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5 Tools to Boost Your Instagram Marketing Efforts in 2020

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The reason why I love social media marketing is its vibrancy.

It never stays the same – platforms add new features and ingenious developers keep coming with innovative tools.

As such, marketers can never rely on a static set of tactics. Marketers can’t remain stagnant, even for a year – without constantly experimenting, testing new platforms, trying new tools, without trying out new and improved ways to grab your followers’ attention, you’ll soon be forgotten.

With that in mind, here are some of the best apps that I’ve found for Instagram marketing, which can help to add something fresh to your platform efforts.

1. Pixaloop: Animate Your Pictures

Pixaloop is a photo animation app which promises to “breathe life into your pictures”. It’s a nice tool to diversify your Instagram feed and engage more of your followers – and it can, indeed, add a “wow” factor to your social marketing.

The main feature is that it gives you the ability to animate sections of your images. I’ve tried a few other apps that promise to do this, but I had never had much luck until I tried Pixaloop.

The free app comes with a few fundamental picture-animating features including:

  • Designate an area to animate
  • Freeze whatever you want to remain still
  • Set up the animation direction and speed
pixaloop

There are plenty of neat features to play with, including adding animated objects, overlay with moving objects (like stars and bubbles), add 3D motion, etc.

pixaloop

The paid plan costs around $1 per month (if you pay for a year) and comes with more filters, as well as the capacity to export your creation into an animated GIF (which is quite awesome if you want to repurpose your creations across other channels, or even your on-site content).

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2. Later: Schedule Your Instagram Updates and Stories

In order to succeed with Instagram Stories, you need to publish fresh content consistently. But if you don’t have a dedicated team working on your Instagram stream, that can be hard to do.

So how can you maintain consistency, without having to constantly be online?

Instagram stories can be scaled through scheduling, but not many tools offer you the flexibility of scheduling a week, or even a month-worth of content beforehand.

Later is a professional Instagram platform which enables brands to schedule Instagram updates and stories. 

Instagram schedule

Later offers a few really cool options allowing you to:

  • Use the storyboard tool to visually plan your stories
  • Add links and/or captions to your scheduled stories
  • Track up to three months’ worth of data and get detailed analytics on completion rate, engagement, impressions, and clicks

It’s worth noting that you still have to manually approve each story when it’s time for it to go live (as Instagram API doesn’t allow automatic publishing) but it’s a one-click process and relatively easy.

3. Linktr.ee: Create Your Instagram Landing Page

The only place that you can add a clickable link on your Instagram profile is in your bio, which is often not enough for brands looking to build their business presence, and drive traffic back to their owned sites.

That’s where Linktr.ee comes in. Linktr.ee enables you to create a handy landing page on which you can list all of your CTAs and links, in order to help guide your Instagram followers to your other channels and relevant web pages.

linktr-ee

Basically, it is a modern version of About.me. If you subscribe to the paid plan, you can also add media and graphs to go with your links.

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4. Unfold: Use Modern Templates for Your Stories

Instagram stories are highly engaging, and can help to keep your brand front of mind with your followers, which is crucially important. If you have over 10,000 followers, you can also add external links into your Instagram Stories, which can be a major traffic and conversion driver.

But with every other brand now publishing their own stories, it’s getting more difficult to stand out.

Unfold offers an array of modern and memorable Instagram story templates that can help you brand and diversify your stories content.

Unfold

Unfold regularly updates its collections, offering themes based on seasonal or trending topics.

5. Finteza: Build an Effective Instagram-Driven Sales Funnel

Finteza is a web analytics platform which focuses on conversion monitoring and analytics. The nice thing about Finteza is that it’s very easy to set up and use – there’s no need for additional training to figure it out or set up conversion tracking.

All you need is:

  • Add a tracking code (this part is similar to installing any web analytics tracking)
  • Use Finteza’s WordPress plugin to mark any links as “events”
  • Login regularly to monitor your analytics

Using your events, Finteza will even build automatic funnels for you to analyze. You can also add your own funnels.

Finteza is also a great Instagram traffic analytics solutions too:

  • Locate “Instagram” by going “Sources” -> “Social”, and click the link to see more details
  • Go to “Funnels” to see how your Instagram traffic performs.

The report will be limited to “Instagram” traffic, so you can analyze its performance:

finteza instagram

You can further limit your report to a landing page (e.g. analyze traffic coming from your story).

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Conclusion

Hopefully, these Instagram tools will help you uncover new Instagram marketing tactics and generate new results. 

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Meta Plans to Establish an NFT Marketplace, Expanding Beyond Profile Pictures

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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps


If it’s happening on social media, Meta wants to own it, so it comes as no surprise that the company is currently working on ways to tap into the popularity of NFTs. But Meta actually envisions a bigger future for digital goods, beyond cartoonish profile pictures, which will eventually expand the core functionality of the NFT transaction process to facilitate the transfer of various kinds of digital goods within its planned metaverse.

