Here’s How to Make Your 2018 Instagram Top Nine Collage

We are officially less than three weeks away from the new year, and to honor 2018, what better than reflecting on some of your most memorable moments on Instagram?

Now, here’s an app that makes everything easy like a breeze. Top Nine, a free-for-download collage app that helps users collect their most liked photos throughout the past year, and put them all into one nine-photo collage square-image ready-made for sharing on Instagram.

You can either use the app or go to their website, and all you need to do is type in your Instagram handle and email address. You will then see the collage both on the app and via email, which is ready to be downloaded and shared to Instagram.

The finish page not only shows you the photo itself but how many likes you’ve gotten collectively. You will also know other information like how many photos you’ve posted, and how many likes you have for each post on average.

Top Nine also offers the option to make your chosen Instagram posts into merchandise like phone cases, tote bags, pillows, etc.

Give it a shot before the year ends!

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

The post Here’s How to Make Your 2018 Instagram Top Nine Collage appeared first on Social Media Week.

Boost Your Instagram Stories Game for 2019 With These 10 Practices

There are about 40 million users viewing Instagram Stories daily. As brands continue to brainstorm for better social media strategies, Stories has become a marketing battleground that they have to take to win.

Here, we’ve listed 10 best practices for brands to make perfect Instagram Stories, all demonstrated with successful examples from brands. Hope this will give you some inspiration to develop your Instagram strategy for 2019.

1. Don’t underestimate the use of stickers

Instagram Stories is a highly “clickable” space – when viewers see something that they can click on, they are more likely to feel the pulse to give it a try. This creates great opportunities for hashtags stickers. Hashtags are great items for grouping relevant content together, and encouraging individuals to become part of a hashtag campaign built by brands.

A great example of this would be UN Women’s #hearmetoo. When UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman gave a speech at a recent United Nations event, UN Women posted an Instagram Story of a photo of Nicole speaking at the podium with a hashtag sticker #hearmetoo. The sticker created an opportunity and an entrance for anyone who’ve viewed this Story to click in and see more relevant content, and even potentially contribute their own content to the hashtag – see how many actions a simple hashtag can incur?

2. Go behind the scene

One thing that is particularly popular among Instagram Stories content is anything behind the scene. Viewers want to see things that they wouldn’t normally see – this especially applies to brands that are big and always tend to provide well-crafted, delicate content.

Since your audience expects to see something raw, behind-the-scene Stories don’t even have to look all that professional. Just show how a product is made, go into the heart of a newsroom, or talk to a celebrity backstage. There are tons of opportunities for behind-the-scenes content once you start looking for it.

In Maybelline’s Behind The Scene Stories, the brand shows viewers how makeup artists and models get ready backstage for shoots. Selfie-style short videos not only get viewers closer to the models but the brand itself.

In VICE News’ Election Day Stories, viewers follow news producers as they followed candidates running for office across the country, and recorded they were getting people to vote. These Stories make the audience feel attached because they were shared real-time during election day, and were taking viewers to places they wouldn’t have been in – this feeling of exclusiveness is something unique to behind-the-scene Stories.

At Social Media Week London 2018, That Lot’s Creative Director David Levin echoed this behind-the-scene method. He went on to add that content with a sense of authenticity is what will ultimately capture audience’s heart.

3. Be simple in style

Lots of brands spend time crafting, polishing and perfecting every photo they post on Instagram’s main feed, and there’s no wrong in doing that. However, Stories is a different channel where a completely different style of content speaks to viewers more effectively. Countless examples have shown that straightforward, concise photos with simple text overlay are what viewers usually buy into.

Fitbit’s RNR 2018 Stories is a promotion for its products as being one of the sponsors at a Las Vegas marathon event. It features simple photos of a past event and informative text telling the audience what the event is about, along with how pretty the city looks. Stories like these give audiences a short but strong dose of information that helps a brand promote a product. And since the text is simple, make sure your visuals shine through.

4. Use UGC content

UGC, namely User Generated Content, is a great tool for brands to diversify their content. You can only afford to have so many staff members on your editorial team, but users’ ideas are unlimited, so why not try to make full use of them?

There are many ways to gather responses from readers, like creating a Questions sticker. Meme and viral content manufacturer 9GAG oftentimes post “caption this” kind of Stories, of photos with meme potential for the audience to caption. Another perfect example would be Follain’s Cleanwashing 101 Stories, in which the brand asked their audience what the term “clean beauty” means for them and did a thread of Stories featuring their answers.

