of the most important aspects of Instagram. Remember, Instagram is a visual platform, your pictures not only need to look good by themselves, they need to look good together.

Let’s take a look at some examples of great feed aesthetic!

Simone Giertz

Peter McKinnon

Amelia Zelenak

Brandon Woelfel

Jessica Kobeissi

Chris Hau

Bodil Jane

Chris Schoonover

All of the people mentioned above create varying styles of content, however, the one consistent thread throughout, is that all of their feeds are visually pleasing, their work looks good on its own, and as a whole.

Some creators such as Vigo Krumins do The Grid in a very specific way. His feed is so centred on one theme that his catalogue can look almost identical. It all depends on what you’re going for. After all, why would somebody want to stare at something (on a visual platform) that doesn’t look nice?

8. Multiple accounts

Instagram comes with a standard feature that allows its users to easily switch between accounts, perhaps you’re a creative person in a multitude of ways, and can sustain producing valued content to multiple streams on a regular basis, if you can do this – do it.

However, if you’re new to Instagram, it might be best to learn the platform before making those accounts and committing to creating a smorgasbord of content, because otherwise you could end up wasting a lot of time and giving yourself a lot of unnecessary stress. Especially when you’re left scratching your head wondering why your accounts aren’t growing.

9. Network

At the beginning of this list I mentioned Jeff Bezos and the book The Everything Store. The one thing that the book showcases that countlessmovies don’t when it comes to the origin stories of successful people, is that they didn’t do it alone. It’s conveniently left out of nearly all media due to the fact that filmmakers – and perhaps audiences as well – love the romanticised idea of one person doing it all while everybody else doubted them.

(Why would you continue to doubt someone when they’ve proven they have the skills and smarts to go far? That’s one thing the movies definitely get wrong. When they start generating profit, investors will flock and you’ll become everybody’s best friend, perhaps even before you start generating profit, if you’re a good salesperson.)

We’ve all heard the story of one person in their garage, slaving away on their work, until somebody notices them, and then they make it. It’s such a romantic version of events and its easy to become intoxicated by the emotion of it: one day you’ll make it, just you wait and see! But it’s actually so so toxic if you actually believe that’s how it happens.

The truth of the matter is that everybody who has ever been successful, is either very good at networking, or they are very good at getting themselves into positions of being introduced to key people. Also a good sprinkling of luck didn’t hurt either.

What would Amazon look like today if Bezos had started 10 years later in 2004, instead of 1994? Would it be nearly as successful? Would we even know who Jeff Bezos is?

Networking in business means meeting/being introduced to the right people, and making a positive impression in the hopes that you can persuade them to invest in your idea. Ideas are scary, ideas aren’t real, ideas are thoughts in your head, ideas don’t make money, ideas don’t have cold, hard data and empirical evidence to back themselves up with.

Why should they invest in you and your ideas? When they look at you, do they see the romance in your eyes? Or do they see grounded reality followed by ruthless ambition? You better learn how to be a good salesperson, luckily we have the internet so you can.

How does this relate to Instagram?

Because you’re a business, you need to think about how to make friends on Instagram, a great way to do this is through DM. DM stands for Direct Messaging. But before you start DMing, I’d suggest having at least 10 images already uploaded to Instagram, images that fit your niche and showcase your skill, otherwise you’re likely to be ignored because nobody wants to interact with an account that barely has anything uploaded, and nobody wants to interact with an account that is barely a few months old.

So again, the grind. Upload everyday. Use relevant hashtags. Follow people who motivate you. Be honest with yourself. Account not growing? Take a look at your content and ask yourself if what you’re doing is giving people value, if not, change.

The best businesspeople can adapt like a gymnast doing a backflip.

But you also need to be ruthlessly stubborn, it’s all about finding the perfect balance. If haven’t thought something out, or drop an idea simply because you’re too soft to defend it against criticism, or you just haven’t started because you’re lazy, you’re not going to cut it. Get teeth. Salivate.

Think of an idea and then try to find the holes. Maybe you have a fantastic idea for a post but you cannot logistically produce it. You don’t have enough people. You haven’t got the space. The weather is bad. How are you going to adapt? Are you going to drop it? Put it away for later? Are you going to find a different way to achieve it? What are you going to do?

