Spotlight vs Smash Balloon – Choosing the Best Instagram Feed Plugin for Your Website

Are you looking for the right Instagram feed plugin for your WordPress website? Then you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we will compare Spotlight and Smash Balloon to help you decide which plugin is the best for your needs.
Spotlight vs Smash Balloon

Picking the right Instagram feed plugin can be confusing, considering the number of options available. To help you decide which one to choose, we will compare two of the most popular solutions: Spotlight vs Smash Balloon.

But why does it matter which one you choose? Well, getting the right Instagram feed plugin can make tasks like integrating and managing Instagram content on your site much easier.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at these Instagram feed plugins and see which one fits your needs and preferences best.

Brief Overview

Before we jump into the details of Spotlight and Smash Balloon, let’s first get a general idea about these plugins.

Spotlight

Spotlight's website homepage.

Spotlight is made to simplify the process of connecting and displaying Instagram feeds on your website.  Thanks to its user-friendly interface and powerful features, this plugin is great for users who wish to display their Instagram posts on their website effortlessly.

Users have the freedom to customize the way their Instagram feeds look by choosing from many professionally designed templates. 

Additionally, Spotlight offers additional features like content filtering and moderation, making it a versatile content management tool.

Currently, more than 50,000 websites are using Spotlight to boost their engagement and online reach. These include big brands and organizations like KFC, UNHCR, and Elementor.

Smash Balloon

Smash Balloon's website homepage.

Smash Balloon Social Photo Feed offers a solution to connect and display Instagram posts on your WordPress website. This plugin gives you the option to customize your Instagram feeds with features like drag-and-drop customizer and custom header. 

Like Spotlight, Smash Balloon automatically updates your website’s Instagram feed, saving you time and enhancing efficiency.

Initial Setup: Spotlight vs Smash Balloon

The setup process is an important aspect to consider when choosing an Instagram feed plugin. It determines how easy and quickly you can get started with embedding your IG content.

Let’s look closer at the setup process of Spotlight and Smash Balloon, and determine if one is better than the other.

Spotlight

Once you installed and activated the Spotlight plugin, connecting it to your Instagram account is a simple process. 

All you have to do is go to the Instagram feed menu on the WordPress admin dashboard. Here, Spotlight will show you the setup wizard where you can connect your personal or business account to WordPress.

Spotlight's settings page with the Connect tab open.

Spotlight will also give you the option to use a custom photo and bio text manually if you’re connecting your personal account to WordPress.

Smash Balloon

Similar to Spotlight, Smash Balloon also offers a simple and quick setup process for its Instagram feed plugin.

Connecting Instagram account during the Smash Balloon's setup process.

Users will be guided to the setup wizard page where you will connect your Instagram account and start creating a new feed to embed on your web page.

Key Features: Spotlight vs Smash Balloon

While Spotlight and Smash Balloon let you connect and embed IG content on your website, they have slight differences in terms of features. 

These features can be a game changer depending on your needs and preferences, so let’s take a look at what each plugin has to offer.

Spotlight

Spotlight makes integrating your Instagram account and WordPress website easy. You can embed your Instagram photos, videos, and reels anywhere on your website in just a few clicks.

With the new oEmbed feature, Spotlight also lets you display singular posts on your web page if you want to boost a specific product or campaign.

Secure Integration

This plugin lets you connect your personal, business, or client’s Instagram account to your website.

Spotlight's Instagram access token generator page.

For added security, Spotlight has the feature to embed feeds using an access token. With this, your client doesn’t have to share their account credentials.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

In addition to showcasing your feed on your website, Spotlight also helps you leverage user-generated content to increase engagement and enrich your site’s content.

Encourage your followers to tag your Instagram account in their posts and feature them on your website. You can also run a hashtag campaign and create a curated gallery showcasing the best posts from your followers.

Filters and Moderation

Use Spotlight’s filtering and moderation feature to have full control over the content you want to show. You can filter posts based on captions or hashtags, which is a great tool to support your UGC campaigns.

Spotlight's filtering settings.

Spotlight lets you pick and choose the Instagram posts you want to show or hide in each feed, making it easier to create a finely tailored gallery on your web page.

Custom Bio Link Page

While the built-in Instagram bio link feature leaves much to be desired with all of its limitations, it is possible to bypass it using Spotlight.

Spotlight's link in bio settings.

This plugin lets you create a link in bio page where you can add links to your articles, products, or podcasts from each Instagram post.

E-Commerce and Analytics

Spotlight makes it easier for business owners to create an integrated online shop by creating a shoppable feed. You can link each Instagram post to your WooCommerce product pages and add affiliate links to products on other sites.

Spotlight's shoppable feed settings.

