Instagram was once a platform for taking and sharing great photos. Even the less photographically-inclined among us could point, shoot and apply a filter before hitting the upload button. But as Instagram has evolved, so has the quality, creativity and diversity of the images posted.
There are thousands of tools and apps to help you create eye-catching photos. Being an app-junkie I have downloaded quite a few of them. Some have stood the test of time and are used almost daily. Others languish on my phone waiting for their chance to shine.
Here are some of my favourites.
Tools for Photo Editing / Enhancement
Sometimes your photos needs a bit of work to make them Instagram-worthy. Here are some of my favourite photo editing and enhancing tools.
Afterlight offers simple tools to enhance your photos and give them that bit of extra oomph. It has photo editing tools, adjustable filters and textures to add to your image and a range of different-shaped frames.
You can use the “done for you” filters to optimise your images, or use your own skills and perspective to get it just right. It’s quite easy to get the hang of Afterlife once you’ve played with it for a while.
Camera Awesome is a new photo editing app that’s only been on my phone for a few days, but I’m already liking it. With similar functionality to Afterlight, Camera Awesome adds a bit of personality with tools to “Awesomize” your photos plus quirky explanations of what it’s doing like “caramelizing unicorn tears” and “instilling puppy breath” while you wait for your photos to be enhanced.
Sometimes you want to post a collage of images to tell your story, and PicFrame lets you select from over 70 frame configurations to fit your needs – and each frame can be resized for extra customisation.
Frametastic does the same job as PicFrame. You can add a series of images to a frame, and can apply filters to each image.
Frametastic is available on IOS (free).
As well as using 3rd Party Apps, I also use Instagram (mobile app) itself to edit and enhance my photos. As well as their filters, you can also click on the Editing Tools icon (the spanner/wrench) and manipulate various settings individually to create a truly unique image.
Text Overlay / Quotes / Text Images
If you’re creating images (especially educational images or inspirational quotes) you might want to either overlay text on a photo, or create a text image from scratch.
Without a doubt, Canva is in my top 5 ‘can’t live without’ tools to run my business – including my Instagram activity. An easy-to-use, web-based graphic design tool, Canva makes it easy to create eye catching graphics and images. There is a free version, but I absolutely recommend the Canva for Business ($12.95 per month) with its truly magic “magic resize button”. This button lets you create an image, and then magically resizes it to be used across your social media platforms and other uses – with minimal work by you. That feature alone saves me hours each week, but Canva for work also lets you create brand templates to make your content creation quick and easy.
Canva is great for creating inspirational quotes and instructional images on your desktop.
Wordswag is another tool that gets a decent workout each week. A mobile app, Wordswag lets you overlay text across photos and backgrounds to create text-based images. It provides a range of font designs and combinations. You can upload your own photos, use the background images within Wordswag, or search for photos that are sourced from Pixabay via Wordswag’s search function. It’s very easy to use, and always in my pocket, so I often find myself creating quotes and images while I’m waiting for appointments or if I have a few moments between commitments.
Wordswag is $4.99 in iTunes ( IOS only).
Over is another app that lets you overlay text and graphics on photos or backgrounds. Slightly more detailed than Wordswag, Over gives you access to a range of fonts as well as graphics and art to enhance your images.
Over is also available only on IOS for $3.99.
Video / Moving Text Images
Don’t forget video on Instagram. You can use up to 15 second videos to tell your brand story – and this can include slideshow style photo collections, or animated text to tell a story. Here are some of my favourite video tools to create Instagram content.
I use the iMovie app on my phone to edit and splice video that I have shot on my mobile. Whether it’s setting the scene of an event or showing a product or service in action, 15 seconds gives you time to tell a great story. iMovie’s mobile app is easy to use on the run.
Hyperlapse (or your iPhone 6’s Timelapse Option)
Show your product / service in action with a sped-up hyperlapse video. Instagram has its own Hyperlapse app. Just position your phone, hit record and create a video with high-speed playback. This is particular good to demonstrate the work or value that goes into creating a product or service.
Legend is a new tool in my toolbox, and lets you create animated text images. You can overlay animated text over backgrounds or video. Movement can catch your followers’ eyes in the Instagram feed, so is definitely worth considering.
Instagram tip: filters can be applied to videos too. ???? Fine tune your 15 second videos to reflect your brand or the story you’re telling.???? A video posted by Kym OGorman Marketing Expert (@kogmarketing) on
Download Legend on iTunes for $1.99.
A collection of still photos can be used as a slideshow to create your 15 second video. Nikki from Styling You does this each month when she summarises the month’s Everyday Style posts into one video. Flipagram is a great, easy-to-use tool to create these slideshows.
PicPlayPost is a multi-use app, which lets you divide your image up into sections, with video playing in some sections, slideshows in others while still photos anchor it all together. The opportunities and options are endless.
Time Management / Engagement
All of the tools mentioned so far help you create your Instagram content, but there are a few more tools that are integral to my Instagram marketing activities that I also wanted to share – the tools that I use to organise and manage my Instagram posting and engagement.
Evernote is my external brain, syncing all of my information, inspiration and ideas across devices so they’re always on hand. Within Evernote, I have an Instagram Post Ideas note, plus a collection of screenshots of inspiration and ideas. Whenever I come up with a new idea that I’m not quite ready to execute, I pop it into these notes for easy retrieval later.
I also have a note dedicated to quotes that are relevant to my audience, and this makes it easy to batch create content by drawing on the quotes already saved. With my phone in hand and a few spare minutes (waiting for a meeting or appointment, or at the school gate waiting to pick up my kids) I can grab an idea from Evernote and use Wordswag to create an image, ready to post when I need new content.
Instagram’s terms of service do not allow you to post images from 3rd party apps, so pre-posting and scheduling is not easy as it is with other social media platforms. However there are ways to create and organise your content so that posting the actual image takes just a few seconds. I use Hootsuite.
Within Hootsuite you can upload your images, add your caption and schedule the post for a specific time. At the designated time you receive a notification on your mobile device, and as long as you are logged into the relevant Instagram account, it’s just a matter of pressing a couple of buttons to upload your image, paste in your caption and hit Share.
It allows you to batch the image upload and caption creation on your desktop where typing is quicker and easier. It also means that I don’t forget or miss an opportunity to post when my audience is most engaged, as I receive a notification at the optimal times. You can also like and comment on other Instagram posts within Hootsuite – so it’s quick and easy to engage with those users that are relevant to your business.
Iconosquare is a free tool that is really valuable to managing and optimising your Instagram activities. As with Hootsuite, you can engage with other Instagram users from within Iconosquare by liking and commenting on their posts. In Iconosquare you can also create lists, so that you can spend your time engaging with the most relevant people to your business, and clear out some of the noise from your Instagram feed.
Iconosquare also offers a range of analytics that can help you tweak your Instagram strategy – including the users who are most engaged with your posts, the times your users are most active on Instagram, and how many users you have gained and lost over a specific period.
Iconosquare is a free tool (with premium options) – you simply have to sign in using your Instagram account.
So that’s a selection of my favourite tools and apps that help me create, curate and manage my Instagram activity.
Over to you! Do you have any favourites you’d like to share here? Help feed my app addiction and share your favourites as I’d love to check them out.