Another way to network is through using branded hashtags, and tagging. First of all, what’s the difference? Hashtags are pure categorisation, you put a hashtag on your post, like #canonphotography, and your post will appear in the ‘most recent’ section of that hashtag. If it gets enough love on that specific hashtag, it’ll appear among the top 9. Submitting to hashtags happens in real time as well, so you can refresh once posted, and see your content there amongst the world.

Branded hashtags like #beautyoftechnology allow the account associated to browse through the hashtag and see your work. When you get sponsored, you’ll be doing this a lot for anybody you have worked with, the more you do it, the more you’ll be earning.

Hashtags do not notify new content, they simply place the content in the ‘most recent’ section of the hashtag.

Tagging is slightly more next level, when you tag somebody in your post, a small ‘default avatar’ will appear in the bottom left of that post, much like when you’re a new user to a forum and haven’t uploaded a profile picture yet. You can add as many tags as you’d like.

Tagging will notify an account that they have been tagged in an image. When you start getting sponsorships, you’ll be both tagging them, and using their hashtag (as well as using their physical gear which they send to you for a paid post)

Anybody can see who you have tagged simply by tapping once on your image. Which is good because it means more exposure for everyone involved. Tapping once shows all of the tagged accounts, tapping again gets rid of the tags altogether as well as the ‘default avatar’ in the bottom left, and tapping once more brings the ‘default avatar’ back.

Doing anything like Instagram requires you to be critical of your own work. Can you see what makes a good post? Can you see why that one post sucks so badly? Do you get too attached to your work and then get offended when you ask somebody for their opinion, and it perhaps isn’t what you hoped?

Thinking like a business means both loving what you do, and being able to view it objectively at the same time.

So I’ll ask you, what do you look like when operating at 100%? Start now and you’ll probably surprise yourself with what you can do.

I’m Lynx Cordeau, I do product and tech photography on Instagram, I look good in shades and I like coffee and cats. You can find me on Instagram at Lynx Cordeau.

Have a productive day, peace.

by Lynx Cordeau (@lynxcordeau)

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How to create a theme for your brand on Instagram — Tips and Strategies to get you started!

As Walter Landor once said: “Products are built in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” Successful brands are desirable, dependable, and unique in people’s minds. A distinct, well-crafted brand story is a compelling way to connect with an audience and win their attention.

Distinctive branding stems from having a clear brand positioning and knowledge of who you are as a brand, what’s your personality, and what’s your unique offering. Unlike books with linear plot-lines, brand stories evolve over a period of time and are expressed through multiple channels. Thus, it is important to have a cohesive strategy on how to represent yourself on each channel or platform.

It helps to have a strong thematic visual or content strategy to elevate your game on Instagram. Image, color, symbols, and words, all contribute to telling your brand story. A well-defined content plan can help your brand stand out in the vast IG landscape, and make it more desirable to an audience.

Below are a few examples of how some brands and influencers have managed to break through the Instagram clutter, by building their content strategy around a strong core theme.

1. BORROW FROM YOUR BRAND COLORS

One of the simplest ways to build a distinct visual theme is to look to your brand colors and incorporate them in your content strategy.

Oreo loves to create stories with their cookies, and they generously use their brand color palette of blue and white across their IG feed. In terms of content, Oreo use their cookies in surprising, delightful ways to create original content. It’s a twin win because their whimsical, playful, storytelling generates more engagement, and their unique color palette is immediately recognizable in a clutter of content.

Oreo

But you don’t have to necessarily stick to your brand colors to have a striking visual theme. People Footwear use a blocked color theme to create and curate fresh lifestyle content around footwear. Their content imagery consists of lifestyle images, footwear and quotes for each color block. Below is their color block for yellow and blue imagery .

Takeaway: A color themed feed is an interesting way to grab eyeballs, but it can also be restrictive. Rotating colors or color blocking can add a fun dynamic to your feed, and also give you breathing room for creativity.

2. USE FILTERS TO ACHIEVE A UNIFORM LOOK

Color is one way to achieve a uniform look. You can also go a more stylistic route and create a distinct “tone” for your brand, using a filter. Go back to your brand manifesto and brainstorm what visual tone goes with your brand personality. Below are a few examples to help you understand how filters can help you achieve a specific look or tone for your brand’s presence on Instagram.

White & minimal

Jen Szeto’s Instagram feed is clean and minimal with overtones of a white aesthetic. One of the key elements to creating a minimal feed is to have a lot of negative space in your images. Also stick to no more than two or three colors with white (like grays and black below) to make the feed look cohesive.

