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Social Media News

The Rise of the Citizen Influencer

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Avocado Social Consultant, Ambi Mistry explores the rise of the citizen influencer, and asks how effective is this marketing technique compared to using celebrity influencers?

For many years now we’ve become accustomed to seeing celebrities and influencers using social media to promote brands. Whether it’s Kim Kardashian pushing tea, or Cristiano Ronaldo flashing his new ‘gifted’ watch, rarely a day goes by without our Twitter and Instagram feeds presenting us with a celebrity declaring their allegiance to a product, many of which are seemingly random, or unclearly related to the interests and audiences of the influencer in question.

A quick search of the ‘#ad #sp #sponsored #paid hashtags’ on Twitter or Instagram will demonstrate the proliferation of influencer advertising. At the time of writing #ad produced 3,624,741 hits on Instagram alone! It’s not difficult to understand why influencer advertising has seen such a fantastic uptake in recent years; brands want to tap into the colossal reach afforded by large numbers of followers and some of the most influential figures (i.e. those with followings of 1m+) can demand fees of up to $100,000 per post!

For example, Louise Thompson (above) and the rest of the Made in Chelsea crew are regularly seen pushing a plethora of brands to their 100K+ followers on Instagram.

Additionally in their 2015 report on Global Trust in Advertising, Nielsen found that 66% of consumers trust the opinions of others online versus on 42% stating trust in banner ads.  

But in reality, how effective is isolated promoted content by an influencer, who is happy to rave about your brand in a single post (often using copy written by the brand’s comms team, and therefore quite obviously striking a contrived, inauthentic tone of voice), and then never to mention your brand or products again?

In addition to this, the Advertising Standards Agency (and the FSA stateside) require all influencer ads across social media to clearly state that they are paid promotions, or else risk reprimand, which further strips influencer ads of real influence, as audiences grow ever wiser of the paid nature of endorsements.

Throw in a couple of widely documented influencer ad blunders, such as Naomi Campbell posting a picture of her new Adidas trainers on Instagram, and copy and pasting the exact email from their team as the caption, which embarrassingly read: Naomi, so nice to see you in good spirits. Could you put something like…”, and you can see why influencer ads may be becoming less effective.   

Certainly, influencer ads can help brands achieve a boost in reach and awareness, but recent data has shown that in terms of engagement, there is an inverse relationship between the number of followers and the number of likes posts generate. Influencers with less than 1000 followers were likely to see an 8% engagement rate in contrast to influencers with 10million + followers who only receive 1.6% engagement.

Welcome to the stage the citizen influencer, the social media user with a modest number of followers, who could help your brand engage an audience more effectively and efficiently than celebrity influencers with followers in the millions. Unlike celebrity influencers, brands are better placed to engage citizen influencers in a meaningful and authentic way, which need not necessarily rely on payment.

Whilst perhaps more time consuming, a campaign to engage citizen influencers in long term relationships is likely to result in higher engagement and ROI. Ways to do this may include investing in social listening to find the perfect, authentic opportunities to add value, such as by offering free samples or advice to citizen influencers when in need. Check out the great example from Esther, founder of TeaHuggers appealing for brand amabassadors below: 

Could your brand offer citizen influencers the opportunity to attend exclusive product-based events or experiences? Or perhaps seek their input when developing new products?

With celebrity influencer advertising proving increasingly ineffective and a growing emphasis on authenticity in brand activity, it seems the power of the citizen influencer is only set to grow! Power to the people!

>> Are you thinking about using citizen influencers? Looking for some advice and tips? Join our active Facebook Group here for free and let us know how it goes!

>> Check out Avocado Social’s latest social media events here to find out where we are teaching next.

 

Our 7 Social Media Trends and Predictions for 2017

By | Avocado Social, Business Lessons, Social Media, Social Media and Workforce, Social Media News, Social Media Platforms, Social Media Strategy | No Comments

We get asked all the time ‘What’s the next big thing in social media?’ so we thought we’d put together our top predictions for 2017 in a blog post.

