My love (and hate) relationship with Instagram

by Joe Kuzma ( joe_kuzma)

People love to fawn over Instagram and for a long time I was opposed to even having a presence on the social media platform.

That may come as a surprise to many. As a content marketer, I’ve seen many other experts recommend jumping on every new train which enters the station. First, it was Facebook, then it was Twitter, now it’s Instagram and Snapchat and whatever else the next fad may be. This is great for content marketers who make their living off of creating materials for their clients: it’s another avenue from which to generate revenue.

But what about the average Joe who is doing this on their own time and dime to build brand awareness?

To those folks I don’t have an easy answer, other than Instagram is its own animal. Here are some of the positives and negatives of using Instagram in your social media marketing campaigns.

Hate: The point of no return

For active readers of this blog and listeners of the DisContent Podcast, you already know I’m a big advocate of owning your own content. That is, you want to make sure your information and/or content is on your website, your podcast, or sent via an email newsletter or published in an eBook.

Posting to social media means that information is locked to a service like Facebook; which locks out anyone who doesn’t use Facebook.

Social media should be a means by which you announce your new article or list a podcast episode. It shouldn’t house all of your information, because it may soon disappear. (Or worse, never be seen at all.)

I’m keen on saying Your website is your baby and as such, Instagram offers only a single way to go to your site: within your profile bio. Any other mentions of a URL or link to your content won’t be hyperlinked. That means you have to rely on your audience, the same audience scrolling rapidly through their app, to remember where to go to view your info or manually type it into your site.

The good news is that’s how we want to train your followers: to visit your website. The bad news is that Instagram may never connect them from point A (the Instagram site or app) to point B (you).

Love: Not so fast

One thing that’s different with Instagram versus its social media siblings is that you might see content posted well beyond the usual “expiration date” of a post made on Facebook or Twitter. It’s not unusual to see an Instagram post pop up on your feed a week after it was made.

That’s a good thing. It means you have a better success rate of someone seeing your content!

No preference: The eyes have it

As mentioned earlier, since you cannot share links, everything that gets posted to Instagram is an image. It was always intended to be a photo-only platform but has since expanded to video as well.

If you’re in an industry such as running a café, you may have a built-in reason to post photos as you can create a gallery showcasing your food. But if you’re an author, outside of a book cover you may be scratching your head for ideas.

Love: Generating content

Even if you’re not a graphic designer, using Instagram isn’t hopeless. In the author scenario above, you can take a quote from your book (or better yet, a testimonial) and add it to any number of online image creation apps which are available (usually at no charge).

Canva is a great one I use myself, just to get a quick and dirty idea done.

Event posters are also a no-brainer for Instagram, however, you will want to make sure it can all fit within the square box specifications of the platform.

Hate: Grab the phone

If you want to do anything besides setup your basic account and profile information, you better grab your smartphone: Instagram won’t allow you to post photos directly from a desktop computer. (At least not without some workarounds.)

That can be a challenge for people who have pictures they’d like to post but don’t have them on their phone. In that case, a number of tools can be used to help move files between devices.

Love: Hashtags

Instagram is a great place to network with complete strangers with the use of hashtags. It’s much like Twitter in that regard, possibly even better, as relevant information will find its way to your screen.

That means more eyeballs on your content.

Hate: Sharing should be caring

Want to share someone’s Instagram post to your account? Good luck.

The most you can do is make a screen capture of their image or use a web service to download it. From there you’ll end up posting it as yourself, which in a roundabout way amounts to stealing.

There are apps which will allow you to re-gram Instagram posts, tagging the original account in the process. They are a bit clunky to get used to, but it’s the only way to properly credit the original content creator on the network.

Conclusion

Now you can see why getting involved with Instagram can be a confusing task. The social media network operates much differently than Facebook or Twitter when it comes to sharing content. However, with a large installed base of potential followers (audience) and the ability to create business profiles which synchronize with your Facebook page, it’s becoming harder to ignore Instagram.

Just be aware that you will more than likely have to create original content specifically for their platform, which could cost you more time and/or money long-term. In order to make an educated decision of whether or not to join in the frenzy, you’ll want to weigh the benefits of maintaining a steady stream of content on Instagram versus that of repurposing your usual posts on multiple channels. If you feel you can post on Instagram consistently without stretching your overall content marketing efforts thin, go for it.

If not, focus your efforts by targeting those social media networks in which you can post the same thing to with little or no modification: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn.

Hello! My name is Joe Kuzma, and if you’re reading this, thank you! I’m pleased to virtually meet you and I hope we get to know one another well throughout this crazy journey of producing content.

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