It’s something satisfying for followers to know that their answers were picked, which is a great way to generate customer loyalty, keeping them interested in the next moves of a brand.

5. Create categorized story highlights

Who says that Instagram Stories can only stay for 24 hours? You can make them last longer by adding them to Highlights, collections of past Stories that you can name, and for people to access through your profile page.

This feature creates a perfect chance for new followers of a brand to quickly look through different products or campaigns. Ipsy’s Highlights are the perfect example. This beauty brand has created different Highlights showcasing the brand’s products, past events, beauty looks, etc. Once done well, Highlights is a quick and efficient way to get the hearts of undecided newcomers to the page. It’s time to impress visitors with some fancy Highlights!

6. Think carefully about incorporating a “swipe up”

Instagram is always adding new and exciting features to Stories for brands to keep up with, and one of those that shouldn’t be missed is the “See More” feature that is seen at the bottom of a story. By swiping up, viewers will be redirected to a link set by brands themselves.

This feature is great to create a call-to-action. Whether it’s about donating to a charity or buying a product on an app, or a YouTube video, this is the chance to get desirable actions from your audience.

In Southwest’s Shark Week Stories, each of them has a link that directs the audience to a ticket purchase site. Ultimately, features like these are supposed to make an action from consumers effortless.

But note that you can only use this feature if you have a verified account, or you have a business profile that has more than 10,000 followers.

Here, David Levin used NIKE’s Story to show how by adding a simple sticker, you can make it even more tempting for viewers to swipe up.

7. Use multiple slides to narrate a story

Everyone loves a good story. In a time dominated by audiences with short attention span, it takes great talent and effort to produce Stories that are thumb-stopping.

National Geographic is on its fourth year as the number one brand on social, constantly producing Stories that are great material for brands to learn something from. A great example would be their “Story of a Face” Stories, which narrates the unbelievable visually engaging journey of a girl who went through a face transplant in just 25 slides on Stories. This collection complies of videos, photos, texts, explainers, etc., all in a fashion so narratively enriching that no viewer would ever want to quit watching.

It’s also very smart of them to include a link at the last slide of this collection to direct viewers to Nat Geo’s website for a even more complete and longer version of the same story, for viewers who want to know more information.

8. Deliver information that’s clear even without the sound on

A striking 40 percent of Instagram Stories are watched without sound on, according to Likeable. Although some content can only be delivered with sound, like selfie-style, behind-the-scene Stories, when it comes to other formats, brands need to think about content with information that can be delivered even on silent mode, but not compromising the visual elements.

Hopper’s ICYMI Stories showcase its new hotels addition featuring well-shot images with simple text and tags. These Stories have enough information to tell the audience where the hotels are and how they look like without the necessity to have sound.

9. Give shout-outs to your audience

A shout-out to your loyal subscribers is a necessary next step following UGC content – a great way to thank them for what they’ve contributed to the growth of the brand, and also to show that you’ve been paying attention to what they have to say.

Bremont’s #MyBremont Stories highlight owners of Bremont watches with either photos or videos of themselves wearing the products, all submitted by consumers themselves. It’s a smart act not only to choose a wide range of products to showcase, but a way to show followers that the brand does listen.

10. Host limited-time promotions

Giveaways or discounts aren’t so unique when they are all-year around, but when offered with a sense of urgency, it usually works better, because consumers now feel tempted to act before it’s gone. That’s why limited-time promotions can generate great engagement.

Pnwonderland’s Hallmark Resort Stories offer a free night’s stay at a hotel. It directs the audience to a specific post for more information and encourages them to take action.

By understanding what your brand believes in, who is your audience, and what you hope Instagram as a platform can contribute to your brand, you can start choosing wisely and incorporating some of these strategies to make your Stories shine in 2019.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

The post Boost Your Instagram Stories Game for 2019 With These 10 Practices appeared first on Social Media Week.

Instagram’s ‘Close Friends’ Feature for Stories Emphasizes Private Sharing

Had you recently noticed a green ring, instead of a pink one, around your Instagram friends’ Stories updates? Last Friday, Instagram announced yet another update for Stories, named “Close Friends,” which allows users to share Stories with a specific closed group of people of their choosing.

To add people to your close friends’ list, just go to your profile and tap on “Close Friends.” Once done, when you pose Stories, you can choose to post them either to all followers or just this specific friends group only. Nobody other than you can see your close friends list. They also cannot request to be added.

