Instagram Stories have captured the hearts (and eyeballs) of Instagram users across the world. So is it any surprise, then, that Instagram Story Ads are one of the very best ways to advertise on the platform?
With more than 500 million people using Instagram Stories daily, brands have a massive opportunity to make an impression. In fact, 58% of Instagram users report being more interested in a brand or product after watching their Stories.
So if Instagram is part of your brand’s social media strategy: it’s Story time, baby! Here’s everything you need to know about making effective, engaging Instagram Story ads.
Download your free pack of 72 customizable Instagram Stories templates now. Save time and look professional while promoting your brand in style.
What are Instagram Story ads?
An Instagram Story ad is paid content that appears as users are watching Stories on Instagram.
Instagram Stories are vertical, full-screen photos and videos that appear at the top of the Instagram app, rather than in the news feed.
Organic Stories disappear after 24 hours; Instagram Story ads will continue to be served up as long as your campaign is running.
Stories incorporate fun, interactive components like stickers, filters and effects. They’ve become incredibly popular since launching in 2017, and brands have reaped the benefits. In a survey of Instagram users, half reported visiting a business’ website to make a purchase after seeing it in Stories.
TLDR: For brands on Instagram, Story Ads are a powerfully effective avenue for sharing your message. Get that ROI! Get it!
How to publish an Instagram Story ad
You’ll be creating your Instagram Story through the Meta Ads Manager on your computer or through the Meta Ads Manager app. (At this point in time, you can’t publish an Instagram Story ad directly through Instagram.)
1. Go to Meta Ads Manager and select the + icon (aka, the Create button).
2. Choose a marketing objective, like Website Traffic, Reach, or Page Likes. (One key note: “Post Engagement” does not offer an Instagram Story ad option.)
3. Select your creative from your camera roll or from an existing Instagram post.
4. Fill in the details (which vary depending on the marketing objective).
5. Then, tap on Placements. Toggle Manual to see all of your platform distribution options. Tap Instagram and select Stories.
6. Continue on to the next page to set your ad audience. You can select people who are already interacting with you (for instance, “People who engaged with your page”) or create a new target audience.
7. Set your campaign budget and schedule.
8. The final step will allow you to review and preview your campaign. Tap Place Order to seal the deal.
Instagram Story ads design requirements
For best results, use Meta’s recommended dimensions and formats as you’re designing your Story ad. Otherwise, you may risk an unflattering crop or sketchy-looking stretch.
|Recommended Dimensions||1080px x 1920px|
|Minimum Dimensions||600px x 1067px|
|Video File Type||.mp4 or .mov|
|Photo File Type||.jpg or .png|
|Max Video File Size||250MB|
|Max Photo File Size||30MB|
|Video Length||60 minutes|
|Supported Video Codecs||H.264, VP8|
|Supported Audio Codecs||AAC, Vorbis|
In case this chart isn’t enough of an inspiration (ok, weird??), check out our list of 20 creative Instagram Story ideas!
Meta ad guidelines for Stories
Buying an Instagram Story ad doesn’t give you carte blanche to do what you want — this isn’t Westworld, people.
Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has policies in place to try to create a user-friendly experience. If your ad doesn’t meet these guidelines, it may not make the cut.
Ads should not violate Instagram’s Community Guidelines. You can read the full rundown here, but basically: don’t be a jerk! Here’s the bullet-point version of prohibited content:
- Illegal products or services
- Discriminatory practices
- Tobacco and related products
- Unsafe substances
- Adult products or services
- Adult content
- Third-party infringement
- “Sensational” content
- Personal attributes
- Controversial content
- Non-functional landing pages
- Cheating and deceitful practices
- Grammar and profanity
- … plus a laundry list of predatory businesses like payday loans or multi-level marketing.
Wow, I guess Meta just hates fun??? (JK, JK, JK! Online safety: we love to see it!)
In addition to this list of outright no-nos, there is also content that Meta restricts, such as:
- ads for online gambling
- promotion of online pharmacies
- Alcohol related advertisments
- promotions for dating services
To advertise a business focused on these products or services, you’ll need to request special permission or comply with applicable local laws.
If you put together an ad in violation of Meta’s advertising policies (uh ohhh!), you’ll receive a notification that your ad has been denied, and it won’t run.
However, if you think your denial was unfair, you can always request a review of the decision. Typically, that review happens within 24 hours.
How much do Instagram Story ads cost?
Instagram Story ads cost as much as you want to spend. As Instagram itself puts it, “the cost to advertise is up to you.”
A draft campaign is the best way to see what bang you’re going to get for your buck.
Set the budget, the duration, and the audience that works for you as you’re planning your campaign. This will give you a clear estimate of just how much reach you’ll get. Adjust as necessary.
We know you probably want a clear prescription here, but there’s honestly no best practice for how much to spend on Instagram Story ads. Sorry!
Start with a few bucks, see how it goes, and add on from there. We’re all social media scientists, just trying to make our way in this crazy, mixed-up life.
For more Instagram advertising wisdom, check out our 5 Step Guide to Instagram Ads.
8 tips for creating highly effective Instagram stories ads
Now that you know how to buy an Instagram Story ad, let’s dig into how to make the most of your moment in the spotlight.
