Spice up your Instagram profile with these tools (the best ones are FREE!)

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Instagram for musicians (and its dirty secrets)[This article was written by guest contributor 

In episode 51 of the Jazz Spotlight Podcast I had the pleasure to welcome on the show #1 Instagram expert Sue B. Zimmerman,aka “The Instagram Expert.” One of the world’s leading social media and internet marketers, she has been featured on some of the most important websites in the field such as Social Media Examiner and Creative Live.

During our talk, she shared some incredible tips for SMART Instagram marketing. From what kind of profile picture to have, to her 3 tips for crafting a killer bio and how to deal with spammers, to how to become someone people want to follow (and eventually buy from on Instagram).

Yes, I said buy. That’s not a typo.

You can indeed use Instagram not only as a promotion tool, but also as a platform to actually drive traffic to a specific webpage where you are selling something.

If you are not using Instagram, you should definitely join today – just to let you know, you are missing out on an opportunity to join a social media that has 200 million users! And the podcast episode with Sue will help you in that it features everything you need to know to get started.

In case you are already on Instagram, the interview with Sue B. Zimmerman is a must-listen for you too, because she also discusses some advanced Instagram tips.

In this blog post, we take a closer look at the incredible tools you can use to take your Instagram marketing efforts to the next level. From apps to turn “so-so” pictures into visual content people want to share, to tools to quickly add incredibly cool text to your pictures, create collages and schedule your Instagram posts.

This list gives you all the tools you need to know to become an Instagram marketing pro. The best part? Many of them are completely FREE to use!

Camera+

For years, I have pretty much stopped taking pictures with the iPhone’s standard camera app and turned to a very powerful one instead. Camera+ (which is also available for iPad) allows you not only to capture your best moment with pictures, but it also lets you touch up your photos. Whether you want to resize your image, add a filter or a frame, Camera+ will do the work.

Sue spoke highly of Camera+ and it is easy to see why. If you are tired of getting frustrated because the photos you take are blurry and want to shoot like a pro, you should definitely give this app a try.

Word Swag

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes adding some text to the photos you upload on social media can take the user’s experience to a whole other level. If you want to combine your images with engaging, nice-looking copy, Word Swag is your go-to app.

The cool thing about Word Swag is that it lets you add awesome text to your pictures literally in just a few seconds!

Here are some examples of people who had turned some “so-so” or “ok” pictures into amazing visual content other users shared:

Word Swag

Word Swag works particularly well for sharing inspiring quotes or pictures with a call to action, but there’s no limit to creativity – so use it in the way that suits you the best!

Rhonna Designs

Rhonna Designs is another app you can use to spice up the visual content you share on Instagram and other social media. Sue had nothing but great things to say about Rhonna Designs, and this alone should incite you to give it a try.

Just like Word Swag, Rhonna Designs is easy to use and doesn’t require any particular skill.

The difference between the two is that while with Word Swag you mainly add text, with Rhonna you can add more features such as banners, icons, and other designs available at Rhonna’s resource repository. This means that you can either just add some cool text to your picture or create a design by using some of the elements available.

Rhonna Designs

Another difference with Word Swag is that Rhonna Designs is not only available for iPhone, but also iPad, iPod and Android devices.

BeFunky

Has it ever happened to you, to have a picture you really would like to share online but you don’t because it isn’t the way you want it to be? You probably know that there are a bunch of tools for photo editing, but you either don’t have the time or are afraid of using softwares like Photoshop because they seem difficult to use.

If that’s you, you will thank me for mentioning BeFunky!

Photo CollageBeFunky allows you to easily do many of the things you could do with Photoshop, without any sweat. You can use the web version, that lets you work on your pictures (that you can upload from your computer, Facebook, Picasa, Flickr or take one with your webcam), for free and without the need to sign up  or you can use the free app for mobile devices.

Whether you are using iPhone or Android, this free tool will do nothing but great things for you. One of my favorite BeFunky features? Collages! With BeFunky, you can group several pictures and turn them into an incredibly cool photo collage.

Diptic

If you dig photo collages, then you should probably check Diptic too.

You see, a photo collage is a great way to organize your pictures and to even repurpose – as in re-use – old ones. Sue B. Zimmerman described Diptic, app that is available for mac, PC, iOS and Android, as her go-to app for combining multiple photos into one amazing image.

Do I need to add anything else?

Canva

Some of you may already be familiar with Canva as a free online tool that lets you customize your images, so that they perfectly fit in every social media. Twitter headers, Facebook posts, Google+ covers, but also Facebook ads, Kindle covers, podcast artworks and business cards. There are so many different ways you can use Canva.

Canva recently release a new feature, which Instagram users have been impatiently waiting for. Now, in addition to all the things I mentioned (plus many others), you can use Canva to make your pictures a perfect match for Instagram!

The way it works remains the same: you either upload a picture or choose one of the templates available and work on it. You can add text, change color, resize and do pretty much anything you can dream of.

To help people getting to know the basics of designs, the company even launched the free learning resource Canva Design School.

