I currently run @SprocketBlog a successful daily bicycle photo blog over on Instagram where it has attracted nearly 5000 followers. Nothing replaces the actual hard work of covering the sub-culture of the growing bicycle community with my camera, daily posting and community engagement. However I chose to use Instagram way back in 2014 because even back then when I was referencing its UIX for my SoundHound design work I noticed that it has the best designed multi-share system of any social app. It may be non-obvious why Instagram is the perfect tool for automated social media mass marketing so I will help you understand how it works and how to set it up here.
When running a daily blog, along with my other responsibilities I am conscious of commitment I make daily to spend 30min researching, tag-marking, editing, describing, tagging and hash-tagging the bicycle photo/video. Because the blog is not the main thing I do every day, I do not have the time to laboriously open and re-upload the content to each of hundreds of possible social media accounts. I look for ways to automate this process so that when I post once to Instagram my post is automatically syndicated to all of my other mirror daily blogs on other social media channels. I make sure to provide a call to action on those blogs that sends their visitors and lurkers over to follow me on Instagram. The current list of the automatons I have running today:
- Facebook — Photos/Videos
- Twitter — Photos/Videos
- Tumblr — Photos/Videos
- Flickr — Photos
- VKontakte — Photos/Videos
- Sina Weibo — Photos
- 500px — Photos
- Pinterest — Photos
- LinkedIn — Photos
Off the bat Instagram allows you to connect to your other accounts on the following: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Swarm. All you need to do is hit the multi-share link and auth into your blog on that social media once. Then every time you post just enable all of the following and they will turn blue to give you feedback that the multi-share is ready to auto-share to them when you post to Instagram.
When you go into Instagram’s settings you will find a setting called “Linked Accounts” inside of it is a hidden list of even more social networks. These networks are either less known (therefore less used by Instagrammers or are major networks in foreign countries outside of your country or linguistic zone.) When your blog accounts are authenticated through these networks in settings they will start to show up in the multi-share panel on the main Instagram post creation flow. As of December 2016 they include the following:
Couple things to point out at this point. The linked accounts page is where you can connect not just to auto-post to your Facebook profile page, but to that Facebook profiles owned business page. Twitter auto-posting is actually quite worthless through Instagram because it does not carry over the photos and theres no way to enable this in the multi-share or the linked accounts panels. I will cover how to do this in the IFTTT section. The other services found here and my experiences with them are: VKontakte (Russian) social network which has a good English UI but actually no capability yet to post through to the VK community/business page the way it works for FB. OK.ru (Russian) social network I have not figured out and set up yet. Ameba (Japanese) Tumblr-like social network. Sina Weibo used to be in here as well, but it has been pulled several years ago and needs to be now set up through IFTTT. Ive talked alot about If This Than That service. It has the rest of the integrations from the long list of what I have set up so lets jump into that now.
IFTTT is the best system I have found so far for connecting my Instagram account to other social media accounts that support photo blogging. They’ve also done a pretty good redesign recently on Android and iOS and integrated a whole bunch of new services. In fact there is so much stuff IFTTT can do that for our purposes we can consider as irrelevant for our purposes 95% of the offered functionality. Right off the bat, using IFTTT to connect IG>TW so that the Twitter account actually posts images already makes Twitter useful rather than useless when combined with IG, and IFTTT an indispensable driver of your IG social media strategy. But wait, theres more!
Sina Weibo can be connected quite quickly through an IG applet. The only difficulty is signing up for Sina Weibo in the first place and creating an account. Fortunately there is an English language sign up web client page that can be googled and when signed in the clients can be toggled to English in settings. There was a point at which I got stuck on Chinese during account creation, but was able to use Google Translate optical translation with my phones camera to get through it. 500px is easy to set up on their side but not did not connect right away through IFTTT. The solution is to search for 500px in IFTTT and use the company IG applet rather than using an IG applet thats built by a user to connect. Pinterest is awesome and again it turns out that locating and using the company IFTTT applet is the best way to go. LinkedIn actually has a system for posting content called updates and there seem to be no restrictions on what can be added, because LinkedIn product management is asleep at the wheel as usual. Though it does seem like you can only syndicate to a LinkedIn profile and not a company profile at this time.
The current things I am working on getting to run are Strava and Swarm. I don’t want to be posting to these activity/checkin feeds every time unless I am blogging from an actual ride or checking in at an actual location. There’s a trigger system where you can write an applet that only posts when the IG post includes a specifically defined hashtag, but I have not gotten it to work yet. Next I was going to look at setting up accounts with OK.ru and Ameba and activating IG’s syndication to those. Lastly I have found that there’s some kind of process to use auto email uploads to create IG>IFTTT>Gmail>SocialNetwork chains that may allow me to expand my reach to Imgr, DeviantArt and LiveJournal and more networks that are not directly supported by IFTTT at this time.
Last word on syndication with Instagram is that I recommend you take the time here and there to eventually set up everything available as well as leverage IFTTT if for nothing else then at least Twitter. The things I do not like about IFTTT clients at this time is the inability to know what does not work in a straightforward manner. When browsing a services (Instagrams) applets created by the community, its currently not possible to search the list by something like Pinterest to just see see if there are any IG>Pinterest applets out there. Most of the time you will find yourself using the applet maker to run If THIS than THAT experiments where you select IG and then have to search and see if the complementary IG service is available to be integrated through IFTTT.
You might be wondering how the numbers stack up at this point so let me show you my current breakdown:
- Instagram — 4720
- Facebook —54 (throttling my exposure unless I pay up)
- Twitter — 5 (this entire time without images until a week ago)
- Tumblr — 190
- Flickr — 15
- VKontakte — 5 (broken w/o syndication from IG to community pages)
- Sina Weibo — New
- 500px — New
- Pinterest — 2 (New)
- LinkedIn — (not sure how to count followers for updates stream only)
So in my case I get 271 free followers, a way greater reach for the Sprocket Apps advertising as well as a more amplified reach and follower count on IG from people who learn about @SprocketBlog through another network. To be fair these might be extra followers but they make the difference between 4700 and a near round 5000. For doing near zero upkeep (and not accounting for further optimization or growth curves) this can be extrapolated to be approx 500 minimum at 10000 total followers or ~1000 at 20000. Not bad for free organic growth monetizable followers that find their way through my blog to the Sprocket Bicycle app.
What do you guys think about all this? Any IG auto-syndication systems you would like to share with me? Has anyone figured out how to run IG>Google+? (because that’s what I really want and its not supported by either IFTTT or Facebook)