Instagram’s move is evidence of the trend that many other social media brands are following — investing in more private and personal conversations. Stats show that 85 percent of the messages shared on Instagram are distributed to the same three friends, according to Social Media Today. This further proves that users value Instagram for its function of private sharing.

On its announcement blog post, Instagram says that it hopes to make the platform a more comfortable place for the community.

“Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn’t for everyone. With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose.”

In addition, The Verge reported back in June 2017, that Instagram had been experimenting with a potential new feature named “Friends Lists,” which, similarly, would allow users to share posts with a limited group of friends.

So what does this mean for marketers? If the same model would be available for business accounts, this feature can be a great tool for brands to share customized content to specific groups of audiences or groups that the brand expect could generate more profit.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post Instagram’s ‘Close Friends’ Feature for Stories Emphasizes Private Sharing appeared first on Social Media Week.

Instagram Rolls Out Photo Descriptions for Visually Impaired Users

Instagram is fast becoming the platform of choice for brands and marketers aiming to create a visually stunning presence. However, heavy use of this platform for outreach presented an access gap for a key group of consumers: the visually impaired.

As of last week, that gap is starting to narrow.

On their blog, the photo sharing platform announced its most intentional efforts toward, as they say, “creating a more accessible Instagram.” In last Wednesday’s announcement, they revealed two ways users can make their feeds more accessible for Instagrammers who use screen readers to navigate the app.

Image via Instagram

The first method mimics similar features that currently exist on Twitter and Instagram’s parent platform Facebook. The newly deployed “alt text” feature automatically generates a text box to describe an uploaded image. Individuals sharing these images would also need to compose and share a detailed description. In doing so, visually impaired users would have a “script” for their screen readers to share what is currently happening on-screen.

A second way for text to populate image descriptions is through their announced automatic alternative text option. Artificial intelligence technology will be deployed to identify familiar objects in the photo. While this could save the poster time, what you gain in time you lose in poetry. The generated “description” will likely more closely resemble a list of objects the AI could recognize. Those wanting to control precisely how the objects are described, will want to (at least initially) employ the first option to describe their posts.

Earlier this year, accessibility in media came under vocal fire, and apps have been moving to respond to these challenges. In January, visually impaired Twitter user Rob Long went viral for sharing the platform’s existing instructions on how to provide images for alt-text on the platform. The following month, actor and activist Nyle DiMarco drew attention to the false promise of “accessible” film screenings for the hearing impaired. As people spend more and more time on social media for a host of different reasons, addressing these concerns in these spaces is becoming crucial and nonnegotiable. Further, brands and organizations who can make their content accessible without too much work of the user, will endear their products to this often-neglected segment of consumers.

Instagram reports that this is the start of their efforts to make their platform more accessible for the visually impaired, but no additional concrete plans have been revealed. If Facebook’s moves are any indication, we should look forward to similar care for hearing impaired users- apps like Apple Clips are presently making it easy for Instagram users to caption their videos; the company’s next smart move would be to create an in-app mechanism for this process.

The post Instagram Rolls Out Photo Descriptions for Visually Impaired Users appeared first on Social Media Week.

Key Takeaways From A Study of 15K Instagram Stories

There’s no denying that Stories nowadays lies in the heart of social media marketing. And as Instagram Stories continues to gain momentum, many brands are expecting to be investing more in the platform. So the question remaining is — how do I effectively up my game?

Look no further. We found a report jointly published by Buffer and Delmondo, in which they analyzed more than 15,000 Instagram Stories from 200 top brands around the world, summarizing key takeaways and practices for marketers to look into.

So let’s get it started.

1. The optimal posting length is one to seven Stories

The report finds that it matters how many Stories you post, and there is no such a thing as “the more, the better.”

Looking into completion rate, which is determined by the number of times Stories were watched from the first frame to the last, the report shows that completion rate continues to drop as the number of Stories increase, and after seven Stories, completion rate will drop below 70%.

Image via Buffer

So in order for viewers to have a satisfying Stories experience without being bored away, marketers need to think carefully about how to fit all information they want to deliver in a day within seven frames.

2. Post Stories off work hours

The report also finds that there are four distinct spikes of views based on hours of the day, and they have one thing in common — being off work hours — in the mornings, afternoons and evenings.

Image via Buffer

According to stats, the best times to post Stories will be 4am – 6am, 8am – 10am, 12pm – 2pm, 8pm – 10pm (Eastern Time).

