Location, Location, Location

When planning your client's next Instagram post, it's easy to get caught up in the caption, #hashtags, and post time, and ignore a simple Instagram addition that can have a drastic effect on your post's placement in the feed.

It's no secret that Instagram's algorithm for feed placement is complicated, however, there is one tried and true method that will have a noticeable effect on engagement. It's simple. Just add the Location.

Whilst we can merely speculate why it boosts a post's popularity, everyone from influencers to individuals are taking advantage of it. In fact, just several months ago, a Instagram glitch put any picture with the location Singapore, Singapore to the top of their followers' feed.

Not only does adding a location boost a post's popularity in your followers' feed, it will provide new traffic from users who come across the post via searching certain locations. It's also important to note that constantly putting the same location isn't recommend. Make sure you use a variety of locations (where the picture was actually taken) for your posts.

And that's it. Just one simple Instagram rule that's easy to forget, but one that no good marketer can afford to.

Instagram Reignites The War On Automation. Here's Why That's Good.

Last week, Instagress made the shock announcement that they were shutting down “by request of Instagram”.

Instagress was the largest Instagram bot or ‘automation tool’ on the market. Instagress would perform actions such as liking, commenting, and following, automatically (after a simple set-up), starting at $10 a month. For marketers who saw these actions as necessary but mundane, Instagress was a dream come true. 

However, tools such as Instagress violate Instagram’s Terms of Service (which strictly prohibits bot activity). Instagram is no stranger to taking action against these services and those who use it, with a well-documented ‘purge’ in 2015. And whilst many marketers are pulling their hair and scrambling to figure what to do next, the slow end to Instagram automation is necessary.

WHY?

For quite awhile, I've been against automation tools. And with a new crop of automation tools sure to rise, it's important to know why they should be avoided.

Reason 1: Meaningless Interactions

Once upon a time a like meant something to a potential customer, and a follow could turn them into an evangelist. Just five years later, a follow from an unknown user is about an effective and annoying as the daily spam I receive from a store I haven’t visited in three years. Consumer aren’t stupid. They know that Silvia’s Bakery didn’t follow them because for their premium ‘Instagram aesthetic’.

Whilst the end of Instagress does not mean the end of bot interaction, the recent crackdown could lead to a significant reduction, to a point where genuine interactions become meaningful again. And whilst a comment from your page may not turn them into a loyal customer, it may persuade them to check out your page. 

Reason 2: Lazy Marketers

Automation tools have created a breed of lazy marketers. Flooding the market in droves, 'social media marketers' are charging (small, local) businesses anywhere from $500-1500 per month to 'manage their Instagram' - which often involves them setting up an Instagress account, posting a couple times, and calling it a day. The thousands of (meaningless) actions completed each month gives their client an opaque view of true account health.

Whilst the fall of Instagress will give way to other automation tools (even temporarily), putting your client's page at risk isn't worth an extra follower or two. Smart marketers will earn their keep, and realize they can make a much bigger impact without bots.

Reason 3: Hollow Followers

Whilst the impact of a like, comment, or follow on a random user's page may not have the same impact as 2012, bots wouldn't be popular if they did not grow your page at all. Slowly, but surely, the use of these automation tools will grow your page. But, who is following you?

80%+ of followers gained from automation tools fall into two categories: a) Accounts who followed you via an automation tool (i.e. bot followers) and b) Users who follow thousands of people (#teamfollowback - therefore, won't see your posts). Both categories provide nil value to your brand. In fact, they may cost you money. Future Instagram Ad spend may be wasted targeting these 'ghost' followers.

Back To The Basics

The fall of Instagress is shaking up thousands of marketing strategies. If you're evaluating what's next, get back to genuine community interaction and forget the bots. Put in a little elbow grease. It's a much easier than the alternative - explaining to a client why their Instagram account is banned.

Influencer Marketing is Dead. Long Live (Micro) Influencer Marketing.