Take advantage of fullscreen
When you’re creating your content for your Instagram Story ad, shoot it in a vertical format. That’s how your audience is most likely to be viewing it, after all.
Take advantage of the fullscreen vertical canvas and design creative specifically proportioned for the mobile experience.
Along those same lines: consider planning out which Stories add-ons and tools you’ll be using in the final product. That way, you can compose your video or photo scenes strategically to make visual space for stickers, polls, or effects.
Hotels.com, for instance, created this vertically oriented ad with space around their spokesperson to pepper in fun stickers.
Source: Instagram Business
Emphasize your CTA
A CTA — or “call to action”— is what you’re asking the viewer to do. For instance: “Swipe up,” “Shop now,” “Get your tickets,” or “Place your vote.” (Explore our list of compelling CTA ideas here.)
ClassPass asked the audience to Swipe Up for more info on a free trial. Even though the video itself is fast-paced, we don’t miss the point since that CTA is front and center: ClassPass would love if we just give a lil swipey.
Don’t let that important detail get lost in the thick of your graphic design or fun stickers: make sure your mission or ask is crystal clear for the person tapping by your ad.
Instagram reports that campaigns perform far better when they emphasize their CTAs and make the product or service the vocal point. Say it loud and proud!
Add text overlays
Visuals can say a lot but sometimes words can say it better. Instagram recommends pairing text with a visual focal point for best results in your Story Ad.
According to internal research, there’s actually a 75% chance of better performance with central-placed text for add-to-cart objectives.
Clinique layered in text onto dynamic, colorful product shots to hammer home the benefits of each of its new hydrating gels. Now I know it’s green and refreshing and treats irritation! I’ll take 12!
Enhance your ad with audio
Sound can be a powerful tool to set a mood or hammer home the value of your ad.
Experiment with voice-overs and music to enhance your Instagram Story ad. Chances are, it’ll pay off; Instagram has found that 80% of Stories with audio (voiceover or music) enjoy better results than ads without sound.
This VW ad features fun (and dare we say, funky?) music to enhance the cool-factor of its mini car commercial.
Elements like polls or “tap to hold” games give your audience a moment of fun.They also encourage users to actually stop and take the time to interact with your brand instead of flipping by.
For instance, this Doritos poll — sure to inspire a fiery debate.
Another cool idea: this interactive Ritz ad gave the viewers a surprise result when they hit pause. (Suddenly, I’m craving strawberries on crackers?)
Design with your brand in mind
Every second counts in the fast-paced world of Stories, so make sure you’re integrating your brand right off the bat. Elements like products or logos at the very beginning of your Story will help capture attention and build positive brand recall.
Sephora makes sure to start off its Instagram Story ads with its logo and beautiful, on-brand imagery.
Make those Stories move
Motion catches the eye and captures attention, so if you have the opportunity to enhance a static image with a little bit of movement… do it! Studies show that ads that use motion regularly receive more views and purchases than still images. So get moving, why dontcha?
Arlo Skye’s Story ad flips between images of its carry-on suitcases, which creates a dynamic movement despite the fact that the product shots themselves are static.
Can’t wait to see your captivating Story ads as we’re flipping through our Stories soon. Want more marketing ideas for Instagram? Dig into our Instagram marketing cheat sheet here.
Manage your Instagram presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule posts and Stories, edit images, and measure performance. Try it free today.
Easily create, analyze, and schedule Instagram posts and Stories with Hootsuite. Save time and get results.
Bonus: Get the Instagram advertising cheat sheet for 2022. The free resource includes key audience insights, recommended ad types, and tips for success.
11 Smart Ways to Use Twitter Advanced Search
Twitter isn’t just the birthplace of cutting-edge humor or the top place to find breaking news. Thanks to Twitter’s advanced search features, it’s also a surprisingly robust search engine.
Twitter’s advanced search capabilities are some of the app’s most well-kept secrets. Still, if you master the tool, you can dig deep and revisit some favorite or forgotten posts — or study your competition’s social media strategy.
From searching Twitter usernames and mentions to finding the most popular tweets from any user (including yourself), we’ll teach you the ins and outs of Twitter’s semi-secret, super-powerful advanced search tool.
Bonus: Download the free 30-day plan to grow your Twitter following fast, a daily workbook that will help you establish a Twitter marketing routine and track your growth, so you can show your boss real results after one month.
What is Twitter’s advanced search?
Twitter advanced search is a tool you can use to filter tweets by highly specific criteria.
Twitter advanced search is the best thing about this platform, and almost nobody uses it
— David Perell (@david_perell) August 30, 2020
Twitter advanced search has different powers across different platforms — you will have a different experience using it on mobile vs. desktop, for example. And if you learn certain key phrases, you can perform advanced searches directly in the search bar.
Finally, apps like Hootsuite Streams can add even more power to your Twitter search arsenal. But we’ll get into that shortly.
How to advance search on Twitter
Searching Twitter on desktop
Twitter’s desktop site has its own built-in advanced search field, which is a great place to start your sleuthing.
Here’s how to use it:
1. Perform a simple search in the bar on the top corner of the Twitter app.
2. Under the Search filters bar, navigate to the menu that says Advanced search.
3. Use the Words fields to start your search. You can choose words, exact phrases or hashtags, and you can also choose words or phrases you’d like to exclude from the search. You can also specify the language you want to search in.
