Tag Archives: instagram

Worth A Thousand Words — The Power of Instagram Ads

Now that you have learned about the Beginner’s Guide to Instagram for Business as well as the versatility of Instagram Stories, we are here to conclude this social media post trilogy with an in-depth look into the world of Instagram Ads.

Marketing guru Seth Godin has lambasted the idea of interruption marketing (an older, pre-social media approach to marketing) many times in the past. In one particular instance, he stated: “marketing by interrupting people isn’t cost-effective anymore. You can’t afford to seek out people and send them unwanted marketing messages, in large groups, and hope that some will send you money.”

Though social media marketing has gone through many iterations in the last decade and is by no means completely perfect by this point, one key part of the approach is to make any ads that you put out there seem as natural an addition as possible to your targeted audience’s news feed, timeline, etc. With demographics pertaining to gender, age, location, occupation, likes, interests and more, Instagram Ads allow you to create messages and content that your audience already have a predilection for. Read on to see why we think Instagram Ads would make an effective addition to your company’s social media and overall marketing strategy.

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Who Wants to Hear Some (Instagram) Stories?

“Storytelling’ has been a key buzzword of the marketing world for decades (see the philosophy espoused by Don Draper in AMC’s Mad Men), but the digital realm especially has taken this concept to new heights.

Before you even introduce your product or service, your audience of potential customers want to be captivated and intrigued. Given that we see anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements per day on a variety of platforms (print, billboard, television, internet and smartphone apps), the ads that capture our attention are the ones that truly stand out and act as a natural complement to the content with which we already love to engage.

In August 2016, Instagram launched the Stories component of its photo and video-sharing app. Admittedly copied from Snapchat’s enormously popular Stories feature, Instagram Stories allow users to post full-screen vertical images/videos that disappear within 24 hours. However, while users’ normal posts can be easily lost in the timeline, the Stories feature is located at the top of the home screen, allows for a seamless scrolling with posts often appearing in chronological order and alerts users to any time a profile they follow has posted a story.

According to Instagram, over 500 million accounts use Stories every day whether posting or just scrolling through and that “one-third of the most viewed stories come from businesses, and one in five stories gets a direct message from its viewers.” If you want to truly up your company’s Instagram strategy, read on to discover FIVE ways to best use Instagram Stories.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Instagram for Business

As a business owner diving into the realm of digital and social media marketing, you may have just gotten comfortable with posting on Facebook or Twitter. However, as marketing trends evolve once again, you and your team can now add a bevy of tools to your disposal.

While you may be tempted to try everything and see what sticks, you’ll probably want to start with adding one new platform to your content strategy at a time instead, and we’ve got a great suggestion for you!

Recently alluded to and memorialized in a Taco Bell commercial involving “sunset heart hands,” Instagram provides an organic, in-the-moment approach to content creation and sharing that includes pictures, videos, hashtags and much more.

Read on to discover some Instagram basics as well as two features that can help you take your company’s marketing game to a completely new level.

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What’s the New Instagram Stories Feature and How Can It Help Business?

instagram-storiesJust two short weeks ago (on August 2, 2016) Instagram introduced Instagram Stories, “…a new feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.”

According to Instagram’s announcement, “With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about overposting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day—with as much creativity as you want. You can bring your story to life in new ways with text and drawing tools. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.” Continue reading

Writing Creative Instagram Captions

instagramInstagram is based on the axiom that a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s the optimal social media networks for businesses to illustrate their story through photos, videos, and other visual images.

With more than 400 million monthly users sifting through billions of images, you have real potential to engage huge audiences with your brand. In fact, Instagram is one of the few social networks where users are completely engrossed with your ad, because each image takes up the entire screen of a smartphone.

That’s why I find it baffling that so many marketers completely overlook Instagram captions. While it’s easy to come up with great visuals, I guess it’s not nearly as easy to come up with fresh and creative Instagram captions that reel in followers. Continue reading

Social Media Image Sizes — A 2016 Guide

LikeWe’ve updated this guide for 2017, click here to see the new guide.