Every viewer’s Instagram Stories feed is ever-refreshing. If you post during the times they are most likely to see it, your Stories will be pushed further up along the feed line, giving your content the extra boost it needs.

3. Post your best Stories first

You will hear from various social video producers that it’s extremely important to capture your viewers’ attention in the first few seconds, and that’s what data from the report shows, too.

On average, more people exit on the first and last Stories frames than any other part of the Stories, which means that if the Stories’ first frames don’t interest them, audience will exit your content in search of something more entertaining.

Image via Buffer

So, just like a good newspaper story paragraph, the best content should always be put down first.

4. Simple Stories perform better

In the report, Stories from The North Face is used as an example to demonstrate why simple Stories perform better.

image via Buffer

These Stories are consistent in that they are all static images with clear, short text overlay, and sometimes that’s what viewers want in just a few seconds they are prepared for Stories content.

According to The Guardian, simple, static graphics and quick explainer videos oftentimes outperform professionally produced video content.

Thus, the report suggests the best practices to accomplish simplicity will be:

1) Using a background image to quickly tell a story;
2) Adding short copy to convey your message;
3) Decorating with minimal graphics and logos.

The post Key Takeaways From A Study of 15K Instagram Stories appeared first on Social Media Week.

Twitter’s Latest iOS Update Allegedly Downplays Follower Counts

If you’ve opened Twitter on iOS lately, you may notice a slightly different look to your feed. Key profile details have been reduced in size: locations, birthdays, join dates, and follower count. It is this last metric, one that may be key in measuring your brand’s social strength, that has received the most vocal pushback from Twitter execs, and the company’s latest professed goal is to make it less prominent.

At a fireside chat in New Delhi, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expressed remorse for how the company “put all the emphasis, not intending to, on that number of how many people follow me. So if that number is big and bold, what do people want to do with it? They want to make it go up.” Founding Twitter executive Ev Williams has similarly expressed that the original prominence of the number was short-sighted. “I think showing follower counts was probably ultimately detrimental. It really put in your face that the game was popularity,” he said at the Web Summit earlier this month.

The Follower-Climate Connection

This online popularity contest, which Dorsey and Williams believe to be fueled in many ways by the Twitter interface, is proving detrimental to our mental health as a society, some researchers say. In their deep dive on the topic, Time magazine noted that “while such features are no doubt rewarding, for users as well as Twitter’s bottom line, experts say they may also be contributing to a culture of mindless outrage and making people more susceptible to manipulation.”

The Verge reported similarly, saying “by emphasizing an account’s number of followers, Dorsey believes it incentivizes individuals to post more polarizing content that has the potential to go viral and attract more followers, creating a more divisive and toxic discourse on the platform.” Users with greater follower counts are listened to with more authority, and this number, therefore, has a disproportionate, if at times subconscious, impact on the direction and quality of discourse on the app.

A Tale of Two Fixes

And yet, it cannot go without mentioning that the widely-reported on change to the interface is…underwhelming in practice. The latest iOS update claims to de-emphasize this number, but when the change is compared side by side with its original source, the difference strikes some as laughable. This slight change is compounded by the fact that these changes have not taken hold with similar consistency on the Android version of the app. To have a large-scale impact on the health of the site, shouldn’t these changes in emphasis be standardized across the app interfaces as well as the desktop experience (which hasn’t come up in these discussions at all)?

This partially executed change’s questionable impact is compounded by Instagram’s recently announced crackdown on accounts that generate fake likes, comments, and follows. TechCrunch reports that these efforts, like Twitter’s follower count size reduction, are aimed at improving users’ experience on the site:

If no one can believe those counts are accurate, it throws Instagram’s legitimacy into question. And every time you get a notification about a fake follow or Like, it distracts you from real life, dilutes the quality of conversation on Instagram and makes people less likely to stick with the app. – Josh Constine, TechCrunch

But unlike Twitter, this strategy aims to not just minimize the number of followers one has but to interrogate their cause and source. The apps’ challenges may differ, but one action goes further to neutralize platform health (and, for that matter, user health) than the other.

Finding a Better Fix

Infrequent but notable and controversial Twitter user Kanye West actually proposed an interesting alternative solution: allowing users to toggle the display of follower counts and/or likes. “Just like how we can turn off the comments,” he tweeted in September 2018, “we should be able to turn off the display of followers.” Still another proposed method to incentivize meaningful conversation, as Dorsey has stated is his goal, is to create a holistic measure that looks at the tone of conversation a tweet generates- something machine learning is far from being able to do accurately.