Colorful & vibrant

Jen & Courtney are lifestyle bloggers based in LA and they love to capture flatlays with a lot of color! However, even for a colorful feed to appear consistent, it is recommended to select a range of tones and hues and stick to them. For example, Jen and Courtney’s feed is soaked in hues of pinks, blues, and yellows. In addition to that, they stick to daytime imagery and avoid dark shots to keep their feed vibrant.

Romantic & Neutral

Chriselle Lim’s Instagram feed looks like a perfectly curated dream vacation. It’s sleek, sophisticated, feminine, and clean. She uses a few different apps to filter her photos for a clean, neutral tone. She swears by VSCOcam for overall look, Meitu for beauty and selfie shots, Afterlight for sharpening, and Snapseed for the desaturated look that her feed is known for.

Brown & Vintage

DÔEN, a women’s clothing company in LA is successful on Instagram partially because of their beautiful, bohemian palette. Despite the many outfits featured, they maintain warm, vintage, earthy tones on their feed.

Dark & Moody

Dylan Furst’s Instagram feed is poignant with gloomy blue and green portraits of nature. He edits them with his own presets in Lightroom, and plays a lot with the tone curve to edit his imagery.

Takeaway: Filters can help you achieve a cohesive look for your brand on Instagram without having to stick to a specific color palette. Select a core filter from one of the following apps for a more cohesive instagram feed goal for your brand.

VSCOSnapseedA Color StoryAfterlightLightroom

3. BORDERS OR BREAK THE GRID

If your brand has a rebellious personality, you don’t have to stick to the Instagram square. You can create a unique look for your brand by experimenting with borders or by literally breaking the grid. However, a word of caution; experiment with borders before you commit to it. Because once you commit to it, there is no going back. Caroline Ingraham Lee alternates between vertical and horizontal rectangular borders on her feed.

The New York City Ballet often breaks the grid to share it’s powerful imagery.

Takeaway: There is definitely merit in breaking the grid to create an impact. There are a bunch of apps that you can use to experiment with borders and grids. Tile PicPic SlitInstagrids

4. CINEMATIC ANGLES

Madewell’s entire feed is full of lifestyle images taken from interesting angles. The brand does not stick to a specific selfie mode, flatlays or the common angles. In keeping with its mission of making people look and feel great, Madewell’s entire feed is fun, hip and looks great! It stands out in terms of it’s visual content.

Takeaway: In keeping with your brand’s tone, you could try interesting photography angles for your content.

5. GRAPHIC HEAVY

Taco Bell has a very strong graphic element for it’s content strategy on Instagram. They use bright colors, graphic imagery with food, and a lot of illustrations. Even their food shots and flatlays and arranged in geometric patterns and it’s a great clutter breaker from all the exhaustive food imagery on Instagram.

Takeaway: If you have a brand that caters to a popular category on Instagram, like food, try something unique to stand out.

6. CREATE A UNIQUE THEME

I absolutely love Drcuerda’s account for it’s exclusive content. The couple, Daniel Rueda and Anna Devís create unique self portraits blending architecture, color, and photography. The content is playful, colorful and extraordinarily original. They created a niche space for their content, and do it amazingly well!

Takeaway: Having a unique content offering, is a sure shot way to stand out on Instagram.

7. TOPICAL THEMED CONTENT

Many brands plan their content for each quarter, and build content around specific themes or even seasons. Target is known to build it’s Instagram feed around the monthly topical themes of Valentine’s Day, Back to School, Halloween, Christmas et al, and they plan their content well in advance. Below is examples from Target’s feed for Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

Takeaway: Themes can inform your content strategy and help plan your calendar in advance. You can schedule your content plans using Crowdfire.

Themes can really elevate your brand appeal and help you stand out in a clutter. Go back to your basics, deep dive into your brand manifesto for a clear messaging, and tap into your brand’s soul to help come up with a theme that could support your brand strategy on Instagram.

Hope this was helpful to get you stimulated and started on your thematic adventure! If you have any further ideas on how to nail creating a theme on IG, I would love to hear about it. Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.

