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2017: The Year Growing on Instagram Was Everything

RebelMouse can help you grow Instagram followers + drive growth on all social platforms. Let's create contagious media together!

What started as a simple, social photo-sharing app has turned into a daily staple in the lives of 400 million people. Instagram continues to shatter new benchmarks and establish its dominance in the age of social with no signs of slowing down.

Instagram's success hasn't gone unnoticed. Influencers, advertisers, and brands are going all in, capitalizing on all the eyeballs using the platform as yet another means of monetization. Publishers are piling into Instagram video, too. 2017 is certainly the year businesses take notice of Instagram.


After its launch in 2010 as an easy one-stop shop to edit and share your personal pictures with your social network, it wasn't long before the world was decorated with a myriad of vintage + beautiful #filters. The platform was named "iPhone App of the Year" by the end of 2011.

Facebook acquired the platform in 2012 and only furthered its popularity. Instagram has since added more features to its arsenal: videos, additional filters, ad options, and the recent addition of "stories." It's officially a force to be reckoned with, taking down other seemingly promising apps in its path.

So let's look at the whys and the hows around using it to grow your Instagram followers.

Instagram Is Big — Really Big

It's a Proven Moneymaker

  • By March 2017, the platform reached 1 million monthly advertisers.
  • It is expected to generate about $1.5 billion in mobile ad sales this year, and $5 billion in 2018.
  • Instagram influencers are charging up to $100,000 for a sponsored post.
  • There are various types of ads for monetization purposes: photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, stories ads with robust targeting options.

You Can Monetize with a Small, Dedicated Team

The beauty of Instagram lies in its simplicity. You don't need a huge team to execute a successful strategy on this social platform. When it sold for a billion dollars, Instagram itself had only 13 dedicated employees.

It's a platform where any publisher — big or small — can make huge waves in terms of brand awareness, and that means money, too. Take a look at ATTN:. The media company has nearly 100K Instagram followers. Their small team of five, dedicated solely to Instagram, has brought in an entirely new revenue stream from the platform — seeing growth in followers, interaction rate, and sponsorship. When done right, Instagram's a no-brainer to add to your marketing strategy. It's an easy way to gain influencers and eyeballs with a small(ish) team.

Companies Are Investing More in Instagram

While Snapchat is busy clinging on to relevance, we're seeing brands slowly begin to invest more in Instagram. Instagram has doubled its user growth in the past two years, just recently adding 100 million users in only four months. Much can be credited to the addition of the Snapchat-inspired feature called Instagram Stories, which has fueled growth + retention. At this point, nearly 100 million more people use Instagram Stories than Snapchat.

Instagram has officially hit 700 million monthly users.Source: TechCrunch

Aperol Spritz is a prime example of the ease with which you can garner Instagram success. The brand has increased how much it's been posting on its own Instagram, using both ads and organic content emphasizing their product with pretty photos and GIFs. As a result, its organic social engagement has increased 300% since January, driven by people tagging friends in comments. They've capitalized on a campaign called the "Aperol Brunch Society," which asks people to upload Instagram videos explaining why they should be the "chief brunch officer." As if we needed another reason to love brunch?

A beautiful example of the power of striking images.Source: Digiday

Engagement on Facebook tripled, sales increased by 45%, and everyone was happy. The question is: How do you leverage Instagram to do the same for your brand?

How to "Do" Instagram

It's important to not lose sight of the initial purpose of the platform: Share striking images. Once you've got that part down, ensure that your photos are relevant + branded. If you check out our Instagram at RebelMouse, you'll see tons of bright, beautiful images with insightful quotes that reflect our culture. We follow a simple strategy that can get you going in the right direction.

