Introducing Instagram Hyperlapse

Instagram Hyperlapse

On Tuesday, the ever popular Instagram platform rolled out an incredible new app called Hyperlapse.

Essentially, the new app speeds up and stabilizes long videos into shorter, time-lapsed shorts. Available for iPhone users in the Apple Store, this app is very easy to use — just shoot a video within the platform and the app will do the rest! The new time-lapsed videos are automatically saved to your camera roll (if you choose) and are able to be shared across varying social platforms.

Here are a few examples:

Creating with #hyperlapse is going to be a lot of fun. Well played @instagram #ants

A post shared by Jake Hiller (@jmayerhiller) on

Tell us: Have you tried the Hyperlapse yet?

— Samantha


Instagram Adds New Editing Tools

Instagram Editing Tools

If you’re like the rest of the human population, you’re probably on Instagram everyday 🙂 Well, good news for the platform’s users: new photo editing tools.

Earlier this week, the popular image sharing social platform rolled out a new set of tools to help edit photos even more, including the ability to change an image’s contrast, warmth, saturation and more. With many IG users already turning to additional apps to help edit pics, it only makes sense for the platform to provide its users with tools they really want and need.

Instagram stated, “You take a photo to capture a moment, but often what you see in the photograph doesn’t feel the same as what you remember. From brightening up a photo of your dinner party to better capturing the warmth of a sunset portrait, these new creative tools help you bring out and share the beauty of the moment as you remember it—right inside the same simple Instagram you already know.”

Although it may not seem like a drastic change in the application, for many this means cutting out the middle man — or other editing apps like the popular VSCO Cam. Similar to how IG added video capabilities after Vine was launched through Twitter, this new addition will make many folks happy and consequently, continuous use of the platform.

Have you tried the new IG photo editing tools yet?

— Samantha

Instagram Ad Success


It’s been about 6 weeks since Instagram introduced ads to its platform — and the results look good. As we’ve mentioned before, Instagram started slow, allowing only 10 retailers to start posting ads, which included Levi’s and Ben & Jerry’s. Although Facebook has only released the results from these 2 brands, both have seen significant gains. Levi’s was able to reach an audience 47 times bigger than its follower count, while Ben & Jerry’s was able to reach an audience 29 times larger. Pretty impressive numbers.

Both brands were concerned that the numbers may have been inflated due to the novelty of the new ads. Because of this concern, they decided to pay more attention to numbers regarding ad recall and brand message awareness. Resulting from these ads, consumers were 32% more likely to remember the product highlighted than someone who had not seen it. They also saw a 10% jump in message awareness for people who were exposed to the ads. These are solid metrics, but information on how much these companies paid for these ads has not been released, making it is impossible to truly calculate ROI.

Personally, we think Instagram ads are off to a great start. We’ve seen a few ads on our feed which have been visually pleasing and even enjoyable. Hopefully this is how the ads will continue to be, however we have our doubts. Instagram put such an emphasis on making sure these initial ads were high quality, once more advertisers enter the game, the quality is sure to suffer.

Tell us: How did you feel about the new Instagram ads?

-Mike & Samantha

Watch Out Snapchat, Introducing Instagram Direct

Intoducing Instagram Direct

Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz in the news of CEO Evan Spiegel turning down a $3 billion offer from Facebook to buy his increasingly popular photo-sharing app. Well, Mr. Spiegel may now be rethinking his decision.

Introducing Instagram Direct, the ability for users to send and receive photos and videos during those moments that we want to share to only a select few. Unlike Snapchat where an image or video is delivered and is live for a maximum of 10 seconds, Instagram has added a whole new level onto it’s already expanding platform allowing users to more intimately share content that they already have on their phone AND to take images/video in real time — additions that could essentially wipe out a need for a platform like Snapchat.

Users on Instagram will now see a new icon in the upper righthand corner of the newsfeed. Once clicked, one can view pictures and videos from people who have directly Instagrammed them. If they want to directly Instagram their own friends, simply enter the normal camera button and click the button at the top of the screen to share with particular friends or “Direct.” After clicking “Direct,” one can choose the friends they want to share an image or video with, write a caption as normal and tap send to finish.

After sending content (and very similar to Snapchat), a user will be able to see who’s viewed the pic or video and see in real time who is commenting and liking it. Receiving a direct Instagram is just as easy. Anything that is directly sent to you will show up immediately, while content sent from a user that you’re not currently following will simply be sent into your requests box so one can choose to view it or not!

Direct Instagram

Bottom line? We think Mr. Spiegel must be shaking in his boots. Not only is this is a direct competitor using similar methods to send and receive images and video, but Instagram has taken it to a whole new level by integrating better ways of viewing engagement in real-time — and content isn’t lost in the inter-webs forever either.

For brands and businesses, this provides a distinctly unique way of marketing to customers. Simply take an image of a new product, coupon, etc. and directly Instagram it to a select group of followers, then track who’s seen it and the immediate engagement around it. We especially love how brands will be able to send direct Instagrams to followers who may not necessarily be following them back, therefore increasing their chances of having more eyes on particular messaging, etc. A brand’s reach is now much larger than before — and because many other social platforms don’t allow you to target posts or tweets in the same customizable way, Instagram just gained a few more points ahead of the competition!

