If you’re looking for likes and followers, Instagram is a tough nut to crack. But you can follow and study these Instagram role models to see what the crème de la crème are publishing over there.
Many people say the optimal frequency to post on Instagram is just once per day. After doing my own research, I found that a maximum of 3-4 photos should be posted throughout each 24 hours. Having such a strict limit like this means your photos really have to be something special. They need to be photos that urge other users to follow you, like your posts, and look forward to your future shots.
Before jumping straight in with some visual inspiration though, you should check out our guide to getting noticed on Instagram which expands on the following tips:
- Don’t annoy your followers by posting too often
- Learn to use the right filter
- Use only your best photos
- Consider picking a niche, or only a handful of topics
- Work out the best time and day to post
- Find the right hashtags
- Include call to actions (i.e. ask people to comment)
And so without getting too much into the nitty-gritty of using Instagram and cryptic hashtags, here’s a selection of inspirational, impressive, and downright genius Instagram users who will act as your guide to creating the perfect feed:
JoyTheBaker: The Rustic Foodie
There are over 150 million #food tags on Instagram, and photos such as those posted by JoyTheBaker are the reason why that tag is so popular. As you scroll through her feed you’ll notice the natural colours, deep shadows, perfect exposure, birds-eye view, and lack of symmetry. Plus you’ll also catch a fascinating glimpse of the person behind the account. This is no dull FoodNetwork stream that publishes shot after shot of food on a plate. This is a stream that tells the story of Joy Wilson, the author, photography and donut enthusiast. As one of her almost 200,000 followers, you’ll be treated to a taste of what Joy’s lifestyle is actually like. The artisanal coffee shops, delectable cocktails, close friends, cosy houses and (of course) the food. This variation in posts offers some real action to what could otherwise be a very static set of photos. Be sure that whatever niche(s) you choose to focus on, you offer a multifaceted stream of photos that tell a real story and which express more than just one dimension of who you are. And make sure the food shots are delicious!
Miserable_Men: The Obsessive Stream
The Miserable_men Instagram stream has a cult audience of 165,000 followers, all waiting to catch a glimpse of the global epidemic that is men who’ve been unwillingly dragged to the shops.
No one will try to argue that the owner of the account is an especially proficient photographer, but by triggering the viewers emotion — by making them smile, laugh, or let out a snort of appreciation — the stream offers something that people want. An experience.
If you decide to go this route with your own Instagram feed, pick just one angle (your unique selling point), and go all out. Keep it simple. For a few more ideas along the same lines, check out the selfie-obsessed @MyPimpGoodGame, the president-impersonating @ohheyitschaz, and the money-flaunting @ItsLavishBitch.
ThePlanetD: The Globetrotters
Saying hello on safari in South Africa. ???? Who would you like to take on safari? Tag them in the comments.???? It was an early morning departure for our safari that day and the first thing we came across was a mother elephant and her baby. We sat silently in our jeep just observing these two walk around us. Just as they were turning to leave the mother raised her trunk as if to wave goodbye. What a perfect way to start the day in a safari. #latergram #thisissouthafrica @meetsouthafrica
The couple behind this stunning account, Dave and Deb, were named “top travel Instagrams by USA Today, Yahoo Travel, Forbes, Harpers Bazaar, Reader’s Digest“, and it’s not hard to see why. The wispy luxury and exotic colours of faraway lands enlivens the globetrotter in all of us, while offering a faint, niggling sense of itchy feet. The irony here is that it’s highly unlikely these shots have been captured with an iPhone, or even edited within Instagram itself. By using tools such as Gramblr you’re able to take photos using whatever camera you like, transfer these to your computer, and use whatever photo-editing software you like before uploading to Instagram. This method removes the restriction of having to use a mediocre camera, while still allowing you to share your favourite shots with your followers. This specific account focuses exclusively on landscape shots, but if you’re looking for something with more variation, check out the accounts of other fascinating people who are living extraordinary lifestyles. One example is photo-journalist @michaelchristopherbrown who focuses on the people of the world, rather than simply the places.
SirMitchell: The Artist
It’s a common misconception that Instagram needs to be solely about photography. It can also work perfectly well as a medium for sharing artwork, too. Artist Mike Mitchell has accrued over 50,000 followers by posting his competed works, sketches and works-in-progress to the platform.
If you decide to use Instagram for this purpose, remember who’s actually looking at these images. Make sure the photos you take of your artwork look amazing in a square format. If not, introduce more of a background to the artwork so it can still maintain its original, respective shape.
However you choose to capture your artwork, in the end it needs to be a beautiful Instagram shot providing your followers with something they’ll be compelled to ‘like’.
@Satiregram: The Statement Makers
It is possible to use Instagram as a soundboard for any statement you intend to make. @Satiregram pokes fun at the clichéd posts that are published to the platform, prompting us to question the point of it all. Similarly, street-artist @Banksy invites us to question the status quo and political systems around us. To do this well, you have to be able to visually express a complex idea in a way that’s very easy to understand, or in a way that blatantly evokes a strong emotion. This makes the Instagram posts far more ‘shareable’, and ‘likeable’, and thereby much more likely to be seen by more people.
BiddyTheHedgehog: The Storyteller
INSTAGRAM CALENDAR GIVEAWAY!!! Instagram was nice enough to feature me in their 2015 Animals of @Instagram calendar. I have four calendars I would like to give away! Post ONE NEW photo and tag it #BiddyInstagramCalendar other then that there are no rules. Have fun & be creative! Remember, I won't be able to see your photo if your account is private. Giveaway ends February 20th. #biddythehedgehog #BiddyInstagramCalendar #InstagramCalendar ????????
We all love a good story, and one that involves a hedgehog’s travels combines that love with our unhealthy obsession with the ‘cute’. By using Instagram to tell a story, you give your followers a reason to continue following. For each post you leave, they’ll want to know what happens next. They join the journey with you.
As a few examples, we’re able to track @Conway_Sean on his long distance run covering the length of the UK. We live vicariously through the vagabond wanderings and tree-house-building life of @FosterHunting. We can follow the interesting stories of entrepreneurs such as Instagram founder @Kevin, Reddit founder @AlexisOhanian and the busy, varied behind-the-scenes look at Huffington Post founder’s life, @AriannaHuff.
Again, these photos need not be professional standard shots, but need to offer the follower a vicarious view into something at least a little out of the ordinary. A celebrity, lavish, austere or adventurous lifestyle. These are all lifestyles that are different from the norm, and are stories people find interesting to follow. So, provided you’re able to tell an interesting story, you’ve a good foundation for Instagram content.
As with everything, you need to throw a few handfuls of mud at the wall before you know what’ll stick. Find an overall niche for your Instagram feed— your interesting life, your artwork, your travels, the food you eat, one of your hobbies— play around with popular hashtags, and react to what you learn.
In all though, just have fun with it. Instagram isn’t there to be too serious. Sure, it’s nice to have an attractive stream of photos, or a hearty number of likes and followers, but the main thing is to express yourself using whatever form of expression you desire.
Image credit: @ThePlanetD Instagram feed screenshot