Instagram has undoubtedly become a must in any social marketing approach, and this is even truer in travel where brands rely on visual storytelling to get more reach and engagement with their community and target audiences.
In 2016, Instagram is expected to count on more than 500M active users (it had 300M by end of 2014, and 400M by September 2015) and with the introduction of advertising through Facebook’s native ad manager platform, there are now more possibilities than ever.
Take videos, for example. While users can only post 15 second videos, advertisers can choose between 15 and 30 second formats. And just in time for Super Bowl madness in the United States, there are now 60 second videos rolling on Instagram as well, again only available as sponsored posts.
The evolution of Instagram
Yet, as interesting as Instagram may be as media platform, it has its limits when it comes to managing it. Yes, it has recently starting rolling out multiple account management features, but this is not available to all at this point in time (only iOS users, for now).
Analytics should be available eventually directly within Instagram, even though this was promised over a year ago. So in the meantime, here are a few cool tools and applications I can suggest to help you manage your Instagram tactics.
This is a social media management and search engine for Instagram. Useful for advanced searches for trending hashtags, dates, location, users and influencers with regard to a topic or keyword. I like the feature where you can visualize photos on a map.
You can use it also to manage multiple accounts as well as other basic features from Instagram, such as posting comments, managing followers, etc.
As its name implies, this mobile app is all about helping you copy and pasting Instagram tags, helping you find the group of hashtags best suited for a particular photograph.
Haven’t tried the paid version, but the free version can be very useful when it comes to tagging properly.
Read also: 8 Key Elements For An Effective Hashtag
Better known for its free tools to better manage Facebook pages, AgoraPulse has evolved into a social media management tool that works wonders for Twitter and Instagram as well.
It can be useful to find user generated content using a brand’s hashtag, and identifying the media’s (photo, video) location. For hotels, museums, restaurants or destinations, this can come in handy.
This mobile application, available both on Apple Store and Google Play, makes it simpler to share photos and videos posted by others, directly from your mobile device, while giving credit to the original post (and user).
If user generated content is part of your content strategy, then this app comes in handy.
Most social media managers won’t want to do everything from a mobile device, so it’s always nice to have options where you can upload images or videos to the web, from which point you can then schedule posts for later and manage multiple accounts.
This is the essence of Schedugr.am, which is a paid service for which you can try the 7-day free period.
Ever wondered when might be the best time to post on your Instagram account? Who are your top followers? What you should post more (or less) of? Union Metrics provide some interesting analytics, some for free and many more with the paid version.
It provides lots of other resources and tools across other social media channels, so it may worth your while to discover.
If you are like me, you don’t mind working from time to time from your mobile device, but would rather work from a desktop when it comes to more sophisticated tasks.
Gramblr is a useful tool to upload photos and videos to Instagram from your PC or laptop. Works well with either MacOS X or Windows.
This another cool tool encompassing most features others may already offer, but all in one place, allowing to manage multiple Instagram accounts, schedule posts ahead of time and upload pictures and videos from a PC to your Instagram account.
You can try it out for free before committing to its paid version.
I have mentioned this tool in the past and it remains my favorite, perhaps simply because I have been using it for so long and have seen the evolution as well. Formerly known as Statigr.am, Iconosquare started out as a go-to reference to hold and manage contests on Instagram.
While it still delivers value on that front, you can also use it for hashtag and accounts monitoring, benchmarking competitors and free access to analytics. In 2015, analytics became a paid option, but only if users want to access the advanced metrics, so the tool remains very useful and a must in a marketer’s tool kit.
This Google-owned mobile application is perhaps best-known for its photo-editing features, which come in handy when it comes to Instagram.
There was a major overhaul of the app earlier in 2015, making it even more powerful and user-friendly, so that pictures can be adjusted with a variety of tools, made for mobile native interactions, which is where most photos are taken and posted on Instagram.
And for contests?
When it comes to contest management, there seems to be a whole variety of tools out there to help manage this reality on social media. I mentioned Iconosquare earlier, but here are another three that can help should you want to hold a contest or sweepstakes on Instagram.
Note: all these apps are not Instagram-specific, they all offer solutions for Facebook and/or other social media platforms too.
Want to run a competition, capture emails, build visual galleries or have users redeem rewards? These are some of the possibilities provided by the mobile app Gleam. It’s a free tool, with paid options if users want to upgrade their plan.
If you are looking for a more sophisticated solution, Wishpond is a lead generation software working across many social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram), with services ranging from building custom landing pages, website popups, forms, marketing automation and more.
For contests and promotions, there are many possibilities from coupons to sweepstakes, photos or hashtag contests, group offers, video contests, and more. There are no free options, though, and pricing starts at US$44 per month.
Well known as a marketing app for email, web, social and mobile, Woobox is mostly known as a Facebook-centric solution. It can however offer some useful tools to embed your Instagram feed on your website or Facebook page, as well as generate contests that can work across platforms. It has a free version, with limited apps, or paid versions from $US30 per month.
Of course, there are many other tools out there, but I hope these one will come in handy in your life as marketer. Any other suggestions or recommendations you may have on this? Please let me know in the comments below.