Our company Instagram account must have one of the largest transient group of followers in Instagram history. Those that choose to follow us are likely expecting consistent, well-timed, and appropriate content. The truth is, there's nothing consistent, timely, or appropriate about our posting behavior.
This quick post serves as an explanation to those that are good enough to keep following despite our apparent disregard for sharing etiquette, and it serves as a cursory introduction to the Instagratify tools that have driven our somewhat bizarre behavior on Instagram. Note that Instagratify is just a single feature of our platform.
While our Instagram antics are unconventional - and we actively advocate the opposite of our own wayward conduct - we will revert back to sharing best-practice in the near future. For now, it's a case of "do as we say, not as we do".
A few years ago we built Instagratify - an Instagram hashtag-based sharing service. While public use was initially intended, our business focus shifted a little and we didn't see the value (at that time) in a subscription service; instead, we made it available to our partners exclusively. It's this Instagram service that forms a small but important role in our new Belief Media Client Platform (we're yet to give it a name).
How It Works
Our system associates an Instagram hashtag with a specific social account and/or album, and shares it accordingly. Multiple hashtags (or the same hashtag with multiple rules) means that the same image can be shared multiple times, with varying behavior when the subject matter overlaps. So, for each image we share to Instagram, it will often be shared more than 50 times across multiple platforms finding audiences in the hundreds of thousands.
Example: Consider the following underappreciated image of a DC4E flying over Manhattan in 1939.
The relevant hashtags, or those that have rules applied to them, are
#viralnetics. The distribution of each hashtag is as follows:
- #aviationhistory will send to the 'Aviation History' Facebook , Twitter and Tumblr accounts.
- #flight will send to an album on FLIGHT's Facebook page, @flightorg on Twitter , @FlighManual on Twitter , an album on Imgur , an album on Flickr , and it'll be pinned on Pinterest . Additionally, we send the image as a post to our Flight (WordPress) website and Tumblr (using
#flightswill send to a few other networks, including LinkedIn).
- #crewlife will send to the 'FlightCrews' Facebook page , and @Aircrews on Twitter . It'll also be sent to Imgur, Flickr, and Tumblr if we omit the
- #history will send to the 'World History' Facebook page , and @HiztoryPhotos on Twitter .
- #Viralnetics is very much a 'dumping ground'. The tag will filter the image to its Facebook page, Tumblr page, and Twitter profile.
This isn't an exhaustive list of social destinations, and the rules change very regularly, but you get the point. The accounts we've linked to aren't necessarily actively monitored or promoted so you'll find the follower count may be low. However, some of our promoted accounts have well in excess of a million fans.
While not applicable to the above example, Instagram videos with an appropriate filter may be sent to video hosting services, such as Facebook and YouTube. Of course, we've also incorporated various changes to cater for Instagram's album feature.
Given our large social presence, we try to pick easy-to-remember hashtags to associate with specific accounts. For example,
#boeingwill send to NewsBoeing ,
#airbuswill send to NewsAirbus ,
#aviationwill send to AviationMedia (and @FlightNews on Facebook ), and so on. Sometimes, the name of the account makes remembering the filter rule easy. For example,
#enternetics, which you may see a lot, sends to our very lonely "Enternetics" feeds on Twitter , Facebook , and Tumblr . Sometimes you'll see a hashtag and post that seems a little out of place;
#autism, for example, sends to AspergersBlog on Twitter and Facebook (we'll change the name of this account; the 'blog' idea was abandoned). If I choose to send to my own personal account I've simply chosen the easy-to-remember hashtag of
#marty. One of the hashtags we're using more regularly at the moment is
#police... sending to a security Facebook and Twitter presence we're currently growing for a new site. The list goes on and on.
There's often value in setting up a social account for no reason other than the fact our automated content (and Instagratify features) provides the fuel. For example, we have @RailHistory accounts set up to test the Instagratify and other system features on Facebook , Twitter , and Tumblr , despite having no interest whatsoever in trains. However, if we give these empty accounts another 6 months likely find their followers. In the same way, we encourage some of our partners to set up social 'channels' that are funnels to other content or pages. The social channels supplement other more profitable marketing funnels. Another discussion for another time.
Note: Instagratify is intended to be used as a real-time feeder for social... not necessarily as we use it for evaluation and testing. Our platform provides access to over 10 billion (yes, billion with a 'B') images and other content that generally makes up well over 95% of all scheduled guff.
There is no better way of disseminating real-time content over multiple platforms than our service. Simple.
As a media and marketing company we're not really limited to relevance (or the same type of focus) some businesses will be... so we don't discriminate on what type of audience we can attract (you name a subject and we have it covered). In terms of rail, it seemed an appropriate subject since so much of our filtered
#history content (and that of places, such as
#sydney) tend to include trains and trams in once way or another. The feeds are supplemented by automated 'rail history' images... a feature that is also available from within our system (we're yet to activate other sources into the feeds).
Why So Many Posts?
Each time we add a new Instagratify feature, we test it ourselves (perhaps mistakenly) from our company account - @BeliefMediaAU . We need to see volume to adequately test the features, and we want to find bugs before any or our partners or clients report them to us. We're also working on more effective ways of limiting posts based on Facebook throttling, and we're constructing more efficient means of processing data.