4. Using the Accounts tab, you can search for tweets that come from specific accounts, mention those accounts, or reply to those accounts.
5. Filters allow you to determine whether you want to see replies or original tweets only. You can also choose to show tweets either with or without links.
6. Using Engagement, you can get even more precise. You can search for tweets with more than a certain number of replies, likes or retweets.
7. With the Dates tool, you can add a specific day or range of dates to search.
8. Once you’ve used these parameters to narrow down your search, click Search. You can view results by popularity (Top), chronology (Latest), person (People) or media (Photos or Videos).
You can also click Advanced Search again to adjust the search parameters.
9. If your search is something you’d like to check in on again in the future, just save the parameters by clicking Save search. Twitter users can save up to 25 searches per account.
If the advanced search options feel overwhelming, don’t worry: all of these fields are optional.
Searching Twitter on mobile
First, the bad news: Twitter doesn’t currently offer an advanced search function on its mobile app.
But there’s a great workaround. Just learn and use the relevant search operators from the desktop version and apply them to your search (or, better yet, bookmark this page).
The following are some helpful phrases to use while searching. Many of these can be combined to narrow your search even further.
|Type this into the Twitter search bar…||…to return these results|
|“exact phrase”||Searches for the exact phrase in quotation marks|
|exact OR phrase||Searches for the words “exact” or “phrase” (or both)|
|coin -crypto||Searches for “coin” but not “crypto”|
|min_retweets:1000||Searches for tweets with a minimum of 1,000 retweets|
|min_faves:1000||Searches for tweets with a minimum of 1,000 likes|
|filter:verified||Shows results from verified users. (This does not currently include users who were verified via Twitter Blue.)|
|from:hootsuite||Searches tweets from the Hootsuite account|
|to:hootsuite||Searches all tweets written in reply to the Hootsuite account|
|@hootsuite||Searches for Twitter mentions of the Hootsuite account|
|cheeseburger near:vancouver within:10km||Searches for any posts about cheeseburgers within 10 kilometres of Vancouver. (And don’t worry, you can use miles instead by switching “km” to “mi”)|
|influencer filter:media||Searches for the word “influencer” and an image or video|
|influencer -filter:retweets||Searches for the word “influencer” and filters out retweets|
|hootsuite filter:links||Searches for tweets with the word “hootsuite” that link to an URL|
|social url:hootsuite||Searches for tweets with the word “social” and a URL with the word “hootsuite” within it|
|hootsuite since:2015-12-21 until:2016-01-21||search for tweets with the word “hootsuite” between December 21, 2015 and January 21, 2016.
You can use the since: and until: parameters independent of each other, too.
11 smart ways to use advanced Twitter search
As you can see, you can achieve a near C.I.A.-level of precision when searching the Twitter app. But why on earth would you want to?
There are plenty of reasons why you may want to use advanced Twitter search to help with your brand’s Twitter or overall social strategy.
Here are 11 reasons to use advanced Twitter search:
1. Monitor your mentions, even untagged ones
If your brand is making waves on Twitter, you’ll likely see plenty of people pop up in your mentions tab. But some people might be talking about you or your product without actually tagging you.
Often, these are the most honest users, so setting up a search for your brand’s name is a wise decision. It’s great to know what people really think — and hey, it’s not always bad news!
If you Tweet more than once a day I can’t recommend Hootsuite enough. I can figure out what all I’m tweeting for a day over my morning coffee pic.twitter.com/wdZ4sKCqvF
— Getawesome Gaming (@GetawesomeG) November 20, 2022
2. Find the most popular tweets about a trending topic
If you click a trending hashtag, you might not immediately understand the context. But if you filter your results using search operators, you can quickly determine exactly what’s going on.
Advanced Twitter searches are almost like cheat codes to help you figure out what’s trending and why.
As an easy example, try searching for tweets about Taylor Swift that have a minimum of 10,000 retweets. The results reveal that Ticketmaster may be in some hot water for how they’ve handled sales of her upcoming tour.
3. Find your own popular tweets
Searching your own tweets can also help you find content that performed well in the past. Try limiting your search to 100 likes and see what comes up.
This can be helpful if you’re new to your brand’s social media, establishing brand guidelines or just can’t remember every tweet you’ve ever made.
4. Improve your customer service
Setting up a saved search allows you to keep an eye on what people say about your brand. This kind of monitoring, also known as social listening, means you can level up your customer service when appropriate.
Obviously, don’t be a total creep, but you can still insert yourself into conversations where it feels appropriate.
@UberSupport does a good job of making sure their customers know they care, even if it’s something as small as complaining about cigarette smoke.
We’re sorry to hear about this experience and would like to follow up with you for more information. Please provide us with your email address via DM so we can follow up.
— Uber Support (@Uber_Support) November 20, 2022
5. Engage in risky replies
If you’re an experienced social media manager, you know that risky replies are a delicate dance. But using advanced Twitter search can help you master the art.
With such specific search tools, it’s easy to find “receipts” — internet slang for proof of hypocrisy. You might be able to find your competitor going back on a promise or find something that’s just plain weird.
You can also often find pure hilarity, like this tweet from Space X suggesting Elon Musk’s real account was a fraud. The real Elon Musk even replied to it! My head is spinning.
My fav tweet ever
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 17, 2018
6. Tune into your niche
Hyper-specific search tools are a great way to find like-minded people to follow.
