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Why Instagram is worth the time for some small businesses



According to the latest research, Instagram — the video and photo social media platform — has a billion monthly active users around the world, with more than half a billion on the platform daily, making it the sixth biggest social media platform behind WeChat, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, YouTube, and Facebook.

So does that mean that your small business should be using Instagram to promote your brand? Like anything else, that answer depends on your business.

“Instagram has hugely helped my business,” says Hugh E. Dillion, a freelance event photographer who runs the popular (40,000 followers) PhillyChitChat account and a related blog where he shares fun and interesting photos and videos of celebrities in town, events he’s attending or nights out with his friends and family. “Oftentimes I’ll go out and people recognize me just from that. It frequently turns into work for me.”

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Kristen McCoy, the owner of Crumb and Cow (16,700 followers), a Philadelphia based provider of local meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables for parties and events, says she uses Instagram as her main source of marketing. “Our posts help raise our brand’s awareness and connect us with customers,” she says. “It’s also a creative outlet for our business.”


Dillon’s on-the-scene photography and McCoy’s colorful food plates make their businesses perfect candidates for Instagram because it’s a platform that relies on the visual. But that doesn’t mean that Instagram is right for every business.

Sure, there are millions of people using the platform to post photos, upload videos, comment on interesting items, and interact with their friends and followers. But are these people going to buy your products?

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According to the same research mentioned above, 75% of people aged 18-24 in the United States use Instagram, making up the largest group by age, followed by 57% of 25-30 year-olds. They’re mostly following celebrities, funny accounts, and friends. If you’re selling machine parts, industrial components or thermoplastic injection moldings used in the aerospace industry, it’s quite possible that the audience on Instagram may not exactly be your audience.

“I’m a huge proponent of… not being on every social channel,” says Brian Honigman, a Philadelphia-based marketing consultant. “They all take up time and resources. You should be laser focused.”

Even if you do decide to use Instagram, get ready to invest time and money. Succeeding there takes commitment.


“I run our social media channels and particularly with Instagram I aim to post at least six times a week,” McCoy says. “Our photography driven content can be quite time consuming because I put so much attention to detail into everything while setting up a shot. Due to time constraints, I feel like I’m just scratching the surface of creative potential, especially as we begin to venture more into video.”

Like McCoy and Dillon, the most successful people using Instagram devote a great deal of time to the platform. They’re posting one or even a few times a day and are always consistent. They’re testing and leveraging the right hashtags, those identifiers which make searching easier, to maximize the reach of posts. They’re checking and responding to comments by other users. They’re using Instagram’s features to create longer form video “Reels” (videos posted to the site cannot be more than one minute in length unless the Reels feature is used) or live videos. And they’re not just doing this randomly. It’s all part of a thought out plan which includes specific posts that will be most enticing to fans and followers.

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And they’re making sure their posts are made with care. To ensure the best quality and branding placement in our attention deficit world, Dillon, for example, advises businesses to consider hiring a photographer and including the right kind of content.

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“It’s key to have good photos and to make sure they’re cropped correctly,” he says. “What I tell my clients, if you’re having a ribbon cutting, or if you’re going to have us at a store opening, insert a banner that says your name on it and all your company’s information so people can look at that picture and see everything that you’re about. This pays when people are scrolling through they don’t have to read your copy and can instead see what your product and your business is about.”


Given all the work involved, it’s not uncommon to employ social media and marketing experts to help. The upside of using an outside expert is that it saves you time and delegates the work to someone who should be intimately familiar with the platform. The downside of course is the cost and the potential loss of authenticity with your audience. Neither McCoy or Dillon do this for those specific reasons.

Some of my clients have dabbled in Instagram ads where you can not only post content but then promote it to a specific demographic of potential customers.

These ads usually include Instagram’s tags that allow users to click on a post and go to their ecommerce sites.

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My advice is to be careful doing this. Advertising on Instagram, like any social platform, can start out inexpensively. But ad dollars can be quickly eaten up by clicks that never turn into a sale and what starts as a $500 budget could turn into thousands. Unfortunately, by the time this money is spent, the return on investment may not be what you desire.

“The ideal scenario is to get enough traction over time where you don’t need to rely on the ad money to boost anything,” says Honigman.


In the end, Instagram may not be for all businesses. But it’s perfect for some. Many freelancers, artists, content creators, restaurateurs, and retailers have used the service to promote their wares, build a reputation, enhance their brand, and engage with audiences – all activities that ultimately turns into being hired for services or selling products. Smart business owners have like Dillon and McCoy have made their presence visual, fun, interesting and even quirky. And they’ve benefited.

Gene Marks is a certified public accountant and the owner of the Marks Group, a technology and financial management consulting firm in Bala Cynwyd.

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android





Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly


We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.


2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.


Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters





Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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How many hashtags should you use to get the most ‘Likes’ on Instagram?




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Hashtags are a key feature of Instagram posts. In fact, they have become an essential means of ensuring more ‘Likes’ on social media – so long as you choose them wisely.

But how many hashtags should you use to maximise your popularity on the social network? The answer might surprise you.

It’s a question that many Instagram users ask themselves: what’s the right number of hashtags to add to a post? To find out, the Later platform analysed 18 million Instagram posts, excluding videos, Reels and Stories.

Interestingly, Later’s results differ from Instagram’s own recommendations. According to Later’s analysis, using more hashtags helps get better results in terms of “reach”, or the percentage of users exposed to the post. By using 20 hashtags, Later observed an optimal average reach rate of just under 36%. Using 30 hashtags gets the next-best reach rate. With five hashtags, reach hits just under 24%.

And while a post’s reach is important, engagement is even more so. From “Likes” and comments to shares and follows – on average, 30 hashtags appears to result in better engagement rates: “When it comes to average engagement rate, using 30 Instagram hashtags per feed post results in the most likes and comments,” says Later’s research.

Yet, at the end of September 2021, Instagram advised its creators to use between three and five hashtags for their posts, while warning them against using too many. The social network advised that using 10 to 20 hashtags per post “will not help you get additional distribution”.

For Later, there could be other reasons behind Instagram’s recommendations: “As Instagram continues to expand their discoverability and SEO tools, it makes sense that they want users to experiment with fewer, more relevant hashtags – this could help them accurately categorise and recommend your posts in suggested content streams, like the Instagram Reels feed or the updated hashtag search tabs,” the website explains. – AFP Relaxnews

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