Social media is one of the fastest growing and ever changing industries around, with new developments, trends and behaviours coming out every day.

From working with some top brands, speaking to Facebook and listening to the industry commentators, here are our top predictions:

  1. Rise in GIFs

We’ve noticed a huge increase in GIFs this year, which are short looping video clips that usually last between 1-3 seconds. Twitter integrated free GIF provider Giphy into its app in February this year, and Instagram’s standalone GIF app Boomerang soared in popularity over the summer. Brands from Chanel to Subway are using these short form videos to grab the attention of mobile users in the newsfeeds. Who is going to watch a 2-minute video in social media anymore!? (apart from the John Lewis Christmas Ad of course!) In 2017 we will see a rise in smaller brands, and small businesses utilising GIFs to show off products, and of course personality.

2. 360 Video

Zuckerberg is really pushing 360 videos, having just used it to capture his daughter’s first steps. We haven’t seen many examples of brands using 360 videos yet as it requires a specialist camera – but perhaps innovative brands such as Burberry and AirBnB will invest next year. Check out this example from National Geographic! The feature is a fantastic way to tell a story in a more interactive way. If you take a panoramic photograph on your iPhone and upload it to Facebook, it will become a 360 photo – try it, it’s very cool!

3. WhatsApp for Business

Many businesses have tried setting up shop on WhatsApp in a basic form, as a way to engage audiences directly in a private setting. The platform receives over 1 billion users every day, and is apparently used by 1 in 7 people on earth! We love following Battenhall’s WhatsApp broadcast for our daily fix of social media news. We know a personal trainer in South London using it to engage VIP clients with daily motivation and recipes. Gregg’s this year launched a VIP WhatsApp channel for hardcore pasty fans! We wonder what next year will bring, especially with the messaging app apparently looking to release a Business version.

4.Workplace Social Media

A huge amount of businesses are using social media in the workplace to collaborate and communicate with their peers. We are huge fans of Slack, for example. Facebook Workplace has soft launched, and we’re particularly excited to see more businesses adopt it for messaging, live video, forum chats and project management. If you’re interested, signup and take the demo webinar. Obviously, there is a whole host of questions that comes along with it, like house rules, codes of conduct and time spent on it – but could this mean the death to email within a few years?

connect_better2x5. AI and Social Media

A big trend set for 2017 is the use of Artificial Intelligence in social media, particularly when it comes to customer service and also data analysis. The rise of digital assistants, such as Siri and Alexa means we are used to speaking to robots to get things done, and chatbots are set to become mainstream in 2017. This will allow brands to answer commons FAQs automatically, and utilise customer service representatives for more in-depth issues.

6. Algorithm Squeezing

As social media builds in noise, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all set to continue to squeeze their algorithms meaning only a tiny amount of what we post to our business pages will be placed in the newsfeeds. The solution to this is social media advertising, which means you can reach desired audiences which you select by age, interests and location, with paid-for adverts. The winning formula here is to use custom audiences; those that have already engaged with your business in some way before.We are set to see more and more businesses using these tools and only expect more in 2017. If you’re interested in building your knowledge, come to our next workshop.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our predictions and we wish you all a very Merry Christmas! 

How to Use Instagram Stories for Business

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Instagram this week launched Instagram Stories, which means users can post photos and videos that only last for 24 hours and don’t sit on your main feed. It is aimed to encourage more everyday, raw content on the channel.

They have come under fire for a straight copy of Snapchat, but we think Instagram Stories offers a much more user friendly solution. For a start, you don’t need to exit Instagram to use Stories. They are displayed at the top of your home screen, as you can see below. You can always see your own story first:

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As with Snapchat, you can customise your creations with text, emojis, and draw straight on top of them. It’s thought that filters will be coming to Instagram too.

Every user (including business profiles) has an Instagram Story which can be viewed in the Instagram homepage, and you see the stories of everyone you follow.

