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Instagram Surges to Greater Heights

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Mesmerizing GIFs, the rise of the every-person influencer and simply getting the basics right about your biography are among the many elements that drive Instagram success and overcome myths.

This is where Forbes Top 50 social media power influencer Dede Watson feels right at home. She detects trends and keeps clients ahead of their competition.

Together with ManageSocial product designer Kate Frappell and digital marketer Madalyn Sklar, Watson looked at trends affecting Instagram in the near future and beyond, starting with influencer marketing.

According to influencer marketing agency mediakix, global ad spend on influencers is expected to reach $5 billion to $10 billion by 2020.

“Look for more micro-influencers under 100,000 followers and nano-influencers — which can have as few as a few thousand or less — to become a larger focus of brands for collaborations,” Watson said.

“People want to see more authenticity and transparency with brands and influencers,” she said. “The government is also cracking down. So, influencers must disclose when receiving any form of compensation.”

Entrepreneurs also need to take the initiative in marketing.

“More brands and everyday people who sell physical products will use the Shopping on Instagram feature,” Watson said. “It’s been around for a while, but a lot of brands are still not fully using it. Shop directly from a post without searching for a link.

“More ad spend will be directed toward Stories,” she said. “There are over 500,000 daily Stories users. Stories is not for second-rate content. It’s time to up your game on Stories, especially if you’re not using them.”

Watson noted that when it comes to follower numbers, bigger is better.

“When you get to 10,000 followers, you can share a link in your Stories,” she said. “There are lots of ways to promote your website and posts via Stories as well as connect with your followers. Let them see you in a more personal setting.

“I am crazy about Stories,” Watson added.

While mostly enthusiastic about Instagram, Frappell has qualms about advertisements.

“Targeted ads are starting to get a bit much,” she said. “More authenticity is the key to solving this.”

Beyond that, Frappell has a virtual love affair with Instagram.

“I am loving Cinemagraphs,” she said. “These are still images with a spice of repeated movement, usually exported as a GIF or video, which is Julien Douvier’s specialty.

“I also love the growing popularity of branded GIFs,” Frappell said. “While I’m not a huge fan of plastering logos on my Instagram stories, I am onboard with GIFs that follow a specific style guide. Luggage brand CalPak is a great example of this.”

It’s also important to lay claim to your corner of the market.

“Another trend I’m starting to see is bigger brands creating more profiles and niching down,” Frappell said. “For example, a global clothing line might create profiles based on location. This way they can post-summer clothing to customers experiencing warm weather.”

Instagram is the go-to platform for capturing quality engagement within smaller communities. Small businesses would do well to get more attention with a powerful tool.

“Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags and geotagging,” Watson said. “Make sure they are targeted hashtags.

“Use locals and patrons to share their experiences with the business,” she said. “Make your customers and clients brand advocates. Let your employees also be your advocates by posting on their feeds. Share their posts and your customers’ posts on your feed. This is user-generated content.”

Tapping into such free sources relieves some of the worry about money.

“If you don’t have a large ad budget, run small sponsored posts to draw people to your feed,” Watson said. “Create your story about your business, and share this with your Instagram community. Develop a strong relationship with your targeted community.”

Micro-influencers play a strategic role in capturing the attention and desire of consumers.

“They are extremely important for brands,” Watson said. “First, they are going to enable a brand to spread advertising dollars much further.

“If you can take $50,000 to $100,000 that you might pay for a large Influencer in single post and use this to reach a more targeted audience with hundreds of micro- and nano-influencers, it makes more sense to use them,” she said.

Micro-influencers naturally tear away mystique.

“People can relate more to an everyday person or a smaller influencer more than a celebrity,” Watson said. “They can see themselves in you or me more than a celebrity.

“Micro-influencers who are brand ambassadors are also becoming more prominent,” she said. “These people are paid advocates of a brand. Seeing them interact regularly with a brand’s products is extremely effective for brands today.”

Watson explained that Instagram stories and posts each have their place in distributing content.

“Both are equally important and should be used regularly,” she said. “Your feed should contain your best visual content. Each post should be planned so you can lay out the visuals in an app such as Later or Planoly.

“The overall look is important on your main feed,” Watson said. “You can add longer captions and tell a complete story in one single post or a carousel.”

This is the time to tap into imagination.

“Stories let you be super creative and should be thought of as a way to add incredible content that might not be suitable for your main feed,” Watson said. “Instagram keeps adding more features to Stories. You definitely need to be posting them daily.

“There are so many features now within Stories to help you create dynamic content and tricks you can use,” she said. “Apps such as Unfold and Story Art are amazing for creating incredible visuals on Stories for video and images.”

Create Instagram content with evergreen in mind. The fewer references to dates and events, the easier it is to use your prime posts, again and again, highlighting a different key element each time.

“Share your feed posts in Stories,” Watson said. “This is a simple way to grab the attention of your followers. To access this feature, simply tap into your image or post on your feed. Then tap the paper plane-looking icon.

“Reuse your archived Stories,” she said. “Either repurpose from your archives, or save the original image or video to your camera roll and, using all the wonderful edit features on your phone, change it up a bit.”

This leads to memorable results.

“Add the visual into Unfold or Story Art app’s amazing templates to give your post that extra pizazz,” Watson said. “Or use Hypetype app to add font or music. Also, I love Inshot to turn 5-second videos into 15 seconds to give people more time to view — especially if I want them to click a link.

“Post an Instagram TV preview to your main feed,” she said. “I received almost 1,600 views from one I posted this way.”

Marketers should take advantage of their Close Friends List to share targeted content to specific audiences.

“Add targeted followers to share exclusive deals, create client lists and memberships,” Watson said.

“If you use the same account for business and personal, you might want to segment your Stories between your friends and business targets,” she said. “Create a Close Friends List for either your personal account or business. As of now, you can only create one list.”

An optimized Instagram biography will improve engagement and draw people to your feed. In all social platforms, your bio is your business card. Keep it neat, fact packed and professional to give others a sense that you’re an expert and that you care.

“Most people overlook their bio, and it’s one of the most important areas of your Instagram page,” Watson said. “That’s one of the first places people or brands go to find out about you.”

These are her biography tips: Have a great profile picture with a current description plus a link.

“Did you know your user name with the ‘@’ and name are the only two places that are searchable on Instagram?” Watson said. “Make sure to optimize — especially your name. This can be different from your username and can include a description such as your industry.

“Add an emoji or two,” she said. “A bio update is rolling out on Instagram. Not sure I’m liking it. You will have to tap ‘more’ to see the entire bio. Most people are not going to take the time to tap on the more.”

Remember that attention spans are fleeting.

“Make sure people can see who you are and what you do — quickly,” Watson said. “I strongly recommend if you have time this week to do a bio audit.”

Sklar continued talking about Instagram trends in a Facebook LIve video

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Jim Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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