Let’s say you run a DIY craft company in Vancouver, BC. You can use a highly targeted search to find accounts near you with similar interests, then start interacting.
7. Discover trends
Trying to expand your brand or start something new? You can use advanced search terms to discover the most popular items in a specific niche.
For example, Twitter can help you find what people think is the current cutest Etsy product, using just the number of likes on the search term. This could help you market your business, but it’s even helpful earlier in the product development phase.
8. Research specific locations
Twitter advanced search is an excellent tool to do market research. Sure, not everyone is on Twitter — but enough people are that it works as an excellent sample size to research.
The search terms and locations will be specific to your own brand’s needs, but let’s try a little experiment of our own. How many people in Edinburgh, Scotland, care about the Vancouver Canucks?
Well, according to Twitter advanced search — precisely one person. But she’s made a beautiful drawing to prove it.
9. Answer the call
Advanced search can help you find plenty of potential clients looking for exactly what you sell — without being too spammy.
Try out different search terms to see who’s asking for your exact product. Try “looking for recommendations” with hyper-specific keywords, and you’ll likely find a whole world of future customers.
10. Build a case study
There are few social media platforms as brutally honest as Twitter, making it an excellent place to gauge public opinion about a certain topic.
For example, 2022 was notoriously bad for airlines losing luggage due to the post-restriction travel surge.
Using date-specific searches, you can easily gather a general overview of how an airline came across on social media.
11. Throw it back
Finding old tweets can sometimes be a real slog, particularly if you’re manually scrolling back through years of data. Using the date parameters, it’s possible to find specific tweets within seconds.
This can help you find certain milestones from your own history and share them for Throwback Thursday or even key anniversaries. Dig around and see what you can find.
Preparing to launch.
— Hootsuite 🦉 (@hootsuite) November 28, 2008
Pro tip: If you want to learn more about other Twitter tricks and features, check out our blog on the top Twitter hacks.
How to use Hootsuite Streams to streamline your Twitter searches
Not interested in memorizing search operators or jumping through a half-dozen hoops every time you want to search Twitter? Hootsuite Streams is an excellent way to streamline the process.
Once you’ve signed up for an account, it’s incredibly easy to start searching Twitter.
Here’s how to search for keywords or trending topics on desktop:
- Go to Streams, and then select Twitter quick search on the left.
- Choose your search query by selecting a trending topic from the quick search list or entering a keyword. Then select Enter on the keyboard to search by keyword.
- Optionally, select Save as Stream at the bottom of the search results to save the content as a new stream. The stream displays content based on that keyword (not based on location).
- Point to a tweet in the search results to like, reply, retweet, or send a direct message to that Twitter user. Selecting Like allows you to like the tweet from multiple Twitter accounts.
Here’s how to search for keywords or trending topics on mobile:
- Go to Streams.
- Select Search in the top right.
- Choose your search query by selecting a trending topic from the trends list or by selecting Search Twitter, entering a keyword, and then selecting Search.Under the Tweets section of the results list, select Show more to view all results.
- Optional: Select Save in the top right to save the search as a stream.
How to search for Twitter users on desktop:
- Go to Streams, and then select Twitter quick search on the left.
- Select the Twitter icon, and then select Find Twitter Users.
- Enter the username or Twitter account name, and then select Enter on the keyboard.
- Select the name or profile picture to open the user’s profile page, or select the Follow button to follow the user.
Here’s how to search for Twitter users on mobile:
- Go to Streams and select Search in the top right.
- Select Search Twitter, enter a username or other search query, and then select Search on your keypad.
- Scroll down to view the results under the People section. Select Show more to view all results for Twitter users.
Frequently asked questions about Twitter advanced search
Can you search private Twitter accounts?
Twitter does not allow you to search private accounts if you’re not already following the account. There’s no workaround to see tweets from private accounts.
Can you use Twitter advanced search on mobile?
Twitter does not currently offer an advanced search function on its mobile app, but there’s a great alternative. Just learn and use the relevant search operators from the desktop version and apply them to your search.
How do I find someone’s most popular tweets?
While there used to be a site called Favstar that made it easy to see a user’s top tweets, that app no longer exists. Instead, you’ll have to use advanced search to find the top tweets from a specific user or about a specific topic.
Use the advanced searches on Twitter desktop, use the codes “min_retweets:” and “min_faves:” or simply use Hootsuite Streams to take a deep dive.
Can I search Twitter for photos or videos?
If you want to find videos or images related to a certain topic or user, add “filter:media” to your search terms. This will bring up all of the relevant media in your search results.
Is it better to check the Top tab or the Latest tab?
If you’re looking for old tweets, it might feel counterintuitive to search the Latest tab, but it’s still going to give you the most results.
The Top tab uses Twitter’s algorithm to serve you the best, most popular content. But let’s say you’re looking for one of your company’s first tweets, before you had developed a following.
Chances are, the early tweets won’t have much traction, meaning you want all of the tweets in chronological order. That’s where the Latest tab comes in.
Save time by using Hootsuite to manage your Twitter presence alongside your other social channels. You can run contests, share videos, schedule posts, and monitor your efforts — all from one convenient dashboard! Try it for free today.
Experiment: Do LinkedIn Pods Work? (Or Are They Mostly Embarrassing?)