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Click their profile picture at the top of Instagram and see a slideshow of everything the user has posted to their story in the past 24 hours.

Techcrunch called Instagram Stories ‘Snapchat for adults’.

“It’s a way for brands to post more without overwhelming people’s feeds, an alternative to Instagram’s Like-driven success theater or a blatant ripoff,” wrote Josh Constine in Techcrunch.

When confronted about Instagram Stories being a clone of Snapchat Stories, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom surprisingly admitted “They deserve all the credit,” but insisted “This isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.” Read more of the Techcrunch interview with Kevin Systrom here.

So how can your business use Instagram Stories? 

The beauty of the quick clips and bespoke image allow brands to maximise on countdowns, flash promotions and event based content.

Another popular piece of content used by brands so far is behind the scenes footage, telling a story or introducing the people behind the brand. Stories allows you to view who’s seen your Instagram likes story and in what order.

Our 5 top tips: 

  1. Use bright images to stand out
  2. Customise your Stories with text and emojis to make them unique and personal to your business
  3. Share something interesting – not just for the sake of it! There seems to be quite a lot of mundane content being shared so far…
  4. Try to share a Story a day to make sure you appear in the top bar of Instagram. This is such a great opportunity to stand out to your target customers, rather than replying on them coming to your feed.
  5. Stay consistent, using a tone of voice that’s right for your brand. Remember to keep it professional at the end of the day!

These two examples below are from small businesses that we are big fans of. First, organic chocolate brand Doisy & Dam have been sharing stories behind the scenes at their production house, showing you their gorgeous chocolate in the creation process. As well as this we get to see founders Richard and Ed showing off their sense of humour with some silly faces!

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Another great use was by personalised gifting and stationery business Love Give Ink. They shared a Story about their new honeymoon memories book being featured in Wedding Ideas Magazine. A great piece of PR for them, and a nice way of displaying the news without interrupting their beautiful Instagram feed.

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*EVENT*

We’re hosting a free evening event, ‘Small Business Success with Social Media’ on Tuesday 13th September in London, featuring Doisy & Dam and Love Give Ink

Grab you tickets and find out more information here.

Instagram Boosted Posts Coming Soon!

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You may have heard that Instagram is set to run boosted posts for businesses and brands, in the same way that its parent company Facebook does. This means that advertisers could soon be able to pay to boost the reach of their posts across the network.  This is great news for small and medium business owners who are looking to increase their exposure to the right audience – which allows them to instantly boost their posts with just a few clicks.

Whilst Instagram has not officially announced it, expert programmers have cracked the platform’s latest code and discovered signs that the social media giant is looking to create a ‘boost post’ functionality. Exciting! photo-1444356751607-31f0fd2714f1

This means that business will be able to advertise in a single click to increase their chances of exposure. It’s a much easier way to advertise for entrepreneurs and small business owners, compared to the current Ads Manager on Facebook. 

Instagram To Focus on Business

The announcement marks the latest development in Instagram’s metamorphosis over the past five years from niche hipster app to social media giant with 500 million monthly users. Its evolution is providing more and more opportunities for advertisers to share their stories and drive action. Alongside rumours of business profiles, Instagram is steadily becoming more and more focused for business

Other updates from Instagram include new in-app analytics which will ensure that advertisers have better control over targeting and budget spend as well as business profiles.

Some have expressed concern that this prospect of paid method of boosting may become the only way to efficiently reach followers, as some businesses found with their pages on Facebook.

According to Tech Crunch, boosted posts will likely be even more in demand as a result of Instagram’s recent algorithm change.

Alison Battisby, Director of Avocado Social said: “It’s really encouraging to see more opportunities for small and medium business owners to expand their reach and presence on Instagram. Instagram is steadily catching up with Facebook in terms of becoming a solid business platform.”

Watch this space!

LinkedIn’s New Premium Insights

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LinkedIn has launched as new set of tools designed to empower its Premium subscribers to find quicker, richer insights about the companies they want to target and aid them in making informed business decisions.

