Unleash the Power of Instagram: Apps, Tools & Tips
Instagram: Everyone's Doing It

It can be great to be a brand on Instagram — engagement rates are through the roof compared to other social networks. Plus according to a recent study, Instagram now has just as many users as Twitter in the US.

Instagram can handle almost anything you throw at it, but there are some limitations to what it can do. There are many different tools & apps, but only a few that people seem to use consistently. Here are some Instagram tips and tools for your organization:

1. Measure As Much As You Can

Instagram is on its own island when it comes to Google Analytics. There are some ways around it, but to get an idea about how your profile is doing you should have a good tool for measuring performance. Here are some measurement tools:

Iconosquare

Iconsquare Interface

Key features:

  • You can see your feed
  • New Followers vs Lost Followers
  • Most Liked Posts / Most Commented Posts
  • Media Average Lifespan (when do people stop engaging)
  • Search keywords in bios
  • Plus much much more

One of the drawbacks is that you can only analyze pages that you have access to, which doesn’t help too much when it comes to doing a competitor analysis. Enter:

Crowdbabble

Crowdbabble is a paid analytics package, but it gets into things a bit deeper:

  • Easy timeline adjustment
  • Ability to measure the performance of your competitor’s Instagram account
  • Detailed engagement metrics
  • Keyword Analysis
Digging into the good stuff

Simply Measured

Simply Measured has a freebie report, that goes even deeper:

  • Engagement outside of Instagram
  • Keyword Analysis
  • Detailed engagement metrics
  • Top Cities
All the info you want

2. Image Editing & Filters

Instagram is getting better with photo adjustments, but it’s still missing the fine tuning. Here are some photo editing options:

Afterlight

This does pretty much everything you could possibly need:

  • Control focal point and fine tune exposure
  • Easily adjust colour balance levels
  • Endless amount of fancy filters
  • Cropping options out the wazoo
  • Framing

VSCOcam

For IOS & Android. Most photographers that use Instagram are big fans of VSCOcam.

Hipstamatic

IOS only / Android users can try Retro Camera and pretend it’s the same

Ever wanted a toy camera, but don’t want to carry one in your pocket? Try this app, but buying cameras, film and lens kits gets expensive, so beware!

Pro-tip: Be consistent with your media. It’s hard to take brand seriously when you see photos with 15 different filters being used. It’s confusing — like a very public identity crisis.

Herschel Supply Co’s Instagram Page is a good example of a company that is doing things right.

3. Other Tools

These are some tools to help you get extra creative with the media options available to you:

Canva

Canva is a very handy tool for helping you make your images look like you spent hours developing them — even if you just made them on the fly. 100% free, with tons of templates, Canva offers a super simple drag-and-drop tool that allows you to take your Instagram posts to the next level.

Canva is amazing

Latergram

For Desktop & IOS only. If you have a team that runs your Instagram account and have a lot of content, scheduling your posts can be very helpful. With Latergram you can put posts in your queue from your mobile device or desktop, have a manager approve or delegate them, and then when it comes time to post Latergram will send a notification reminder for you to manually push your post from Latergram to Instagram. That part is a little annoying, but unfortunately Instagram does not allow other 3rd party apps to post on your behalf within its API. Some apps that work around it pop up once and a while, but their life is short lived or they are usually super expensive.

Squaready

IOS only / Android users can try SquareIt. This a super quick and dirty free app that allows you to create square images that are post ready for Instagram. Have a poster that is portrait or landscape sized and don’t want to crop of the sides? Make it square and add some white space on the sides with Squaready.

Repost

For IOS & Android. The days of taking screen shots and recropping them are over. Repost is free and you can even repost videos with this app too. It gives credit to the original poster with an aesthetically pleasing watermark. Reposting is a great way to build community and make your fans feel involved, just don’t overdo it, and ask permission first.

TimerCamera

Need a timer to get yourself and a friend in a photo without having your arm in it? Just combine this handy app with an iPhone tripod mount and you’re set! Afterlight has a timer built in, but this app has a few more features.

