April 13, 2020 7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
There are two strategies you can pursue right now: 1. Retreat and play defense with all the uncertainty surrounding the economy and world, or 2. Go on the offense, control your brand’s narrative and push more content. Personally, I’m choosing the offense. Increasing my social media posting and driving my brand forward is in my control, unlike a lot of other variables (like where my next stash of TP is going to come from).
With COVID-19 keeping much of the country on lockdown, this is shaping up to be a year of Instagram-consumer overload, opening an opportunity for content creators and entrepreneurs to start engaging with their base a little more. I’ve been seeing lots of users hack out new ideas, especially on Instagram Live. This experience, while tragic and traumatic in many ways, has also doubled as a litmus test for brands and their social media strategy.
As a chance to start reassessing the Instagram tools you might be using and what can be improved, I’ve decided to pull together a set of 10 — each of which I’m currently using across my various businesses and brands — that can help you start planning and assessing how to grow your followers during this otherwise challenging period.
An excellent choice if you want to build your follower base quickly, ViralRace enables you to get your content in front of the people who would enjoy it most. The system allows people to send their profiles out to a wide group of people, and thousands of interested users then follow the account. The app is a custom AI engine that geo targets followers to get quality leads, which is what was compelling to me as a user. I’ll note that since it’s not utilizing a bot or fake followers from a farm, the build is quick, but built with genuine people that will stick with you. When you consider how often Instagram sweeps to get rid of fake followers and bots, a tool like ViralRace is an efficient, affordable way to garner more traction for the long haul, which I highly recommend to get a solid base going.
One of the most intuitive and inventive design tools to come out recently, Figma is giving Adobe a run for its money (especially since Figma starts its pricing out as free, versus Adobe, which only offers free trials). Beyond the pricing, Figma is a seamless collaborative-design platform that works in real time with your team on projects. It’s especially helpful if you’re working with a copywriter/graphic designer duo or have multiple hands on your Instagram’s design scheme. It’s not often I come across products that provide effective collaboration, and I always stick with them when I do.
From the team that brought you LinkInBio (a grid-formatted link for linking out content on Instagram posts), Later is one of my favorite products for planning and scheduling out your content for Instagram. Later has a clean and easy UI and delivers on analytics that are easy to understand. With competitive pricing that starts at free for individuals, Later is something you definitely shouldn’t put a hold on checking out.
Considered by many to be one of the strongest visual communities out there, VSCO is where you need to go for any and all visual inspiration. As VSCO’s primary tool is their photo editor, they’ve had some skin in the game since Instagram’s early days, growing to be one of the biggest treasure troves of different styles and shots from some of the world’s best. Consistently going strong for almost a decade now, VSCO is a classic for any Instagram pro’s social-media arsenal.
An alternative-analytics platform from Later, Union Metrics has a robust platform for tracking who’s been looking at your Instagram and which of your content they’ve been gravitating toward. Explaining data in a pretty straightforward way, Union Metrics can help you quite a bit in making informed decisions on what type of content you should be posting, as well as what time is the most advantageous.
For all the talk about influencer-marketing campaigns, the best of them start with BuzzSumo. Giving you a deep dive into what each influencer’s follower count is like, average engagement and ranking for your Instagram, its platform helps quite a bit in getting the best ROI out of your influencer-marketing campaigns. Although a little pricier in that it’s designed for professional teams, it’s still a smart consideration if you’re really looking to ramp up your influencer marketing soon.
Why use TikTok, an Instagram competitor, as a tool for engaging on Instagram? The content format and editing are increasingly becoming the new norm in people’s Instagram Stories. More and more people are turning to TikTok to create short videos with a narrative (similar to a longer Vine), evolving a new medium of content that didn’t exist before. Even if your Instagram still has good engagement on its Stories, learning how to create content “TikTok style” will help you stay ahead of the curve while also enabling you to start building an audience on another platform.
For a simple, linear tool to help organize, compile and track personal links, Linktree is the best in the business. Starting with unlimited links in its free version, it’s a perfect solution for anyone trying to collect their clickables in one place. Plus, in the advanced version, the tracking is especially helpful in the content you’re trying to A/B test your engagement on. I personally love the data and make changes based on what I see. For example, if one of my articles is getting more clicks, I put it higher on my Linktree feed.
A new tool introduced by SproutSocial, Landscape helps you resize any and all your photos into a convenient size for Instagram. Although many of us think cropping things down is an easy job, you’d be surprised how much content people prohibit themselves from capturing because they don’t think it’ll fit for Instagram, or they’ve taken a flick and it doesn’t fit. Instead, Landscape fixes that problem, changing behavior in helping more people create content freely. Plus, its quick click-and-drag system is one of the simplest, most convenient ways to get the job done better and faster than going through manually.
Finally, a trend that doesn’t seem to be slowing down is AR filters, which enable people to do everything from taking quizzes to wear masks and even play games. The possibilities creators have been exploring with AR filters have been endless, cycling through with new interactive and engaging content almost every week. With the right idea, your AR filter could possibly go viral.
What’s your favorite Instagram tool you’ve been using recently and how has it shaped your process? Hit me on Instagram @andrewmedal, and let’s go on the offense during this crazy season.