Over the past few weeks, one of my social media clients has been dabbling with Instagram. They have a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter (tens of thousands of followers on each), but have not moved onto Instagram for several reasons:
- Not sure if target audience is active
- Unsure of best practices
- Inability to schedule posts
Today, while teaching Advanced Social Media Strategies at General Assembly, we got into that same discussion, and one of the students said that they discovered Schedugr.am and that it works well to schedule posts on Instagram. However, as with any software that’s not expressly authorized to utilize an API, they don’t know whether or not the software is really legit. We discussed Instagram’s history and why they do (and don’t do) some of the things that other social networks do. Here are some examples.
- Analytics – As robust (almost too much data) as Facebook’s Insights package is, it’s odd that Instagram has no native analytics service, despite being owned by Facebook for more than 3 years now. Part of our discussion today led me to one conclusion for that move: perhaps Instagram doesn’t want to be known as a marketing platform, and thus they don’t offer analytics to track engagement, reach, etc. However, there are many 3rd party analytics tools for Instagram (iconosquare, simplymeasured, and several others) that must have access to the API, so I don’t think that’s the reason.
- Scheduling posts – Schedugr.am is the only application I have found that enables actual scheduling and posting of posts to Instagram instead of a reminder push notification and a “post” function that you have to touch manually. Schedugr.am makes it clear that they have no affiliation at all with Instagram or Facebook. On this topic, it’s my opinion that Instagram actually doesn’t want users to schedule posts like we do with Twitter, Facebook, or our blogs because they want images “in the moment”. I may be wrong, but that take seems to be consistent with the Instagram way.
- Native post sharing – Why doesn’t Instagram have the equivalent of Facebook’s “share” and Twitter’s “retweet”? Yes, there’s Repost, but it’s not native and certainly not intuitive to the average user that it requires another 3rd party app to share someone else’s post with your audience. This one I don’t get; however, despite no native sharing, the image sharing social network thrives, blazing past Twitter last year.
In all my digital marketing and social classes, my approach is “Instagram is different” for many reasons, but these are three more aspects of the Instagram experience that are very different from other social networks. I think these are intentional though I’m not smart enough to fully understand why.
Do you use Instagram for your brand? What have you found that works or doesn’t work?