PicFrame

There are a million apps that allow you to combine multiple photos, but this one can do videos too! Another option is Diptic, which is available for both IOS & Android.

Pro-tip: Apply your photo filters first before you add images to Picframe. There are only 4 filters in Instagram that won’t affect the white borders between your images, so if you apply a filter after you’ve combined your new images in Picframe you run the risk of turning your border brown, making your cool new photo look like bad scrapbooking. There are built in filters in Picframe, but they are limited compared to what you can do with Afterlight, VSCOcam or Instagram.

Flipagram

For IOS & Android. This is my new favourite app. With Flipagram you can combine multiple images into a slideshow and set it to music. The free version uses the Flipagram water mark in all your photos, but if you upgrade you can use your own watermark or no watermark.

IFTTT

For Desktop, IOS & Android. Want to keep a close eye on your competitors, but can’t be on your phone all day? Create an IFTTT recipe that automatically sends new Instagram posts from any Instagram account to your email, Evernote, Pocket, or Dropbox.

You can even create a recipe that archives every Instagram post that you like. There are so many different Instagram recipes that are possible with IFTTT.

Instagram is the easiest way to get direct engagement with your fans, the kicker though is you need to know what you’re doing with your camera and how to create authentic content that speaks to your audience. Before you get started, don’t forget to do your research to make sure Instagram fits with your demographic and social strategy, and will help you realize your business goals.

  • Emily Grossman

    For me, the biggest hurdle preventing Instagram from becoming every brand’s go-to network is multiple account management. If Instagram could manage multiple user accounts like Twitter does on iOS, it would be game-over. Unfortunately at this time, not even third parties are able to provide a good multiple account posting solution for Instagram, so community managers are left logging in/ out all the time or buying multiple dedicated devices. Neither are great solutions.

    Leave a reply
    • Chris Mikulin

      Good point Emily, I recently found Instapload for managing multiple Instagram accounts, but who knows how long it will be active for, since Instagram doesn’t like 3rd party posting. It works though. For now.

      We’re finding a lot of smaller brands use Instagram to build their community and it’s becoming the go to place for more direct engagement.

      Leave a reply
  • Jerry Aulenbach

    I shot a slo-mo video yesterday using iPhone’s regular camera and when I went to post it to IG, it came out at regular speed. Know how to work around that?

    -Jerry

    Leave a reply
    • Chris Mikulin

      Hey Jerry!
      The easiest work around for this is to email the video as an attachment to yourself. Then download it back onto your phone before you post it on Instagram. You lose some quality due to the compression, but it works! Or you can download a slo-mo app and shoot it through there.

      Leave a reply
  • Matt Smith

    Hi Chris, great post. Thanks for the mention re latergram.me.

    Visual social media is taking off!

    As for the multi-account feature we have something planned that while not perfect will significantly reduce the pain of supporting multiple accounts.

    Matt from Latergram.me

    Leave a reply
    • Chris Mikulin

      No problem! It’s a great app. Looking forward to the new features!

      Leave a reply
  • Jessica

    This article rules. I am looking for a quick fix to add a white border and make an image square from a desktop so I can do all the scheduling from my PC. What do you recommend?

    Leave a reply
  • Kev Shepard

    Finally a decent, honest post! Everybody use third-party apps, it’s normal, why so many people don’t get it… Anyways, thanks for the list, there were a few apps i didn’t know about. In return, here’s my little contribution to your work. Zengram.net is an automation service, also you can post pictures directly from PC via this service, and also search for people via geography. I use it all the time now, best app for a local business.

    Leave a reply
  • Linda Williams

    I use two apps for creating slideshows/videos on Instagram. One of them is Flipagram, it’s a nice app and I’m glad you mentioned it.
    The other one is PhotoVideoCollage, great for creating video collages. The app is free, so whoever’s interested can check it out on photovideocollage.com.

    Leave a reply
  • Missy

    Adding the right Instagram tools into your marketing flow can help you project a more professional image and give you valuable analytic insights.

    Leave a reply

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