  1. Find beautiful images by searching hashtags on Instagram. When you find an image you like, take note of the original artist so you can credit the source back to them when you post. (Hint: Most Instagram users <3 photo cred.)
  2. Download apps. We're constantly experimenting with new photo editing and video apps like Snapseed + WeVideo. It's an easy, low-cost way to make your images look beautiful and professionally done, and, ultimately, shareable. There are always new apps to try every week, so don't just settle on one.
  3. Use the images you've found, and overlay them with a quotation and/or logo that reflects your brand.
  4. When you're ready to post, make sure to tag all relevant accounts. This means influencers, like-minded pages, and any potential sharing partners you can find. We have proprietary technology that fuels influencer search capabilities within RebelMouse.

Using RebelMouse, you can search for relevant Instagram accounts as you create content.

It's really as easy as that. You'll be amazed at the number of accounts that start finding your content + engaging with your brand. Instagram is fast, and it's easy. You don't need Adobe products or an entire team of designers to create beautiful, shareable content. And that's the beauty of it.

But remember: To really capitalize on the capabilities of the platform, you have to actually socialize. Interact, like, comment, and — the big one — follow. Here are some tips to help you find relevant influencers and gain new Instagram followers:

  • Search relevant hashtags. We are a social CMS, so we search for hashtags that relate to us. #social #smm #media #newmedia #uxdesign
  • Find influencers. If you're familiar with prominent figures in your industry, find them and follow them. Search for accounts they follow, and continue to find as many people to reach out to as possible.
  • Don't be afraid to follow many people. We aim for 200 a day here at RebelMouse. But follow strategically.
  • Direct message. Don't be shy — send a message. After all, who doesn't like to hear a friendly "hello"? Just be human. You'll start to see engagement and mentions of you increase.

RebelMouse Can Help Grow Instagram Followers

If you can't seem to move the needle on Instagram, we are more than just a CMS. We are also a creative agency with expertise in creating contagious media. With lean, multifunctional teams, we can help drive growth on Instagram and other social platforms.

NEW: Page Views per Particle Enabled for Google AMP

Increase mobile page views for every particle using Google AMP

RebelMouse has deployed an exciting update: We've enabled particle tracking in Google Analytics for articles using Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format, which means every particle now triggers a page view event upon scroll. Before, just one page view event would be logged when the mobile page initially loaded.

Not Familiar With What This Means? Read On

The days of static, flat media are over. Sites with low performance scores, obtrusive ad experiences, and poor content structure simply won't make it. Knowing these truths, the way we think of an article can no longer be static either.

An article today now takes several forms: short-form, long-form, listicle, slideshow, etc. Because of this, we've created a simple framework called Particle Assembler that accounts for all possibilities when building out content.

We playfully call each piece of your content a "particle," which is quite literally a "part" of an "article." These particles have become the core way to author content on RebelMouse, and are standalone elements that use their own imagery, title, and copy. For example, let's say you create a post that's titled, "The Best Place for Tacos in Austin." Each taco destination in this article will have a lead image, the name of the restaurant, its location, and a description of the restaurant with images of their food. Each of these restaurant highlights contain enough information to stand by themselves as individual posts.

Building particles in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

And they do stand alone successfully when you're on RebelMouse — each particle can be shared separately on social and each will register as a unique page view thanks to our latest update. This is a critical part of our modern pageview methodology that ensures our publishers deliver an elegant user experience to readers while still capitalizing on a meaningful monetization strategy. For instance, not only is every particle now a page view on Google AMP, but it's also a new revenue opportunity. This is thanks to the various placement opportunities for ads we offer within our Particle Assembler.

ICYMI, Google AMP is the search engine's lightning-fast mobile experience. With this update, sites powered by RebelMouse will not only deliver the best AMP experience to their users, but they'll also earn the page views their content deserves, too.

See the Massive Difference

In just a short period after implementing this change, one client experienced a massive spike in AMP pages per user, where it jumped from 1.6 to 8.2:

Here's what their AMP pages per user looked like just prior to the update:

If you're interested in experiencing this type of growth and getting more page views for your mobile content, request a proposal today and let's start working together. If you're already on RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com or talk to your account manager to learn more about particle views for Google AMP.

