Third-party developers save the day (again)
Instagram is fast becoming the number one social media destination (even surpassing Facebook, which is ironic since Facebook owns Instagram!). But one thing which is a real downer for Instagram is how unfriendly some aspects of the user experience are for people.
What do I mean? Well for example, look at how the platform is only built for images to be uploaded via your smartphone. So far, you cannot upload via the Instagram.com website. Then there’s the stupid rule that you can only have one link – and that’s in your bio. Then there’s the difficulty of getting line breaks in your captions….
As usual on the internet, when there is a problem on a platform, a third-party developer steps in to save the day. Instagram is no different.
Remember how I just said that you can’t upload images directly onto the Instagram website? Well, one way around it is to use a third-party website to upload your images via your computer. The best one is Buffer.
After signing up for an account, and designating your posting times, you can then open up the new status update box for Instagram. Upload your photo, add a caption, hashtags, and location, then either hit “add to queue” or “add now”.
If anything you upload does not meet with Instagram’s API, then you will be asked to log into the Instagram smartphone app to complete the upload. This commonly happens with images which are not the correct dimensions, as well as uploading more than one image at the same time.
But assuming you have the right dimensions, and you are uploading one image at a time, Buffer makes it absurdly easy to upload to Instagram from your computer.
Hashtags can make or break an Instagram post and careful use of them can land you on the “Explore” page which is pure gold from an exposure point of view. But one of the really tiring things about constantly updating Instagram is figuring out what hashtags to use. So much so that people often rush this step of the process.
To make it easier for desktop computer users (who are using a platform such as Buffer), you can use a fantastic hashtag site called Display Purposes. This is a site where you enter a hashtag in the search box and then the site automatically generates similar hashtags based on what Instagram tells it. You can then copy and paste the list from Display Purposes to the Buffer box.
Obviously, being machine-generated, you are going to end up with some false positives, so you need to check the list carefully. When I look for thriller book hashtags for example, it sees “thriller” and generates Michael Jackson hashtags for me. But you can easily weed those out.
There are a couple of good smartphone equivalents for Display Purposes. The free versions are limited but if you do a lot of Instagram posting, spending a couple of dollars to unlock the pro features is well worth it.
TagsDock is a set of categories and when you tap on a category, various suggested hashtags come up which you can then tap to enter. It’s not as good as Display Purposes but it is much better than manually typing hashtags out over and over again.
Hashtag Key is slightly different than TagsDock in that you have to manually enter the hashtags. But it then saves them for you for future posting into groups that you also have to set up (pets, books, etc). Then the next time you want to use a particular set of hashtags, just tap on them and they will be automatically inserted for you.
Instagram Stories are becoming all the rave now as you can push a certain image and/or message to your users, have it pinned to your profile for 24 hours, and then have the opportunity to pin it to the top of your profile forever.
Making plain simple Stories is easy enough but what if you want to push the boat out a bit? That’s where Canva comes in. They don’t have actual Stories templates already made, so resize the blank canvas to 1920 pixels height by 1080 pixels wide, add your images, then use something like Buffer to upload it to your Stories section on your account.
One of the very frustrating things about Instagram is its seeming inability to put in freaking line-breaks. So you end up with everything squashed together like a sardine convention.
Instaspacer fixes this problem by letting you type your caption into the box provided. You then click “Convert”, it goes to the Instagram app on your phone, and you can paste what Instaspacer gives you. Somehow, that includes line-breaks. Magic.
One thing which is really mystifying about Instagram is their refusal to allow any more than one active link on someone’s profile. For a site that wants ecommerce brands to sell from Instagram, their “one link” policy is inexplicable.
Anyway, while that policy is still in place, a service such as LinkTree gets around that restriction. Since the only active link can be in your bio, you would place the LinkTree link there and on your LinkTree page, you can have as many links as you want to various other sites such as your personal website, your other social media pages, online shop, you name it.
Finally, I have to give a big shout-out to my new favourite app, Clipomatic. I learned about it from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of all people. She uses Clipomatic to make sure that her deaf constituents can “listen” to her videos.
Clipomatic takes a video that you make through its app and its artificial intelligence then listens to your voice and automatically adds subtitles at the bottom. The accuracy level is extremely high and with my deep Scottish accent, it only got two small things wrong when I last used it. Which, considering my constant linguistic wrestling matches with Siri, is outstanding.