Tell us: Will your company start using direct Instagrams in the future??

— Samantha

Social Commerce Growth with Hashtags

Social Commerce and Hashtags

Over the past few years, many social platforms have tried their hand at social commerce: the act of purchasing goods via social media. Although social commerce (a $14.25 billion industry) has seen its ups and downs, it’s becoming increasingly more popular — thanks in part to the hashtag.

Hashtags first began on Twitter, then grew to be included on other social sites like Instagram, Facebook and Google+, etc. They’re essentially labels that help aggregate content and are very helpful for those who are interested in the same topic.

When it comes to searching online, businesses are using hashtags as connecting links between social networks. No longer is it simply social marketing, but it has truly become social commerce with a component of virality that includes discounts, coupons and more. When a friend buys something online via social, it is assumed that their friends will see the purchase and be prone to buy something as well. When you tie in hashtags, whether targeted or more general, a brand is automatically reaching a larger audience across multiple platforms.

As many researchers have found, the majority of the population go on social media to shop, read reviews (from strangers or friends) and more. Although those specific social platforms in use may vary, hashtags tie particular topics together while maintaining streamlined and simple programs for the user.

Hashtag Mania

Today, companies like American Express have teamed up with Twitter to create a way to instantly shop with the use of an “actiontag.” A user would simply tweet/post the distinctly branded “actiontag” which would automatically purchase the product. Additionally, hashtags are being used across a multitude of websites (to better filter content for fans), contests (to spark creativity) and even to help distribute discounts online, which in turn have proved to go viral with fans.

Although there’s a lot more to witness as the relationship between social commerce and hashtags blossoms, we hope businesses will use the hashtag more creatively and effectively to promote sales in the future.

Tell us: Does your small business use hashtags in current marketing programs?

— Samantha

Worried About Instagram Ads?

We all hate ads being shoved in our face left and right, but don’t be scared, it seems Instagram’s new ad campaign will actually be pretty pleasant. Pleasant ads? Hard to believe we know, but Instagram is being very careful not to repeat mistakes made by Facebook when they first introduced ads. Instagram plans to slowly integrate these new “promoted” posts by allowing only a few, hand-picked, brands with successful existing accounts. Such brands include, Levi’s, Ben & Jerry’s, General Electric and PayPal. By only allowing access to these big, well funded brands, the posts are much more likely to be high quality, enjoyable photos. Here are two examples from Levi’s and Instagram themselves:

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As you can see, these are actually pretty cool photos. If you don’t agree and would rather not see a certain add, you even have the ability to click on the “…” in the bottom right-hand corner and hide and provide feedback on the ad. This will help Instagram learn what you like and provide more appropriate ads in the future.

Will these ads continue to be visually appealing and unobtrusive as time goes on? We will have to wait and see. No one really likes ads, but it is refreshing to see that Instagram is making the user experience its number one priority. How do you feel about this new introduction?

Mike & Samantha

NowThis News

If you haven’t heard of the Instagram account, NowThis News, you most certainly will soon. With over 50,000 followers, NowThis News is changing the way people receive breaking news. NowThis specializes in using Instagram to deliver breaking news in 15-second video clips. Since its introduction last June, Instagram video has mainly been used to promote upcoming stories, events or campaigns, rather than breaking the actual news itself. This has been a pretty successful model for certain brands who have taken advantage of Instagram’s latest feature, but what about news agencies? We all know that Twitter is the leading social media platform for breaking news, so why can’t Instagram follow suit? Take a look at some examples of what NowThis News has been bringing to Instagram:

This must be the most condensed, no-nonsense delivery of news in the history of reporting, and with our generation’s ever shortening attention spans, nothing is more important than brevity. This is one of those ideas that is so simple it’s genius. Not only does NowThis get you the facts quickly and efficiently, the videos are also very visually appealing.

We believe the introduction of NowThis will almost certainly impact the way traditional media breaks the news. How long until we see similar tactics from outlets like CNN, NPR, etc? If they are smart, and want to stay relevant with today’s youth, the sooner they better. It will be exciting to see how fast NowThis grows and how much of an impact it will have.

-Mike & Samantha

How to Use a #Hashtag, for Beginners


Hashtags (links with the pound sign — # — in front) are everywhere. From Twitter to Google+, to Instagram and most recently Facebook, the proper use of hashtags can be somewhat confusing! Having said this, they’re an important part of social media and should not be taken lightly when applying them to your brand’s digital strategy.

To start, a # will make any word or phrase directly behind it into a completely searchable link. In essence, hashtags help aggregate content across many platforms and allows for better organization around a topic or conversation.

  • Text following a hashtag should not (and cannot) include spaces, periods, commas, question marks, apostrophes, exclamation points or any special characters.
  • Numbers are allowed.
  • There are no limits to hashtags, so feel free to make up your own — or better yet, enter in on a current conversation to stay extra relevant!

Twitter Hashtag

As mentioned above, hashtags can be used on a number of social platforms.

