instagram

How To Make Your Instagram Accessible For Visually Impaired Community

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You’re posting on Instagram all of the time as part of your business marking plan and I know that you have seen the “ALT  text” when you are loading a photo. You’ve probably blown right past it when you are posting because why would you even bother, as far as you know Instagram does not offer SEO so what’s the point?

Instagram introduced the ability to add ALT text to photos in an effort to make the platform more accessible. Users can add their own custom ALT text that can be read by screen readers to assist those with visual impairments.

Right now, you’re thinking, “This is awesome, how do we use this feature professionally and assist those with visual impairments? “

The ALT text is NOT meant to be a  “copy and paste” of your Instagram caption. Instead, the ALT text should be used to describe exactly what is in your photo.

Think about it, Instagram is a VISUAL platform, and we certainly are not describing the photo in our caption. We are instead,  writing our marketing copy, sharing a quote or a story. The caption is the part screen readers are able to assist the users with, however, the user is missing out on the visual that accompanies it if you are not writing your own  ALT text.

Instagram wants everyone in the community to be able to interact with each other, including those with visual impairments. Keep this in mind, if you are not adding your own ALT text, know that Instagram will automatically generate  ALT text to your photo using their own technology. Their image recognition technology will scan your photo and write an ALT text for you. I encourage you to begin getting in the habit of writing your own ALT text before you post because the Instagram generated text is pretty generic.


The ALT text is your way of giving the user a full Instagram experience by understanding the complete context of both the photo and the caption. As a business owner,  you are now making your content, your product and yourself accessible to more people in the community. How awesome is that?!

An item to note: It is strongly recommended that ALT text be 125 characters or less to ensure compatibility for popular screen readers. The character limit for the ALT text on Instagram is 100 characters.

While researching and at the time of this publishing I did not find any solid evidence one way or the other that by also using the ALT text could mean that there is some sort of SEO associated with it on Instagram just yet. However, I have to believe that this is in the works if it does not already exist on at least a BETA level.  ALT text on images when using it on your website we know helps your SEO ranking on Google, which has me thinking that perhaps something like this is coming or again already exists to some level on Instagram.

How To Add ALT Text To A New Post:

  1. Upload your image as usual.

  2. On the Instagram caption page, press “Advanced settings”:

  3. Click “Write ALT text”: On Instagram you can write a maximum of 100 characters to describe what is in your photo.

  4. Write your ALT text and press “Done”


How To Add ALT Text To Your Old Photos:

You are able to and I encourage you to take the time to do so.

1. Select the photo you want to add ALT text to:

2. Click on the 3 dots “…” in the upper right-hand corner:

3. Choose “Edit”:

4. Press “Add ALT text”:

5. Write your ALT text:

6. Click “DONE”

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Tips on how to write ALT text from Perkins School for the Blind:

  1. Describe the image as specifically as you can.

  2. “Imagine someone is sitting next to you as you scroll through Instagram and they point at a photo and ask what it is. Chances are, you’ll give them a one or two sentence description that is perfect for writing as alt text” ( Perkins School for the Blind).

  3. Is there an important text on your photo (like signage or quote)? Write out the text.

  4. Keep your ALT text (relatively) short, 100 character limit on Instagram and 125 character limit on popular screen readers.

  5. Write who is on the picture (especially if you have a personal account). For example: “Jade sitting on her computer with a latte next to her.”

  6. Colors: “Don’t be afraid to share what colors are in a photo, if the color is important. A photo can be described as being in black-and-white, having warm or cool colors, or being tinted a certain color. Someone wearing clothes that are the main focus of the photo can write that they are wearing “dark denim Levi’s with a white t-shirt, Adidas sneakers with green earrings.”


Spring Cleaning Your Content: When To Recycle Vs. When To Create

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The spring equinox has happened which means that it’s time for all of the spring cleaning to happen. Spring cleaning your house, your car and even your social media feed. Today we’ll talk about reducing your time spent creating new content by reusing and recycling what you already have working for you.

