Instagram is one of the leading social media platforms right now with more than a billion monthly active users. Nowadays, it is obvious that it doesn’t matter what type of business you have – any brand can benefit from an Instagram account. According to a recent study commissioned by Facebook, people perceive brands that are on Instagram as popular (78%), creative (77%), entertaining (76%), and relevant (74%). You would surely like your brand to be referred to as ‘relevant’, wouldn’t you?
Besides, there are more benefits to Instagram than brand awareness and a positive brand image. The same study reported that Instagram directly influences users’ purchasing decisions.
If that’s not enough to convince you, 46% of the surveyed users made a purchase specifically after seeing a product or service on Instagram. All in all, Instagram is a great place for brands to connect with their audience and promote their product.
However, marketing on Instagram is not an easy task: you have to grow your account, engage with followers, answer DMs, find influencers, and do a hundred more things. Luckily, there are tools that can help you stay on top of your workload and not overspend your marketing budget. Here’s the list of ten free tools that can help you with every aspect of Instagram marketing.
1. Finding brand mentions: Awario
Monitoring brand mentions is crucial for any brand, big or small. It enables you to engage with customers, manage your reputation, identify influencers who use your products/services, and so on.
The problem is when people mention a brand on Instagram, they won’t necessarily tag them. Most of the mentions will go untagged — and unnoticed by brands. However, a monitoring tool can discover these untagged mentions and make it easy to engage with them.
Awario finds all mentions of your brand and analyzes them. It also provides you with a broad range of analytics on your brand:
- How many times it was mentioned.
- How many people saw your brand name (reach).
- The language of the mentions.
- Key topics within your mentions.
- The most influential accounts which mentioned your brand.
Additionally, your brand name is not the only word you can monitor. Awario monitors any keyword or keyword combination you can possibly think of. Some keywords that could be useful to track on Instagram are:
- Your competitors’ brand names
- Influencers’ names
- Hashtags and keywords relevant to your industry
Pricing: Awario offers a free trial for two weeks. The Starter plan, tailored for small companies, costs $29/mo (3 alerts, 30,000 mentions per month).
2. Analytics: squarelovin
While Awario analyzes other people’s social data, squarelovin keeps an eye on your own performance. The Instagram Insights dashboard shows you how successful your account is, but if you want to dive deeper into data and get answers to questions like, “When should I post to get the most engagement?”, you will need a separate analytics tool.
Squarelovin allows you to see how your metrics change overtime and which posts directly affect your growth. The tool tracks likes and followers, reviews post performance and measures overall profile engagement. It also highlights the best times to post, best filters and hashtags to use.
It also offers historical insights which date back to your first ever post on Instagram.
Pricing: completely free.
3. Image & video editing: Instasize
Instagram already allows users to edit their content before publishing; however, their filters are quite limited and sometimes look unnatural. Most brands strive for an appealing and consistent aesthetic, thus they use tools to make their images stand out.
Instasize provides users with more than 80 filters that you can use on pictures and videos, curated by professional photographers. In addition to the ready-made filters, you can customize the details of your pictures by adjusting sharpness, brightness, exposure, contrast, etc. It also enables you to put several photos together in one of the collage layouts.
To get your message across, you might want to add text to your images. Instasize gives you access to over 50 unique fonts which are easy to manipulate and edit.
The feature that makes Instasize stand out is the ability to resize your pictures to post on other social media networks. For example, you can resize a photo you published to your feed to share it to Stories, or to your Facebook page.
Pricing: Instasize is free, but you can access additional editing tools and filters for $4,99 per month.
4. Grid planning: Preview
You may not consider how all the pictures you post look together, but when consumers click on your profile, this is the first thing they see. Thus, in order to have a coherent and attractive profile, you need to engage in planning your grid layout. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t allow you to rearrange posted pictures, so you can’t change the look of your profile once you upload the the images. That’s why most brands and influencers use tools to plan their grid in advance.
The Preview app does exactly that. You upload multiple photos and then rearrange them by dragging them to the right place, swapping two pictures, or shuffling several pictures.
Once you find the look you are satisfied with, you can add captions and hashtags to each photo and schedule Preview to remind you to post it at a certain time. To post the photo, you press the Export button, choose Instagram and paste the caption and hashtags (Preview automatically copies them for you).
A very useful feature is the ability to edit pictures while you’re organizing your layout. Let’s say, you arranged the photos, but one picture has a slightly muted colours. You can adjust it right in the app with the filters it offers.
You can see the future posts by clicking the calendar icon, which will help you navigate your posting schedule.
Pricing: Preview is free for one user. You can have wider functionality such as Hashtag Analytics and the Team feature for $14,99 a month.
5. Scheduling: Buffer
A consistent posting schedule is extremely important for growing you channel. Instagram’s algorithm favours accounts which post regularly. A scheduling tool can make it easier to keep to a posting schedule: all you need to do is to put in new content weekly, and the tool will publish it for you.