This past November, I decided to do an experiment. I wanted to see if LinkedIn pods actually worked or if they were just a waste of time.
For those of you who don’t know what a LinkedIn pod is, it’s basically a group of people who agree to like, comment and engage with each other’s posts. The theory is that by doing this, your content will be boosted by the LinkedIn algorithm. So, I decided to join a few pods and test it out for myself.
I’m not necessarily an established LinkedIn thought leader with thousands of followers, but I post about my writing work on a fairly regular basis and have even gotten a few clients through LinkedIn. So a few more followers and engagements with my posts definitely wouldn’t hurt.
Here’s what I learned from my experience with LinkedIn pods.
Bonus: Download a free guide that shows the 11 tactics Hootsuite’s social media team used to grow their LinkedIn audience from 0 to 278,000 followers.
What is a LinkedIn pod?
Let’s start with the basics.
A LinkedIn pod, often called an engagement pod, is a group of people who have agreed to connect and engage with each other’s content on LinkedIn. The idea is that by being in a pod, you’ll be able to increase your connections and, consequently, your opportunities.
In an engagement pod, members agree to like, comment, share, and react to each others’ posts on a regular basis. Often, this is done by posting your LinkedIn post in an engagement pod group or app, where members can view and interact with it.
Most engagement pods work on the principle of reciprocity. So, if you want people to like, comment, or share your content, you’ll need to do the same for them.
Why use an engagement pod on LinkedIn?
Engagement pods are said to be helpful because they can:
- Amplify the reach of your content
- Help you get more engagement on your content (likes, comments, shares)
- Offer extended networking opportunities
- Engage employees to support your brand
The theory is that LinkedIn favors posts with more engagement, so if you can get more likes and comments, your post will perform better.
This is especially important because the LinkedIn algorithm divides content on the platform into three types:
- Spam: Posts with bad grammar, too many hashtags, or accounts that post too frequently may be marked as spam.
- Low-quality posts: Posts that don’t follow best practices, or don’t get enough engagement, will be labeled “low-quality.”
- High-quality posts: Posts that are easy to read, encourage questions, and incorporate strong keywords will be labeled high-quality and, therefore, will be shown to more users on LinkedIn.
The question is: is engagement enough to make a post “high-quality” in the eyes of the LinkedIn algorithm? I set out to put this idea to the test.
How to join a LinkedIn pod
There are a couple of different ways to join a LinkedIn engagement pod.
First, you can start your own pod by creating a group message thread with LinkedIn users you’d like to pod with. We’ll call this a manual LinkedIn pod.
Second, you can use LinkedIn-specific pods, where you join LinkedIn groups focused on creating pods. Search “LinkedIn pods” or “engagement pods” in your LinkedIn search bar and see which ones relate to your industry.
There are also third-party apps like lempod specifically built for automating LinkedIn engagement pods.
Finally, LinkedIn pod groups exist on other social media sites. There’s the LinkedIn Growth Hackers pod on Facebook and various other pods on platforms like Telegram.
I experimented with all four types of engagement pods to see which ones worked best. I used a different LinkedIn post for each method so that I could accurately track any differences in engagement across methods.
Here’s a breakdown of that process.
Manual pods: I used a blog post on scheduling Instagram reels.
Before the experiment started, I had 12 likes, 487 impressions, 0 shares, and 2 comments.
LinkedIn-specific pods: For this method, I used a blog post I’d shared on recession marketing.
Before the experiment started, I had 5 likes, 189 impressions, 1 share, and 2 comments.
Automated LinkedIn pods: I used a post I wrote for Hootsuite on social media share of voice.
Before the experiment started, I had 2 likes, 191 impressions, 0 shares, and 0 comments.
Cross-platform LinkedIn pods:
I was not able to join any cross-platform pods, so no posts were used here.
Manual LinkedIn pod method
I started off by creating a manual LinkedIn pod of my own. I chose a small group of my writer friends (because they understand the research process) to pod up with. I sent them a quick message outlining the strategy and encouraged them to interact with each other.
Luckily, they’re all good sports, and I immediately started receiving a barrage of LinkedIn notifications showing the support of my pals.
I also immediately noticed some new (stranger) accounts creeping my LinkedIn profile.
And I even got this message from a random “LinkedIn” employee (pretty certain this was spam).
That all happened in just a couple of hours!
LinkedIn-specific pod method
I also joined a few LinkedIn group pods focused on digital marketing and social media.
The number of members really varied in these groups. One had over a million members, at the others had just a few dozen. I chose a mixture of high-member pods as well as a few smaller ones. If vanity metrics have taught me anything, it’s that just because a lot of people are in your circle, it doesn’t mean they’re actually paying attention.
Some of the pods I found in my search were described as inactive, so I stayed away from those.
Of all the groups I joined, Game of Content was the only one that seemed to have regular posts from other users.
The rules of GoC were pretty simple:
There is only one post ever present in the group, and it’s made by an admin. They repopulate this post every couple of days so it stays relevant. Group members can then comment on the post with their LinkedIn post link and other members are meant to engage with them.
As I went through the weekday post comments, I did see lots of people replying to comments with phrases like, “Done! Here’s my link.”
When I clicked through to their posts, I could see likes and comments from those same group members.