But through all these additional suggestions, one thing is certain. If the current long-term goal for Twitter is, as Dorsey told Congress, “improving the health of the site,” these changes will need to be more than merely cosmetic—or, if solely cosmetic, more substantial than this latest set of tweaks.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post Twitter’s Latest iOS Update Allegedly Downplays Follower Counts appeared first on Social Media Week.

How Instagram Helps Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit to Serve Over 250,000 Customers Per Year

Snap, filter, post, then eat. If you’re a millennial, Instagramming your meals is probably a guilty pleasure, and an occasional part of your mealtime routine.

An incredible 69 percent of millennials take a photo (or a video) of their food before eating. But social media isn’t just a place for us to share our posts about favorite foods, and scroll through endless images of beautiful, mouth-watering meals, snacks and treats. It’s completely changed the way we decide what and where we eat too. It’s even begun to adjust the way restaurants are designed, and meals are prepared.

Thanks to platforms like Instagram, we’re able to browse and discover cool restaurants, bars, and foods via social media.

And according to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 percent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.

Many businesses in the catering and restaurant industries have started to catch on to the power of social media to not only build a following online, but to drive people in-store to buy, consume, and share experiences.

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit is one of those businesses.

Callie’s now serves more than a quarter-of-a-million people at its events and eateries each year, and social media plays a big part in its growth.

Here’s how…

Embracing social media

“We had a business, so we needed an Instagram page,” Tarah Boyleston, Callie’s marketing and design lead explained to us.

And though Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit started out on social media through necessity, it’s now seeing the rewards of its social media strategy play out, with customers frequently heading to its events and eateries after seeing its biscuits on social media.

“Locals have come into the eatery just to get the special biscuit they saw on Instagram and vacationers tell us they’ve been waiting months to try our biscuits after seeing a video on Facebook,” explained Tarah.

“It’s a great feeling knowing you can connect to so many people with something as simple as biscuits.”

Focusing on high-quality content

Callie’s really started to go all-in on social media marketing at the beginning of 2018 as the team started to focus more on the quality of its content. Tarah especially focused on:

  • Sharing high-quality images
  • Writing fun, detailed captions
  • Using relevant hashtags on every post

“After making these changes, we watched our @callieshotlittlebiscuit account organically grow by the thousands per month,” Tarah told us.

And you can’t argue with the data over the course of 2018, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit’s main Instagram account has grown to more than 31,000 followers, and is adding around 2,700 new followers per month.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if you can’t get people in your doors. We encourage our millennial following to join the hot little party with mouth-watering images, easily accessible Facebook events, and most of all, keeping things fun!”

Tarah Boyleston
Marketing & Design, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

Spreading its message locally, and nationally

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit has three eateries: two in Charleston, South Carolina, and one in Atlanta, Georgia. But that doesn’t stop Tarah from using social media to share the brand’s message and voice far and wide.

“Our social channels are truly the voice of our brand,” Tarah explained.

“We are lucky to have our first location in a vacation destination like Charleston, and even though our followers are mostly local, we are able to get our voice out to the entire country. Non-local growth is just as important [as local].”

By thinking outside of the local areas in which it operates, Callie’s has been able to grow a brand that’s recognized by biscuit-lovers across the U.S. (and even further afield).

This approach has lead to new opportunities for Callie’s to run events, and generate sales, outside of Charleston and Atlanta. For example, Callie’s recently teamed up with Packed Party, a Texas-based online boutique, to promote National Biscuit Month, and this partnership was so successful on social media that it led to Callie’s running an event in Texas. As Tarah told us:

“Even though we were states apart, we used both voices to drive traffic to our stores and increase brand awareness in Texas. Our Texas following increased so much that we ended the month with a pop up in Austin.”

Working with partners and influencers

The event in Texas isn’t the only time Callie’s has worked with partners and influencers. In fact, it’s a staple part of their social media strategy.

“We love partnering with brands that share our values because it allows our followers to learn about amazing artisans and it brings new followers to us,” Tarah explained.

“Our largest events have been in partnership with amazing groups such as Create and Cultivate (500+ person event) and a seated dinner for 100 during Charleston Wine + Food week.”

