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):
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.
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:
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).
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!