The old Earth Day saying goes “Reduce Reuse Recycle” and spring is the perfect time to put this plan into motion for the content on your social media feeds so you can enjoy the incredible weather that I know you’re itching to get out from behind your computer to go and enjoy.

REDUCE the time that you spend creating content, meaning glance back through your feed to see what posts performed well and REUSE them. Decide what people liked, the message or the photo and reuse that. People are afraid to reuse content which I don’t completely understand, especially if that content is at least 100 days old. I’ll be the first one to tell you that most of your ideal clients are not going to remember if they saw that same photo on your feed previously.

If the post has a message that you want to bring back to your target copy and paste the caption and add a different photo. Remember that the marketing buzz is people need to hear or read something SEVEN different times before they will act on it.

When you are RECYCLING content just be conscious of changing up something about it up. I’m sure that you have learned or experienced something in the time since it originally posted to update the caption and always update the hashtags. No need to have the exact same photo attached to the exact same hashtags.

There is an excellent app that I use to “regram” because I am all about reducing time. What I enjoy about this app is you don’t get that icky looking transparent gray box with the original posters screen name on it. However, with that being said if you are EVER reposting someone else's content make sure to credit the original poster in the caption with “Regram: @Insert_User_Name”.

Spring is also an excellent time to create new content. The spring light is way better than that harsh winter light and I don’t know about you but my creativity feels more inspired with the sunshine. It’s probably all of the vitamin D. Block off time to style and create new product photos, or grab a coffee, get outside and walk around a different neighborhood with your phone or camera and take photos of things that are relevant to your brand that you can use later on in your marketing efforts down the road.

To wrap, reduce your valuable time by reusing and recycling previous well-performing content especially the messages that you want to stick in your ideal client/customers brain. They need to hear/read these messages seven times before they will act.

The Social Media Apocalypse What's Your Digital Marketing Back Up Plan

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The social media apocalypse of Facebook and Instagram being down is happening. It’s March 13, 2019, Mercury in retrograde and we’ve been experiencing the biggest meltdown in social media history.

Since 8am PST people around the globe have been unable to get into both Facebook and Instagram. At the coffee shop today the world seemed a bit quieter, people are having these things called conversations with each other instead of being preoccupied with snapping a quick picture of their latte to put on their Instagram story. (Ahem I am guilty of this as well, sometimes.) I don’t know if this is because we are all secretly freaking out just a little bit.

I will say that I have enjoyed the silence of only having to focus on other digital marketing platforms for my clients that do not include a member of the “Facebook Family” for one day.

The real question we should be asking is, “ Will Facebook and Instagram be back tomorrow?” Honestly, that could happen. We could wake up tomorrow with the same messages on our pages, or they could be erased forever. As of this posting Facebook, reps are saying, “Facebook is down for required maintenance. We will be back soon.” Historically when huge expansive platforms such as Facebook and Youtube have done an update it’s only been 1-3 hours, as of this writing we are going into hour number 12.

If this outage has taught us anything it should be to not put all of your eggs in one basket. I’ve been saying it in talks and to clients since the first Zuckerberg Senate hearings, start thinking about your digital marketing backup plan.

If these platforms do not exist tomorrow, do you have access to your customers? Do you know your customer's email addresses and how to get in touch with them? The only real channels that are guaranteed for you to directly communicate with your customers or clients are your blogs and your email campaigns. I know these are such a pain in the ass to do. These digital marketing campaigns actually take a bit of time, I get that. You can’t post a pretty picture and write an emotionally touching caption to get your message out there. But you should start considering a plan B.

There are other great platforms to build a presence on as well Youtube and Pinterest are two that if you are not already tinkering around on you should at least begin investigating.

Lately, I’ve been pushing current clients toward my Pinterest management package because it is a powerful search engine that as of right now I don’t see going anywhere but up. The power of brand awareness that Pinterest offers is incredible if you know how to use it. Start here, you already have amazing photo content of your products which is half the battle, because you have been posting those awesome images to Instagram. Just start posting them with a good description to Pinterest as well.

Consider blogging as well, if you are a service based business or a product based business you have things to say, things that your target market IS searching for.

