Kit, the artificially intelligent CRM, now builds Instagram ads for you

kit-crm-instagram-ads

Instagram ads are the newest kid on the promotion block, and, as such, face relatively little competition. That’s good news for advertisers.

And while user reaction to the recent increase in ad frequency on the photo-sharing social network is somewhat caustic, there’s no doubt that the platform is becoming a popular destination among e-retailers.

But when you have an online store to run, how do you find time to build and launch a campaign?

To answer that question, Kit — the artificially intelligent CRM that helps you run your ecommerce store via SMS messages — has launched its new Instagram ad builder today.

Michael Perry, CEO of Kit CRM, gave me a sneak preview of the new Instagram ad builder in San Francisco recently. Appropriately, we met in a small, local bar in North Beach — exactly the kind of business that could benefit from these highly visual, and apparently engaging ad units.

As with other operations in Kit — which we’ve covered before — you simply contact Kit via SMS, telling it to build an Instagram ad for you. Have you taken a great photo of your product, or a scene that relates to your brand image? Great. You’re a text message away from using that as an advertisement on Instagram.

Since a picture paints a thousand words, here’s a four thousand word gallery that illustrates how Kit-built ads appear in the stream.

Example ad created by Kit Example ad created by Kit Example ad created by Kit Example ad created by Kit

Kit also builds video ads in the same way. And if you’ve already uploaded content to your Instagram account, Kit can easily promote that post for you by turning it into a sponsored photo or video. In fact, Perry told me that it can run a campaign for you, from a source image, on both Instagram and Facebook simultaneously in four, short, SMS-powered steps. All e-retail business owners need to do is answer Kit’s text messages.

Kit integrates with stores powered by Shopify, Big Cartel, Etsy, Bigcommerce, and Tictail, and provides email marketing, store management, and ad creation for business owners that use those platforms. The SMS-based “prompt and respond” solution works in most major countries, but for those not supported via SMS, Kit recently added support for Telegram, a secure instant messaging app.

I guess those dreams of being able to run your business from a beach in Puerto Rico with a piña colada in hand are not so far away.

The Instagram ad builder has been in closed beta for some time. So what sort of engagement is Perry seeing with Instagram ads, and how much of that is due to the recency of the platform?

“Instagram Ads are performing phenomenally well,” Perry told me. “In my opinion, Instagram ads are the biggest bang for the buck right now. Impressional costs have been much cheaper than what we’ve seen on Facebook or Twitter. The click-through rate (CTR) isn’t as consistently high as what we’ve seen on Facebook, but the impression pricing has been so much cheaper that the percentage change in CTR is irrelevant, because you are getting much more reach for your dollar.”

That’s as I’d expect right now, and seems to echo the thoughts of other Instagram ad commentators.

“Newness plays a huge role on affordability since it is still a small pool of media buyers compared to those buying on Facebook,” Perry said. “I imagine that will eventually change, but maybe not by much.”

So why did Kit pick Instagram as the next platform to create ads for?

“We work with tens of thousands of businesses across 18 countries, and we get asked daily ‘what about Instagram?’,” Perry said. “Kit’s ability to post on Instagram or run ads on Instagram has been a top wish list item from our users virtually since day one. The second we had the opportunity to build Instagram ads, we re-prioritized our product road map, and immediately started building it out. It was the easiest product decision I’ve made in 2015.”

But with a negative user-reaction to the recent increase in ads on Instagram — no doubt to keep up with the recent demand — is Perry worried about a backlash?

“Instagram is a product I truly love, so I really go back and forth between being sad and, oddly, being excited,” Perry said. “Since its targeting is using Facebook’s data, I can only hope I start seeing better ads, since a lot of things I am being served right now are off target. I think Facebook will get it ‘dialed in’ and it will be less overwhelming over time. Right now, seeing an ad every 5 photos feels like too much and we see people online complaining, but I remember when Facebook started putting sidebar ads on photos, and everyone was irate! It’s fully normalized now in our user experience on FB, and I’d imagine in time ads on Instagram will create a richer experience than a negative one.”

Instagram ads within Kit CRM are a Pro feature, available today as part of a plan that costs $25 per month.