Read more on: https://medium.com/@Lynxcordeau

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Top 4 Instagram Influencer Marketing Trends to Follow in 2018

Goodbye, Snapchat, it’s been nice knowing you! Ever since August of 2016 and the decisive launch of the Instagram Stories, the second most popular photo-oriented platform in the world has been officially kicked out of the race. It’s solely up to Instagram now to delight, engage, and convert its tremendous crowd of 8 million active daily users. Speaking of tremendous, one trend in the advertising industry is already worth around half a billion dollars. The exponential growth in funding has made influencer marketing a force not to be reckoned with, as 73% of companies are now building long-term relationships with macro and micro influencers.

Will Instagram stars finally render traditional marketing tactics obsolete in 2018? If they do, we’ll have the following 4 trends to thank.

1. Less Is More

Even before FTC announced this new way of regulating influencer marketing trends, the savviest brands were looking for a way to make their influencer campaigns a little more transparent. True influencer marketing, they realized, depends on personality, relevance, and reputation within a niche.

In comparison to these three, stardom and fame are a bit easier to achieve. Even today, they belong to stars and starlets with no palpable contribution to society and no real legacy to call their own. Shockingly or not, these celebrities are the ones who enjoy the largest following across social media. Slowly approaching them are so-called micro influencers.

First discovered by small brands, these social media stars count between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. What makes them different from macro influencers is that they have no corporate backbone to support them, which guarantees that virtually all of their followers are 100% authentic.

Because there’s nothing shady about them, micro influencers ensure both diversification and reputation. Rising brands can actually afford them, while corporate giants can spread their budget across multiple influencers to cover multiple target audiences. Smaller accounts simply get more love.

Besides, social media experts are now announcing another Instapurge. In 2018, the platform will swipe its business accounts for everything inorganic, and tens of thousands of bots will be erased. Our guess is, a vast number of giants will be affected, while micro influencers will have nothing to worry about.

2. Influencer Content

With Instagram being photo-oriented, brands that are targeting their audiences on this platform are urged to spend a whole lot of money on high-end photoshoots. In comparison to their price, going for a mixture of user-generated content and Instagram influencer marketing must be way less expensive.

A lot can be said about how effective the fusion of these two marketing techniques is. Together, they allow brands to build trust by offering much more than professional ads — when created by influencers themselves, this type of content contributes to authenticity and reliability to the highest extent.

3. Influencer Trends

On Instagram and beyond, the influencer marketing trends are driven by the expansion of live video and streaming. Our favourite social network incorporates them through Stories, a feature that sealed the faith of at least two leading platforms. But, Instagram Stories are not exclusively about storytelling.

One of the biggest influencer trends for 2018 is the Insta Stories’ new voting feature.

As a part of an Instagram influencer marketing strategy, this feature contributes to both the engagement and feedback generation. Brands and influencers alike can use it to ask their audiences questions about their products and services, and receive invaluable feedback from potential clients.

In some cases, the results can be forwarded to brands as a courtesy, while in others, they can be nicely monetized. Audience feedback is crucial for improvement, but it wasn’t until the voting feature that the actual success of an Instagram influencer marketing campaign could be measured in numbers.

4. Measurability

Truth be told, the lack of a gauging system in influencer marketing has long been the sole challenge in an otherwise perfect advertising tactic. There’s still no monetary value in getting mentioned by an influencer, but a host of new possibilities, including Insta voting, now enables performance tracking.

Branded hashtags, for instance, are getting repurposed as a means to measure how much attention specific influencers are driving to the brand. Another example comes from promo codes that influencers share with their audience, and brands attribute to ROI every time a customer uses one.

Most state-of-the-art marketing tools now have features for social media and influencer tracking, which allows brands to stay on top of every post, like, and share. In 2018 and beyond, greater visibility and better KPI and ROI measurement systems will be among major influencer marketing trends.

With a stupefying number of social media ads being dispersed through various channels each day, it’s really no wonder that the followers have started to lose trust in their favorite brands’ authenticity. The haunting need to regain their trust is thus the main advertising current that shapes all influencer trends in 2018.

 

More on: http://www.creator.ai

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The best must-have apps to edit your Instagram pictures – by Tobias van Schneider

After so many people asked me this question, I wanted to take some time and walk you through my process of editing pictures for Instagram.

There are a lot of reasons why I edit my pictures on the iPhone, but for some reason it has a therapeutic effect on me. Sitting on the couch, on the train or in the restaurant or wherever I want and editing my pictures always calms me down.

I’m a huge fan of Instagram and it serves as some sort of visual travel diary for myself. But to my own surprise, I actually never use Instagram to edit my pictures. I only use Instagram to either browse through other peoples work, or post my own pictures.