Primary Tags: Structure Your Site for Success

Dynamic taxonomy improves usability and propels SEO strategy

It's not a surprise that quality content can easily be spoiled by a poor site experience. This is why we're extremely proud of the lightning-fast sites we power. But speed is only the beginning of the user experience.

The temperature on platform dependency has cooled in recent years, revitalizing the value of site visits and search strategy. This is good news for both users and publishers who need site stability to survive. Because of this shift, RebelMouse focuses on three primary key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure site usability and health:

  • Sessions per User: The average number of site sessions that each user has in a given time period.
  • Pages per User: The average number of page views that each user has in a given time period.
  • Time per User: The average amount of time spent on site by each user.

In order for these metrics to shine, a site's architecture must be organized in a way that increases every user's time on site. The logic is simple: If a site is easier to navigate, the user will likely stick around longer. This is the gateway to user loyalty.

One important way we support these KPIs is through our intuitive tagging structure for content. Let's take a look at our primary tag functionality and how it can set up any site for success.

What Is a Primary Tag?

On RebelMouse, we give you the ability to use as many tags as needed on every article to help keep you organized. But there's also an option to assign one primary tag to a post. A primary tag is built on the same principle as a primary section. One tag lets you assign higher importance to certain pieces of content when processing and organizing your posts.

The Primary Tag and Tags sections in RebelMouse's Entry Editor.

The Benefits of Primary Tags

Dynamic Taxonomy: One of the primary benefits of using a primary tag is that it exposes the depth of content available to your users. Many publishers do this through the use of sections, which often turns out to be redundant and, in turn, ignored:

Sections can often be annoying to navigate and repetitive.

Using a variety of relevant tags for every article, rather than just repeating the same handful of sections, opens up more opportunities for targeted descriptors. For example, instead of using "Recipes" as a section over and over again, a primary tag can be used to create specific content flows for topics like "Vegetarian," "Soups," or "Cocktails."

Richer SEO: Since a primary tag exposes more information about your article, it also supplies more relevant data to Google's algorithm. Surfacing content in usable ways supports Google's mission to serve content based on audience behavior and intent instead of outdated and frowned-upon SEO methods like keyword stuffing. This approach is called white hat SEO, or ethical SEO.

By targeting specific interests, your dynamic tag structure will allow Google to more accurately understand your article's content and rank it accordingly. On RebelMouse, this creates a trickle-down effect, because users can click a tag and quickly get directed to more relevant articles, which boosts your SEO efforts further.

Here's how the site experience looks on RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch when viewing their primary tag "Plastics."

RebelMouse-powered EcoWatch takes advantage of a primary tag construct.

Improves Crucial KPIs: As mentioned before, RebelMouse traffic experts are constantly focused on improving the three KPIs that matter most to site usability and building audience loyalty. These metrics answer the following questions:

  • Frequency: How often are users coming to the site?
  • Depth: How many articles does each user consume?
  • Duration: How long is each user staying on the site?

Looking again at EcoWatch's use of primary tags, it's important to note that a primary tag is exposed on every one of their articles. They're also used in a left-hand navigation module that features the latest stories and trending topics:

Start Leveraging Primary Tags on RebelMouse

If you aren't on RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and let's start working together to make sure your site is optimized for user growth. If you're already publishing on RebelMouse, and want to learn more about tagging best practices, contact your account manager or email support@rebelmouse.com.

Page Speed Is Crucial to Your Marketing Efforts

Most marketers don't prioritize page speed because they don't think it impacts their bottom line. However, page load has a direct impact on conversions and revenue.

Here's a very simple scenario, supported by industry data, to underscore why the way pages are built and powered is crucial for paid media initiatives and your overall business:

Let's say a paid media campaign drives 100,000 new visitors to a landing page that takes five seconds to load. Google says that 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. So of the 100K mobile site visitors you paid to bring to the page, ~50K are leaving immediately due to poor page performance alone.