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Kit, the artificially intelligent CRM, now builds Instagram ads for you

kit-crm-instagram-ads

Instagram ads are the newest kid on the promotion block, and, as such, face relatively little competition. That’s good news for advertisers.

And while user reaction to the recent increase in ad frequency on the photo-sharing social network is somewhat caustic, there’s no doubt that the platform is becoming a popular destination among e-retailers.

But when you have an online store to run, how do you find time to build and launch a campaign?

To answer that question, Kit — the artificially intelligent CRM that helps you run your ecommerce store via SMS messages — has launched its new Instagram ad builder today.

Michael Perry, CEO of Kit CRM, gave me a sneak preview of the new Instagram ad builder in San Francisco recently. Appropriately, we met in a small, local bar in North Beach — exactly the kind of business that could benefit from these highly visual, and apparently engaging ad units.

As with other operations in Kit — which we’ve covered before — you simply contact Kit via SMS, telling it to build an Instagram ad for you. Have you taken a great photo of your product, or a scene that relates to your brand image? Great. You’re a text message away from using that as an advertisement on Instagram.

Since a picture paints a thousand words, here’s a four thousand word gallery that illustrates how Kit-built ads appear in the stream.

Example ad created by Kit Example ad created by Kit Example ad created by Kit Example ad created by Kit

Kit also builds video ads in the same way. And if you’ve already uploaded content to your Instagram account, Kit can easily promote that post for you by turning it into a sponsored photo or video. In fact, Perry told me that it can run a campaign for you, from a source image, on both Instagram and Facebook simultaneously in four, short, SMS-powered steps. All e-retail business owners need to do is answer Kit’s text messages.

Kit integrates with stores powered by Shopify, Big Cartel, Etsy, Bigcommerce, and Tictail, and provides email marketing, store management, and ad creation for business owners that use those platforms. The SMS-based “prompt and respond” solution works in most major countries, but for those not supported via SMS, Kit recently added support for Telegram, a secure instant messaging app.

I guess those dreams of being able to run your business from a beach in Puerto Rico with a piña colada in hand are not so far away.

The Instagram ad builder has been in closed beta for some time. So what sort of engagement is Perry seeing with Instagram ads, and how much of that is due to the recency of the platform?

“Instagram Ads are performing phenomenally well,” Perry told me. “In my opinion, Instagram ads are the biggest bang for the buck right now. Impressional costs have been much cheaper than what we’ve seen on Facebook or Twitter. The click-through rate (CTR) isn’t as consistently high as what we’ve seen on Facebook, but the impression pricing has been so much cheaper that the percentage change in CTR is irrelevant, because you are getting much more reach for your dollar.”

That’s as I’d expect right now, and seems to echo the thoughts of other Instagram ad commentators.

“Newness plays a huge role on affordability since it is still a small pool of media buyers compared to those buying on Facebook,” Perry said. “I imagine that will eventually change, but maybe not by much.”

So why did Kit pick Instagram as the next platform to create ads for?

“We work with tens of thousands of businesses across 18 countries, and we get asked daily ‘what about Instagram?’,” Perry said. “Kit’s ability to post on Instagram or run ads on Instagram has been a top wish list item from our users virtually since day one. The second we had the opportunity to build Instagram ads, we re-prioritized our product road map, and immediately started building it out. It was the easiest product decision I’ve made in 2015.”

But with a negative user-reaction to the recent increase in ads on Instagram — no doubt to keep up with the recent demand — is Perry worried about a backlash?

“Instagram is a product I truly love, so I really go back and forth between being sad and, oddly, being excited,” Perry said. “Since its targeting is using Facebook’s data, I can only hope I start seeing better ads, since a lot of things I am being served right now are off target. I think Facebook will get it ‘dialed in’ and it will be less overwhelming over time. Right now, seeing an ad every 5 photos feels like too much and we see people online complaining, but I remember when Facebook started putting sidebar ads on photos, and everyone was irate! It’s fully normalized now in our user experience on FB, and I’d imagine in time ads on Instagram will create a richer experience than a negative one.”

Instagram ads within Kit CRM are a Pro feature, available today as part of a plan that costs $25 per month.

