10 Resources I Use to Be Effective & Efficient on Instagram
When Instagram first came to life I was just using it to post selfies, pictures of my friends and family, and random snapshots here and there. Instagram was just a fun hobby for me so there was no need to use any additional resources. Now that I use Instagram for business, I’m always on the hunt for apps and other resources I can use to make my Instagram game more effective and manageable. When I actually sat down and thought about each and every resource I use, I came up with a list of 10 tools that make my Instagram life a whole lot easier.
1. The Content Planner
The Content Planner is a physical planner designed to help you lay out your blogging, e-newsletter, and social media plans and goals. In each day of the monthly calendar I write in the topics and themes I want to post on Instagram, and I do this for 30 days at a time. Deciding theses themes and topics in advance not only helps me create consistent content, it ensures I have a variety of content going out to my audience so I don’t fall into the trap of constant self promotion, or post nothing of value.
2. Rosemary Watson Productions
I’m not a photographer but I want my feed to look pretty, fresh, and professional. I LOVE Rosemary Watson! She’s a fellow Instagram guru who doubles as a great photographer. I subscribed to her styled stock photography subscription last year and I was pumped about all the great flatlay images she had available.
3. Styled Stock Society
I subscribed to this stock photo subscription sometime last winter. Elle Drouin had a super awesome birthday special going on, and I think I purchased a one-year subscription for $30 or something crazy like that. With my subscription, every month I get access to 30 new flatlay images. A lot of her images are pink heavy so if that’s one of your brand colours, this is definitely something you’ll want to signup for.
4. Ivory Mix
Because I’m on their mailing list, every month I get 5-20 free stock images from Ivory Mix. They’re usually great about offering photos with a variety of colours, so I always end up with a least a few photos I can use on my platform.
Unsplash is an amazing website that has thousands of free photos available for download. No account needed or anything! Plus, you’re not required to credit the photographers whose work you’re using (which they recommend you do) which works out nicely because sometimes naming my photo source takes away from my Instagram caption.
One of the things I like most about this site is that the search function is easy and helpful to use. Not only can you type in specific things like Canadian flag, cocktails, or summer; you can search for photos with a specific colour focus. I use a lot of teals, blues, and greens throughout my feed so whenever I feel like my posts are lacking these colours, I just type them into the search engine and see which images pop up.
As I mentioned before, I’m by no means a graphic designer or a photographer. Sure I have basic skills in both areas, but these are skills I don’t have time to develop at the moment. Canva is a free easy-to-use online app that allows you design social media posts, email headers, workbooks, and so much more! One thing I like about Canva is that their social media templates are optimized for each platform. Even when I have a square image that I want to post on Instagram, I still bring the image into Canva so I know the dimensions will be correct.
In addition to Instagram posts I also create images for my Instagram stories. I normally use the blog graphic template to create these, but Canva does have and Instagram story template called “iPhone 6” that you can use as well.
I must have mentioned Grum at least 10 times through my blog already, but I can’t help it. It really is the best Instagram scheduling app. It’s the only Instagram scheduling app I know that sends out your posts 100% automatically. Most scheduling tools just send you a push notification to your phone when it’s time to post, so you still have to dive into the Instagram app.
In addition to allowing you to upload images and the captions that go along with it, Grum lets you schedule your first comment. This is great because I always recommend putting all 30 of your hashtags in the comment section, freeing your caption of clutter and making it more appealing to read. Grum also lets you input emojis and well…who doesn’t love a good emoji?!
*Disclaimer - Sources say apps like Grum that post 100% automatically on your behalf, go against Instagram's terms of service. Some users feel at risk of Instagram limiting their visibility as a result of using a third-party app of this nature. At this time I continue to use Grum for my own social media platforms but I do so with this information in mind. Scheduling apps that are the more favourable option for some users are ones like Buffer, Later, or Planoly. These apps don't post to Instagram automatically, but rather send you a push notification when it's time to send out a scheduled post.
Followers is a free mobile app that gives you a closer look at the on goings of your Instagram account. It gives you detailed analytics about your following which can be a huge benefit to you when it comes to tweaking your strategy.
This app gives you analytics on:
1. How many new followers you have and who they are
2. How many people unfollowed you and who they are
3. How many people aren’t following you back and who they are
4. How many people you’re not following back and who they are
5. How many people have blocked you and who they are
6. How many people have deleted likes and comments on your posts and who they are
The free version of the app only gives you insight to the first 4 items on the list, but for me it has been enough. Do you know how much of a game changer this is? You know when you join a Facebook group and members follow you only so you can follow them back, and then unfollow you immediately? It might seem catty, but this app allows you to see exactly who those people are so you can unfollow them as well if you don’t have an interest in their content!
It also allows you to see when someone from your target audience decides to unfollow you. Paying attention to how often this happens is great because it could mean that you’re not catering to the needs of your audience; also leading to a change in your strategy.
Bitly is a free site that allows you to shorten your links. I use this anytime I change the link in my bio to link to my latest blog post, or anytime I’m sharing a link that’s longer than one line. The shortened link they give you looks like a jumble of random letters and number, but hey, it gets the job done. If you create an actual account you can customize your link so it says whatever you like. I believe creating an account is free, but I haven’t gotten around to looking into it yet.
10. Facebook & Twitter
Just because my party’s on Instagram, doesn’t mean I don’t have a presence on other social media platforms. I use Facebook and Twitter regularly because I do have audiences in those spaces. However, because Instagram is my core platform, I sometimes use Facebook and Twitter to remind people that I’m even more active on Instagram, and to follow me there so they don’t miss any information. All about that cross promotion life!
There are so many different ways to utilize Instagram, and sometimes all you needs is a few resources to help you get the job done efficiently and effectively. Although I highly recommend all of the above tools and resources, what I first recommend for efficiency is laying out all of your Instagram themes and topic ideas in advance. Fill out the form below for a free weekly Instagram calendar that will give you the space to do just that!