Instagram Hacks that will Drive Sales … I mean Checkouts

IMG_6798I recently saw an article on tips for using Instagram to Drive Sales. A lot of the tips are actually pretty relevant to libraries. Let’s look through the tips, and see if anything’s useful for us!

1. Create Call to Actions. Definitely useful – a call to action certainly doesn’t have to be limited to sales! Instagram gives you one actual website link, and it’s found in your profile. Point to things other than your main page sometimes.

Then, in the description box of your image post, ask people to click the link in your profile to … register for the program, check out the book, etc.

2. Increase Exposure by Placing Call to Actions as a Location Extension. This one seems to have limited usefulness to me. Not even sure I really understand it…

3. Add Line Breaks to Your Instagram Captions. This is a way to get your profile to stand out more than other profiles, mainly because the text in your captions looks different. Again, limited usefulness here, since mostly people are scrolling through a bunch of images. But still – every little bit helps.

4. Get More Instagram Followers. Nothing wrong here! We need more followers. The author’s ideas are fine. But we have a built-in audience, so … just ask for them! Use Facebook and Twitter, share a photo, and ask people to Like your Instagram feed. Put up hashtag signs in the building. Mention your account at the beginning of events.

5. Why your “Thanks for following” Test Just Won’t Cut it Anymore. This one seems a bit excessive to me. Direct video messages thanking people for following you? Really? I’d unfriend you. What do you guys think about this one?

6. Add Line Breaks to Your Bio. Another way to get your profile to stand out.

7. Track Your Call to Actions with bit.ly. This is a cool idea. Then again, since Instagram gives you only one link, you can also find conversions simply by using Google Analytics. Check to see if anything came from Instagram. The bit.ly idea will give you an accurate count of clicks, so it’s definitely useful.

8. Talk your Target’s Talk. I definitely agree here. The translation for us is to not use marketing-speak or jargon. Figure out what customers you want to target with your Instagram account, and then use the language they use.

David’s #9. What’s missing in this list? The actual content! Work to make your content compelling enough that it leads your customers to the library, the website, a new service. Visually show off the awesomeness that is the library.

What’s missing? I’d love to hear your thoughts – share them in the comments! And … I’m on Instagram – friend me!

Tips for Making Square Videos

If you’re making video for social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, or Vine, you might think about using a square format, rather than the usual 16:9 aspect ratio.

Why? Because square format videos work great on a mobile device – which is probably what your viewers will be using. And both Instagram and Vine use the square format for videos.

Here are some tips to make your square videos awesome:

  • Fill the frame. Get up close to your subject. If your viewer is watching on a smartphone, that square video will be pretty tiny! Make sure your viewer can see your video.
  • Center the content. Don’t worry so much about that Rule of Thirds here. Go ahead and put your subject in the middle of the frame.
  • Leave space on the edges. If you hold your smartphone vertically while creating your video, leave space at the top or bottom, so you can center in on the action that will show up in a square format. Same thing if you hold the phone horizontally – leave space at the edges, so your subject fills the frame but doesn’t get edited out in a square format.
  • Get to the Point. Really important for Instagram or Vine videos – you only have 15 or 6 seconds, so you will need to start right in on the action and your point!

More Square Format Video Tips here:

Instagram video from my library’s Instagram Account

Instagram at the Library

Awhile back, I mentioned that my library has an Instagram account, and talked about managing multiple Instagram accounts.

Here’s what we’re actually doing with our Instagram account. I’d love to hear your library’s plans and goal for your own Instagram accounts – so please share them!

For starters, we’re using Instagram because people in Topeka are using Instagram. An easy way to discover this is to notice what local businesses are doing.

For example, if you enter a local restaurant, or get a flyer in the mail advertising a local business, Instagram will probably be one of the social media icons they will mention. That always tells me that locals are using it. I figure if local businesses are pushing it, that means their customers are using it … which means my library’s customers are using it too!

Right now, we have about 8 people on our Instagram team, and 2 loose goals:

  1. Show off the library as cool, helpful, and inspired
  2. Inspire customers to use the library

What do we post?

  • What’s happening at the library right now
    • i.e., it’s snowing, crowded rooms, people having fun, what are the teens doing, etc.
  • Behind the scenes – photos of staff, working on a new area, etc.
  • Library content – new books, what’s on the shelf, staff book favorites, etc.
  • Fun things, like #bookfacefriday images with our books

Who do we follow?

  • Our customers and local organizations

Do we post every day? No – we post when we find something interesting to take a picture of.