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Courtesy of LinkedIn & Social Times

The world’s largest professional network, which is soon to be acquired by Microsoft in a historic multi-billion dollar deal, has allowed Business Plus, Sales Navigator and some Talent Solutions subscribers to be able to access a new level of insight into a company’s employees and growth at a glance.

As LinkedIn product leader and strategist Megan Kamil wrote at its launch last week, the uses of Premium Insights ‘‘[…] are limitless. From the market research associate gathering relevant information on key market and competitive landscapes to the investment professional trying to uncover the next ‘hot’ company, this information will be valuable to any business professional”.

Here’s a breakdown of how the new features will help small businesses:

Total employee count

Allows a deeper dive into a company’s growth trends and can be used to identify or qualify investment targets or potential business partners. You can also look at a company’s staff turnover and even where incoming executives are being hired from.

Employee distribution by function

This features allows greater understanding of a company’s structure based on department. You’ll be able to ascertain a company’s stage of growth based on which functions are growing fastest.

New hires

Paints a picture of how fast a company is growing and in which areas, with a focus on the moves of senior management. Uncover breakout companies, new business areas the company is investing in, or gauge seasonal demands based on new hiring trends.

Notable Alumni

Users can see where a company’s former senior talent have been employed, allowing them to identify opportunities with new companies.

Total job openings

Allows users to have a better understanding on how a company plans to grow by function and seniority.

Here at Avocado Social we’re interested to see how the tools develop and the value they add for users. Interested in knowing more about how to successfully use LinkedIn? We’re hosting a FREE webinar on the 14th of July at 1pm where you’ll learn about the opportunities LinkedIn offers for business, explore case studies and the chance to take part in a live Q & A session. Sign up for your free place here.

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Join the Avocado Social Media Hub on Facebook

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The Avocado Social Media Hub is a free Facebook Group which we run, designed for anyone who has been in one of our training sessions, seen us talk, or read our blogs.

The Facebook Group is full of the latest social media updates, great examples and case studies, as well as free support from us and the rest of the community. We also exclusively announce our latest webinars, events and talks in the Group first.

We have a few rules which we’d like everyone to abide by:

  • Members are welcome to introduce themselves as they join the Group, telling everyone about their business or purpose for being in the group, with links.
  • If members are overtly promotional, they can expect that their posts will be removed. If you post irrelevant content more than once, you will be banned from the Group.
  • The conversations topics are strictly social media only.

You can join the Avocado Social Media Hub for free here.

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More people are using Snapchat than Twitter

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Today it was announced that Snapchat has surpassed Twitter with a reported 150 million people now using the app every day, compared to Twitter’s 140 million. Snapchat has grown rapidly since its birth five years ago as a simple photo and video sharing platform, to its current position as one of the world’s biggest social media platforms. With an additional 40 million users joining in the last six months alone, Snapchat has proven particularly popular with younger users thanks to its quirky, colourful features. 

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We’ve seen a whole host of brands starting to use the channel, from the likes of McDonalds, Wahaca and Burberry to smaller businesses such as New York-based frozen yogurt chain 16 Candles – proving that Snapchat success is not just for global brands with large budgets.

Whilst Snapchat continues to go from strength to strength,  it’s a further blow for Twitter, which has seen significant struggles over the last year due to a shrinking user base and engagement. At double Snapchat’s age, we’re interested to see how how this competition plays out between the social media giants.

Next week we’re hosting a free webinar on how to use Snapchat for your business. We’ll be welcoming Snapchat expert and trainer Rob Lee for a Q & A on how brands are utilising the unique app, the basic of the platform, with Rob sharing his insight on how we should be using Snapchat to make an impact. Join us on Thursday 9th June at 11am by signing up here.

 

 

 

What Instagram’s 60-second update means for your brand

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Instagram did what we’ve been asking the Universe all along: Give us more time! Jokes aside, the platform has decided to increase video length from 15 seconds to 60 seconds, creating a big opportunity for brands.