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Instagram launches Boomerang, an app that creates crazy looping 1-second videos

Boomerang

Instagram has launched yet another standalone mobile app called Boomerang, which lets you “turn everyday moments into something fun and unexpected.”

Available for Android (not yet live) and iOS, Boomerang lets you click once to capture a rapid-fire series of 10 photos, which it then stitches into a 1 second-long GIF-like moving video that loops over and over.

The app is about as minimalist as you can get — a single button which you tap, and then you can share the outcome to Facebook (which owns Instagram), Instagram itself, or your camera roll.

Boomerang

Above: Boomerang

While the Instagram app itself already offers video, it’s clear the company doesn’t want to bloat out the main app with too many add-on features. This seems like a quirky enough tool to just about merit its own brand.

Boomerang is the latest in a number of separate apps Instagram has launched. On Android and iOS it has Layout which is all about collages, while on iOS it has Hyperlapse too.










Here’s how one woman is using Instagram to shame online pervs and creeps

Mia-Matsumiya-crop

We’ve all heard of the Rich Kids of Tehran Instagram account that flaunts the lifestyle of a shamelessly rich group of kids in Iran, or playboy Dan Bilzerian, who shares snaps of his life of guns, cars, and half-naked models. There are many more such examples.

Instagram just passed 400 million monthly active users, sees 80 million photos shared per day, and is preferred by teens today to Twitter and Snapchat. It also — unsurprisingly — makes headlines when it’s down, even if just for a few minutes.

But there’s a darker side to maintaining an online account on media-rich social networks, and that’s been true for many years now. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter have all brought with them an entirely new way to interact online, but they’ve also created a new playground for Internet pervs to congregate.

That’s the side of social media that Mia Matsumiya wants to shed light on with her new campaign: an Instagram account called Perv Magnet that has racked up over 45,000 followers to date. It includes screenshots of messages from her old blog in the days before Facebook, through to when MySpace came and went, and on into the present day.

“I didn’t deserve to be treated this way and neither did other women,” Matsumiya told BuzzFeed earlier this week. “I decided I needed to do something about it, so I created the Instagram account.”

With news yesterday that a single online hacker is taking down racist and homophobic websites one by one, it’s good to see more attempts to bring to light that darker side of the Internet that it’s sometimes all too easy to turn a blind eye to.

You can check out some of the disgusting perv messages Matsumiya has compiled below, and many more over on the Perv Magnet account:

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 15.00.03

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 15.00.22

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Instagram is down for some users

The Golden State Warriors' Instagram photo wall installation at Oracle Arena.

Instagram has stopped working for some users today. For many hours, the service was simply not loading, though only on mobile devices. Those browsing Instagram.com did not report any problems.

Users are taking to Twitter and Facebook to discuss the outage. It’s not clear how widespread the problems are.

Down Detector started seeing reports of the outage as early as 3:21 a.m.

We have contacted Facebook for more information and will update you when we learn more.

More to follow

More information:

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Instagram is down for some users

The Golden State Warriors' Instagram photo wall installation at Oracle Arena.

Instagram has stopped working for some users today. For many hours, the service was simply not loading, though only on mobile devices. Those browsing Instagram.com did not report any problems.

Users are taking to Twitter and Facebook to discuss the outage. It’s not clear how widespread the problems are.

Down Detector started seeing reports of the outage as early as 3:21 a.m.

We have contacted Facebook for more information and will update you when we learn more.

More to follow

More information:

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Why Instagram rushed to adopt Apple’s 3D Touch technology

instagram-engagement

grid copyWith the introduction of Apple’s latest iPhone models, one of the most interesting features is its 3D Touch. This enables a so-called “Peek and Pop” feature that lets users press on the screen lightly to launch a quick pop-up window that offers a glimpse of the content.

Naturally, once it was revealed to the world, 3D Touch became of interest to developers. Instagram became one of the first to integrate it into its popular photo-sharing application. Today the team has shared some insights into how they used 3D Touch to enhance the user experience within the app.

Apple’s 3D Touch is a hardware feature currently exclusive to the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. In order for applications to use it, developers have to access three API feeds, each of which powers different interactions. The first enables Quick Actions, which lets you select up to four context menu items from the app’s icon. The next gives you the Peek and Pop feature, while the last concerns the exact pressure (or force) needed to execute the whole process.