I am really thinking positive that the “Facebook Family” figures it out and that we are back in action soon but then again if they don’t we’ll figure it out. We are in this together.

What Is Your Instagram Neighborhood?

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The best piece of advice that I got recently was to step back and look at Instagram as an entire city but with three neighborhoods.  This resonates with me because in case you don't already know I moved to Portland via Chicago.  Chicago is a very neighborhood centered city, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Pilsen to name a favorite few. The beautiful thing about big cities is the many different neighborhoods inside of them, each with their character, their feeling, their vibe. 

If you happen to live in a big city, think for a moment about the places that you tend to spend a majority of your time.  How many different neighborhoods do you frequent? Obviously, the area that you live in but are there others that you travel to for a particular coffee shop or a one of a kind gift store that you find that unique item for someone? 

Keep this in mind as we step back to look at Instagram the same way as we are looking at a big city. There are three diverse neighborhoods within Instagram, the feed, the stories and the lives. However, the one similarity amongst all of them is that they each require a neighborly manner to thrive.  You know where you reach out and chat with a person and aren't just lurking neighborhood watching them.  

The Feed

This is obviously the epicenter of the city of the Instagram city. The feed is where the perfectly curated posts and thoughtful words live.  The space that gets the majority of the friendly neighbor to neighbor chatting.  

The Stories

Stories are north of the city center and are a welcoming community that shows a more personal and attainable side. Stories is a place to show more of what your every day looks like and who you are as a person.  The problem here is like any neighborhood place you tend to frequent if you get annoyed with the oversharing that someone is doing you turn your head and avoid contact with them.  This neighborhood is an excellent place to people watch because everyone is doing their own then but conversations are hardly ever started. 

The Live

The Neighborhood that everyone says is up and coming. Realistically this feature should have taken off like gangbusters but over a year later it's still that up and coming place. Some of the neighbors here are still just not sure what to do with it yet.   

By now you have undoubtedly figured out which two neighborhoods are your favorites. The two favorites you should be posting to frequently the other it's ok to make a weekly or monthly commute to, but you shouldn't forget about it all together.  

 

State Of The Instagram Algorithm

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Extra, Extra read all about it the Instagram updates.  I'm going to break the changes down into three categories; post exposure, engagement, and hashtags.

Post Exposure
If you've been following along, you know that when you post something to Instagram, it may only be getting exposed to 10% of your audience. If your brand new post gets engagement right out of the gate, you're in luck because then the post will be released to the other 90% of your audience relatively soon. You've certainly seen posts from up to 12 hours to an entire day before showing up in your feed out of order.

Remember those comment pods that everyone was going crazy for in 2017? If you are still a part of these pods, they are not doing your account or the people that comment on your post any favors.  They are hindering you and here's why, Instagram keeps track of who is messaging your photo and when you message your own photo then you get a blow up of comments, well they know something is up.  Authentic engagement is what matters, not solicited but we'll get to that.

If you are posting like a business and thinking like a business why aren't you, in fact, a business account? Seriously, if you are in any way shape or form promoting your business but haven't moved on from a personal account, you are sabotaging yourself.  The time is now to switch over, there are so many perks, you have access to so many statistics to make sure that you are reaching your target audience. 

Engagement

Engagement is by far my favorite topic. I will never understand how accounts can post and post and post and never talk to their followers or another account.  This is a social network in 2018 it is no longer an option to post without engaging with others. In kindergarten, we all learned the golden rule of playing well with others. Let's think of your new golden rule is to engage well with others.  One of the most frequent questions I get asked is if it's ok to engage once a week? No, you should be commenting and chatting for at least 20 minutes every day with your following and other accounts that are using your hashtags.  20 minutes is vital because you want to raise your exposure and engaging with others helps this so much, 
In your 20 minutes of engaging, please do not leave comments such as, "great pic" "love this" or just a single emoji. It's a waste of time because with comments like this the algorithm will think that you are a bot.  Instead, write a complete sentence or at least four words before an emoji. 
Storying is another excellent way to bump up your engagement and pop up more in peoples feeds.  The stories that appear first in your feed are the accounts that you engage with the most.  Story more often and give people a reason to see you first. 