So, yeah, this was working. At least in terms of garnering more likes and comments.
I went in and followed suit, engaging with posted links and commenting with my own link after I was done.
And I slowly started to see engagement reciprocated on my own posts.
Automated LinkedIn pods with lempod method
I also installed the lempod extension on my Google Chrome browser. lempod offers a digital marketplace full of LinkedIn engagement pods you can join.
I joined a few pods focused on digital marketing and social media.
The first one I was accepted to was called “Content + Social Media Marketing pod”. That seemed relevant.
I immediately posted the link to my post. Once I shared the link, the screen opened up to a big graph, with a list of people “Members who will engage” and “Members who have already engaged.”
I cross-checked the “Members who have already engaged” tab with my actual post.
And, yep. Sure enough, those users were now shown as new likes on my post.
Within just a few minutes, my impressions had grown from 191 to 206. I also had six new comments. I watched this number steadily climb over the next hour.
While I was seeing lots of engagement, I wasn’t seeing any profile views, direct messages, or anything else that might indicate these users were actually interested in my work.
Not to mention, the engagement was coming in fast. Every 45 seconds there was another notification! Maybe LinkedIn would consider my post viral? Or, maybe it would get labeled as spam.
I let the automation run until I saw that every member of the pod had engaged.
Two hours later, I had 54 likes, 261 impressions and 24 comments!
Cross-platform LinkedIn pods
I did try joining the “LinkedIn Growth Hackers” group on Facebook, but I was never approved. It seems this group may be inactive now. I did not find any other active LinkedIn pods to join on other channels.
TL;DR: At first glance, it may look like the Automated LinkedIn pod was the most effective pod, but I actually think it was the Manual pod for reasons that I will explain below. Either way, none of the LinkedIn pods really made a big difference for me or helped grow my presence on the platform significantly.
|Automated LinkedIn pod||54||24||261|
Keep reading for more details and context on these results.
This seemed like the most organic, most consistent method. Because I was leveraging people I already knew, the comments were authentic, relevant, and sincere.
Not to mention, these people are actually in my industry–meaning if my posts show up in their feeds to their connections, it might help me network further.
Nothing about this method came off as spammy, though I don’t know how realistic it is to ask my friends to do this every week.
Over the course of one week, my post got:
- 13 likes
- 3 comments
- 0 shares
- 507 impressions
While this method brought in the most comments, responses were vague and less relevant than those found in my manual pods. Plus, most of these people worked outside of my industry. So, there likely isn’t much benefit to my content showing up in their feeds or networks.
After the weeklong experiment, my post got:
- 13 likes
- 364 impressions
- 2 shares
- 6 comments
Automated LinkedIn pods
This method certainly brought in the most likes and comments. But, I didn’t see any relevant profile visits, direct messages, or connection requests come through.
Also, while there were a lot of new comments, they were all pretty much the same:
- “Really cool Hannah!”
- “Great post, Hannah!”
- “Thanks for sharing Hannah!”
To me, these vague comments signal that none of these users actually read my post (which makes sense, considering their profiles are being automated).
I can only imagine that other users might see this and think the same thing. My spam alert is sounding.
After three hours, my post got:
- 54 likes
- 24 comments
- 261 impressions
- 0 shares
Cross-platform LinkedIn pods
I did not gather any extra engagement from this method.
What do the results mean?
Here are the main takeaways from my experiment.
Authentic pods have merit
There is certainly some engagement to be gained from using LinkedIn pods. Pods that are made up of relevant, authentic connections within your industry can certainly help to amplify your content and get you more views, likes, and comments.
Spammy pods won’t get you far
But, if you’re trying to game the system by joining pods that are full of fake accounts or that are unrelated to your industry, you’re not going to see much benefit. So what if you got 50, 100, or 200 likes? They don’t mean much if they’re coming from accounts that will never do business with you.
LinkedIn pods ARE embarrassing
I think what struck me most about this experiment was the discomfort that came with having so many unconnected strangers present on my posts. Sure, from a glance it looks cool to have 50+ likes, but if anyone took a closer look it would be pretty obvious the engagement was spam.
Just as I wouldn’t suggest businesses buy their Instagram followers, I wouldn’t suggest they use engagement pods. Maybe, in some cases, where the pod members are hyper-relevant to your niche, it’s worth it. But if it looks suspicious, chances are your audience will notice. And the last thing you want is to lose their trust.
Focus on close, relevant connections
If you still want to join a LinkedIn pod after reading this, the best way to use them is to join ones that are relevant to your industry and that are made up of connections that you can authentically engage with. This way, you’re getting targeted engagement that can lead to valuable relationships (and, hopefully, real customers).
Here are a few tips for finding the right LinkedIn pods:
- Check out groups related to your industry or niche. Many of these will have pods associated with them.
- Ask trusted connections if they know of any good pods to join.
- Create your own pod with a group of like-minded individuals.
- Avoid overly spammy pods that are only focused on promoting content and not engaging in real conversations.
- Most of all, focus on good, old, organic LinkedIn marketing. While “hacking the algorithm” through pods is appealing, nothing beats putting in the work, one post at a time.
Struggling to get enough engagement on your LinkedIn posts? Hootsuite makes scheduling, publishing, and boosting LinkedIn content—alongside all your other social channels—easy, so you can spend more time creating quality content, tracking your performance, and learning about your audience. Try it free today.