These kinds of events are marketed heavily through social media, email marketing, and local press outlets. Callie’s likes to give away tickets on its social channels to increase awareness and build its audience. During these events, Callie’s also takes followers who are unable to attend behind-the-scenes using Instagram Stories.

And when it comes to launching new eateries, partnerships and influencer campaigns play a big role in establishing a new, local audience:

“This summer, we made a large effort to partner with more brands and influencers to grow our Atlanta account. This is an account that was on a slow-and-steady growth pace and partnering with big voices in town instantly made a difference,” Tarah shared.

Pro tip: Run small, exclusive events for followers

“Our locations are fairly small, so we keep events to a limited amount of people. Advertising a certain amount of tickets gives the allure of exclusivity, and Instagrammers love being ‘in the know’. Our email and social channels are our largest platforms for our voice, so posting event details to increase ticket sales is just logical for us.”

Tarah Boyleston
Marketing & Design, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit

How your business can use social media to drive offline sales

Tarah also shared four pro-tips for businesses that are looking to use social media to drive footfall and sales offline:

1. Be consistent

“Have a consistent online presence. The more followers see you, the more you will be on their minds when they’re looking for something to do on the weekend.”

2. Share information often.

“In a world of constant scrolling and swiping, you want to make things effortless for your followers,” Tarah shared.

“Give them any and all information necessary to get to your event. Instagram stories are a great tool for event information because you can use multiple slides to get the point across. I always include swipe up feature with a link to the Facebook event.”

3. Boost with ads

“For non-local events, we often use Facebook and Instagram ads to reach a targeted location. We boosted our ticket sales in Texas by targeting the neighborhood where the event was located and using key terms to attract our audience.”

4. Go behind-the-scenes

“Lastly, give your customers and followers a piece of your personal life,” Tarah recommended.

“No one wants to follow a brand that is only trying to sell them something. We share personal stories, family recipes, and behind the scenes imagery of our lives at the bakery. These glimpses into the ‘life of a biscuiteer’ are free!”

If you’re looking to learn more about how to grow your business using email, social media, and more, check out our new series: The 5-Part Small Business Marketing Playbook.

Over the course of five days, you’ll receive top tips, strategies, and best practices around making the most out of your small business marketing and social media campaigns. Proudly brought to you by the folks at Mailchimp, Square, WooCommerce, and Buffer. 💌

Influencers Are Using Unfold To Take Their Instagram Stories To The Next Level

You might not have heard of the app Unfold, but you almost for sure know some of the influencers using it — Selena Gomez, Camila Cabello, Olivia Culpo, just to name a few.

This app has one single function — providing free, easy to use templates designed for Instagram Stories.

As easy as it might seem, since its launch in March 2017, the app has made a great profit in a short span of time. According to co-founder Andy McCune, Unfold has made more than $1 million in revenue, and gets 100,000 downloads a day.

Image via Unfold

Since Instagram released its Story feature in 2016, it has become a battlefield for influencers and brands to communicate to their subscribers. Now, how to make the most out of a series of vertical videos with each lasting a few seconds has become increasingly important for content marketing.

This is where Unfold comes in. This app is free for download and comes with it free templates that are easy to use and elegant in design. All users need to do is choose a template, drag in photos or videos from their albums, and add text if they want. Finished designs can be exported and uploaded to Instagram. Apart from a few templates that are free, others cost about $1 to $2 each.

Unfold started out as a consumer only app but is now including brands and agencies as its clients, among them are Topshop, Four Seasons, and Equinox. For Equinox, for example, Unfold has customized 13 templates that the team can access and use, and so far their user experience is satisfying. Equinox’s Chief Marketing Officer Vimla Black Gupta told Fast Company that since using Unfold’s templates, the company has seen exponential growth when it comes to Instagram Stories engagement.

The app’s success has been recognized by Instagram itself. Just in August this year, Instagram reached out to Unfold hoping to collaborate and is also now featuring the company as a recommended app, according to McCune.

However, will Unfold be able to sustain its rapid growth? With many other popular design apps like Canva and Adobe Spark Post, Unfold has been able to stand out for providing a limited amount of template selection that is all well-designed. But, with the rise of many more template apps to come, how loyal will users be if this is the only reason they started using it? Also, it’s another app whose value replies totally on a single platform — Instagram. If Instagram one day decided to launch designed templates for users that are readily available on its own platform, Unfold will likely become much less competitive in the field.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post Influencers Are Using Unfold To Take Their Instagram Stories To The Next Level appeared first on Social Media Week.