With this short article I like to walk you through the apps I use to edit my pictures that you see on my Instagram account.

First of all, most of my pictures are taken with the following cameras:

  • iPhone 6 (because it’s always with me)
  • Fujifilm X100t (fixed 23mm lens)
  • Sony A7Rii
  • Phantom 4 Drone (fixed 20mm lens)

Luckily all cameras I listed above have integrated Wifi, which makes it easy for me to transfer the images straight to my iPhone 6 on the go.

All images are edited directly on the iPhone 6 with the following apps.

Step 1: Cortex Cam

First of all, we start with taking the picture. In case I shoot my pictures on the iPhone, I usually have two options.

  • If I’m in a rush, I just use the default camera feature from the lock screen.
  • If I have time and the picture is taken in low light (or even at night) I use Cortex Cam.

You will notice a significant difference in sharpness and especially less noise if you take your pictures with Cortex Cam.

Little tip: Cortex Cam takes about 2–3 seconds to take the picture. The more steady the camera is, the better. Cortex Cam doesn’t do a long exposure, but rather takes a couple dozen pictures to then calculate the final one.

Step 2: SKRWT

In the second step we make sure to fix all the basics. SKRWT helps me to correct the perspective or fix the lens distortion. Especially of you’re taking pictures on your iPhone or any other wide lens, you will always struggle with lens distortion. So before even I go into editing the colors, I make sure to fix these things.

The reason I do it with SKRWT and not any other app is because SKRWT has not only way more options, but is also the only app that let’s me fix distortion or the perspective without losing too much image quality.

Also, one of the most important aspects for me is cropping and rotating an image in the right way. This usually also happens within the SKRWT app.

Step 3: VSCO

Now that we fixed up all the basics, let’s get into the editing.

I’m sure you know VSCO already, but if not, get it immediately! VSCO is a pain in the ass to use, but the photograph presets (filters) that come with VSCO are totally worth it. I use VSCO mostly for enhancing colors and applying image effects. I’ve purchased all available presents, so I can’t even tell you which are my favorite ones.

But generally, if it’s nature I usually work within the A, C or E filters. If it’s clean architecture & urban environments I usually navigate more towards the Q or S presets. I personally just like to have a little bit more of a cooler light/tone on my images. But then again, there is no right way to do it.

But one thing I can tell you for sure: I rarely use a filter at a 100%. I always tone it down to around 50–70% and then increase the overall contrast by just a tiny bit.

Step 4: Snapseed

After we’ve nailed down the look of our image, we can go and fix up some details.

I mostly use Snapseed for more specific image editing such as selective editing where I want to enhance just a certain color, or retouch something small with the “Healing tool”.

For example see below, I want just the green in the tree to pop a bit more, so I select the color and enhance it with a bit more saturation. Snapseed gives you editing tools on your iPhone that you usually only have on your computer with bigger tools such as Lightroom.

Another app that is similar is Filterstorm Neue (a little more pricey). These tools just give you way more advanced image editing features. I’m personally totally fine with Snapseed and use Filterstorm almost never.

Step 5: Lens Distortions

Our picture should be already perfect, but sometimes you want to add a little bit of extra to it. The app Lens Distortions gives me a range of effects such as additional fog, light shimmers or lens blur effects.

For example in the image above, I just wanted a little more fog on the right side. You have to be careful to not overdo it with lens flares or other effects, but if you already have these effects in your image and you just want to slightly improve them, Lens Distortions is perfect.

Step 6: DONE!

This is pretty much my full work flow, and it all happens on the iPhone. In some cases if the image I’ve taken is already perfect enough, I only use VSCO and I’m done.

Only in some edge cases I take portraits then I use an app called FaceTunewhich helps me to correct skin tones and other little details if needed.

Happy editing,
Tobias

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Tobias is a Designer & Maker + Co-Founder of Semplice, a new portfolio platform for designers. Also host of the show NTMY — Previously Art Director & Design Lead at Spotify & Board of Directors AIGA New York.

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25 Amazing Stats You Need to Know About Instagram

Instagram is kind of a big deal right now. That’s why I’ve dedicated quite a few posts here on Inc. this year to discussing why your company needs to be on Instagram and how you can make the most of it.