Nicky Woodhouse, video director and founder of Woodhouse TV, told Avocado Social: “The time is right for a big brand to take advantage of the update and create a branded content series. Something that will enhance their brand values and get people excited and coming back for more.”

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A report from Engadget says that the number of people watching video on Instagram jumped 40% in the last six months.

This could explain Instagram’s move to optimise viewership metrics that keep users in the feed. It also seems that 60 seconds is ‘the magic length’. Another study , done by video analytics firm Tubular Labs & Reel SEO, found that the average duration of a top Facebook video is about 1.5 minutes.

On YouTube, peaks of viewership happen normally at the one-minute mark. 60 seconds it is!

What does that mean for you and your brand? The new time limit will add the challenge to keep your content even more interesting – the length of videos has increased but not your customers’ focus. You don’t have to use all the time offered, but if you do, remember to keep your content engaging. Don’t try and fill the minute time slot just because it’s available.

Invest in some video editing apps such as:

  • Squaready: makes your videos square with a white background or all around border for an artsy look
  • InstaVid: creates picture and video collages
  • InstaVideo: helps you add music to your videos
  • Boomerang and Hyperlapse: help you create sped-up or looped videos
  • YouTube Capture: allows you to grab a YouTube clip of yours for Instagram

And if your project and budget allow consider outsourcing your content creation to a video production agency like woodhousetv.com who can help you get good ROI by ensuring your videos stand out and get shared.

Remember: Be consistent in content and aesthetics. Start a regular Instagram video series, test out ideas before you post them, and once you have your favourite design preferences, stick to them. Eventually, your customers should be able to recognize your brand right away.

Despite many brands like Airbnb having excellent one minute brand films already on their YouTube and other social media sites, it’s interesting to note that no brand is seemingly reposting this content on Instagram, or engaged with producing content especially for the 60-second format.

“The curious thing about Instagram updates is that as they don’t announce them till they go live brands and their content creators have to play catch up, as they have in effect moved the goalposts. It will be fascinating to see who takes up the mantel and leads the pack with the first viral Instagram video series.” said Woodhouse.

You can however learn from very good examples of Instagram branded videos, such as Nike’s user generated photos that are edited together into a time-lapse, GoPro’s slick and exciting visuals shot and edited in a really interesting way, and Oreo’s great use of simple animation.

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Want to learn more about how to use Instagram for your business? Join our Advanced Social Media Workshop on 13th July. 

The Latest UK Social Media Statistics for 2016

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As the Internet gains another 225 million active users around the world, social media growth is set to continue in 2016. In this blog we take a look at the latest UK social media statistics.

In We are Social’s latest figure report on digital, social and mobile media usage around the world, social has seen an 8.7%* increase in just over eight months.

So which social media platforms are the most popular? 

Facebook continues to take the lead with an influx of 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide. The UK makes up 31 million of those users, with 60% of the population having a Facebook account. The most popular age group is 25-34 (26% of users) but Facebook is a great platform to speak to a mass market of ages and locations.

Much younger audiences may be looking elsewhere at private messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook Messenger and Viber , but there are still 2.5 million 13-17 year olds using Facebook.

Facebook’s messaging app making a steady pace, having recently reported 800 million monthly active users.  It will be interesting to see how many US brands take up Businesses on Messenger this year, enabling private, real-time conversations with your customers. They released this infographic below.

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In terms of users, Instagram revealed it had 14 million monthly active users in the UK back in July 2015. Instagram has a younger audience than Facebook, with 39% of its UK users aged 16-24. Also a slightly female skew, with 64% of Instagram users being female compared to 56% of Facebook’s.  (Stats from Social Media Week).

2016 is going to be huge for Instagram as they have just launched their self-serve ad platform allowing any business to run adverts on the platform through Facebook. We recently found out, you don’t even need to have an Instagram account to run ads – just a Facebook Page.