  • Twitter: This is where hashtags first started. Be sure to check out the Trends section on the side of your Twitter feed to see the current list of hashtags that you may find interesting, typically based on your tweets.
  • Instagram: Hashtags on this image-focused platform help you obtain new followers and also provide great sources of finding new users and interesting content.
  • Tumblr: On here, there is a specific Tag area where you can input certain terms, which basically act as hashtags and organizes content around conversations.
  • Google+: Similar to a Google search, clicking on a hashtag will show results relating to the topic at hand and will also give you the option of searching the # on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Facebook: Although only introduced a few months ago, hashtags on this popular site have not done as well as originally expected. Although hashtags on Facebook serve a similar function as Twitter or Instagram, many digital marketers question the actual benefits of including hashtags in posts.

Facebook Hashtag Example

In addition to helping your company create or join a conversation online, hashtags often better help define a brand’s personality. With a tone that may include sarcasm or humor, etc. hashtags can create a unique brand voice, which will ultimately keep your company top of mind for users. Note that you should not add too many hashtags to your posts/tweets, as more than 3-4 can often be seen as spam.

Lastly, creating a hashtag that your company or brand can own is crucial. Whether or not you decide to create your own or simply take over an existing one is up to you, as both have great benefits. Keep in mind the following:

  • Creating a #: Be sure to do research before you choose. If you decide to join a conversation, make sure you pick a hashtag that has many users already using it. If you decide to make up your own, make sure that it’s unique by checking to see if anyone has used it previously.
  • Be consistent: After you decide on a hashtag(s), be sure to use them consistently across all of your brand’s social platforms and marketing materials. Teaching your audience to expect certain messaging that will (hopefully) get them to tweet or post with your hashtag in the future!
  • Make it short & to the point: Keep your hashtags short so they are clear to users and are easy to use by others. Also, be sure that the hashtag isn’t too generic to keep it as effective as possible.
  • Stay relevant: Be sure to follow current trending hashtags and be sure to use hashtags that relate to your business. If they’re not relevant to you, don’t use them as it’ll end up looking like spam.
  • Utilize your hashtag: A great way to kick off a new hashtag is by introducing it via a contest or promotion which will get the attention of your fan base. Do so in a creative way that will immediately make your fans think of your brand when they see it!

Comments, questions? Feel free to add them below and we’ll get back to you!

— Samantha

Where Sports Fans Engage on Social Media

Sports fans

Big sports fan? Ever talk about the game on FB or Twitter? You’re certainly not alone.

Catalyst’s annual fan engagement study studies sports fans to better determine where they play on social media — and where marketers can better reach them! In Catalyst’s recent study, the team surveyed 2,100 sports fans (16 and 64 years old) who follow the NFL, NBA, MLB, college football, college basketball and soccer.

A few top points are highlighted below, but check out the full infographic below

  • Surprisingly, only 57% of fans surveyed “liked” a brand/sport team page to show their support — versus 61% who “liked” a page for a coupon or discount.
  • Although more fans are on Facebook in general, Twitter is the most popular platform on a game day.
  • Post game, Instagram rises in popularity, when fans are most likely sharing images from the game or viewing party.

Catalyst Sport Infographic


— Samantha

Social Trend: Brands Increase Use of User-Generated Content

It’s no secret that fans on social media engage more with content that’s generated from friends or family. It’s only natural to have an interest in those people who mean the most to you. This is why social sites like Facebook and Twitter have algorithms to tailor your Newsfeed with content from friends who you interact with the most, in hopes that you will be prompted to like, share, tweet, etc. on a more consistent basis.

Now, this more approachable and relatable type of content is allowing brands take a big step in how they sell and advertise to the world. Instead of glossy, high-fashion shots, many brands and advertisers are aggregating user-generated images to push product awareness and overall brand loyalty.

When working on Herbal Essences, I came up with the strategy of incorporating more Instagrammed imagery onto our Facebook and Twitter pages to better relate to our young, female customer base. By using photos that looked like one our own fan would create, we were able to successfully insert the brand into a conversation that was already taking place within the social space. As a result, we saw an immediate increase in engagement.

Companies like Urban Outfitters plan to push the envelope further by including UGC (user-generated content) on their product pages to create an even fuller shopping experience. As quoted from AdWeek, “Social-generated images are creeping up on all of our marketing channels. That’s where our customers are,” said Moira Gregonis, senior marketing manager at Urban Outfitters.

Additional large retailers, including Dannijo and NastyGal, are also adding Instagrammed shots from consumers to their websites in hopes of increasing sales. “The user-generated content we pull [with the software] increases conversion rates,” said Mary Mentz, e-commerce strategist for Dannijo. “Our customers are six times more likely to purchase with [the social pictures] on our product pages.”

Although some brands wonder what they are truly getting back from highlighting fan photos, only time will tell. As for now, it’s clear that they are driving more social engagement, simply because this new (and free) content is more approachable and relatable to “real” people. Just as user testimonials help a customer down the purchase funnel, so will these highly visual images of real people in actual product!

How do you feel about brands using YOUR images to sell products?

— Samantha