For one, engagement on Instagram is super high. That’s why many of the top brands in the world are on Instagram. In addition, Instagram can help drive business and generate income for your company — even if you’re a small business. One key to success on Instagram, naturally, is posting stunning visuals. If you need some inspiration, check out these seven awesome Instagram accounts.

But there’s more to Instagram than just beautiful and memorable images. You also need a strategy to help grow your Instagram followers. Before you know it, you’ll become an Instagram power user!

If for some reason you still aren’t convinced, just look at these 25 amazing statistics you need to know about Instagram:

1. Instagram has more than 500 million active users.

2. Instagram’s user base has grown by more than 300 percent over the past couple of years.

3. Instagram usage by adults has grown by 2x since 2012.

4. Instagram is growing 5x faster than overall social network usage in the U.S.

5. It’s estimated that Instagram will add another 26.9 million users by 2020.

6. 28 percent of adult Internet users are on Instagram.

7. Instagram is the second-most used social network among teenagers (ages 13–17).

8. 55 percent of young adults (ages 18–29) use Instagram.

9. More than 75 percent of Instagram users live outside of the U.S.

10. 59 percent of Instagram users log in every day, while 35 percent log in multiple times per day.

11. A third of all mobile phone users visit Instagram at least once a month.

12. 13.2 percent of Instagram posts are videos.

13. The top 100 brands have seen engagement on Instagram grow by 53 percent year-over-year.

14. The average engagement rate on Instagram is 4.3 percent.

15. Adding a location tag to your Instagram post can increase engagement by 79 percent.

16. The top brands use, on average, 2.5 hashtags per Instagram post.

17. It usually takes 19 hours for Instagram posts from brands to attract half of their total engagement.

18. Instagram posts with 11+ hashtags get about 80 percent interaction per 1,000 followers.

19. Instagram images with faces get 38 percent more likes.

20. There is no correlation between caption length and engagement rate.

21. Brands post, on average, 4.9 times per week.

22. Instagram users share more than 80 million photos every day.

23. The best days to post on Instagram are Mondays and Thursdays — just avoid 3 to 4 p.m.

24. 36 percent of B2C brands consider Instagram to be “very important” or “critical” to their social media marketing.

25. 13 percent of B2B brands rank Instagram as “very important” or “critical” to their social media marketing.

Check out the full infographic from Mainstreethost.

Originally published in Inc.com

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Seven things your are probably doing wrong on Instagram

You might think that using Instagram is easy and that is where you are wrong. But why, you may ask, anyone can use Instagram, it is just adding photos, isn’t it?. Pictures of your dog, your cat, your dinner. Yes, that is all nice, in case you are just a regular user who doesn’t aspire to have thousands of followers and promote their own brand.

However, when you are a company who wants to use Instagram as a tool for advertising, engaging with your customers and building up your brand, there are things you might be doing wrong.

Discovering these mistakes and eliminating them will help your Instagram account grow.

So, let’s take a look at those mistakes!

 

  1. Not making regular posts

 You’d better not make long pauses between making your posts – it is no good if an account floods their followers with pictures one day, then goes silent for a week and then again, a flood of posts. Your followers will either get annoyed with the huge amount of pictures, or they forget about you during your “silence” and once your posts appear in their feed, they will have no idea who you are.

The point is; be consistent with your posts.

 

  1. Not using hashtags

The chances are you have seen this hundreds times, I do no care. Use the hashtags related with your picture. You DO want some other people to see your posts, apart from the few followers you already have, right?

Do not be afraid to put those #nature #food #coffee under your post. People generally like to browse through photos under various tags.

But, remember not to overdo it! That is also a mistake as it makes you look desperate and unprofessional. And it annoys people.

 

  1. Ignoring your followers

 How do you expect your followers to stay “loyal” to you, if you ignore them? Find just a few minutes a day to write a response to their comments or to double tap one or two of their photos. They will appreciate it and return the favour a hundred times.

 

  1. Poor photos

 This. Do not kill your account posting shaky, poorly focused pictures that look as if they were done with Nokia 3330 (if it had a camera). Please, do not do this.

Invest in a smartphone with a good camera. Put “how to take good photos” into searchbar. Read articles.

Taking good photos is a bit harder than you might think.

 

  1. Going off the track

 It is okay to post an odd photo which doesn’t have too much in common with the theme of your account every once in a while. It is not okay to post photos of your dog everyday if you have a profile dedicated to, well, let’s say, coffee. Stay focused. Post relevant stuff. Leave that picture of your cute dog as a treat for Friday night.