Sorry, I should say the metaverse, as Meta is keen to underline that it won’t own it, as such (antitrust lawyers take note).

As reported by The Financial Times:

“Teams at Facebook and Instagram are readying a feature that will allow users to display their NFTs on their social media profiles, as well as working on a prototype to help users create – or mint – the collectible tokens, according to several people familiar with the matter. Two of the people said that Meta has also discussed launching a marketplace for users to buy and sell NFTs.”

The first element noted here is already in progress – last June, we reported on Instagram’s initial test of a new ‘Collectibles’ option which would facilitate the display of NFTs in the app (as discovered by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi).

That test also pointed to facilitating the sale of NFTs in the app, with a process for bidding and buying NFT images.

The latest element in this process includes attaching a digital wallet to your account, much like you would on OpenSea or other NFT transaction platforms, so the experiment seems fairly well advanced in this respect.

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That likely points to Instagram making a move on this soon, and where Instagram goes, Facebook tends to follow, so that part is no real revelation versus what we already know.

But what is interesting is how this process could be built into Meta’s broader metaverse plans, and the sale of digital goods, beyond just profile pictures (PFPs). Because really, that’s just the starting point, and there’ll likely be far more value in buying other digital products and services in the next stage of connection.

Which is where much of the confusion about the current state of NFTs lies. Yes, there is major potential in the purchase and ownership of digital goods, as we’ve seen in various game worlds, where users can buy add-on features like skins, weapons, abilities, etc. For many young consumers, this is already second nature – but while much of the value in these items is aesthetic, providing an opportunity to ‘flex’ your latest purchase in each app, there is also a practical value and usage, which is different to PFP projects, the main focal point for current Web3 early adopters and those keen to be at the forefront of the next digital shift.

Overall, PFPs don’t provide much value, and likely won’t remain a key focus for digital ownership. Many of these projects hilariously claim to be ‘metaverse ready’, which is not possible, because not even the metaverse is metaverse ready at this stage, with the schemas and parameters yet to be established that would enable cross-platform transfers and usage of digital goods in the broader space.

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Some PFP projects are working to build out broader community benefits and usage options for owners, which will extend the value beyond their images alone. But really, the true value of NFTs will come in other digital goods and items, which looks to be the true focus of Meta’s NFT push.

Indeed, back in October, Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted that NFTs could eventually be used to support a new market for digital goods in the metaverse, not just profile images, while Meta’s Head of Metaverse Products Vishal Shah has also noted that the underlying NFT transaction process will eventually make it easier to sell digital products in its apps.

In this sense, PFPs are only the beginning of what could be possible with digital items more broadly, and with Meta also continuing to work on its own cryptocurrency , it does seem likely that, eventually, it will be able to facilitate broader digital transactions through the NFT process.

But those NFTs won’t be limited to PFP images, which is the main criticism of the current NFT market. Why would you pay to own an image that you can view for free? Why would you pay to only own the receipt of a digital image, and not the full copyright and commercial re-use rights (for most projects)?

Legally, there are still some issues to be worked out in this respect, but if you view NFTs as a gateway, of sorts, to broader transactions of all kinds of digital goods, from avatar clothing to skins, to in-game weapons, items, spells, etc. When you consider that NFTs don’t have to just be images of smiling monkeys and cats, you can start to see the broader potential of NFTs as real value items, especially as we increasingly spend more and more time in these digital environments.

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Essentially, early NFT adopters are indeed early, and many are putting far too much stock in PFPs, and getting ripped off as a result. But the broader view is that these digital items will have more use and expanded application in the next stage.

Which is why Meta is looking to move in, and build more tools to capitalize on this initial interest. So while you may view those NFT bros as being a little overzealous, and overexcited about buying JPGs, consider that there will be more to the scope of NFTs in future.

That doesn’t mean that you should care about what image you use for your profile picture, or that you should be looking to buy up a ‘VeeFriends’ NFT drawing (please don’t). But those images are just the start of a new online marketplace.





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Instagram Expands Video Remix Option to All Videos, Not Just Reels Clips

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Instagram Expands Video Remix Option to All Videos, Not Just Reels Clips


Instagram is expanding on its TikTok-like toolset by adding the capacity to remix all videos that people post in the app, not just Reels, increasing your options for creative response and engagement.

As you can see here, now, when you’re viewing any video on Instagram, you’ll be able to tap on the ‘Remix this video’ option to create your own take on it, facilitating more participatory consumption of video content in the app.

Users can also choose to switch off remixes in their video settings.

