Last November Instagram announced a new feature on photos and videos! The ALT text or tag. What does ALT text mean? ALT text stands for alternative text. If you have added images to your website or blog, this is probably something you are already familiar with. ALT text strengthens the message of your articles with search engine spiders and improves the accessibility of your website.
Instagram announced that they introduced ALT text to make the platform more accessible for visually impaired users. ALT text descriptions can be read by screen readers so visually impaired readers can hear about the photos in their feed.
How do you add it?
Open your Instagram account and add a photo and caption. Then go to Advanced Settings at the bottom of the page.
Scroll down to accessibility and write ALT Text.
Next add the ALT text.
Your followers will not actually going to see this text. Instagram will automatically set your alt text on every image if you don't add them. However if you do use them strategically, you will be able provide further SEO value for your brand. Your photos are now going to start getting rankings on Google Image search.
If you would like to learn more about how to improve your Instagram strategy, I would love you to come to my Instagram For Business Workshop on the 5th of February in Guildford. If you can't make this one, subscribe to my email list to get notified about the future workshops.
Instagram was launched as a photo sharing app exclusively in IOS in 2010. When Facebook purchased the photo-sharing platform in 2012 it had just 30 million users. As of June 2018, it has become the world’s second largest social media platform with one billion monthly active users.
The platform is constantly evolving with new functions such as Instagram Stories and IGTV. Today, it isn’t just the young people who are on Instagram though. The older generation has also embraced Instagram in recent years, even if they don’t post to the platform as actively, they are engaging with the content. *
Instagram users are much more engaged compared to Facebook and Twitter ** and they love brands. Instagram states that 80% of people are following a business account on the platform.
Brands love Instagram as well because it is cost-effective: The Instagram app noted 20% as many ad impressions as Facebook and 9% as many clicks.***
Instagram trends are changing fast and we need to keep a close eye to determine the best practices. Here are my expectations for Instagram in 2019.
Hashtags play a crucial role in social media marketing. Using the right hashtags will help you cut through the noise and get your content seen.
By engaging with the key hashtags in your industry, you will be able to discover new accounts to follow and engage with. Consequently, you can reach a wider audience and influencers.
Hashtags evolve and change all the time. Some hashtags get oversaturated,some are not used much any more. So it's a good practise to check them from time to time.
But how do you find the best hashtags?
There are a couple of tools.
1. Ritetag: This is a tool that I mostly use for Twitter but it also analyses hashtags for Instagram.
It has browser extensions so you can quickly look up hashtags and analyse them. It suggests hashtags to get seen and lets you know about the ones you should not use.
I searched #smallbusiness, and as you can see from the below photo, it also suggests me other popular hashtags that are related to it. Not every one of these may be related to my business, but it's good to have alternative hashtags to maximise the reach.
2. Makelight Hashtag Tool is the one that I use regularly for Instagram. It indexes hashtags and you can see how many photos each hashtag contain. Hundreds and thousands of photos are being published every second so some hashtags are very large.
If you only use the most popular hashtags, your content might not get the best exposure. Therefore it is better to use some popular hashtags and some not so popular ones to cut through the noise.
When you search a hashtag in Makelight, it tells you how many photos are indexed under that particular hashtag, how many times it is posted (every few minutes, every hour etc.. It also gives you related hashtags.
3. Display Purposes for Instagram. This tool gives you a number of hashtags around the keyword you enter, however it doesn't let me know how big or small that hashtag is so I don't tend to use it. Although if you want to, you can go to Instagram and find out how many times each hashtag is used.
4.Hashtagify.me is another tool that tracks hashtags both for Instagram and Twitter. It has some beta features which are still being developed. It gives you some statistics around popularity and suggests other hashtags that are popular.
I personally like Ritetag for Twitter and Makelight for Instagram. There are a couple of other tools but these are the free ones. It is worth trying out which one you like to use most as they have different user interfaces.
Instagram sometimes bans a hashtag if they find inappropriate content or something that violates their community guidelines. At the time of writing (2nd February) #ValentinesDay is banned.
This is what I see when I search for it.
I see that there are 10.648.881 posts under #ValentinesDay and it shows me the top photos.
However it is a different story if I scroll down.
As you can see below, there is a note from Instagram saying recent posts have been hidden because they have been reported.
If I had a gift shop, I would probably be promoting some items at this time of the year using this hashtag and if they weren't getting much exposure I would wonder why. I have been keeping an eye on this particular hashtag for almost a week now, and it has remained hidden.
This is why we should not rely on using the same hashtags day in, day out. We really need to be careful about them.
I would love to hear from you if you use these hashtag tools. If there are others that you like, please share in the comments.
As always, if you have any questions or need help with social media marketing, please get in touch.
A couple of weeks ago Instagram rolled out an amazing new feature: They introduced location and hashtag stories on the explore page.
What does this mean for you and how can you utilise this for your business?
Here is a story I shared earlier today with the location sticker of my town Guildford.
Using the location sticker gives my story more context. Anyone in Guildford can see the stories on their explore page in the Instagram app.
Instagram randomly selects posts to be part of the larger Location Story and if your story gets selected and you have the chance of reaching to people outside of your followers which is amazing. You need to swipe up your story and check the stats to see if it was selected.
My story was selected. Now let's see how many people engaged with my post
At the time of publishing this post the story got 47 views and 41 of these were from the Guildford story! Bear in mind that the story is there for 24 hours so this number will increase. For comparison, you can see the story on the left which I shared yesterday,reached only 35 people as I did not use a location or hashtag sticker.
