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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).

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.

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).

Conclusion

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

Socialmediatoday.com

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

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Google Outlines Ongoing Efforts to Combat China-Based Influence Operations Targeting Social Apps

Over the past year, Google has repeatedly noted that a China-based group has been looking to use YouTube, in particular, to influence western audiences, by building various channels in the app, then seeding them with pro-China content.

There’s limited info available on the full origins or intentions of the group, but today, Google has published a new overview of its ongoing efforts to combat the initiative, called DRAGONBRIDGE.

As explained by Google:

In 2022, Google disrupted over 50,000 instances of DRAGONBRIDGE activity across YouTube, Blogger, and AdSense, reflecting our continued focus on this actor and success in scaling our detection efforts across Google products. We have terminated over 100,000 DRAGONBRIDGE accounts in the IO network’s lifetime.

As you can see in this chart, DRAGONBRIDGE is by far the most prolific source of coordinated information operations that Google has detected over the past year, while Google also notes that it’s been able to disrupt most of the project’s attempted influence, by snuffing out its content before it gets seen.

Dragonbridge

Worth noting the scale too – as Google notes, DRAGONBRIDGE has created more than 100,000 accounts, which includes tens of thousands of YouTube channels. Not individual videos, entire channels in the app, which is a huge amount of work, and content, that this group is producing.

That can’t be cheap, or easy to keep running. So they must be doing it for a reason.

The broader implication, which has been noted by various other publications and analysts, is that DRAGONBRIDGE is potentially being supported by the Chinese Government, as part of a broader effort to influence foreign policy approaches via social media apps. 

Which, at this kind of scale, is a concern, while DRAGONBRIDGE has also targeted Facebook and Twitter as well, at different times, and it could be that their efforts on those platforms are also reaching similar activity levels, and may not have been detected as yet.

Which then also relates to TikTok, a Chinese-owned app that now has massive influence over younger audiences in western nations. If programs like this are already in effect, it stands to reason that TikTok is also likely a key candidate for boosting the same, which remains a key concern among regulators and officials in many nations.

The US Government is reportedly weighing a full TikTok ban, and if that happens, you can bet that many other nations will follow suit. Many government organizations are also banning TikTok on official devices, based on advice from security experts, and with programs like DRAGONBRIDGE also running, it does seem like Chinese-based groups are actively operating influence and manipulation programs in foreign nations.

Which seems like a significant issue, and while Google is seemingly catching most of these channels before they have an impact, it also seems likely that this is only one element of a larger push.

Hopefully, through collective action, the impact of such can be limited – but for TikTok, which still reports to Chinese ownership, it’s another element that could raise further questions and scrutiny.

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The Drum | Trump’s Instagram & Facebook Reinstatement Won’t Cause Marketers To Riot Yet, Experts Say

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The Drum | Trump's Instagram & Facebook Reinstatement Won’t Cause Marketers To Riot Yet, Experts Say

While the reinstatement of Donald Trump’s Twitter account in November had some advertisers packing up in protest, many will strike a different tune with Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, experts predict.

Meta Wednesday announced that it’s lifting the ban on a handful of Facebook and Instagram accounts, including that of former US president Donald Trump – who was suspended nearly two years ago following the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol.

In a blog post yesterday, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, explained the reasons for the company’s decision, saying that it “evaluated the current environment” as it pertains to the socio-political landscape and security concerns and determined that “risk has sufficiently receded.” As a result, the company will welcome Trump back onto Facebook and Instagram.

The former president will be expected to comply with Meta’s user policies, but, considering his past violations, will face “heightened penalties for repeat offenses,” Clegg explained.

While it’s unclear whether Trump will become an active user on either platform following the decision, media and marketing experts are already sounding alarm bells at his potential return.

In particular, experts are cautious considering recent developments at Twitter. Elon Musk’s turbulent takeover – which has included mass layoffs, dramatic platform changes and the decision to reinstate the accounts of controversial figures like Trump and Kanye West (whose account has since been re-suspended) – has led to an exodus of advertisers. Could Meta’s decision to reintroduce Trump invite a similar fate?

‘Fear, frustration and protest’ could catalyze drawback

Concerns regarding brand safety and suitability on Facebook and Instagram are piquing among marketers. Trump’s presence on social media has long proven to exacerbate the spread of misinformation online. The risks of a potential recession, paired with new political tensions spurred by the 2022 midterms and the anticipation of the 2024 presidential election, may only up the ante.

“Misinformation on Meta’s platforms was an issue prior to Trump’s ban, during the ban and will likely continue to be an issue, even with the new [policies that] Meta has put in place,” says Laura Ries, group director of media and connections at IPG-owned ad agency R/GA. In light of this fact, Ries says, “Advertisers will need to continue to consider the type of content they’ll show up next to when evaluating whether or not to advertise on the platforms, especially as we march toward the 2024 election.”

She predicts that Meta may see some advertisers leave Facebook and Instagram “out of fear, frustration or protest.”