Buffer is a freemium tool which allows you to schedule posting to several social media platforms, including Instagram. It has a mobile app and a web version, so you can schedule and publish your Instagram posts both from your desktop and your smartphone.
The best quality about Buffer is just how simple it is to use – so you don’t have to worry about much of a learning curve. Hook up your social accounts, schedule your content, and you’re good to go.
Pricing: you get 3 social media accounts and 10 scheduled posts for free.Paid plans start at $15/mo.
6. Hashtag research: RiteTag
Hashtags on Instagram are the best way to discover new content. Instagram even allows users to follow hashtags, which means that by using certain hashtags you can get your posts in front of people who don’t even follow your account.
You might have heard the rumours that Instagram shadowbans hashtag overuse or the use of certain hashtags, and because of this, many users are hesitant to use hashtags all together. The truth is, Instagram has always favoured the use of relevant and specific hashtags – therefore, these are the ones you should be using.
With RiteTag, you can assess a specific hashtag of your choosing or generate hashtags for your Instagram post. It will tell you which hashtags are hot, which are overused, and which are shadowbanned.
If you schedule your posts in advance, you’ll be happy to know that RiteTag also works with all web-to-Instagram direct publishing and scheduling solutions, including Buffer.
Pricing: RiteTag is free.
7. E-commerce: Have2Have.it
By introducing Shoppable Posts and “Buy” stickers in Stories, Instagram showed that it understands the importance of e-commerce on the platform. In addition to these features, you can use tools to integrate your website and Instagram profile even further.
Have2Have.it is a part of the Soldsie platform. It recreates your Instagram feed on your website where your users can click the image to be taken to product listings. It’s also used to link your Instagram pictures to content posts on your website.
This makes it a great option for regularly updated blogs. Have2Have.it is a great way to get many uses out of your one bio link.
Pricing: You can use the tool for free for under 50 clicks per month, and it also has a 30-day free trial. You can get more clicks starting from $5 per month.
8. Influencer marketing: InfluencerDB
Instagram is one of the biggest platforms for influencer marketing: 92% of marketers and 87% of influencers choose Instagram as the most important social platform for influencer marketing.
The main challenge of influencer marketing is to find the right influencers to promote your brand. And that’s when InfluencerDB comes into play.
This is an influencer discovery tool which shows you Instagram influencers in your industry based on a chosen keyword. Moreover, it shows you the analysis of their profile: follower count dynamics for the last month, what locations they tag, what hashtags and brands they talk about, who they mention and who mentions them, etc. You can even compare their profile with the profile of another Instagram influencer and see who performs better.
You can mark influencers as favourite to save them to a list, and then come back to it when you’re done with research and choose the ones that you like the most.
Pricing: The Free plan includes 20 daily searches, 3 daily influencer views, 10 favorites, and the last 7 days’ posting history for each influencer you view. You can get access to more searches and wider functionality for $129 a month.
9. Growing followers: Combin
In addition to posting quality content at the right time, one of the most effective tactics to grow your Instagram account is engaging with other users. That seems like a no-brainer: of course, interacting with other people is the best way to raise brand awareness. The problem is, you don’t want to interact with just any people — you want to promote your brand to those who might be interested in it.
A sure way to get new engaged and loyal followers is to find people who are already interested in accounts similar to yours. You can do that by going to User search and entering the name of your competitor. If the account you want to search has thousands or even millions of followers, additional options allow you to find your best potential users.
Selecting the “Analyze users when searching” option turns on Combin’s machine learning algorithm to identify and prioritize the accounts most likely to become loyal followers. You can also filter found accounts by locations, which could be very useful for local businesses.
By going to the Audience management tab, you can see who doesn’t follow you back and unfollow these accounts in batch.
Pricing: The free version allows you to manage 1 account, carry out 75 searches and 250 actions. The paid plans, which offer additional features such as statistics and auto-tasks, start at €10 a month.
10. User-generated content: Later
User-generated content is the Instagram marketer’s best friend: you don’t have to create content and you engage your followers and fans at the same time! What’s not to love?
Later is a comprehensive Instagram management platform, but one of its most beneficial features is Search & Repost. First, it looks for an Instagram post based on the hashtag you choose. It could be your brand name, your product name, or a hashtag dedicated to a specific Instagram campaign.
Once you find a post that you’d like to share with your followers, you can repost it right away, or schedule it for the future. The photo won’t lose any quality compared to the original.
Pricing: With the free plan, you can manage 1 social media account, schedule 30 posts a month, and search and repost as many posts as you like.
Even though there are millions of tools that can make your Instagram marketing easier and more efficient, these ten are the essential apps that every Instagram manager needs. They will assist you at every step of your Instagram strategy, from creating content to growing your followers. And the best part is that they are either free or very affordable— so you’re guaranteed to have a positive ROI!
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