Should Small Businesses be on IGTV? (and 3 Quick Ways to Test It Out)

Repurposing your content across channels is a great way to get the most from your social media strategy. However, sometimes, certain channels will perform better than others.

When GQ posted a video about Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott on its YouTube channel (with 2.5 million subscribers), it was watched almost 30 million times. The same video on their Facebook Page (2.8 million fans) was watched 4.7 million times. A snippet of the video on their Instagram account (4.3 million followers) was watched 2.1 million times.

But when GQ posted the same video on IGTV (the video was cropped to fit the vertical format), it only generated 137,000 views.

A mere three percent of their follower count.

GQ isn’t alone. A quick (unscientific) look at a few brands seems to tell the same story:

  • Airbnb has 3.3 million followers and their three IGTV videos have 39,000, 77,000, and 22,000 views respectively (about two percent of their follower count).
  • Warby Parker has 448,000 followers and most of their IGTV videos get one to five thousand views (about one percent of their follower count).
  • HubSpot, 120,000 followers, generates one to three thousand views (about two percent of their followers).

What does this mean for small businesses that are considering IGTV in their social media marketing strategy? Is it not worth your time and effort?

I think it’s too early for small businesses to dismiss IGTV right away. Let me share why.

(Oh, and if you’re not familiar with IGTV, this blog post will give you a quick introduction.)

The rise of vertical mobile videos

The popularity of Snapchat and Instagram Stories has set our expectations for videos on smartphones to be vertical and full-screen. Ninety-six percent of mobile consumption is vertical so even if a video is square, or in the traditional 16:9, horizontal format, very few people will flip their phone to consume the content.

This is the trend that Instagram has betting big on with IGTV. Instagram believes that vertical videos are the future of video. And there are statistics to back this up.

According to data collected by Statista, more than 50 percent of digital videos are now viewed on mobile. And it has been showing a general upward trend since 2013.

Mobile video trend

A study commissioned by Facebook also found that people are watching Facebook and Instagram mobile videos everywhere — at home, at friends’ home, in public spaces, at work, and during commute.

These statistics are telling us two things. One, videos are going, if they are not already, mobile. And two, people prefer using their phones vertically.

Among all the major social media platforms, IGTV seems to be best positioned to tap onto and accelerate this vertical mobile video trend. It took Instagram less than two years to grow Instagram Stories, another vertical format content, from zero to 400 million daily users. So if you want to ride on their wave of growth, now is the time.

IGTV has a distribution issue but…

When IGTV came out, we knew we had to test it. Ash Read, our managing editor, created a vertical video of his interview with Ryan Carson, CEO and founder of online technology school Treehouse, and shared it on our IGTV channel.

Buffer IGTV video

We have about 41,000 followers on Instagram, and the video was watched…

474 times.

What we realized is that distributing your IGTV videos is hard.

It’s not easy for brands to nudge their Instagram followers to their IGTV videos besides using Instagram Stories’ swipe up link feature. Furthermore, IGTV only allows users to search for channels (i.e. Instagram users) and not topics. This reduces the likelihood of someone searching for a topic relevant to our brand and finding our videos.

But it’s really too early to dismiss IGTV as a potential social media channel for your brand.

“It’s a new format. It’s different. We have to wait for people to adopt it and that takes time” Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom told TechCrunch that long-form vertical videos are different from most videos we see today and it’ll take time for people to fully embrace the new format. Even top brands are not deterred by the low viewership at the moment. National Geographic’s director of Instagram Josh Raab told Digiday that “I think it is still too early. We are defining what IGTV is and the role it plays for us, but Instagram is also still developing the role [IGTV] plays on Instagram overall.”

Instagram did an amazing job integrating Instagram Stories into the Instagram app and growing its usage. We see Instagram Stories right at the top of the Instagram app, we can tap on profile photos to view Instagram Stories, we can even see Instagram Stories highlights on profiles. Seeing how Instagram grew Instagram Stories gives me the confidence that they’ll be able to grow IGTV well, too. They have already been testing many ways to showcase IGTV videos within the Instagram app and will likely find a way to smoothly encourage more people to be on IGTV.

For example, what if IGTV videos are featured in between Instagram Stories? (A interesting suggestion by Jack Appleby, Director of Creative Strategy at Petrol Ad)

While viewership on IGTV is low at the moment and distribution isn’t that great yet, it might just be the perfect time to jump in. This allows you to test different content and gradually improve your content before it gets too crowded with other brands and very polished videos.