Hashtags
I know how you love to keep your caption aesthetically pleasing and post the hashtags in the comment.  Well, I'm sorry to say that based on my own experience the reach is better when hashtags are posted in the caption.  Include hashtags in the body of your caption if you want to be seen by more than 10% of your audience. This change has been fluid for about a year. To make this work for you instead of against you, write your epic caption, six dots than your hashtags. 

While you can use 30 hashtags in a post, don't do it every time. If you do, make sure that you are switching them up. Instead, consider three sets of ten hashtags and alternate them with filler tags relevant to your photo.

What could be seen as spam comments= shadow banning which = little to no business which = little to no money. 

New Features

There are also some awesome new features that will work in your favor.  You've seen the explore feed, the specially curated collection of posts based off of your interests and the people you follow.  Well, people that you do not follow that share interests with you will begin to show up in your feed. Yep, that's right strangers will begin popping up in your feed, which in turn means that you will be popping up others feeds. This is great because when you comment on these photos you will be exposed to a new following of people. 

At the end of last year, it was rolled out that you could begin to follow hashtags. This is one feature that totally brings me so much joy because gone are the days of typing certain hashtags into the search bar to interact with. The rumor is that your account will be favored if you follow hashtags. Start small, consider following your top five favorite hashtags. 

That's all I got for you so far, I am working on the Facebook update post because there are so many things about to change over there. 

Instagram Workshop For Your Business

"I've been a small business for 6 years. If I didn't understand how to compose great photos I would not still be in business. I actually arrange my work flow around good photo content. Social media + good photos = sell things." Tamara Young Consign Couture

Portland Instagram Workshop

 

 

Just like every business owner, every business is different, and their social media feed should reflect that. When I first sign on a client, sometimes their Instagram feeds just need another pair of eyes.   Which is totally acceptable because not everyone is born a photographer or a marketer.  If they are a client that lives near me, we grab a coffee and we talk photography basics,  how to get the best photo, how to to up their hashtag and engagement game. 

All of this perked an idea in me, why not team up and ask my "staff" brand photographer that I use for all the website revamps to teach a workshop on how to get a killer social media photo with just your phone.  I pitched her and she said yes, so here it is a two part workshop happening in April at my favorite work from space The Society Hotel.  

In week one brand photographer Ashley Courter will teach you photography basics and assign you some homework. In week two I will help you with your homework and help your business with industry specific hashtags and tips on how to build an authentic following which will turn likes into sales. 

There are still spots available, sign up via the workshop tab.  Come enjoy lattes, wine, snacks all while learning to level up your businesses Instagram game. 

Instagram Spam Comments

In my efforts to stop the Instagram commenting bots and attempting to get social media back on track of actually being social I'm about to drop a tiny bit of knowledge on you.  

You know those annoying spam comments you get right after you post a picture that you've worked really hard on achieving the perfect lighting as well as the perfect caption. You load it and press share, then right away you get a comment, part of you is so excited, it's only been 20 seconds since you posted your hashtags and someone is commenting on your well thought out post. Then you click the comment and it's "Want more followers" or "Like for Like" or my personal favorite "Wow check out my page" and disappointment and annoyance sets in.

Well I'm here to help you with this, you can deter the bot comments and here's how. 

Settings>Comments>Turn On Inappropriate Comments> Type in your custom keywords>Done

It's that easy! Now how are you going to do your part in keeping social media actually social?

Facebook vs. Instagram Marketing

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The question that I get asked the most often is, "Should I be concentrating my marketing efforts on Instagram or Facebook?" 

Which I volley back to you as a business, do you know exactly who your target market is? Second what is the median age of your target market?  Once you have the answer to both of these questions, then you can decide which platform is better to focus on.

The truth is one isn't better than the other, it only depends on who exactly you are targeting. 