Instagram video remix

As explained by Instagram:

“Remix gives you ways to respond to and reinvent the creative videos shared on Instagram every day, collaborate with others and get discovered by new audiences. We’re excited about how our community has embraced Remix on Reels and we hope this new feature gives people new ways to collaborate, showcase their creativity and find inspiration in the vibrant diversity of videos shared to Instagram every day.

Instagram added its Reels remix option last March, and this new functionality will greatly expand on the amount of video content that people can use to build upon with their own responses and creative takes, which, again, leans into the core use case of TikTok.

One of the biggest elements of success for TikTok has been participatory content, and essentially letting users contribute to memes, as opposed to merely consuming them.

Memes have become a key communication tool for the younger generation, providing a simple, engaging way to give their take on the various issues of the day. But till TikTok came around, meme usage was limited, as you couldn’t easily remix or re-share a meme for different purpose.

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But TikTok changed that dynamic, essentially making memes participatory, enabling all users to not only consume, but to also iterate each based on the trend. It’s the logical extension of meme culture, though no platform has been able to tap into it the way that TikTok has.

Which is why Instagram’s looking to get into the same. And while providing TikTok-like options is likely helping Instagram to retain some of its audience, and stop them migrating to TikTok instead, it’s still not the best way for the platform to regain its leadership in the space, and re-connect with younger audiences, as per Meta’s stated ambition moving forward.

Because copying features invariably means that you’re a step behind – you can’t copy something unless another platform is already doing it, and if another platform is already doing it, then you’re already missing the trend.

Young users will gravitate to the platforms that lead the latest trends. Snapchat, for example, lead the way on ephemeral content, Instagram was once the place to be for the latest visual tools and displays. TikTok is now the leader on short-form, interactive clips, and if Meta truly wants to win them over once again, it will need to get more original with its additions, providing new, must-see, and must-use ways to interact and engage.

Much of that focus likely comes back to its coming metaverse push, but I’d still prefer to see Instagram zigging when other platforms are zagging, and introducing at least some new tools and options that haven’t been ripped off from another trending app.

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But as noted, it must be working, at least to some degree, because it keeps doing it, with TikTok basically the product development department for Instagram right now.

Maybe its coming NFT display options will change this, or maybe IG has something else in the works for video content. Till then, we have more replicant functions, which may help improve overall engagement, but likely don’t give it much of a boost in terms of credibility and leadership.  





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Instagram Will Now Reduce the Reach of Posts That are ‘Likely’ to Contain Bullying of Hate Speech

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Instagram Will Now Reduce the Reach of Posts That are 'Likely' to Contain Bullying of Hate Speech


Instagram is implementing new measures that will proactively limit the reach of feed posts and stories which ‘likely’ violate its rules around hate speech, bullying and the incitement of violence, as part of its expanding efforts to reduce game and user risk in the app.

As explained by Instagram:

“Previously, we’ve focused on showing posts lower on Feed and Stories if they contain misinformation as identified by independent fact-checkers, or if they are shared from accounts that have repeatedly shared misinformation in the past. Today, we’re announcing some changes to take this effort even further. If our systems detect that a post may contain bullying, hate speech or may incite violence, we’ll show it lower on Feeds and Stories of that person’s followers.”

So how will Instagram determine whether non-reported posts might contain these elements?

“To understand if something may break our rules, we’ll look at things like if a caption is similar to a caption that previously broke our rules.”

Instagram further notes that if its systems predict that an individual user is likely to report a post, based on their past history of reporting content, it will also show that post lower in their personal feed.

Which seems pretty foolproof, right? There’ll be no new influx of ‘shadow ban’ reports or similar as a result of IG putting more reliance on machine learning to determine post reach.

Right?

Yeah, it could be somewhat problematic, and considering the efforts Instagram has gone to in the past to explain away shadow bans, it’s seems inevitable that this will lead to more accusations of censorship, bias and other criticisms of the platform as a result of this shift.

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Which is probably not such a bad payoff, if it works. In theory, this could be another key step towards limiting the spread of bullying and hate speech, both of which have no place in any public forum, and no right to amplification and broadcast via social apps. Instagram is also under pressure to improve its efforts in protecting young users from bullying and abuse, after the Facebook Files leak last year suggested that parent company Meta had ignored research which showed that Instagram can have harmful mental health impacts for teens.

Anything that can be done to stop the spread of such is, at the least, worth an experiment, while Instagram also notes that it has previously avoided implementing automated systems of this type because it wanted to ensure that its technology ‘could be as accurate as possible’ in detection.

Which suggests that it now has the required level of confidence in its processes to ensure good results. So while there will undoubtedly be more reports of mistakes, and more accusations of overreach, invoking some amendment in the constitution (always incorrect), if it works, and reduces instances of harm and mental anguish due to bullying and hate speech, it will be entirely worth it.





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