What are you doing with Instagram? Let me know!

Image from Jose Moutinho

Managing Multiple Instagram Accounts

screenshot of fotogramme app on my iphoneI recently created an Instagram account for my library (and you can find my own Instagram account here, if you’re interested).

So far, we are having fun with it! I’m in the process of planning (i.e., gathering a team and setting up our first meeting), and we’ll be setting some goals for 2015. More on that later.

After creating the library’s account, I quickly noticed a problem. It’s sorta awkward managing multiple Instagram accounts on my iPhone. If I want to do something on the library’s Instagram account – post a photo or manage the account (i.e., follow people or respond to comments) – I have to log out of my own account and then log into the library’s account, and then back again.

Thankfully, there are some web and app-based tools to help manage multiple Instagram accounts:

  1. Fotogramme: Fotogramme is an Instagram management iPhone app with multiple account support. It allows me to view photos, post Likes and comments, manage followers, and Favorite users and hashtags for easier recall. It also sends alerts to my iPhone, so I know when there’s activity on the library’s Instagram account.
  2. iconosquare: Iconosquare is a web-based tool that lets you manage an Instagram account. It allows you to browse and comment or like photos, and manage your Instagram accounts comments. But the best part of Iconosquare are the statistics. It provides a variety of statistics and trends on your photos, followers, likes, and follower interaction.
  3. unfollowers: This is a handy tool to quickly manage followers. For both Twitter and Instagram, it shows you who’s following you, who unfollowed you, etc. It can help you figure out who to follow. I’m playing with the free version, which limits the activity you can do on a given day. But still – it’s easy to use, and cheap ($6.90 per month for one account) if we wanted to actually pay for it.

face2faceWhat’s missing from each of these tools? Actually taking photos. So yeah – I still have to take a photo, log out of my Instagram account, then log into the library’s account. And then back out again so I don’t post to the wrong account. But the management and statistics help is appreciated.

Here are a couple of articles that mention these and similar Instagram tools:

Have anything else that helps you manage your organization’s Instagram accounts? Please share!

How to be Awesome on Instagram

A few weeks ago, I posted about Vine and making videos. So I thought I should also post something about Instagram!

Instagram is a fun photo/video/social network/app that is now owned by Facebook. And it’s on 180 million people’s smartphones. That’s a lot of pics!

Some organizations and brands are using Instagram to connect with their customers, and libraries should think about using it, too. So here are some tips to get you started using Instagram for a business or organization:

  1. Master the tool. If you haven’t used Instagram, dive in and figure out what all the buttons, settings, and filters do. Which means you should start taking photos!
  2. Mix fun and business. The fun keeps people coming back, the business keeps them interested in your business
  3. Use your Instagram images in other places. Like on Facebook, Twitter, and on your website.
  4. Follow your followers! If someone follows you in Instagram, follow them back (well, unless they are an obvious spammer – they DO exist in Instagram).
  5. Follow people first. You don’t have to wait for people to follow you. Think about finding your customers and following them.
  6. Post consistently. Create a posting plan, make a schedule, and stick with it
  7. Show off your library. Take photos and videos of your stuff and your staff.
  8. Use #hashtags. Don’t go overboard, but do use relevant hashtags. Does your community have some local hashtags that are used? Find ways to use those.
  9. Run a contest or a game! Use a hashtag for people to participate. If you don’t want to do a contest, then create a game. For example, ask followers to take photos of the book they’re currently reading, and give them a hashtag to use for the posting (i.e., #fridayreads).
  10. Interact with your followers. Leave comments on their pictures, and respond to people who leave a comment on your posts.

And for some actual photo tips: I have four Instagram photo tips for you:

  1. Get close. Make sure to get as close as possible to your subject … then get a little closer still.
  2. Find quirky angles. Don’t center everything, or even necessarily follow the “rule of thirds” composition rules. Try something different.
  3. Make those colors Pop. Make them bold and bright. Remember – people are seeing tiny versions of your pics, and you want them to click on it.. So make them really vibrant, and even slightly saturated.
  4. Minimize shake by using your finger. When taking a photo in pretty much any smartphone app, an easy way to minimize shake is to touch and keep your finger on the shutter button. Then, when you’re ready to take the picture, simply take your finger off the button, and the photo is taken. This works much better than tapping the screen and potentially causing movement (which might cause blurs in the photo).

Are you using Instagram at your library? I’d love to know how – leave a comment and share!