 

  1. Skipping the words

 When you are making a post, there is a place for you to write a few words. It is not only where you put hashtags. People want a story. Picture is only one part of a story – it needs words, too. So do not skip them.

 

  1. Ignoring analytics

 Yes, this one is boring, but necessary. Taking a look at your analytics every few days can help you determine what works and what does not, on which times and days of the week does your profile have the most traffic and adjust all the little details according to these information.

 

 

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How to use Instagram to the fullest

In the modern, fast-paced world of technologies, one has to keep up in order to survive. Marketing and promotion is everything and we are lucky to have the possibilities – technologies – to make it easier and promote products to the public. Of course, first, you need to know how.

Today, Instagram is slowly putting Facebook off the stage and we can understand why – it is simple, user-friendly and yet offers endless possibilities. By using just the right tags, hundreds, thousands of people will see you content. Every business should have Instagram – it not only promotes products and services, but also puts you closer to your customer and creates a bond that was not possible in the past. Almost everyone can become famous on Instagram, if they use the right strategy.

But first, let’s debunk just a few myths about this social medium and companies.

 

  1. My business is not fit for Instagram

Now, that is just ridiculous. The truth is that every business can use Instagram – are you a restaurant? Check. A bookshop? Check. Banking? Check.

Instragram is not only place for cute cats, fashion, cosmetics and breath-taking photos of your friend’s holidays.

Via Instagram you can show your followers how to use your products or services, you can capture important moments from your company’s life, or simply take photos of your brand in amazing, breath-taking settings.

 

  1. Show people what you sell

 It is true that Instagram is not an e-shop and you cannot sell things directly to the customers – however, it may very well serve to redirect its users to you e-shop and to get their attention by posting pictures of the things you sell – and this one is crucial.

Around 80% of the users follow their favourite brands on Instagram and moreover, once they see a product on this social platform, they are more likely to buy it once they stumble over it in shop or an e-shop.

And if you make sure to optimize your profile in the right way – by adding a profile picture, short, catchy bio and a link to your online store, you can use Instagram to the fullest!

 

  1. Embrace the bots

Yes, yes, this one does not sound that good, but hey, the end justifies the means and using artificial intelligence to gain followers is definitely nothing unheard of.

To get followers, you need to follow people first. You need to like other people’s posts, comment, get their attention – and then, only a fraction of this attention is returned to you and yet, you have spend hours following people!

Fortunately, nowadays, with the artificial intelligence on the rise, we have services Bigbangram specialized in doing all those boring, time consuming tasks for you.

 

  1. Take a look at your Instagram analytics

 It is always frustrating not knowing for sure what works and what does not – are your efforts on Instagram rewarded? How are you to know when there is no place where you could see how many people visited your profile?

Well, cry no more, because Instagram, in fact, lets you see those numbers. All you need to do is check whether you have your account set as the business one and then you will have access to the detailed analysis of our profile.

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The timing is everything

You already might have notice that the time is rather crucial when it comes to posting content on Instagram – you want your posts to be seen by as many people as possible and to accomplish this goal, you need to realize WHEN is your target audience online.

To find out this little, important detail, you might (or, well, you have to is more appropriate) use analytics to see when is there the most traffic of your profile and which posts are favourite among your followers. Several of this tools are available at the moment and a quick Google search will help you find the right one for you.

And if you do not want, for some reason, use any of these tools, at least pay attention to the following: on which days and time do your posts get most likes and comments?

When you already know this, you can adjust your posts so that you reach as many people as possible. You do this, of course, by posting during the time when your audience is online and by making regular posts. And, remember: notice which posts work and which do not and adjust them accordingly. It would make no sense to post pictures which have zero reception from the audience.

Now, statistics (and common sense) say that people are most likely to be online at these times:

  1. Morning (6-9 am)

People (and you can probably see this in yourself) like to check their social media the first thing in the morning – they like to scroll through their feed lying in bed or while eating breakfast.

  1. Lunch (11 am – 1 pm)

Once again, checking social media on the lunchbreak. People like to keep up with what’s happening.

  1. Evening/night (7 pm – 1 am)

After coming home from work (or school) people like to check their social media before going to bed (and some even like to continue while actually lying in bed).