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Back in 2013, Twitter reported 15 million monthly active users in the UK. Since then, we haven’t seen any specific UK data released from the network. It was reported that in September 2015, Instagram overtook Twitter in terms of users.

Two rumours circling the social media world regarding the little blue bird include the algorithm changing to show most relevant content to you, rather than most recent. This will allow Twitter to charge to get your content seen, boosting their advertising revenues. If this fails, then Google is rumoured to be looking to buy Twitter.

See Andy Crestodina‘s comments in Social Media Examiner.  

Google Plus continues to receive mixed response – with the social network taking a loss in active users despite having a redesign. Unlike Facebook, the network has kept the youth on board with 41% of their users falling into the 18-24 year old demographic in the UK.

54% of Google+ users log into their account to stay in touch with friends whilst a further 42% use Google+ to interact with brand content. Are you at Google+ user? We’d love to hear from you!

The latest social network of the moment, Snapchat has doubled their active users from 100 to 200 million globally. The video sharing platform has also dominated the youth, but there are no UK specific statistics to report on as yet. Take a look at this post for some ideas on how brands are using Snapchat.

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LinkedIn, the B2B professional network, now achieves over 60 million views in the UK every month. In 2014, LinkedIn reported passing the 15 million users mark in the UK.  75% of users are over the age of 35 and 79% of users are male.

1 million professionals have now written a post on LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn, they’ve used the platform to discuss the future of work, the state of their industries, what companies are getting it right and which aren’t and how the professional world can be a better place.

So what about Pinterest? The bookmarking site reports 3 million pins a day in the UK alone. They do not reveal their UK user base, but research firm comScore estimates that in May 2015, Pinterest attracted 10.3 million unique visitors in the UK: 54% only visiting from a mobile device, 34% only from a computer, and 12% using both.

Pinterest is 90% female, with DIY and Recipes being the most popular content. Buyable pins have recently been phased in to the US, and are expected later this year in the UK. Pinterest is also working with brands like Manchester United, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer so we’ll have to watch this space with what’s next for the network.

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One platform that has welcomed an increase in unique users across all demographics is YouTube. The video sharing website is used by slightly older users than you might think. Around half of users are aged 35 and over, while 90 per cent are aged over 18. Just 10 per cent are between 13 – 17 years old. Take a look at this infographic from Google ’10 myths about YouTube users’.

Last year rumours surfaced that the video site was planning to develop a version of its site designed specifically for children aged 10 and under, but there has been no news since.

So, what could this mean for growth and audience behaviour in 2016? The smaller and more impactful your content is, the more likely it will lead to a view or purchase. Visual content will continue to rise and social overall looks to continue to expand not only in the UK but also all over the world. We’ll publish any news statistics that are published throughout 2016.

Sources: We Are Social, Social Media London, eMarketer, Rose McGrory, Warren Knight, Andrew McCarthy, Pingdom, The Guardian, The Telegraph. 

Trying out Hootsuite’s new Instagram Schedule Tool

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We were so pleased this month when Hootsuite, our favourite social media scheduling tool, launched its new Instagram Scheduler. ‘Can you schedule Instagram?’ is one of our top asked questions in training sessions!

The top requested feature will now help us to manage multiple Instagram accounts, without having to keep logging in and logging out on our mobiles. It also means we can line up Instagram content to go out at certain times and days of our choice.

All you need to do is save images on your desktop, and add them to Hootsuite as you would when writing a tweet. Once you have written the copy and added in your hashtags, you simply select the post to be scheduled via Instagram.

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The only slightly annoying this is that Hootsuite posts a notification on your mobile, and you do still need to be around when the post is scheduled to go out, as it will open the post ready in Instagram on your phone for you to add filters, locations and tag anyone before you can post. This is Instagram’s issue not Hootsuite’s.

After testing it for two weeks we’ve found that it does cut down on time and helps you to feel more organised on Instagram. However, you do need to make sure you are logged in to the correct account on your phone at the time of posting!

To find out more details about how it works, and getting set up, visit the Hootsuite blog here.