Content Development: the Instagram Connection

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I have images that make great content but I don’t know how and where else to post it aside from Facebook and G+, is there other ways to post picture content to generate traffic? What makes for interesting content? Could it be that people would be interested a picture of a product?

Pictures are worth a thousand words so they say but how do you say something with a picture? It could be casual, funny, interesting or just plain spectacular but in order for you to do this, you should have some basic understanding on what makes a good picture—the subject of the image should be of interest to people.

When it comes to picture posting, Instagram has been one of the dark horses for commercial websites hoping to milk some traffic. The potential is there but how and who should use it?

Pictures are worth a thousand followers

Instagram started life as an iPhone only app and they took a long time to get onto the Android bandwagon. Today, it has roughly 45 million monthly active users. That’s not a bad number for a photo sharing site. Compare that with its rival Streamzoo which has 43,000 active monthly users. Obviously you know the winner here is Instagram. Starting an account is easy. Download the app to your iPhone or Android device and you’re ready to post stuff.

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Maintaining any social media account takes effort. Creating or curating content for an audience is similar to spoon feeding them with tasty morsels of food. If it’s not tasty, they are not coming back for more.

Good for Instagram, Good for Google? 

Unfortunate but true, Google doesn’t boost your rankings based on your Instagram post but the idea here is not to drive Google search traffic to your Instagram feed but drive instagram traffic to your website. The simplest ways is to get a nice picture up and put a shorten web link alongside your Instagram will do the trick. Go with bitly.com or @urljuicer —these will help link your URL on your website to a post. Instagram post is indexed by Google but in order for them to show up in the search result, the search query must include the word “Instagram”.

Instagram has over 40 million monthly users on a site, so you can be assured that the traffic is worth milking. Similar photo sharing sites like Mobli (330K monthly active users) and Pheed (about 50K monthly active users) show much lower figures but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them completely.

Boosting Traffic and Followers

Learn to use the hashtag to describe your product or service. Instagram has been credited as a good place to find anything from food porn to bootleg firearms fashioned by the Mujahideen. Once you are comfy with a hashtag of your choice, use that in all your post to alert similar minded people. Adding people to your account can be done via a discovery method within the mobile app.

Instagram’s hashtag is very useful for brand building. For example if you registered a trademark called “Rock my Socks” then your hashtag on Instagram should be #rockmysocks. Simple isn’t it? Sprinkle that over your post to start your own branding. Be sure to add other relevant hashtags to your post, like maybe #fashion, #wearables or even #talibanporn.

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The next trick up your sleeves is to follow people and get them to follow you back. Easy if you know what makes for good content. Difficult if all you ever post are boring photos of your dog. The hashtag does wonders for your post to be found by others and some have been known to put all sort of hashtags onto a post in the hope someone out there will see it. Even though it is an effective means to tag everything under the sun with a hashtag, please remember that doing so is akin to spamming and for this, the community will declare jihad on you.

Baby Steps For Instagramers

Instagram is by far the most effective image marketing platform as all post have to be visual. You can even post short videos on it. The stop motion shooting pioneered by Vine app was adopted and copied by Instagram to keep its user base intact. But Vine is only for video, and it doesn’t support photo posting.

Adding total strangers to your account and expecting them to do the same is probably a bit lame but that hasn’t stopped people from doing it. The success rate varies so you have been warned.

Plan everything in advance and never do something you’d regret later. You can delete a post on Instagram later but by that time, things could get out of hand so don’t slack.

Leap frogging into Instagram

Celebrities often develop specific content for Instagram followers. First, no one wants to see a dozen self whoring image of yourself in front of a camera. They want variety and if someone is going to do it for you, it better be someone else and not you. This again begets the question, what makes for quality content so that people who follow you will end up clicking the link to your site??

Always Post Interesting Pictures

If you are a wedding photographer, then post pictures of some work in progress shoots. If you are a bakery, then shoot some pictures of your latest creation. Product shots needs to be hashtagged properly before it can be found. Square format pictures are very easy to compose in-camera so if you keep getting it wrong, please consult an optometrist.

Don’t be a Cam Whore

Cam whoring is fine. Take that selfie and post it but don’t overdo it by posting one, with the same pose but with different clothing just to show you know how to dress. It gets lame and followers will get bored and unfollow you. If you run a shop selling fashion accessories or clothing, don’t model those clothes yourself. I know you can but trust me, someone has to be behind the damn smartphone to shoot the pix. Those self shot pictures only make your head look big.

Location Whoring is a Must

People often forget to do this, create the check-in in Foursquares and make sure you have it right. Use that in all your Instagram post. Remember to post pictures with the location in mind (should you have more than one outlet location) so that people who bother to look you up can drop in and buy that bootleg rice wine you’ve been telling people about.

Make Short Videos for your Followers

Ever since Instagram took the video route, people have posted videos on some of the most boring things I have seen. That said, it won’t hurt to do a good short video. Take time to plan it. Make it funny. People love that sort of stuff. Even if you are selling fashion accessories, stolen weapons, dildos to cupcakes, I can think of a hundred ways to shoot it to make it viral. You can edit a movie, put into your iPhone and upload it but it gets cropped to a square format automatically so you don’t have a choice when it comes to the aspect ratio.

Do What is Humanly Possible

Forget those space fights or SFX scenes you caught off some Disney movie, Instagram isn’t that kind of video capture service. And should you have scenes involving humans, well, you can’t do this alone. Trust me, unless you were born a cephalopod, chances are you won’t have that sort of reach to do this.

You need two people to get things done—one person in front of the camera acting the whole scene, the other person with the smartphone, ready and steady to shoot. If you are a stop motion buff, you can plan a whole sequence without ever involving a paid or slave actor (part time labor). And remember to have fun while you’re at it!

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