Instagram Crawling: Or How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Embrace a Social Network I Don’t Use

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Instagram Crawling: Or How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Embrace a Social Network I Don’t Use

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Hi, my name is Greg. I’m forty-two years old and I don’t use Instagram. I’m a private person and the concept of sharing photos of my rapidly balding head and exponentially expanding gut is an anathema to me. Maybe I was too late to the party. Maybe I’m on too many social networks already. Maybe I value words too much to stare at pictures all day. Maybe I hated Instagram too much from a personal perspective to realize it’s potential to marketers. Now that I’m firmly entrenched in a social intelligence company, I can finally say I’ve come around. I’m a reformed Insta-hater. I still don’t use it, but I’ve embraced the Gram.

When I first started writing about social media in 2007, Facebook and Twitter were emerging channels, and YouTube was a website you went to to watch videos of musicians and cats. It’s been ten years since social media emerged to become a pervasive driving force in nearly every tech-enabled global citizen’s life. In that time, evolution has dug its’ talons into each network, changing some for the better, and some for the worse (in my humble opinion).

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Of course, new social networks have sprouted over the years – and the one thing that seems to inspire wide market penetration is imagery. Rather simply, no one wants to read anything anymore – and they certainly don’t want to write anything. As a result, we’re traveling down a path that meandered through Tumblr to Pinterest to Instagram to Snapchat and beyond – and as we took each step, we were required to read and write less. As an ex-English teacher, this is disconcerting. As a marketer for a social intelligence company, this should make me terrified. Fewer words means fewer opportunities to crawl text – which should present problems when it comes to parsing a network for mentions. However, I haven’t lost sleep, particularly because I’ve seen what Synthesio’s product team has been able to do with Instagram data – which gives me confidence that as communication de-evolves into emojis and gifs, we’ll still have a way to surface actionable, relevant data for our clients.

So by way of a long introduction – and in an effort to keep a rather dry topic interesting – I’ve put together a quick primer on our Instagram Crawling capabilities.

How Does Synthesio’s Instagram Crawling Work?

The methodology we employ to crawl Instagram ensures that we’re pulling the most relevant Grams into our dashboards and categorizing them into datasets that provide context as to what might be featured in the posted image. We do this by crawling for available textual fields in posts (e.g. title, hashtag, author) and available textual fields on user profiles (e.g. username, handle, bio). This allows us to pull in a wealth of information about each posted image. In fact, for marketing purposes, it lets us pull in the exact content we need.

Why Is Instagram Crawling Important?

Marketers initially embraced Facebook and Twitter because the two networks promised something that brands had never had before – an actual open forum, where people discussed their likes, dislikes, passions, and dreams. This should have created a nirvana of brand/customer relationships – but it hasn’t gotten there, particularly because brands took to these new channels and did exactly what they were used to doing – blasting static messaging at a relentless pace. Somewhere in the process the relationship was lost – and that’s why I believe Instagram is perhaps the ripest fruit on the social intelligence data tree.

Instagram – and the way we perform Instagram crawling will bring that relationship back to social media marketing. You see, crawling for authors and hashtags allows us to surface the two most important things to marketers – the people proactively posting about a brand and the vocabulary they use when talking. This is particularly important in the ever popular discipline of Millennial influencer marketing – as our crawling makes it simple to track authors and the campaign hashtags they are using when publicly broadcasting to the world. All of this data is enriched with sentiment values and demographic details, which give a clearer picture of a consumer than ever before.

A clearer picture from a picture.

Want to see the results of our Instagram Crawling capabilities in person? Feel free to request a demo and we’d love to show you in-person!

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