The days of utilizing influencers with millions of followers for $100,000+ are waning. What has emerged is a new type of Influencer Marketing; one that even SMBs can take advantage of.

The Micro Influencer

What is a micro influencer? A micro influencer is a social media user who has a sizable and incredibly engaged audience. Their loyal following of 5,000 to 150,000 puts immense trust in these influencers, and show it through deep engagement. It's not unusual to see engagement of micro influencers in the 7.5% to 15% range. Micro influencers tend to focus on niche topics; rather than flooding their audience with dozens of different foods, a 'food micro influencer' may focus just on pizza, guaranteeing that their followers are passionate about the exact niche you service. A traditional influencer provides brand recognition, a micro influencer provides sales.

Types of Micro Influencers

The first type are 'Personalities'These are Instagram users who are 'regular people'. It may be a mom-of-two in Idaho who shares her children growing up, or a Los Angeles photographer documenting the city's offerings.

Personalities work so well for one main reason - they are authentic. Their followers view them as a peer, not a celebrity trying to push the latest diet tea. Their opinions hold weight, and can influence potential customers in a way that friends and celebrities often cannot. Personalities also have the added bonus of creating content that can be reused in future campaigns, months or even years from now. And due to their lowered costs, engaging 5+ personalities won't break the bank. Personalities may not be the right fit for every campaign, but exceptional results aren't uncommon for businesses that offer goods through micro influencers - restaurants, clothing, makeup, etc.

The second type are 'Theme Pages'. Theme pages are Instagram users who aren't known for the person behind the page, but the content curated. Whilst Jane Doe runs 'NYC Eats', her 100,000 followers are there for the best food spots across the city, rather than Jane Doe herself - even if she adds her own personality to each post. These pages are often run by people under 18, who are hobbyists, rather full-time influencers, and therefore have competitive pricing. Theme Pages can be ideal for selling an experience - which could be a good or a service, ranging from a brunch discount to a travel package to Paris.

How To Work With A Micro Influencer

Step 1: It's a partnership. To have a successful campaign, it must be a partnership, NOT a transaction. Therefore, you can not commission one post and expect results. It must be a brand integration, even if temporary. This means 2+ posts talking about their positive experience, 1+ Instagram Story, and ideally, going Live at least once to share a story relating to your brand. Instagram Stories and Live, whilst relatively new, can be take someone from 'interested' to 'sold'.

Step 2: Pay them (with $$$!). Influencers are constantly bombarded with offers to promote products solely for commission, or get a 'free sample'. Micro influencers want cash AND the good/service offered. Unless it is a high ticket item, the good/service alone is rarely enough. Without going in detail, it is essential to research the going-rates for micro influencers in your niche - without knowing the rate, you could be paying 500% more than necessary, or lowballing to the point where the influencer won't take you seriously.

Step 3: Incentivize. Whilst micro influencers rarely work for just commission, it is important that they have skin in the game. The most successful campaigns will include a Vanity URL for the influencer (which has a discount attached to it) to track their sales, and compensate the influencer for those.

Step 4: Measure Results. Building on Vanity URLs, it is crucial to measure the results each micro influencer is producing. This includes everything from Post Impressions to Follower Growth to Sales. The 80/20 rule rings true influencer marketing. Find out who your top influencers are, and reinvest in them.

Step 5: #AD. Lastly, don't forget to disclose that it is a campaign. The FTC isn't joking when it comes to undisclosed influencer campaign, particularly due to the sheer amount of trust that users put into these influencers. Read the rules, and follow them. Losing a sale or two because of '#ad', is a lot cheaper than the fine for not doing so.

Step 6: Start. Influencer marketing, particularly micro influencer marketing, is in its infancy. For some who get in now, and dedicate resources, they will have success stories that mirror marketers who used AdWords in 2000. Wait 6-12 months, and you'll find yourself mumbling "could've, should've, would've".