So, by posting at these times, you are making sure that more people are going to see your posts. It is also important to realize the importance of the days – Sundays are usually the worst days for posting, are your audience is probably relaxing and spending some time with family. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday seem to be the best.

In summary: make regular posts, watch the time and post things that get attention of the audience. Good luck!

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Why you should have an Instagram account?

Do you have a business and do you still lack an Instagram account, because it is not for you?

Well, think twice and maybe change your mind; you should definitely have an Instagram. Not only it is for free, but it is also a widely popular platform, frequented by people of all ages – all your potential customers.

It is a well known fact that pictures attract attention more than written text – in fact, while reading an online article, people tend to just skim the text, getting the general idea of what it is about. (Because, well, honestly, who has time to read a endlessly long articles?)

Besides, one look is worth a thousands words and your customers (and potential customers) will appreciate if you show them what you sell.

Pictures catch and hold our attention, they are interesting, colourful and nice to look at (if you take good photos, of course). They simplify complicated things – as we already mentioned, why read a thousand words if you can just take a look and see?

Instagram can help you build up your brand, make it recognized among people, make it trustworthy and make you unique.

Instagram offers you endless possibilities when it comes to promotion – all you need is a creative mind and a little bit of dedication.

You can show them the behind the scenes life of your company – this will get you closer to your customers, to your fans. Let them see what a normal day in your company looks like, let them take a look at the progress on your latest project. They will appreciate it and you will keep them engaged.

Cooperate with famous people – if they post a photo with your product, their followers will see it and your audience will grow once more. It is definitely a better kind of advertising then pop-up ads.

Today, you have to move with times and upgrade your business to the next level; that means having and using social media, like Instagram, to promote your brand, build up a solid base of followers and engaging your customers.

 

 

 

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Be successful on Instagram – tips & tricks

Fame certainly sounds good and in the era of Internet, it is easier to achieve than ever before – but you still need to work on it, of course. You need to build it up and then – which is the tricky part – keep it.

Let’s take a look at a few tips and tricks that might help you achieve your Instagram goals – getting the followers, likes, comments and recognition you seek!

  1. Specialize yourself

Make yourself different from the rest, make yourself stand out in the endless sea of Instagram accounts. You surely have that one talent or passion you truly like/are good at. Be it tourism, books, dancing, drawing…Show the world what you are good at. It will also attract attention of people in the same field who might take liking to your work and maybe even give you some good advices.

 

  1. Post at the right time

As I already mentioned in one of the previous articles, timing is important. Take notice when your followers seem to be online, on which times your posts get most likes and schedule your posts according to it.

 

  1. Post frequently

 Once you have attracted attention of other users, it is important to keep them engaged – that means content, content, content… You do not want your followers to run away just because there is nothing to follow? Present yourself. Show what you do. Be proud of it.

 

  1. Make your feed stunning

You could have a colour scheme. Use a specific filter… It is all up to you, but make sure to add high-quality photos and make it look…aesthetic. For inspiration, look at moodboards on Pinterest or at Instagram profiles of people you admire.

 

  1. Use the right hashtags

 Most people like to browse through their favourite hashtags, so make sure to use the right ones.

 

  1. Like, follow and comment!

Now, sometimes people will not notice you until you notice them. Start following as many people as you can and see how they follow you back! Start with the people you already know – your friends and family. Like and comment posts under hashtags that have something in common with the photos that you add – people will sometimes look at the profiles of people who liked their photos and if you get their attention, they might follow you back or at least like some of your pictures in return.

 

  1. Engage with your followers!

 Reply to their comments and messages, react to their posts. Show them that you are interested and they will appreciate it.

 

  1. Consider creating your own hashtag

 This might seem like a rather narcissist thing to do, but it makes easier to track your posts and it is something that makes you recognized. It is a step in building your own brand. Your hashtag might be anything that is associated with your person and is original – it could be your Instagram account or your artistic name, if you have one.

 

  1. Make an interesting bio

 Something short and catchy, something that sticks and makes people remember you. Try not to overdo it with the emoji and attempt to come up with a line that defines you the best. Using a quote is not a bad idea, either.

 

  1. Consider getting an AI service

 This is the safest way of getting new followers fast and easily – with the AI on the rise, there are numerous services on the market which will make sure that your number of followers will grow.

For example, Hypelogy takes approximately three months – they make a profound analysis of your profile, suggest some adjustments, make your a professional banner and, of course, set the artificial intelligence to your target group.