Additionally, Spotlight offers an integrated analytics tool to your WordPress website. This feature will give you useful metrics like new followers, likes, and comments.

The click tracking system also shows detailed information about post engagement to help you make well-informed adjustments to your content.

SEO and Performance Benefits

With Spotlight, your Instagram feeds are embedded directly on your website and crawled by search engines. This ensures it benefits from search engine optimization (SEO) and attracts more organic traffic.

Spotlight uses your Instagram captions as ALT texts to improve how your content performs on the search engine results page.

Additionally, this plugin uses clever caching and image optimization technology, which are important to speed up your website and maintain a good user experience. Spotlight also has a downtime prevention system to ensure your feeds stay active even when Instagram faces downtime.

Smash Balloon

In terms of features, Smash Balloon is also a pretty solid option as an Instagram feed plugin. Although it lacks the same level of promotion features, such as WooCommerce integration, it still offers other essential functions. Let’s take a look at some of its most notable features.

Downtime Prevention

Smash Balloon provides its users with a dedicated backup caching system that prevents potential downtime for your WordPress Instagram feed.

It utilizes local image storage, allowing your Instagram posts to load normally even when the platform is unreachable. Smash Balloon also has an error reporting system that alerts users on critical issues that need fixing.

Speed Optimizer

The Smash Balloon plugin has several features that can help users maintain good page load speed. These include a post-caching system, dynamic data loading, built-in image optimization, and background content updates. 

By utilizing these speed optimizer features, Smash Balloon reduces external requests and extensive data loading to make your embedded feed loads faster.

Filters and Moderation

Like Spotlight, Smash Balloon also offers filtering and moderation features, letting users fine-tune their embedded Instagram feeds.

Smash Balloon's filtering and moderation page.

You can filter posts based on certain terms or hashtags and apply the rule to the entire site or a specific feed. As we saw in Spotlight, Smash Balloon also lets you manually show or hide posts using its visual moderation interface.

Customization Options: Spotlight vs Smash Balloon

Both Spotlight and Smash Balloon offer customization features, allowing users to adjust how their Instagram feeds look and behave. But how do they differ from each other?

Here are some notable customization and styling options Spotlight and Smash Balloon offer.

Spotlight

Spotlight stands out for its customization options, allowing users to tailor their Instagram feed to seamlessly match their website’s look. With professionally designed templates or the option to create a custom template, Spotlight caters to diverse preferences.

Offering over 40 customization choices, you can fine-tune the appearance of your Instagram feed, adjusting elements like spacing and typography for a personalized touch.

Spotlight’s versatility extends to its four layout styles, which are Grid, Highlight, Masonry, and Slider, ensuring varied presentation options. They can each be customized in various ways, giving you a ton of flexibility in design.

Spotlight's layout customization page.

Importantly, Spotlight’s user-friendly approach includes responsiveness, allowing users to easily preview their Instagram layout on different devices. 

This adaptability ensures a visually pleasing and accessible experience across desktops, tablets, and smartphones.

You can see the changes live as you adjust your IG feed’s appearance, making the customization task more efficient. 

Spotlight also offers several customization features to help your marketing and sales efforts. These include adding an appealing CTA button to your Instagram feed popup boxes and options to automatically convert URLs in captions into links. 

These features can improve conversion rates for those who run shoppable Instagram feeds on their WordPress sites.

Smash Balloon

Much like Spotlight, Smash Balloon also offers many built-in customization options, allowing you to personalize your Instagram feed without any coding hassle.

This user-friendly design welcomes both beginners and experienced users.

Smash Balloon customization settings

You can choose from various feed layouts, each offering color scheme options. This flexibility lets you experiment with different visual styles, ensuring your Instagram feed harmonizes with the overall website design.

Whether opting for a streamlined grid or a dynamic design, both Spotlight and Smash Balloon’s customization options cater to diverse preferences.

Customer Support: Spotlight vs Smash Balloon

Choosing a good WordPress plugin involves making sure it comes with solid customer support. This is crucial for getting help with issues, receiving guidance, and ensuring a seamless user experience.

Now let’s take a look at how Spotlight and Smash Balloon provide support for their customers.

Spotlight

Premium users who find problems or questions while using Spotlight can contact customer support directly through its website.

The process is as simple as filling out the contact form. Typically, the expert support team will get back to you within hours and help you with your issue.

Spotlight's customer support page.

Spotlight’s premium customer support is available from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 5 pm (UTC+1).

Free plugin users can post their questions on the free support forum on WordPress.org where Spotlight’s plugin support expert will reach out and help.

If you prefer finding answers and tips yourself, Spotlight also provides a robust documentation page and FAQ section.  Spotlight’s knowledge base contains numerous getting-started guides or troubleshooting steps that will help you use the plugin.