We all remember the good old days of Facebook when you didn't have to pay more than $5 to get in front of your target market. When you just had to run a relatively generic Facebook ad and it flooded your page with Likes, comments and customers.  Well, we all know that now you have to  pay to play, you have to narrow down who sees you  almost as if you had the ideals customers DNA profile to get in front of the the people that you were trying to reach. 

I get it that's why businesses jumped the Facebook ship and moved to Instagram, because Instagram is how Facebook used to be, except things over there are changing as well and eventually you will need to start paying to play there as well.  Let's face it Facebook owns both platforms. 

There isn't a simple one stop shop answer if you should be on Instagram or Facebook. The method to the madness is this, you have to know exactly who, you are targeting, their age,  their income, what they think is cool, are they more visual or do they prefer to read? Once this is established then it's as if it's written in the stars which platform you should be focusing your marketing energies on.  You do however have my personal permission to just start with one.  Sign up to get the same user name across the platforms but focus on one.

If you were to Google any of the above listed social media platform’s demographics, you will see up-to-date information on who is using each platform, including their age, gender, average annual income, and even their education level. Obviously with that sort of information you could begin to narrow down the options and choose the platform that you think will work best for you.

 

If this all this research and statistic reading sounds confusing to you then let's set up a free 30 minute consultation to discuss if you need Facebook or Instagram marketing efforts. 

PSA: Stop the Bots

This is a public request to ALL PEOPLE USING BOTS TO COMMENT ON INSTRAGRAM: Please stop. Just stop. Right now. Not only is it annoying but it can be incredibly insensitive, hurtful and properly out of line.

Please for the love of all things good, stop paying to use bots to comment on Instagram.  I know I know you don't have time to comment and interact. Seriously I'm here to tell you that you do. Block off an hour on your calendar to personally interact on posts.  Using bots makes you and your brand look bad.  It makes Instagram look bad. It makes HUMANS in general look bad. And it's just lazy, shady, shallow and sad.

A colleague in one of my Facebook groups had this to say after she posted a photo with a link to her blog post about her miscarriage on Instagram:

"This week I published a blog post about my miscarriage. I posted on Instagram linking to the blog. Some of the comments I got were DEFINITELY from bots. This kind of post is not the kind to be commenting ‘More of this please!’ (more miscarriages?) or ‘Brilliant!’ (really?) or 'very nice!' (stopit) or 'please check out my feed!' (Thanks but no thanks). I’ve deleted most of them, but not before I politely messaged each commenter and told them what their bots were doing." Emma Whiley  Flourish and Dwell

Seriously, let's make a conscious effort to keep social media actually social. Stop paying your bots and start scheduling your authentic interacting on Instagram time. 

Instagram Live: What You Need To Know

 

My prediction that one day Instagram will single handedly kill Snapchat and Periscope is slowly coming to fruition.  Welcome to the social media game Instagram Live.  While Instagram Live is not Periscope for so many reasons, one being that people have to be following you to know that you are live, where as on Periscope people searching a location see the live videos that are streaming, it's at least a start. 

When you are live on Instagram a bubble with the word live will pop up on your screen name. Some of your friends who follow you will get a notification that you are Live and will be prompted to tune in before your video is finished.  Similar to the new Instagram algorithm, Instagram will choose which of your followers or users to notify based off their interest in Live videos.  The reason being Instagram is looking out for it's users that it doesn't want to annoy then with an alert every time someone they follow goes live. Like Periscope when watching, your viewers can tap to heart/like your video, comment and type questions. 

I'm sure that you're now wondering, "Why should I be live on Instagram?" Well the real reason is that it is putting you directly in front of your audience. Live viewers choose what they want to watch and if they are choosing to watch you then they know that you have something powerful to say. 

Since this is such a newer update, here are a few ideas to get started and become comfortable on Instagram Live.

* Host a Q & A  like the every popular #fridayintroductions posts let your community ask you questions and get to know you and your business.

* Give a behind the scenes. These are always super popular because your community wants to be the first to know what you are up to or what you think is cool. That is why they are following you after all. 

* Show off something awesome that you are doing. At a historic place, at a place that means alot to you, show your community talk about it.