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We love social media testing and we’re always looking for the latest trends to put to the test. Creating a big fat 3×3 square on Instagrid is one of these trends. There is no denying that it looks pretty snazzy, not just because it is attention grabbing but also because the user took time and effort to create something out of the ordinary. There seem to be dozens of articles on how to create the 9 image ‘big picture’ but I couldn’t find many on how it works on a practical sense or what results you can expect to achieve. We decided to put the ‘big picture’ to the test on our own Instagram account and report back on our findings.

Creating the 3x3 big picture image.

There are dozens and dozens of apps out there that can split your one square image into a grid of 9 smaller images. They all seem to operate in the same way;

1 – Upload the square image as one to the app

2 – The app splits it into 9 smaller square images

3 – You then individually save each image to your device
4 – You upload each image to instagram.

I’m sure some apps offer to post those directly to Instagram but the app we used, Grid Maker from the google play store, required us to save and post manually. The app we used is and it was extremely simple to use and efficient.
Here is our finished product:

Level Theory's 'big picture' on Instagram

Uploading the big picture

You have to engage your brain to ensure you upload each image in the right order. It seems like a completely obvious thing but if you are tired or distracted you would end up with something that resembled one of those square pushing puzzles from the 90s.

Once you begin the upload process you remember that you need text to accompany each of the 9 individual images. This is a bit of a pain and it was the first moment one realised that uploading this massive image might annoy your followers and cause a bit of a mass exodus. We thus began our posting with a pre-warning slash apology (completely unnecessary but as this was a ‘test’ we didn’t have a specific message to convey anyway). 

It would also be a good opportunity to do some hashtag testing, try using something different on each square and see which theme performs best. We tested posting some images with no hashtags, some with popular Instagram tags (e.g. #followtrain, #Instagrid #photooftheday), some with nearby locations (to try and find our best suited audience for local business growth) and finally some that were relevant to the theme of our ‘big picture’ (#icecream #food etc).

Results

As soon as we completed the upload we were surprised by the number of immediate likes and follows we received. Normally when we post we tend to get a flurry of activity on our account for the first 10 minutes, then a drip feed for an hour or so and then a few likes here and there in the coming days and weeks. This time we got significantly more overall likes and follows BUT that is simply because we uploaded 9 individual images rather than 1 (or multiple images as one post). This is tells us one very obvious thing that we all already know: “The more you post, the more successful your account will be!”

 

The first comment on any of the 9 images was from a bot (as ever when it comes to Instagram) saying something along the lines of “great job guys”. Bot accounts like this really get under my skin, call it my ‘pet hate’ if you like! I KNOW they serve a purpose for the business or user who sets them up but they are so incredibly irritating! Instagram is plagued by fake accounts and bots and I think it’s my biggest issue with using the platform both personally and professionally. I really feel Instagram should take further steps to ensure less fake accounts and bots are set up.

 

Post bot comment we did receive quite a few comments from our existing followers saying that they had wondered what the individual images were all about but having seen the ‘big picture’ on our profile they thought it was really cool. Firstly, being on the whole a b2b company we don’t normally get many comments and so these comments were a good result. Secondly, we did see the number of profile views on our account double around the time of our test (though we didn’t get any additional business enquiries and no really noticable jump in website visits). It is unusual to see an individual image post in your feed that looks so like a ‘mistake’ on it’s own and so I guess intrigue would make you click on it to figure out what is going on or what the ‘big picture’ is like in full.

Our follower numbers did go up more than normal but again I think this is simply due to the fact we uploaded 9 images instead of 1. It is also worth pointing out that (wait for it… here comers another bot related comment…) within the week, we’d lost almost as many of these new followers as we’d gained. Having looked at the users who jumped on the #followtrain during this experiment it was clear to see these were mainly fake accounts or spam accounts. Their unfollows could be part of their bot-adge or they could simply be wiped out by Instagram as, to their credit, they do regularly cull as many fake accounts as they can.

 

Overall, we LOVED the look and impact of our big picture on our profile page and we would say that a ‘big picture’ yields better results than a single post though we feel that this is simply a numbers game. Altogether now “The more you post, the more you grow, but watch out for those bots, yo!”

Maintenance

OK now we come to the major negative impact of posting a ‘big picture’: maintaining it! When you visit a user’s profile it automatically displays in grid mode, meaning you see rows of 3 columns. Each time you post a new image, it pushes all of the images along 1 square. This means that in order for your ‘big picture’ to remain in its original order you are now forever prisoner to juggling the number of posts you have on your account. By uploading 1-2 images, you knock everything out of whack and so you must now either upload images in groups of 3 or delete an old image for every new upload. This is a real pain! We hoped that by uploading a complete set of 3 images, we’d create a new row and the ‘big picture’ would be protected henceforth BUT that’s not the case. It will always display incorrectly if we upload outside of this ‘3 posts at a time’ or ‘add 1 delete 1’ system! This is wholly irritating and requires you to review your account more than you normally would. If you don’t have enough time to juggle your account as above then your only options are to delete the ‘big picture’ or live with it being jumble every couple of posts.

instagram_big_picture_broken

We hope this article puts you in the picture! If there are any other social media functions you would like us to put to the test then please message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and well do our best to oblige. While you are at it, we’d really appreciate your support by following us, links below. Thanks!

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