Smash Balloon

Smash Balloon provides customer support through its website using a similar method to Spotlight. You can visit their support page, fill in the request form, and wait for the support team to answer your questions or help them with their issues.

Smash Balloon also has extensive documentation that covers topics ranging from getting started with the plugin to troubleshooting. This can be a good alternative if you want to find a solution to your plugin issue without submitting a support ticket.

Pricing Plans: Spotlight vs Smash Balloon

Last but not least, knowing how much a plugin costs can help you decide which option fits you the best. That being said, here is a closer look into the pricing plans of Spotlight and Smash Balloon.

Spotlight

Spotlight offers straightforward pricing variations consisting of three plans that fit different types of users and needs.

Spotlight's Pricing Table

The Essentials plan costs $49/year, perfect for personal websites. With this plan, you can unlock all customization customization and pre-designed templates.

The PRO plan is a great option for those who run more robust Instagram campaigns for their businesses or sell products through their IG feeds. With $99/year for 5 sites, you will get access to:

  • Filtering
  • Moderation
  • Hashtag feeds
  • Tagged feeds
  • Link in bio feature
  • Shoppable feeds

The last plan offered by Spotlight is the All Access plan. This plan is designed to help you track growth and performance. 

With access to advanced analytics features, this plan is great for larger businesses, or agencies that want to provide added value for clients. The All Access plan costs $149/year for ten sites.

You can also opt for the Lifetime package which gives you all the features in All Access for unlimited sites, at a one-time payment of $537.

All of Spotlight’s pricing options let you connect unlimited Instagram accounts and create unlimited Instagram feeds.

Smash Balloon

On the other hand, Smash Balloon offers pricing options that can be a bit confusing at first glance.

SmashBalloon's Pricing Plan

There are three pricing options:

The Basic Plan comes in at $49/year for the first year and $98/year for the following years. It includes a license for one website and comes with unlimited feeds and customization options, but no templates.

The Pus Plan, at $99/year for the first year and $198/year for the following years, includes licenses for five websites. This plan includes moderation, filtering, templates, and hashtag feeds, but no shoppable and tagged feeds.

Finally, the Elite Plan costs $149/year for the first year and $298/year for the following years. It includes licenses for 10 websites and comes with shoppable feeds and tagged feeds.

One thing to keep in mind is that Smash Balloon’s price always doubles from the second year onwards while Spotlight’s price remains the same. This isn’t made very clear on their website, so it’s worth looking out for and taking into consideration.

Final Thoughts

Spotlight and Smash Balloon are solid options for embedding Instagram feeds into your WordPress website. They are easy to set up and provide an intuitive user interface, making it easy to connect and manage your IG feeds with no coding.

In terms of features, both plugins offer useful functions including customizable layouts, content filtering and moderation, and support for UGC.

However, Spotlight’s premium version stands out with its eCommerce integration and advanced analytics features. This makes it a better option for business owners who want to get the most out of their Instagram websites without the hassle of complicated settings.

Spotlight and Smash Balloon also offer different pricing plans. Smash Balloon’s plans look similar to Spotlight for the first year, but double in price from the second year onwards.

On the other hand, Spotlight offers more straightforward pricing options that stay the same after the first year. This makes it a more cost-effective solution in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need coding knowledge to use Spotlight or Smash Balloon?

No, both Spotlight and Smash Balloon offer user-friendly interfaces with built-in customization options, eliminating the need for coding expertise.

Can I customize the appearance of my Instagram feed with Spotlight and Smash Balloon?

Yes, both plugins offer customization options, allowing users to adjust the appearance of their Instagram feeds to match their website’s look and feel.

How do Spotlight and Smash Balloon handle updates to the Instagram feed on my website?

Both plugins automatically update the Instagram feed on your website, saving time and ensuring that the content is current.

Can I feature user-generated content on my Instagram feeds with these plugins?

Yes, both plugins provide options for featuring user-generated content by incorporating tagged posts and hashtags into your website’s Instagram feed.

Can Spotlight help you and your team revamp your website? We'd love to help you find out. Why not give Spotlight a try?

Article by

Prasasti Agung

Pras is a professional content writer who loves learning new things. With his experience in digital marketing and WordPress, he aims to create more informative articles and share his knowledge with wider audiences.

Article by

Prasasti Agung

Prasasti Agung

Pras is a professional content writer who loves learning new things. With his experience in digital marketing and WordPress, he aims to create more informative articles and share his knowledge with wider audiences.
Prasasti Agung

Prasasti Agung

Pras is a professional content writer who loves learning new things. With his experience in digital marketing and WordPress, he aims to create more informative articles and share his knowledge with wider audiences.
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