25 Instagram Best Practices for Faster Growth in 2023
It seems like things never stop changing on Instagram. The network keeps adapting its features to compete in the increasingly crowded social media landscape. So, do the Instagram best practices that worked in 2022 still apply in 2023?
While the fundamentals of your Instagram marketing strategy should stay consistent, some of the tactics you need to achieve your goals are shifting. Keep reading for a list of best practices that will help you succeed on the platform in 2023 and beyond.
Bonus: 14 Time-Saving Hacks for Instagram Power Users. Get the list of secret shortcuts Hootsuite’s own social media team uses to create thumb-stopping content.
25 Instagram best practices for 2023
Instagram marketing best practices
1. Set clear goals
You’ve heard this from us before and you’ll hear it again. Every great social media marketing strategy begins with a solid set of clear, measurable goals.
What you want to get out of Instagram will determine what you should put into it. Think about how the platform’s various surfaces – feed posts, Reels, Stories – can contribute to real business goals.
2. Post at the right time
Hootsuite research shows that the best time to post photos on Instagram is 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. For Reels, it’s 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Monday to Thursday. Keep in mind that the average Instagram business account posts 1.71 main feed posts per day.
That’s a good place for you to start. But to find the most effective time to post for your particular account, you’ll need to understand the Instagram habits of your particular audience.
Hootsuite Analytics provides a heatmap showing when your followers are most likely to be online. It also provides custom suggestions for the best time to post to your followers based on your chosen Instagram goals.
3. Schedule your content in advance
Once you know the best times to post, you can start planning and creating your content in advance, then scheduling it to post at the appropriate time.
This allows you to create quality content in dedicated blocks of time, which maximizes your creative resources. It also gives you the breathing room to edit and review your content thoroughly before it goes live.
Hootsuite helps you post consistently with no effort. It allows you to schedule your Instagram posts, Reels, and Stories alongside other social posts, so you can see the complete picture of your social posting schedule in one content calendar.
This also gives you a good overview and allows you to ensure you’ve planned the perfect mix of photos, videos, and carousel posts.
4. Engage with your followers
Remember: Instagram is not a broadcasting service. It’s a social network. That means your followers expect two-way communication and a sense of community. If you want people to engage with your Instagram content, you’ve got to get engaged yourself.
When you’re first getting started, it’s easy to reply to DMs and comments on your own. As your following grows, it can become overwhelming to keep up. At this stage, it’s a good idea to bring in some tools (and team members) to help manage your Instagram communication.
Hootsuite Inbox allows you to effectively manage your Instagram comments and replies by assigning messages to other team members for a response or follow-up. You can also create templated replies to common comments and questions to help speed up your response time.
5. Tag your products
Nearly half of Instagram users shop the platform weekly.
Brands that tag their products in feed posts see 37% more sales on average. And brands that tag two or more posts per day see a 117% increase in transactions.
Tag across surfaces: Reels, stories, posts, and even ads. Sixty-one percent of weekly IG users say ads with tags make them more likely to shop.
6. Analyze and improve your results
We’ve already mentioned a few times that you’ll need to do some experimentation to learn what works best for your particular audience. That will continue to be an ongoing theme throughout this post.
To learn the results of your experiments, you need to use Instagram analytics. The native Instagram insights tool provides some good information to get you started. To take things up a notch and get a richly detailed picture of your results, it’s a good idea to incorporate professional analytics tools like Hootsuite.
The Instagram analytics within Hootsuite include downloadable and exportable charts and graphs that make it easy to understand what’s working and what’s not. You can also see how your Instagram efforts compare to those on other social media platforms.
One particularly useful tool in Hootsuite Analytics is the ability to compare the performance of Instagram Reels to TikToks. This can help you refine your short video strategy – not just within Instagram, but across platforms.
Instagram Reels best practices
7. Make (more) Reels
Not using Reels yet? It’s definitely time to start.
Instagram is leaning hard into video in general and Reels in particular. Reels already account for 20% of time spent on the platform. And Hootsuite research shows that Reels get up to 300% more engagement than regular Instagram videos. The Instagram algorithm loves Reels, too.
So, this is a simple but very important Instagram best practice. Just make (more) Reels.
8. Show your human side
Reels that show a person have a 25% higher clickthrough. They’re not the right format for stuffy product videos. Be dynamic and show real humans using your products. Get your team involved. Show a little personality. Be human and have fun.
9. Make the most of the first 3 seconds
Capture attention right upfront with dynamic motion and teaser titles. (Just make sure you deliver on the promise of your title – watchbait is a big no-no.)
Show (and tell) people in the first three seconds what they’ll get out of your Reel and why they should keep watching. On that note…
10. Add text to your Reels
Adding text to your Reels offers a number of benefits. First and foremost, it makes your content accessible to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It’s also important for the 20% of Reels views that happen with the sound turned off.
Closed captions are now automatic on Reels unless you turn them off. Users can always adjust this on their feed if they don’t want to see captions, so there’s no advantage in turning them off on your end.
You can also add timed text to emphasize specific points in your video.
11. Use trending audio
Incorporating trending audio into your Reels is a great way to boost your exposure. You can identify trending audio by the little arrow next to the name of the sound in any reel.