From VentureBeat
Got translation? You got problems. We’re here to help. Localization and translation tips from the best minds in marketing.

Because the whole purpose of Instagram is for people to enjoy looking at friends’ and total strangers’ creative photos, simply enabling 3D Touch wasn’t enough. It needed to be done carefully to make sure that users either had the same or an even better experience.

Within the home screen, users can force-press on the screen to pull up some commonly used actions: search, send a direct message, create a new post, and view activity. Instagram said adding these shortcuts to the home screen wasn’t difficult — it just required some extra lines of code within the application, and then some tweaking to account for whether a user is logged in or not.

So once a user has accessed Instagram, the next step was making the Peek and Pop option cool. The use case the company settled on was when you come across photos and videos and want to have more information without having to load the entire image.

Previously, when you’re browsing through your notifications and tap on someone’s username, the app takes you to a different page. Then you have to hit the back button to get back to the previous screen — it’s a very interruptive experience.

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 11.35.31 PM

With Peek and Pop, when you force-press on a username in the News Feed, or on an image or video within the notification tab, Instagram will let you glimpse that profile or media without having to commit to navigating there.

Instagram said it deployed some code in its app that basically is conditioned to display a preview of something if a 3D Touch is registered. Usernames anywhere in the app and thumbnail images are the main options that will display a peek if force-pressed.

One issue Instagram came across was how to display a profile peek if not all the data is available. As it stands, the app only loads data that is currently needed and caches it for later reference to prevent wasting users’ bandwidth. To overcome this, Instagram tweaked its code to accommodate specific events that make calls to fetch network resources and update the latest photos or follower counts in the peek.

In the end, Instagram views 3D Touch as more than a fancy way to “right click” on a mobile device. In the company’s hands, the feature offers new depth and interaction that really give users a new perspective on how to view photos. With over 400 million monthly active users on the social network, quite a few photos and videos are being uploaded every day. The quicker and simpler it is to take action, the better the experience users will have.

For more information about Instagram’s use of 3D Touch, click here.

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CrunchWeek: iPhone 6S Madness, Telling Time, And Instagram’s Growthsplosion

crunchweek-4-3 Hello internet aliens, and welcome to another episode of CrunchWeek, TechCrunch’s weekly roundup show where we talk the biggest things in tech. As you can tell from the show, we spent the entire week in a warehouse talking about disruption, but have no fear, we’ve had our eyes and ears open about what happened this week. The iPhone 6S and 6S plus made their debuts, Watch OS2… Read More

Instagram passes 400 million users, now sees 80 million photos shared per day

instagram logo

Today Instagram announced that it now has more than 400 million users who share 80 million photos per day.

In less than a year, the Facebook-owned photo sharing app has added 100 million new people to its platform. The app owes most of its growth to international expansion. Of the latest to join, the majority are in Europe and Asia. However, Instagram saw the most growth in Brazil, Japan, and Indonesia, according to a blog post.

Instagram has attracted a few new celebrities as well, including soccer stars David Beckham and Toni Kroos, former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner, Indonesian entertainment duo Raffi and Nagita, and South Korean rapper Choi Seung-Hyun, aka T.O.P.

Since launching five years ago, Instagram has quickly amassed a following, surpassing older social platforms like Twitter.










Facebook is down with a generic ‘Service Unavailable’ error (Update: It’s back)

Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's F8 2015 developer conference

At about 11:04 a.m. PST today (2:04 p.m. EST), Facebook went down. VB staff from across the world confirmed they couldn’t reach the social network — the site either merely loaded a blank page or a generic “Service Unavailable” error message.

We also couldn’t reach Instagram and Facebook Messenger for a few minutes, but those services were quickly restored.

A quick check at DownForEveryoneOrJustMe confirmed the issue was widespread: “It’s not just you! http://facebook.com looks down from here.”

And as always, users took to Twitter to discuss the outage (the time of the tweet lines up with when we first noticed a problem):

We have contacted Facebook for more information and will update you if we learn the cause of the outage.

Update at 11:09 a.m.: For most users, the outage lasted only about five minutes.

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