The Next Big Social Network Is Here.

The social network that will rule ad dollars and eye-balls for the next decade has arrived. Is it Peach? No. Down To Lunch? Nope. Live.me? Negative. Actually, you probably already have it and use it religiously. The social network that needs your attention is...

Instagram

The fact that Instagram has 500 Million Monthly Active Users is nothing to sneeze at. But Facebook, Whatsapp, Messenger, WeChat, and QZone all have more. And Snapchat is catching up. What makes Instagram so important is how it is used and viewed.

Stories

Whilst Instagram Stories may be an obvious knock-off, users don't seem to mind. Earlier this month, Instagram announced that Stories Daily Active Users now mirrors Snapchat at 150M. Why is this important? Because it is a lot cheaper and easier to grow your Instagram audience than your Snapchat audience. And with the same amount of DAUs, why not focus your time and dollars in one place.

It is why the brands and celebrities we work with at Well&Well have begun uploading identical content on both their Instagram and Snapchat feeds. If a user is already on Instagram looking at photos, why not knock out two birds with one stone?

Live

Since Live Streaming became 'the next big thing', I've been on Periscope once and watched an actual Facebook Live stream maybe twice (by the time I catch them, they've normally finished an hour prior). But I use Instagram Live daily. When brands and personalities use Instagram Live, they're engaging with their audience rather than just presenting. They're responding to comments in real-time, and even if they don't reply to you, it feels authentic and connects the user with that personality or brand. Once a live stream is over, it's finished - there is no recorded version users can view later. It adds to the urgency that isn't there with Facebook Live. Live presents a huge opportunity for brands to connect with their audience and build brand loyalty in a way that scrolling past a post cannot.

A follower is meaningful.

How many Pages have you liked on Facebook? How often will you unlike a Facebook Page? I can't count how many Facebook Pages I liked in 2009 and haven't seen a post from since. It may say that Xavier Di Petta still 'Likes' Skittles, The Cold Side of the Pillow, and Disneyland, but I can't remember the last piece of content I saw from any of those pages. However, even with Instagram's algorithmic changes, if a user follows your brand on Instagram, and sticks around - they have some connection to the brand.

Whether a user is concerned about a simplified feed, the 'Cool Ratio', or 'curating' their following, Instagram's users are selective in who they follow. Whilst it is crucial to get that initial follow, your strategy on how you keep it is just as important.

Sticking-Power

We build our various social networks to be a reflection of ourselves (or at least how we want to be perceived), yet the care taken people take when curating their Instagram account is second-to-none. Users not only care about the image they post, but the 'aesthetic' of that image next to their previous posts. This 'aesthetic' is so crucial to many users that they will:

1) Have a separate account they keep private that they upload the identical photos to, so they can 'preview' how it will look in their aesthetic OR 2) Will upload it, screenshot their page within seconds, and remove the image so they can view their 'aesthetic' to see if they'll re-upload the post.

Whilst we may share content on Facebook that makes us look smart, or content on Twitter that makes us look funny, the level of thought and consideration that goes into Instagram is unparalleled. With users so invested into their page, you can bet they're invested in the brands and personalities they're interacting with.

Discovery

Whilst memes and models undoubtedly rule Instagram, it's still an incredible Discovery tool for brands and personalities.

However, a major pitfall I see is businesses engaging in short-sighted tricks to gain followers. Whilst your business or personality may benefit from a slight boost in followers and eye-balls from 'following & unfollowing' a bunch of users - you can beat they'll see when you unfollow, and it will leave a sour taste in their mouth. Instagram Automation tools may have been game-changers three years ago, but today with everyone and their dog (quite literally) liking certain hashtags, it's saturated, and users aren't naive to what is happening.

Double-down on Instagram

You most likely have an Instagram strategy. You may even have someone posting regularly on it. But all the great content in the world doesn't matter if it goes unseen.