Tap on the audio to see how many reels have already been made with that sound. Your best chance for getting a boost is using trending audio that doesn’t yet have too many other competing Reels. Aim for 30K or fewer.
In this case, the track already has 285K Reels, so you might want to keep looking for one with less competition.
If you come across audio you love, you can save it for later by tapping the Save audio button. If you specifically want to use it for that trending boost, just be sure to check that it’s still trending when you’re ready to use it.
12. Try a template
If you want to use multiple photos and/or video clips in your Reel, a template can be a great way to get started. Using a template automatically syncs your clips to the audio in the original Reel.
To find templates, open the Reels tab and click on the camera icon in the top right, then scroll to Templates at the bottom of the screen. Scroll until you find a Reel you like, then tap Use template.
Instagram Stories best practices
13. Use interactive stickers
Interactive features like the vote button, quiz button, and question button really let you get to know your audience. They also provide a great opportunity for getting your community involved and driving good engagement rates.
Try asking followers what kind of content they want to see from you. Or use the Question sticker to do a follower Q&A.
14. Save your best Stories to highlights
Instagram Stories are a great way to experiment with new ideas and more casual content because they disappear after 24 hours.
But sometimes you want your Stories to stick around. For those occasions, there are Stories highlights.
Highlights live on your Instagram page above your grid. In addition to saving your best Stories, you can also use them to create space for extra information about your business or products.
For more ideas, check out our full blog post on how to use Instagram Stories.
Instagram post best practices
15. Develop a consistent style
Your Instagram grid should have a visually consistent style, and viewers should be able to recognize one of your posts instantly when it appears in their feed.
16. Use the right hashtags
Social SEO may be reducing the importance of hashtags, but that doesn’t mean you can avoid them altogether.
In particular, using specific niche hashtags can help you connect with existing passionate communities on Instagram. And creating a brand hashtag can help you collect user-generated content and social proof.
Here’s everything you need to know about using hashtags on Instagram:
17. Write catchy captions
Yes, it’s the quality of the image that will grab attention and stop the scroll. But you can’t ignore the power of captions on Instagram. Instagram captions help users connect with your brand and learn about what you stand for.
Writing great captions is also one of the best practices for Instagram posts because they help the Instagram algorithm understand what your post is about to help with Instagram SEO. Captions are one of the sources the algorithm checks for relevant keywords when someone searches for content on the platform.
18. Use alt text
This is another quick thing you can do to make your content more accessible while also boosting your Instagram SEO ranking signals.
Alt text on Instagram works just like alt text on the web: it provides a text description of what’s in the image or photo.
Instagram uses artificial intelligence to create auto alt text for all posts, but you can customize the alt text yourself for better results.
Check out our detailed instructions for adding alt text to Instagram posts.
19. Pin your best posts
The first three spots on your Instagram grid are prime real estate. Fortunately, you can now choose what appears there. You can pin up to three posts (or Reels) to the top row of your grid.
Try pinning your most popular posts, or your most timely. Have a promotion going on? Or a new product about to launch? Pinned posts keep users’ eyes on the prize.
You can also get creative with pinned posts, as Rocky Mountain Soap Company did to tease a new product launch:
Instagram ads best practices
20. Experiment with ad placements
Instagram ads can appear in feed, stories, Reels, and the Explore tab, with the potential reach ranging from 713.2 million for the Explore tab to 1.32 billion for feed.
Instagram data shows vertical ads have a 48% lower cost-per-action than non-vertical ads, so Reels and Stories are an obvious choice to test if you’re running video ads.
As with your organic strategy, you’ll need to do some testing to see which placements tend to work best for your audience and your goals. The important thing is not to get locked into one format and rely on it to serve your needs. Instagram is constantly changing, so it’s important to keep testing to see if the effectiveness of various formats ebbs and flows with time.
21. Partner with creators
Working with influencers – aka creators – to create branded content can give a credibility boost to your Instagram advertising campaigns.
Meta research shows that 78% of consumers say influencers help them discover new brands. In addition, campaigns that include branded content ads alongside business-as-usual ads have an average 53% higher click-through rate.
22. Unify your product catalog
Using a single product catalog for Meta ads and your Instagram shop make tagging easier while allowing you to get the most complete Pixel data.
Here’s how to get your product catalog set up:
The Shopify integration in Hootsuite makes this easy if you already have a Shopify store.
Instagram bio best practices
23. Make it complete
You don’t have a ton of real estate in your Instagram bio – just 150 characters to tell users who you are and why they should stick around.
But you can bulk this up by completing all the fields available on your Instagram profile – like your profile picture, address, a link, and an account category. On that note…
24. Choose the right account category
Using the correct category in your Instagram bio makes it easier for people to find you and understand what your brand is all about.
It’s also an important feature for enhanced tagging. If you collaborate with other brands or creators, enhanced tagging shows each account’s contribution to a post, including the account category.
25. Get verified
To give more credibility to your account, think about getting that blue check and applying for Instagram verification. Instagram verification goes a long way in helping your business account look more professional while preventing impostors from stealing your thunder.
Find out how you can get verified.
For more Instagram bio tips (and even some templates), check out our full post on how to create the perfect Instagram bio. Or, get a quick overview in this video:
Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard, you can schedule and publish posts directly to Instagram (and other social networks), engage the audience and measure your performance. Try it free today.
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