While we do post a lot, we ensure it's fascinating content that we engage with ourselves. In a sense, you'll get a feel for our company culture and personality by reviewing our shared history.
The practice of posting numerous images will come to an end shortly, at which time we'll revert back to a more reasonable and relevant volume.
While we generally use a single Instagram account to test our platform, our clients will normally connect multiple stakeholders to the service. This means, for example, that each real-estate agent in an office can post normally via their personal account but add a hashtag if they want specific content shared over company social accounts. The feature can be used by flying instructors in a flying school, distributors of clothing apparel, personal trainers in a gymnasium, or any other occupation that has an army of people that come across compelling content throughout the course of their day. The ability for a media manager to remove accounts if necessary (without providing access to the primary company account), and the feature to add or remove hashtags and social filters as required, is a massive means of driving engagement and conversion for business.
For those businesses that are obligated to scrutinize the type of content shared, content can be added as a 'draft' so images may be reviewed for suitability (a social media manager can be notified of new additions via email, with an activate or modify link).
The system recently underwent a review at Australia's International Airshow at Avalon with outstanding results. We hooked aircraft manufacturers and defense forces into the platform and shared our massive social network with their appropriately tagged content. Instead of sharing to their own limited reach, we distributed their real-time content to our aviation audience in addition to their own ensuring their content reached an audience in the millions instead of just thousands. The same groups took part in a yet-to-be-released event module that archived the posts of others that related to their exhibition.
Our Instagratify service is more feature-rich than any service of its kind... and it's only a small part of our massive social platform.
The URL Review
If you do follow one of our social accounts - in particular a Twitter account - you'll be aware that we attach a URL to the message that links to the appropriate Instagram account (which obviously includes the full post text). While the feature to add the URL is an option, the next phase of testing will include the option to embed the Instagram image within a frame that includes the post text underneath it. We'll optionally provide a feature where a second image is sent with the original... with the second image including nothing but the Instagram text.
Both options mean that the Twitter user won't have to vacate the comfort of their application for supporting context.
For those that are currently using the feature, expect some significant changes.
For every 10 Instagram people that choose to follow us, nearly 9 will drop off within a short time. Given our wayward ways, and despite our fascinating content, we expected as much. The transient followership is driven in large part by the questionable technique of others to aggressively follow and unfollow to build a community (normally based on hashtag). The practice is generally frowned upon by Instagram but they permit it in moderation since the technique has generally found a mainstream audience. The ratio of followers to those you're following is a source of reputation, and adopting the technique might reflect poorly on your brand.
While our system does support various types of like
and commentautomation, we only permit liking content or following 'recommended accounts' in moderation, and we process the relationships very slowly. If you're using this technique aggressively, you might want to rethink your strategy.
There are services that set up bots to 'like' content with a specific hashtag, and there are others that will crawl content and leave a ridiculously generic comment that has no relevance. While the engagement from bots is ignored, the source of the like or comments has ended up as a surprising means of amassing marketing data. Apart from building a 'follow-back' list of over 80,000 users (so far), the incoming automation from local business has provided us with a means of making cold contact with ambitious but misled brands.
The Source List
Our system supports dozens of databases that makes various types of content available for use on social. Flickr alone provides over 8 billion images, while Imgur might add another billion, and then there's a few Government data sources that provide upwards of another couple of billion - exact figures are hard to determine. We also provide a connection to our own 'image' websites (and on-board data sources) adding another 7 million or so images and albums to the mix.
In addition, our own Instagram posting history is in itself another source of content for others to use. Providing our own rather generic Instagram posts as a hashtag and free-text searchable source provides us with continued motivation to build up a little library that might be of use to our partners and clients. In addition, your own Instagram history is indexed in the same way making it easy to send 'Facebook-style' memories on anniversaries.
Does Belief Media Permit Posting To Instagram?
Everything you see posted to our company account is done so via our team of passionate people that simply share information they come across while in downtime (this is the reason you'll see three or four posts in a few minutes, then nothing again for a few hours). That said, we do have a very unique system for sharing content directly to Instagram... but we don't use it. There's a fine line when it comes to violating Instagram's terms of service, and it's a line that we'd rather keep well away from. While the service originates from actual mobile handsets, the actual technique might be brought into question... so we'll just wait until Instagram white-lists our application.
We did test a few automated client accounts towards the end of 2016 with outstanding results. Some of those profiles we were posting to accrued over 200,000 followers in just a couple of months. That said, we simply decided that attracting that kind of attention to a "questionable service" wasn't sound risk-management.
Grow With Belief
If you're looking to expand your business with social and/or managed advertising, give us a call. We offer managed, supervised, and standalone social packages that are guaranteed to drive business growth at a fraction of the cost associated with in-house media. For clients that choose to have their media managed by BeliefMedia, we provide on-location training and strategic assessments of social goals as it relates to the Instagratify service. Even with fully managed social services, the everyday content business stumbles across on a regular basis can't be ignored, and needs to be incorporated into your social plan.