Andy Fenstermaker, MBA

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Archive of ‘Content Strategy’ category

4 Must Have Apps to Complement Instagram for Business

At IRCE Chicago this year, Instagram was touted as a great space (if it makes sense for your audience) by several e-commerce brands including Bucketfeet and Chubbies.

I’ve been a big fan of Instagram for ages, for both personal use and for use as a brand. While it provides some frustration points for brand account managers, such as the lack of clickable links and the inability to easily access multiple accounts on a single log in, the benefits far outweigh the negatives if you are able to reach your customer base and target audience on the platform.

In other words, by being steadfast the platform has done a great job limiting brand creep into its space, allowing it to maintain a greater level of authenticity.

Still, for those who do not mind the labor involved, it can be a rewarding spot for brands with a keen eye. Especially now that they have added additional editing tools that give you the ability to manipulate contrast, brightness, warmth, saturation, shadows and more!

Once you’re in the space, there are several complementary apps to stick in your Instagram for Business toolbelt:

1. Studio App for iPhone

Studio Design App for iPhone is perfect for enhancing curated content or easily developing quick content on your own from your iPhone.

It’s also great for light image manipulation. Among my favorites is using the shapes tool to flood the image and adjust the opacity. Using a white shape, this gives you a true opaque look. Using a color over a black-and-white image gives you a duo-tone Blue Note effect.

The latest version of Studio has even more options with an assortment of “packs” you can download far beyond the standard elements I found so intriguing when I first discovered the app. I am only beginning to scratch the surface here.

One way I use this is to post a filtered image on Instagram and manipulate it afterwards to share on other social platforms. For example, here’s a design I just put together commemorating my experience this past week at IRCE (Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition):

IRCE Chicago 2014

There are other similar apps like Phonto, but I haven’t found them to have near the editing and creative abilities as found with Studio.

2. InstaSize

Currently, Instagram does not allow you to post an image that is not square. Enter InstaSize; this is what I use to post full-size pictures.

InstaSize does this by adding white space to the sizes of portrait shots and to the top and bottom of landscape shots.

On New Years Day this year, my wife and I joined some friends for a hike around Whistle Lake in Anacortes. I captured some great shots but didn’t want to limit them to a square and used InstaSize to make it happen:

You also cannot do an image collage on the current version of Instagram, which is popular these days. InstaSize also has this capability. I used it to showcase the sexiness of my obese cat back in December:

3. Repost

Repost is the mandatory app to share user generated content. It allows you to easily repost photos others have shared on Instagram. While I have not used it yet, I will be doing so in the next week.

One brand that continually does this is Folk Magazine (the brand behind liveauthentic.us).

4. PicFlow

PickFlow is relatively new to me. I grabbed this one at IRCE after it was recommended from my Repost app. It allows you to create a quick slideshow of images then add music. You can include transitions if you like that sort of thing.

Here’s one I created after IRCE:

It reminded me of something I saw from Martha Stewart on Instagram for National Donut Day. While I suspect that Martha Stewart’s creative folks put this together using something much more sophisticated, you could do it using an app like PicFlow if you’re good.

If you plan to add music and use this as a brand, make sure you get permission from the artist.

Those are my four picks. Follow me on Instagram, and if you have some favorite apps of your own, let me know in the comments!

On Google’s Hummingbird Update

Hummingbird by fortherock on Flickr

It almost seems like old news, or maybe news that wasn’t: about a month ago Google sneakily rolled out its latest algorithm and search infrastructure update. Last week they announced the occurrence at their 15th anniversary — the update has been dubbed Hummingbird.

MOZ SEO put together a quite in-depth article on the event and subsequent chatter that inevitably takes place after such a release in an article simply titled Hummingbird Unleashed. One statement in particular stood out to me:

We should stop focusing only on keyword optimization and start thinking about topical optimization. This obliges us to think about great content, and not just about “content.” Things like “SEO copywriting” will end up being the same as “amazing copywriting.” (…) If Hummingbird is a giant step toward Semantic SEO, then as SEOs, our job “is not about optimizing for strings, or for things, but for the connections between things,”

Within SEO, to me, there has always been a strong correlation between a few simple, common sense items and the production of good, quality content. Certainly, other, more complex items exist and are given weight — solid inbound links, site load time, certain elements of site build, etc. — but a page without quality, useful content is an irrelevant page.

Reading between the lines in the MOZ article, I see Google doing a few things.

Google and Conversational Search

First, and the article states this: Search is becoming more conversational, with results digging into the meaning and “semantics” behind the string. What this says to me is that posts, too, must become more conversational.

From a content standpoint, it’s become even more important to develop a solid voice.

SEO vs. Content Strategy

I have always felt there is a strong correlation between content strategy and SEO. This gained appeal, perhaps most notably, after Google’s Panda release.

With Hummingbird, the correlation is even stronger.

The strategy behind building links to generate authority, increasing a page’s social capabilities, and creating quality content is becoming more and more important with each newly released algorithm update.

Be A Follower

By far, the best thing you can do is read. I’m not sure where I first heard it, or even whether or not it’s a well-known statement:

In order to be a great leader, one must first learn to follow.

But even if you are a leader in this particular area of expertise, it’s always a good idea to see what others are doing and saying. Here are a few blogs I strongly recommend following on the topics of SEO and Content Strategy:

Copyblogger: This blog features regular posts by a variety of writers on topics relating to content on the web. From content strategy to SEO copywriting to email marketing, Copyblogger is a must-read for anyone who creates online content.

SEO MOZ: The Moz Blog is a great resource when it comes to staying up-to-date on all things related to SEO. The blog is a bit more on the technical and scientific side of SEO, so be prepared for that if you’re more on the creative side of things.

A few other notables in search, content strategy and social that I recommend are , Mashable and ReadWrite.

Above photo by fortherock on Flickr.