If you are in any way engaged with social media, then you’ve probably had to create images to use when promoting or sharing things with your community. The problem is, social networks are constantly changing the recommended specs for images, and different uses for images often require different dimensions (the height and width of the image).

That’s why we’ve created this handy guide to creating social media images for a number of the most popular networks out there, and we will endeavor to make sure that it stays up-to-date as things inevitably change. Let’s begin!

A Few Universal Tips

There are a few things that you’ll want to try to do no matter where you are posting. Firstly, don’t stray from the recommended dimensions if at all possible. If you do, you are likely to cause stretching and/or blurring when the image displays. There are plenty of user-friendly image editors available for free online, if you are uncomfortable with or do not have access to Photoshop, including Pixlr, PicMonkey or if you use WordPress, WordPress’s built in image editor. The one caveat to this rule is if you’d like to use a larger image than recommended. Social networks apply pretty heavy compression to over-large images, which can actually result in a slightly worse quality than if you had uploaded the recommended size. However, Twitter actually applies this compression to all uploaded images, so in that one instance, uploading a larger image may increase quality, though results vary. If you do opt for a larger image, just make sure that it is larger in scale to the recommended dimensions. If your image contains a logo or text, you may want to use a png file instead of jpg, because they will be less likely to distort in a png.


COVER IMAGE — 851 x 315 px

When choosing or designing an image, be sure to accommodate for info Facebook places in the lower part of the image space, including business name, type and the new optin button that appears on the lower right corner if you have it turned on.

PROFILE IMAGE — 180 x 180 px

SHARED IMAGES — 1200 x 630 px

SHARED LINKS — 1200 x 627 px


COVER IMAGE — 1500 x 500 px

PROFILE IMAGE — 400 x 400 px

SHARED IMAGES — 440 x 220 px

If you don’t want people to have to expand an image to see the whole thing, than the above dimensions are what you want. If you don’t mind people needing to expand your image first, then any dimensions will do.


PROFILE IMAGE — 110 x 110 px

SHARED IMAGES — 1080 x 1080 px


BACKGROUND IMAGE — 1400 x 425 px

This one is relatively new, and can be tricky if you want to fill it with branding. Only the top strip of the image will show above the content. It is often better to try and use an abstract image without logo or text here.

BANNER IMAGE — 646×220

Also pretty new, the banner image shows up on your brand’s home page.

COVER IMAGE — 974 x 330 px

LOGO/PROFILE IMAGE — 400 x 400 px

Google +

COVER IMAGE — 1080 x 608 px

PROFILE IMAGE — 250 x 250 px

SHARED IMAGE — 497 x 373 px

SHARED LINKS — 150 x 150 px

Google + turns images associated with links into thumbnails at the above dimensions. We don’t recommend you use those dimensions for these, just be aware that they will be thumbnailized (I just invented a word!).


PROFILE IMAGE — 165 x 165 px

PINS — 236px in width, can be as tall as you like.


COVER IMAGE — 2560 x 1440 px

This image only displays full size on televisions, otherwise you will only see a portion. For this reason, it’s important to keep stuff you always want visible in a 1546 x 423 px area directly in the center of your 2560 x 1440 px image.

And there you have it! Now you can make images for social media to your hearts content. When we’ve updated this post, we’ll announce we’ve done so at the top of it, so check back to see if things have changed. You can bet they will.

Want awesome social media images that fit perfectly wherever they need to? Give the designers at Solamar a shout.

5 Reasons You Should Use Hootsuite in 2015

hootsuiteHi folks! Last week I wrote about how to escape from social media overload, and one of things I mentioned was the social media management (SMM) platform Hootsuite. This week I’d like to dial in a little more on what Hootsuite is capable of and why you should be using it, even if you love swimming in the social media ocean.

Hootsuite has been around for a long time now (in internet time measurement), originally coming onto the scene in 2008 under the name BrightKit, and then changing its name the year after that via a competition. Since it’s been around that long, it’s likely you have heard of or even used Hootsuite in the past. Personally, I’ve been checking in on the growth of its feature-set every year or so since it launched, and though up until recently I’ve found it lacking in a few key areas that made it difficult to recommend broadly, in the past year a few things have updated or been included to eliminate most of my concerns.