Schedugram

This is probably the one tool you didn’t know about – and that’s ok, because I really think Schedugram is a hidden gem. When it comes to social media, some people find it hard to share posts on Facebook and Google+ or to tweet on a regular basis.

This can indeed be overwhelming, especially if you have an international fan base, with people in different time zones. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite,however, do the trick by enabling you to schedule your messages, so that they are published at pre-determined time.

But what about Instagram?

“That I know of, Schedugram is the only reliable third-party app that lets you schedule Instagram posts,” said Sue during our interview.

Schedugram

That’s right, there’s an app you can use to plan the content you want to share on Instagram, so that it goes live at the best time. For now, Schedugram works only as a web-based tool, which means that you will have to schedule your posts from your computer.

The scheduling process is ridiculously simple: you upload a picture (you can also modify it or add a filter), select the account you want it to be published to, type in the caption and select the day and time.

Bit.ly

On the podcast, Sue stressed the importance of having a call-to-action and a link in your Instagram bio. This can be pretty much everything, from your website to your Facebook page or even a sales page (yep, you can use Instagram to drive traffic to specific sites and sell).

Do you have a big promotion coming up or have huge discounts on the merchandise available on your website? Why not include the link to the page and a clear call-to-action in your Instagram bio? You can easily do that with Bitly.

Bitly is a free tool that enables you to shorten and customize your links. One common mistake people make, when using link shortening services like Bitly, is that they simply shorten the link but don’t take the time to actually turn it into a self-explanatory one or into one that resonates with their brand.

What I mean is that you shouldn’t limit yourself to turn something like www.yourbandname.com/123abdcd456678fgh into bit.ly/ab234gk. Sure, you have to shorten the link, but what does it tell users about its destination? Where are they going to end up if they decide to click?

One of the cool things about Bitly is that you can actually customize the links you shorten. Let’s say the long domain I mentioned above is a link to your latest album called I Dream. If you use the shortened link bit.ly/IDream, do you think people will have to think hard about where that link will redirect them to?

Sue mentioned Bitly as her #1 choice for shortening links and she also recommend using it to customize the links you add in your Instagram bio.

Let’s take a look at how she uses Bitly in one of her Instagram accounts (I recommend you follow it, because Sue shares daily Instagram tips!). Sue has an upcoming webinar about hashtags (you can sign up for FREE here). Obviously, she promotes it on social media, Instagram included. Take a look at the link (marked in red)  in her bio

Sue B. Zimmerman

Notice how she customized the link to bit.ly/HashtagWeb? Pretty cool!

Iconosquare

Once you are active on Instagram, it is important to keep track of stats to see if what you are doing actually works.

Iconosquare is a free web-based app that tells you everything you need to know about the key metrics of your account. Things like the total number of likes you have received, your most popular photos, your follower growth and much more. With Iconosquare, you can also see a cloud that shows the most recurrent hashtags you have used and even get some optimization tips such as how filters impact user interaction and the best time to post and get the most engagement.

The only thing you need to get started with Iconosquare is an Instagram account. If you simply want to explore what’s happening on Instagram, you can still use Iconosquare to look for general stats – like how many people use a specific hashtag.

Now you have some tools to help you spice up your Instagram profile and grow your following. If you are wondering how many posts per day you should publish and want to learn even more about Instagram marketing, you should definitely check out the podcast interview with Sue B. Zimmerman – where she shares that, and a lot more!

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  • Shannon Hurley

    Thank you for these tips! I love Canva; I am looking forward to trying Rhonna Designs and Word Swag.

    • jazzspotlight

      You’re very welcome Shannon, glad you found the post useful!

  • Yeah. I’m addicted to WordSwag.

    @ChrisRobley

  • davidandrewwiebe

    Interesting tips here, Yannick. I was hoping for more insights on how to make money with Instagram. I can guess that shortening links and putting them into your Instagram posts can go a long way, and making engaging photos can also help. However, are there any best practices? Call to actions that work better than others? I would love to know more about that.

    • jazzspotlight

      Making money on Instagram, like on every other online platform, requires you to have built a loyal fanbase that trusts you. As for call to actions that work better than others it’s difficult to say, but I think a combination of good copy (featuring emoji) and a nice picture can help.

      Try to be creative, for example you can tell your Instagram followers that, by clicking the link in your bio, they get a discount (e.g. 20%) on your new record. Contests can also work well.

      As I sad, it’s not easy to say as it depends from who your audience is, the kind of relationship you have established, etc. However, I am pretty confident that if your audience is active on Instagram and you make offers/contests that are created just for Instagram, then you’ll start seeing some money.

      Some time ago, Sue taught the class “Sell More with Instagram” on Creative Live: https://www.creativelive.com/courses/sell-more-instagram-sue-b-zimmerman

      I also recommend looking at how she uses Instagram to monetize on her shop’s page: http://instagram.com/suebdo.capecod

      • davidandrewwiebe

        Thanks! So it really comes back to building a following. That makes a lot of sense. I will have to check out the suggested links also.