There is so much potential in this! If you have a cafe/restaurant or a local shop or if you are organising a local event, a training; you can reach the local people with this tool. You can reach the travellers in your area. If you are at a conference, you might be able find some people who you might want to network with.
Now let's click on the Guildford sticker and see what happens: It gives me the option of viewing the top posts.
There is a beautiful cake from a local blogger, a photo from a local music store, a local photographer, a floral farmer which I might consider to follow and engage with. As you can see it gives me the option of connecting with a variety of people in my town.
Similarly if you use a hashtag sticker, for example #Fashion #LondonFilmFestival etc on your story you can use that to reach people outside of your followers.
It is not out there yet, but if the rumours are true, soon there will be a search option within the stories.
I hope this gives you some ideas about how to utilise the Instagram Stories location feature for your business.
Read this if you are not sure how to get started with Instagram stories. As always if you have any questions or need help with your social media, just send me an email.
Instagram stories was launched in August 2016 and it is a great way to share moments of your day. You can share multiple photos and videos that will be displayed as a slide show: your story.
The photos and videos disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.
For your Instagram feed, it is always good to share your best photos but with Stories you don't have to worry that much but make sure they are in line with your brand.
To use the Stories feature, go to your home screen on Instagram or tap the camera button in the top left-hand corner of the screen or click on the little circle that says "Your Story" and you will get access to the Instagram Stories camera.
The camera has several options: LIVE, NORMAL, BOOMERANG and HANDS-FREE.
You can also upload a photo or video you've taken in the last 24 hours. Swipe down on the camera screen then select from your phone's library.
Use the text and drawing tools as well as the stickers and be as creative as you like. One tip for making the most of Instagram Stories is to tag your location. Once you upload a photo or video to your Stories, you’ll see a smiley face on the top right of the screen. Tap on it, then tap “Location” and select your business location to connect with potential local customers.
Your followers can see your story in a row at the top of their Feed. They can send you messages/comments and you can see who has seen your Story.
Photos and videos you share to your story disappear from Feed and your profile after 24 hours.However you can also save these photos and videos and share them to your Feed if you want to.
You may have noticed that some Instagram accounts have clickable links in their Stories. This is a feature that Instagram is testing, and is only available for verified accounts at the moment.
So how can you use the Stories feature for your business? I would like to share some Stories that I have seen over the last few days:
1. Humbleworks is sharing a teaser about their upcoming website update.
2. A Beautiful Mess is drawing attention to their giveaway.
3. Miiro Ice Cream is reposting one of their followers' post and drawing attention to the feedback.
4. Farrow and Ball is sharing a photo of their production process.
5. Stylist magazine is inviting their followers to their Facebook page for a live chat.
6. Liberty is promoting a pop up event.
7. Oh Wonder Calligraphy is letting her followers know about her new blog post.
As you can see, you can be very creative with your Instagram Stories: you can drive website traffic, create brand awareness, promote an event, share customer feedback, share an event that you attended: You can create a story that will keep your followers engaged. It is a brilliant way to stay in people's minds. Experiment with different types of content to see what your audience likes most.
Are you using Instagram stories for your business? You might also want to check my post about effective Instagram marketing.
If you need more help, please get in touch.
Instagram used to be a trendy Iphone app but it has quickly become one of the largest social media platforms. As of December 2016, Instagram had 600 million users. The platform will continue to grow in 2017. So how can you tap into the platform and effectively market your business on Instagram?
To start off optimise your profile. When someone visits your profile, they need to be able to understand what you do or what your business has to offer. Adding emojis to your Instagram bio makes your brand memorable, as a pop of colour stands out more than simple text.
Now we can start considering the day-to-day activities.
1. Instagram is not "instant" any more. To gain leads, you have to be strategic so only post your best images. Remember, when someone lands on your Instagram page, they take a quick look at the 9 photo grid and decide whether or not to follow you.
2. Time : When is your audience online? For example if you're marketing to mums, it's not a good idea to post between 6-8pm in the evenings when most mums are busy with dinner and bedtime. So you need to be strategic about the times you post.
You also have to post consistently to be able to grow your account. Aim to post once a day, but if you don't have too many images, post at least 3 times a week and make sure you spend time on the platform and engage with people on the days you're not posting.
3. If you want a cohesive feed, you need to plan in advance which photos you will publish. There are some apps (Mosaic, Planoly, Later etc.) that let you arrange photos in your grid so you can see how to colours fit in before posting the photos.
4.Drive traffic to your website content by sharing relevant visual content. Make it easy for your followers to visit your page by adding your link in your profile.
5.Don't post and go! As soon as you publish a post, engage with your followers, answer any queries, reply to their comments. Which hashtags have you used? Search those hashtags and engage with the photos that come up in your search. Use geotagging as research shows that photos with geotagging increase engagement.
6.If your followers are sharing photos of your product, reposting user generated content is a wonderful way of connecting with your community.
7. Ask questions and invite your community to interact with you. Always add a call-to-action to your posts.
8.Share behind the scenes photos. People buy from people they know and trust. Share the story of your brand and business by showing your audience the people behind the business, or if you have a product, you can share the production process. Have you been to an event? Share it on Instagram stories or do a quick live session.
9.Don't forget to use emojis! Research shows that posts with emojis create more engagement. Even if you're a bit apprehensive using them on other platforms, make the most of emojis in Instagram marketing.
If you need more help regarding social media marketing, please get in touch.