Others agree. “I suspect advertisers will not be pleased with this move and might make reductions in spend as they have done with Twitter,” says Tim Lim, a political strategist, PR consultant and partner at creative agency The Hooligans.

Although some advertisers are sure to pull back or cut their investments, the number will likely be low – largely because the scale and reach promised by both Facebook and Instagram will make it hard for most advertisers to quit. Smaller brands and startups in particular often rely heavily on Meta’s advertising business to spur growth, says Ries.

A ripple, not a wave

Most industry leaders believe Trump’s reinstatement won’t cause anything more than a ripple in the advertising industry. “Marketers who advertise on Facebook and Instagram care about their own problems, which generally [entail] selling more products and services,” says Joe Pulizzi, an entrepreneur, podcaster and author of various marketing books. “If Meta helps them do that, they don’t care one bit about brand safety – unless this blows up into a big political issue again. It might not, so marketers won’t do a thing.”

The sentiment is underscored by Dr Karen Freberg, a professor of strategic communications at University of Louisville, who says: “Facebook and Instagram are key fundamental platforms for advertisers. Marketers may … be aware of the news, but I am not sure if it will make a drastic change for the industry.” She points out that Twitter’s decision to lift the ban on Trump’s account in November caused such a big stir among marketers advertisers that Meta’s decision to do the same may come as less of a shock.

Trump’s return may even benefit Meta’s ads business by giving the company new opportunities to serve ads to Trump devotees, says Pulizzi. Ultimately, he says, Meta “needs personalities like Trump,” who, whether through love or hate, inspire higher engagement. “With Facebook plateauing and Instagram now chasing – and copying – TikTok at every turn, Trump’s follower base is important to Meta, which is hard to believe, but I think it’s true.”

But while some users may be energized by the former president’s return to Meta platforms, others may be outraged – even to the point of quitting Facebook and Instagram, points out Ries. In this case, she says, “advertisers will need to follow them to TikTok, Snap or other platforms where they’re spending their newfound time.”

R/GA, for its part, which services major brands including Google, Samsung, Verizon and Slack, will work on “a client by client basis” to address concerns about Facebook, Instagram or any other platform, says Ries. “R/GA recommended pausing activity on Facebook and Instagram after the insurrection and won’t hesitate to do so again if another incident occurs.”

For more, sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here.

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

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Snap Launches New Ad Campaign to Showcase its AR Offerings

Snapchat has launched a new promotional campaign which leans into the uniqueness of its viral AR trends, with a showcase of bizarre effects, as a means to present people with a different perspective on the real world.

Pretty trippy, huh?

As explained by Snap:

At Snap, we celebrate the joy, irreverence, and spontaneity of communicating with your real friends in fun, unexpected ways. Over the years, we’ve pushed the boundaries of how people see and experience the world through augmented reality. AR makes conversations and experiences better, and unlocks new ways to connect with others, learn about the world, shop, and more. [Our new campaign] shows you what it’s like to see the world the way Snapchatters do.”

It’s pretty weird, but will that get more people using Snap?

Certainly, the campaign will grab attention, and with 72% of active Snapchat users already engaging with AR elements in the app every day, there’s clearly a lot of interest in these types of weirdo activations that provide a new way of seeing the familiar.

Maybe that’ll prove to be a good lure to get people into the app, and broaden its user base. I mean, at the least, it’ll spark intrigue, which will likely get at least a few more people downloading the app to see what they can do.

AR is a key focus for Snap, and despite operating at a much smaller scale than Meta and Apple, which are both also investing big in AR projects, Snap has continued to punch above its wait in this area, by continually coming out with AR content that grabs attention, and engages audiences.

Meta is still struggling to maintain relevance with younger audiences, a key element that could de-rail its metaverse vision, while Apple has actually leaned on Snap to help showcase its advanced AR tools over time.

If nothing else, Snapchat has its finger on the pulse, which is why virtually every AR trend – from anime filters to baby faces, from crying faces to vomiting rainbows – all of these have originated from Snapchat, and that’s remained consistent over time, even with newer platforms like TikTok entering the same realm.

Snap is very in-tune with its user base, which is also why its Snapchat+ subscription offering is already doing better than Twitter Blue, even with the addition of tweet editing verification ticks (Snapchat+ has over 1.5 million paying subscribers, versus an estimated 325k for Twitter Blue).

That community sense has helped Snap maintain growth and relevance. But it also needs to expand – and maybe, through a bizarre showcase like this, that could help to make more people aware of the things that they can do in the app.

And this is how Snapchat Lenses tend to be shared. Somebody uses it, then they just have to show their friends.

In this respect, it seems like a good initiative, which could help Snap spark more interest and engagement.

It also serves as a demo of scanning in the Snap camera – if you want to try out any of the Lenses featured in the ad, you can scan the screen in the Snap camera, which will then open up whichever Lens is featured at that moment.

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