Some studies even show that bounce rate increases approximately 100% for every two-second delay. So, if site load jumps to seven seconds, you'll pretty much lose all of the visitors your paid strategies brought in.

A Poor Site Experience Costs More Than You Realize

Page load plays a huge part in customer dissatisfaction, too. Continuing on with our previous example, let's classify the ~50K that didn't abandon the page as dissatisfied due to poor page performance. As HubSpot points out, 79% of them are less likely to buy again from the same website. That's ~40K visitors never coming back to the site due to poor page speed. The loss is even greater when you consider how valuable returning visitors are: They represent up to 48% of all transactions and spend almost 2x more than new visitors, according to Business Insider.

Plus, people love to spread the word about a bad experience, probably more than a good one. 40% of visitors who had a bad experience with a website's performance would tell a friend or a family member. So of your 50K dissatisfied visitors, 20K are talking negatively about your brand. If they tell only one person each, that's an opportunity cost of another 20K potential site visitors and customers.

The main takeaway? Your paid media has to work much, much harder when you neglect to optimize your site for performance.

Owned and Paid Media Should Work Together for Better Efficiency

And speaking of site improvements to help the bottom line, marketers can't overlook the value of owned content (e.g., articles, reviews, social feeds, etc.) and its impact on overall traffic and lead generation strategies. Sites tend to see significant lift in audience reach and conversion when content is paired with commerce: For e-commerce companies, content can account for up to 69% of total organic traffic. And, even more compelling, conversion rates have been 6x higher for companies that adopt content marketing.

RebelMouse's CMS makes it easy for brands to systematically optimize page speed performance and organic reach, which allows paid media to be more efficient.

RebelMouse allows clients to easily manage website layouts and components at any time, ensuring sites remain fast and are rewarded by Google and Facebook. Our platform features proprietary SEO tools designed to help clients optimize organic search with every post and better align paid and organic search strategies for increased efficiency. Similarly, our platform also includes proprietary social tools to organically build community and growth, and our data helps clients spot winning organic trends that can inform paid social media.

RebelMouse Is a Partner That Can Guide You

When it comes to content marketing, it's important to be mindful of the relationship between owned, earned, and paid media — it will only help your teams engage and convert more audiences into customers and brand loyalists. At RebelMouse, we're proud of how we work with brands and our ability to provide the expertise, best practices, and modern technology that help teams become better content marketers. If you're a brand marketer, feel free to reach out to us to learn how RebelMouse can help you be more strategic and effective in your content marketing efforts.

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Target High-Value Users With Affinity Categories

Unlock valuable audience data and shape a new strategy

In today's landscape, quality content isn't enough — it's half the battle. Publishers need to produce shareable content backed by data to experience sustainable growth. At RebelMouse, we have a unique pageview methodology that provides an innovative user experience for every reader without sacrificing revenue and growth opportunities for publishers.

To do this, we track massive amounts of data across our platform through the use of custom-built Google Data Studio dashboards.

Click here to see the kind of growth our clients experience every day.

One of the best ways to discover more about your audience is by taking advantage of Affinity Categories. This feature breaks down audience demographics, including age, location, interests, and more. Affinity Categories are usually used to target audiences for ads, but we also use them to gain insights on what topics a site's visitors are interested in overall.

Normally, each category is listed out separately in Google Analytics. In the example shown above, our data experts split categories into separate levels to reveal different levels of audience depth. For instance, by splitting up the category News & Politics, we can better explore the detailed distribution of users interested in specific types of news:

  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Avid Political News Readers
  • News & Politics/Avid News Readers/Entertainment News Enthusiasts

From an editorial standpoint, this is useful because it allows publishers to determine and target varying levels of high-value users, improving the efficacy of a new content strategy or ad campaign.

If your site is already powered by RebelMouse, email support@rebelmouse.com to get a breakdown of your audience's Affinity Categories. If you aren't powered by RebelMouse yet, request a proposal today and start receiving the data you need to grow loyal followers at scale.

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