How small businesses can get started on IGTV

Should your business be on IGTV?

Well, I believe not every small business (or business) has to be on IGTV. But you’ll never know whether IGTV is great for your business without trying.

As a small business, it’s definitely not easy to find time investing in a new social media channel when you are already managing multiple social media profiles. I understand this and would love to share some ways to quickly experiment with IGTV without too much time and resource investment.

Before we jump into the tactics, I would encourage you to see IGTV as an extension of your Instagram strategy rather than an entirely new standalone social media channel. A follow on IGTV is automatically a follow on Instagram (and vice versa). Your efforts in one can help the other.

1. Re-post your horizontal and square videos

If you are already creating videos for social, this is the easiest way to get started on IGTV — simply re-posting your horizontal and square videos onto your IGTV channel.

Yes, your videos will not make good use of the full screen and your followers will be forced to rotate their phones to watch your horizontal videos. But for a start, I think this could be a great low-investment way to experiment with IGTV, test out different content, and see if your audience on IGTV is interested in watching your videos.

For example, Velon, a professional road cycling organization that aims to bring fans closer to the riders and races, posts race highlights on its IGTV channel. Its videos are made to be viewed horizontally so the team rotated them and posted them on its IGTV channel.

Velon IGTV video

You’ll need to rotate your horizontal video first because IGTV only accepts vertical, 9:16 videos. You can easily rotate your horizontal video using Windows Movie Maker on Windows or QuickTime Player on a Mac.

Thanks to Kovács Máté, you can also resize your horizontal or square videos into vertical videos on your iOS devices using his IGTV Video Resizer.

2. Repurpose and crop your videos vertically

The second way is to rework your horizontal videos and crop them vertically. This requires a bit more work but is likely more manageable than creating vertical videos from scratch.

For example, GoPro cropped its horizontal YouTube video on freediving with Tiger Sharks into a vertical IGTV video.

GoPro IGTV video

You could also put a frame around your horizontal and square videos to make them vertical, like what Ben and Jerry’s did with its YouTube video.

Ben and Jerry's IGTV video

If your videos are filmed in a way that is suitable for cropping into vertical videos, you could try using tools like Kapwing and to help you with the cropping. Otherwise, you could also try creating your videos using video editing tools like and Typito, which allow you to easily resize your videos from horizontal to vertical.

3. Point and shoot with a smartphone

What if you are not already producing videos? The third way is to point and shoot with your smartphone — no professional video camera or lighting — just your smartphone.

Great content doesn’t always have to be produced professionally. The Guardian shared with Digiday that their less polished Instagram Stories (static graphics or quick video explainers on news topics) have been more popular than their professionally shot, edited, and produced videos.

The early content on Instagram is also less polished images with filters. Since IGTV is still a very young platform, with a vertical video format that is still less common than the horizontal video format, people might be more forgiving and focus more on the content itself rather than the aesthetic.

ECFIT Boulder, which coaches endurance athletes, shares unedited training tip videos (taken with a smartphone, I presume) on its IGTV channel.

ECFIT Boulder IGTV video

For such instances, you might find it helpful to have a tripod to stabilize your smartphone or even just to hold your smartphone if you are filming yourself alone. There are many affordable options on Amazon.

Here’s another example, from Everlane, an online clothing retailer known for their pricing transparency. Its social media team shares lightly edited vertical videos on their IGTV channel.

Everlane IGTV video

Over to you: What do you think?

While you don’t have to be on every new social media channel, especially as a small business with limited resources, I would recommend testing a few videos using the low-investment methods mentioned above. IGTV has only been live for a small number of months so it is not surprising that not many businesses are on there yet — and those that are there, are still figuring things out. This creates a great opportunity for you to test and see if IGTV will work for your business. If it doesn’t seem to be working for you, you can always pause your efforts and rethink your approach.

What do you think? Do you think your business should be on IGTV? Why or why not? 

P.s. Want to learn more about vertical videos? We have a short-series newsletter just for that and would love to have you. Sign up here!

Image credit: Statista, the respective IGTV channels

I first learned about the GQ story via Jack Appleby’s tweet and then via Digiday’s article

Social Media Marketing Video from MA Consultancy

If you are looking for Social Media Marketing Consultancy, Training & Services including Graphic Design for Social Media & Video Presentation Production for Social Media, all for prices starting at just £50 pm, please get in touch:

Call: 07517 024979 or email: .