Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Instagram has quickly become one of the best social media marketing platforms for small businesses, to increase awareness and build engagement. A recent Forrester study found that brands on Instagram see an average engagement rate of 4.21 percent.
To put this into perspective, brands on Facebook received a 0.7 percent engagement rate and only a 0.4 percent rate on Twitter. Unlike Facebook, the Instagram feed displays posts linearly and moves much slower than Twitter, so messages are more likely to be seen by followers.
Nonetheless, it can be incredibly time-consuming to market on Instagram. Because users are unable to post from a computer, they assume everything has to be done using a smartphone.
Luckily, this isn’t the case, thanks to some online tools that make marketing on Instagram just as easy as other social media platforms.
Here are nine of my favorites, segmented by category.
Google Drive is an indispensable tool for Instagram marketing. Everything from strategy to content can be created and housed there. Use Google Sheets to set up a content calendar, for at least a month. Once completed, gather the creative and write post copy according to the schedule.
Creating a large block of posts requires a bigger time investment upfront but will save time in the long run. One of the greatest benefits of Google Drive is the ability to share documents with others for easy and efficient collaboration.
Canva is a free-to-use website that offers a multitude of design templates for social media and other purposes. Select the “Instagram Post” option and choose your layout. Pick the text style that best suits your brand and input your copy. You can select from Canva’s library of backgrounds, or upload your own.
Use the “Design School” feature to learn how to create professional-looking graphics. Many options are free to users, but some do require payment.
PicMonkey is another free website that functions as more of an online photo editor. It is similar to Photoshop but much more limited and easier to use. The “Edit” feature allows you to add text, effects, or overlays to images. Whiten teeth, remove wrinkles, or airbrush portraits by using the “Touch Up” feature. You can also design custom graphics and create photo collages.
Over is a smartphone app where users can upload a photo and add text or graphics. There are many different packages available, each with similar fonts and symbols. Some are free, and others cost just 99 cents. Users can create impactful images with little effort. Download Over for $1.99 in the Apple Store or $3.99 on Google Play.
Hashtagify lists the most popular trending hashtags. View the top 30 hashtags to “trend-jack” popular topics or input the hashtags you plan to use in the search function, to ensure your posts receive maximum visibility.
The service offers monthly, weekly, or daily email updates. Also, you can learn more about hashtags and how to use them in the Hastagify University.
The above features are free to use. Hashtagify also offers paid plans that contain more features, which start at $9.99 per month.
Tagstagram also provides trending hashtags but organizes them by category and sets. It has hundreds of related hashtags, also grouped together by category. Just copy and paste those you want to use and add them to your text. The primary benefit of this program is its ability to save your favorite hashtags. It also has a smartphone app, which you can download for $1.99 at iTunes. (A “Lite” version is free.)
Repost enables users to share content from their followers or other influencers. Instagram does not allow users to save images from the platform, leaving them to take screenshots, which can result in low-quality images. You can easily credit the original poster and share to your page directly from the app. Download the free app at iTunes or Google Play.
Schedugram is the biggest time-saver on this list. It includes several options for scheduling Instagram posts. While it can be a bit clunky at times, Schedugram is relatively easy to use and saves you from having to post updates manually.
Just upload your graphic, input the post copy, choose the date and time according to your content calendar, and your posts are ready to go. Prices vary depending on the number of followers and start at $20 per month.
Iconosquare is the most robust tool featured here. It provides key metrics and useful tools for your Instagram posts and page, taking the place of many of the services already listed. These include:
- Segmentation of your Instagram feeds between photos and videos you like, photos and videos of people you follow, your feed, and user profiles;
- Statistics about your account’s performance, growth, history, insights, and optimization tips;
- Comment tracker to view comments on your posts and respond directly from Iconosquare;
- Promotion of your Instagram feed on your Facebook page, blog, or website;
- Creation of photo or video contests.
Most of Iconosquare’s features are free to use.