Have you been using Instagram for a while, yet only have a handful of followers to show for it? Do you rarely receive likes and comments on your photos?
If so, these tips should help you steamroll through that plateau and create an Instagram profile to wow your audience.
1. Use Only Your Best Photos
Take a look at the people you follow on Instagram. Unless they’re friends, celebrities, or more practical Instagram accounts, you’re likely following them because you love their photos. So put yourself in your followers’ shoes, and only share photos with them that you, yourself, love.
When people land on your Instagram account, you’ll want them to be blown away with your smartphone photography skills. This will not happen unless you’re only posting your best shots to your public profile.
This doesn’t mean you must stop posting all those impromptu selfies and less-polished photos. Instagram has a new feature (gradually rolling out to everyone) that allows you to share some of your posts only to your “Close friends” list, which should generally just comprise your friends and family. You can manage your list by clicking the Star icon at the top of your profile when you’re logged in.
When you post a shot to your Close friends list, it does not appear on your public profile so you don’t need to worry about it tainting the rest of your Instagram portfolio.
2. Pick a Niche
If you’re trying to get more Instagram followers, it’s likely you’re looking for a certain kind of follower. If you travel a lot, you’ll want to appeal to other travellers. If you’re a foodie, you want other foodies to tag along on your food adventures. So always keep this in mind.
Make sure that each photo you upload will be interesting to your “ideal follower”. Take Sorelle Amore, for example (see below). She’s the undisputed queen of the “advanced selfie”. People follow her account because they love what they see, and know that her profile will (likely) continue to deliver photos along the same vein.
One of the main reasons people unfollow accounts on Instagram is because the photos being shared simply don’t resonate with them, so be careful not to fall into that trap.
3. Have Your Own Aesthetic
People also follow Instagram accounts because they love the aesthetic of that account. They love the style of the photos being uploaded. You can’t have this appeal if you’re constantly changing up your filters, swapping between color and black and white, or playing around with different styles day in, day out.
So, spend some time figuring out your own aesthetic. Accidentally Wes Anderson focuses largely on symmetry and pastel colors. Foodstories sticks to beautifully shadowy food and interior styling (see below).
This doesn’t mean you’re locked into this style forever. You’re (obviously) free to evolve your photography aesthetic as you like. But when it comes to getting people to follow you on Instagram, having a recognizable, largely consistent style can be a real help.
4. Use Hashtags Wisely
Using hashtags is one of the main ways to get more people to see (and hopefully interact) with your photos and videos. Instagram limits the number of hashtags you can use in each post to 30. And while there is some debate over how many hashtags you should actually be using, there’s no right answer.
Using all 30 doesn’t appear to have any negative effects, so knock yourself out.
When it comes to picking which hashtags to use, avoid super-popular ones like #love or #instagood. They’re just too broad to be of any use.
Instead, keep your chosen hashtags highly relevant to your interests. To do this, start typing a hashtag into your caption, and Instagram will suggest alternatives that could perform well for that topic. Don’t fall into the lazy trap of using the same hashtags all the time, though. Customize them to the subjects of your photos, and you’ll reach far more people.
5. Don’t Post Too Often
When you don’t have any followers, you don’t have many people to annoy by constantly posting too many photos. But as soon as your following starts to grow, do not inundate them with too many posts per day.
Looking at the figures for my client’s accounts, I’d recommend not posting more than four photos or videos in a 24-hour period.
And don’t forget: space them out! Don’t upload all your photos at once. To help you do this you can save posts ready to publish as drafts within Instagram (on Android). Preview app is a more advanced way to do this, and is available on both iOS and Android.
6. Interact With Your Community
Remember, Instagram is a social network, not just a publishing platform. So to really succeed, you need to integrate yourself into your Instagram community.
At the very least, this means replying to comments that you receive on your posts, and tagging people and places who are in, or relevant, to your photos. In return, they will receive a notification about this.
If you’re looking to take your Instagramming even more seriously, you’ll have to take your interaction to the next level.
A simple way to do this is to follow Instagram hashtags that are relevant to your niche. Some photos that are tagged with these hashtags will then appear in your feed. Spend some time leaving valuable comments on these posts, and following profiles you admire. This will help you enter the radar of other people in your niche.
And if you have the time, consider trying out Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 strategy. This is where you leave your 2 cents (not spam) on the top nine posts of 10 relevant hashtags each day. Before long, you’ll become a serious part of your community. You can learn more about this in the video below.
7. Use Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories have quickly become a key part of the platform, and can be a great way to build loyalty and engagement in your community. We’ve written before about how to make your Instagram Stories stand out, and listed apps to make your Stories more awesome.
The thing to note here is that Stories are an ideal way to share more dynamic, unpolished content (both video and images) that can offer a “behind-the-scenes” look at whatever you’re sharing on your main profile.
An additional benefit is that individual Stories can contain links to your website. This is something you can’t do on your main Instagram posts, so it’s one of the only ways to drive your Instagram followers elsewhere.
8. Post Multiple Images at Once
If you’ve shot a variety of photos during a shoot, you might want to publish these as a multi-image post, rather than as lots of individual posts. Multi-image posts can contain up to 10 images (using a single caption). Users can swipe through them from left-to-right, before continuing to scroll through their feed.
The benefit to this is that you can tell a more comprehensive story in a single post. This could be showing behind-the-scenes snippets to your main image, or several angles to a single location or subject.
This is far better than pepper-spraying your profile with lots of shots that might all look very similar, since they’re all of the same subject.
9. Include Calls to Action
If you really want more interaction on Instagram, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Ask a question in the caption, like adventurer Alastair Humphreys has done in the post below.
Ask people to like the photo if they do, in fact, like it. Start a conversation. Request recommendations. This method works for getting more interaction on blog posts, as well as for Facebook and Twitter interactions, and it works just as well on Instagram.
10. Take Your Editing to the Next Level
If you want to stand out even more, another great way to do so is to edit your photos using a different photo-editing app. Instagram’s editing features might have been impressive back in the day, but there are far better options out there right now. We’ve included many of these in our lists of the best photo editing apps for Android, and the best photo editing apps for iPhone.
Become an Instagram Maestro!
By implementing some or all of the tips listed here, you’ll not only create a far more attractive profile, but you’ll also become a real part of your own community on Instagram, and could even find yourself making money on Instagram.
Keep up with all of this, and you’ll gradually see your followers and interaction increase so you can reach a far greater number of people, and become an Instagram maestro. Meanwhile, be sure to get verified on Instagram.