The limitations of Hootsuite with Instagram as a media outlet for social media campaigns

Engaging users and often much building a community around a product or a cause tend to be the missions when making use of Facebook’s Instagram. From interesting, hilarious or even thought-provoking posts to up to 60 second videos in the stream and even snapchat-like stories to let the community behind the scenes or let them take part on some sort of action that is not achievable anywhere else with that reach. Instagram as a community generator and outlet for the ever expanding mobile world with over half a billion monthly active users are surely established.

Of course marketing managers and social media managers usually work with more than one channel to market their cause. It usually never is only Twitter or only Facebook. Marketing efforts make use of a mix of available channels while prioritizing certain ones depending on efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, management tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite let those individuals or dyads manage multiple streams at once and even have the options to schedule submissions, analyze traffic and traction of posts and campaigns.

With those new management tools for the new media age the job of marketing has become less of a struggle and can additionally make use of data to back-up actions while also visualizing what sort of response does and does not work with the community on hand.

Social Media Input → Social Media Output

Social Media unlike traditional marketing channels are not a one-way street anymore. It’s not an ad running in the papers or an energetic person shouting at the audience through the radio. It has become an exchange of information. A conversation from a business to consumer and from consumer to a business. Big brands losing the grip on their initial customer segment can retarget efforts and become part of a more human interaction again. Recent examples in corporate social responsibility outline the ‘force’ consumers can push onto firms to appear more likeable. And Social Media channels are the platform where consumers get heard.

Now Instagram as a platform can also be used as a one-way marketing channel. But value is also derived from the community that interacts with a brand. The emotional aspect that grips the attention in addition to the knowledge that support is just a touch or click away acts as an enabler. Consumers are more likely to post a rant through their individual media channels than directly messaging a company by mail.

Numerous ways exist in the way Instagram can be utilized by its users. From pure consumption of content to the utilization as an inspiration for the next cooking session or the next travel destination. A media strategy will have to adapt to the behavior of the target audience.

In a perfect world a brand would set up a media outlet and instantly have the follower count it desires from the start. Since that is almost never the case for lesser known names, those small companies or startups have to put in effort to grow naturally as extensive growth is linked to investments and costs that smaller companies still have to achieve. In the initial phases of growth business channels have to behave like the more usual user accounts. Meaning that the existing follower base has to engaged. In practical term those followers are part of the team that created the submission. In order to attract new ones an option is the quid pro quo approach. Something for something or this for that.

Hashtags are a good way to on the one hand see similar photos or videos when they correlate to the ones a brand used and figure out interests through looking through user posts. It’s learning through posts history and behavior. Simply put hashtagging pictures will create a link to a page with other pictures of the same subject.

The externally measurable metric on Instagram are followers and likes. By giving away some of them to others they will often see it as an offer. “I liked your picture. Will you look at mine now?” Same goes for the more valuable message that a user has started following the stream. Users of Instagram have the ability to link to other Instagram profiles within a picture. Making use of this feature not only messages those linked that they appear in a picture but also leaves an entry in the tab that others can find.

Linking to the people, places, and brands that appear in a picture is an additional path that potentially new followers can find one’s own page. A feature that is not implemented in Hootsuite.

Because Instagram wants its users using the mobile application, the disadvantage or limitation of the Instagram API implementation within Hootsuite are ever present. Linking within pictures, Instagram’s story modus, scheduling and automatically publishing submissions is not supported. What benefit does it then have versus a more manual approach to using Instagram in it’s pure form? It shows that some things have to be experienced and felt instead of managed.

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