To be clear, there are still reasons to engage with social media networks directly, but when it comes to managing the multiple profiles a business needs to stay competitive, and to interface with the growing community of social media users who choose to seek support via your networks, Hootsuite is now one of the best tools available. So let’s dig in, and talk about why that is.

Hey, It’s Free!

At least, the base platform is free, but that base is incredibly feature rich, and a perfectly good way to get started. If you find yourself needing even further functionality, their paid plans increase the scope of what you can control and monitor, the size of the team you can manage via the platform, and the depth of the analytics they offer. However, the free plan, which is limited to 3 networks, 1 team member and basic analytics, is a good jumping off point, and if you are a solo entrepreneur or small business with a limited team, can be enough to handle everything you need.

Keeping It Together

One of the primary functions of Hootsuite is to gather all of the streams from across your various networks and display them in a single dashboard, allowing you to view and manage them without having to keep millions of browser tabs open. It also allows you to post to multiple networks at the same time, though you need to be careful when and how you choose to do that. The culture and limitations of individual networks can vary, and if a message is particularly important, you may still want to tailor individual messages to each network. But for quick one-off announcements, you can save a lot of time by broadcasting to all of your networks simultaneously.

I should also mention here that Hootsuite is one of the few ways it is possible to easily post to Google+ from outside of the search giant’s walled garden. The list of networks that Hootsuite is capable of interfacing with is an ever-growing pile, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, WordPress, Tumblr and many, many more, including…

Instagram!!! Finally!!!

Just this month, Hootsuite finally added full-on Instagram integration, including scheduling of Instagram posts. Up until now, us social media managers have had to use a dizzying array of third-party tools to allow us to schedule Instagram posts, which isn’t a feature Instagram offers itself, and those tools have been shoddily executed at best. Also, they often come in and out of existence quickly, meaning we’ve had to keep finding and switching tools in order to keep up with our needs. Now, we have that functionality built into one of the best management tools out there, and it works perfectly. The scheduling service still relies on automatically bringing up your Instagram app so you can hit send yourself, rather than sending it automatically the way other networks can, but the implementation is much smoother than services I’ve used previously, with a number of checks along the way to make sure that you aren’t accidentally posting to the wrong account.

With this addition, Hootsuite is now capable of managing what I think of as “the big three” social networks — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and that is honestly the main reason I am now comfortable suggesting it to anyone who needs SMM in their life.

Teamwork FTW

This is another biggy. If you manage your networks by yourself you won’t need this, but if you have ever tried to coordinate social media strategy and management across a number of team members, then you’ve probably run into some of the logistical issues that can create. Giving your network passwords to others is a security risk, and getting an overview of who has responded to what and when can be incredibly difficult. Hootsuite’s team-management system allows you to decide which team members should respond to what, eliminating the concern that multiple team members will respond to the same thing. It also allows you to easily share the load of managing your networks with others, further cutting down on potential overload. Though the free plan only allows one other team member, that can often be enough for a small team to divide and conquer.

Schedule and Move On

Another huge reason to use Hootsuite is that it allows you to schedule your posts for later. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is. If you’ve worked up an extensive social media marketing campaign, executing that campaign can be a real headache, especially if it involves multiple posts to multiple networks over an extended period of time. Making sure all of those posts get out exactly when they are supposed to can be nearly impossible, and will disrupt any other work you are trying to do, unless you schedule them ahead of time. When you frontload your entire campaign into Hootsuite using scheduled posts, you can fire and forget, allowing you to move on to other work secure in the knowledge that your plan is being executed automatically exactly as you intended. This. Is. Awesome.

There are plenty of other really cool things that Hootsuite does, including in-depth analytics, built in url shortening and more, but I think this is enough to make my point. If you spend any time interfacing with social media for business, than you owe it to yourself to give Hootsuite a spin. It won’t cost you anything, and you might find that it makes your life better in a number of measurable ways.

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