300 million users per month. 70 million photos per day. Instagram is now one of the top 5 biggest social media channels in the world, overtaking Twitter in December 2014. Not only that. Instagram has dramatically changed how we communicate online, sparking a vast shift from text to visual social media. As Om Malik says, “Photos are the atomic unit of social platforms”.
That means that photos need to be the ‘atomic unit’ of social media listening and research, too.
Today we’re very glad to announce that they are. Visual social media is now built into Pulsar with our launch of Instagram as a new data source.
On their quest to make Pulsar a visual media platform, the product and engineering team have been hard at work to integrate Instagram. This new release will give you the tools to manipulate and mine visual data like no other social media monitoring platform on the market.
In this blog post we’ll explain what we did and you can get the most out of it.
Why should I listen to Instagram?
Do we even need to prompt you? Adding Instagram tracking has been our number one customer request and we’re sure you’re all full of good ideas!
But here’s a starter for 5:
- How are people talking about your brand? Find what’s most loveable – and maybe what’s laughable – in what they choose to share
- Check out your competitors’ content and competitions – are they getting any traction?
- What are people sharing and communicating about their passions for your category? From #bbloggers (beauty bloggers) to #MX5 car fiends, they’re all on Instagram
- What’s the right visual language to be using with your audience? Filters, colours, text overlays, photo collages – see how they do it
- Did we say 300m users?
What can I do with Instagram on Pulsar?
With our first implemenation of Instagram you can now track all mentions of a hashtag or a keyword.
These are tracked as in a normal Topics search. You can put them in a search alongside keywords for Twitter, forums, news and so on – or set them up as a new search on their own.
Like our Twitter and Facebook data, Instagram data on Pulsar is pretty smart. You capture the image (of course), the caption, plus all the Likes and Comments activity that follows. You get people’s profile information and followers. You can also choose to retrieve only geo-located contents if you prefer. This means you’ll be able to analyse Instagram using all our regular Filters and Location visualisations to drill down on exactly the insights you’re after. Instagram influencers? You got ’em!
How do I set it up?
Like Facebook Pages, Instagram is what we call a “Managed Source” where the API requires extra permissions to share search data. Pulsar uses your Instagram log-in as authentication to generate an “access token” which then authenticates your searches to fetch data from Instagram. Sounds a bit complex but it just takes a couple of extra clicks:
- Set up a new Topics search (or edit an existing one)
- Click on the red ‘Add a token’ button
- You’ll be taken to Instagram authentication – click on ‘Accept’
- Back to Pulsar, and add the keyword you want to track
- Click ‘Next’, then finish setting up your search
You can use either your personal Instagram account or a company one to authenticate – both will work fine.
What else do I need to know?
Single keywords only, not combinations
Unlike other Pulsar data sources, the Instagram API does not allow users to query for a combination of keywords, e.g. posts that include “MyBrand AND Awesome”. You’ll need to search for all mentions of “MyBrand” instead.
200 words you can’t search for
Because you can’t refine your search queries with ‘AND’, this single keyword approach has the potential to bring back a lot of data and devour your allowance in a flash. (For example, there are currently 774,961,675 posts using the hashtag #love on Instagram.) So we’ve put some controls in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen. We’ve compiled a list of the top 200 most popular tagswhich will require authorisation from the data team before you can query them. This will protect you from any surprises.
If you do want to understand a very popular topic (perhaps you’re doing a Valentine’s day campaign and ‘#love’ is of interest), talk to your account lead and we’ll help you identify more targeted, relevant hashtags for you to track. Remember, at Pulsar you’ve got a market-leading research team to draw on for advice and inspiration.
One Instagram keyword per search
For every new Instagram search, you can only specify one hashtag to track, not multiple tags. This is for the data management reasons discussed above.
If you want to track multiple hashtags you certainly can – just set them each up with a new search, and use Pulsar’s ‘Compare’ functionality to analyse them all on the same graphs.
10 active Instagram searches at any one time
Given Instagram’s complex token management system, at the moment we allow users to set up a maximum of 10 tokens, meaning users can have 10 active Instagram searches at any given time.
That’s how and why to track Instagram photos using Pulsar.
In my next post I’ll be talking about how you can analyse it using our brand new Content tab that brings together “all the best bits” in your search and allows an awesome visual-first approach to understanding your data.