Instagram is deceptive. There appears to be nothing to it: take a picture, upload it, and throw on a hashtag or two.
However, as anyone who has tried the above approach knows, simply using Instagram’s basic features doesn’t lend itself to tons of followers or hundreds of likes.
The perfect Instagram profile will look different for each person. But whether you’re looking to become Insta-famous, want to cultivate a specialized following, or just want to get a few more likes on your selfie, there are a few strategies that apply no matter what.
With just a few tweaks to your profile, you can greatly increase your number of followers and likes. Once you get the hang of them, the extra steps are second nature. Take a few moments now to double-check your Instagram profile to ensure you’re on the path to popularity.
Getting the Basics Down
The minute you start setting up your account, you have to start making smart decisions about the foundational pieces of any strong Instagram profile.
- Choose a user name. You have two names on Instagram: your username (@YourUsername) and a changeable name that displays alongside your handle in searches. Given the millions of users on Instagram, it’s hard to find a unique username, but try as hard as possible to use one without strange characters or spellings. This helps other users remember it and tag you more easily. It’s best if you directly associate your changeable name with either your name or brand so that people can find you through search.
- Set your visibility. If you want to gain popularity on Instagram, you must set your profile to public. Otherwise, no one will see anything that you post except for friends from other social networks. That said, some users choose to change their profile back to private after they gain a certain number of followers.
- Select your profile photo. For a personal account, a clear headshot of your face is generally best. For brands or companies, try a recognizable product or logo so followers know who you are. If people can’t recognize you or your company from your profile photo, it’s unlikely they will follow you.
Crafting a Perfect Bio
Your bio is only 150 characters, but it sets the tone for your entire profile. If you want people to notice you, it’s important to get it right!
Most importantly, your bio should give a brief overview of who you are and what your profile is about. Using single words to describe yourself (e.g., “Author,” “Photographer,” “Runner”) and your location is always a great place to start. You can also add a hashtag or two so your profile will show up in searches, or ask your followers to use a specific hashtag so that you can see their posts.
Depending on what your profile is all about, you may want to add a short sentence explaining its purpose. Are you collecting pictures of pugs? Photographing every tree on your route to school? Trying to sell shoes? Let your potential followers know what they’re getting into by following you.
One trend to be careful of: emojis.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but depending on the type of profile you want, emojis may not be the best choice. If your Instagram is focused on a serious art project or brand, avoid emojis. If, on the other hand, your Instagram is lighthearted and trendy, a few carefully chosen emojis might go over well with your audience.
Lastly, your bio is the only place on Instagram where you can add a hyperlink to another website. If you want to direct traffic elsewhere from your profile, this is the place to do it. One trick: as you can see in our Instagram bio above, you can add additional website addresses directly in your bio. But only the one you set as your official website will appear as an actual hyperlink.
Getting Followers With Great Photos
Not all Instagram photos are created equal. You can’t expect to post unedited or low-quality photos and gain a large Instagram following (unless you cultivate some sort of bad-photo niche as #Art).
The most important part of posting on Instagram is ensuring your photos are fun to look at. Do you post memes? Post high-quality memes, not ones that are blurry, pixelated, or obvious screenshots.
If you post photographs, you need to edit them. Instagram’s native editing features aren’t bad, but you may also want to take advantage of the great third-party editing apps out there.
Instagram’s native apps are also a great way to make your Instagram profile stand out. Use fun post formats like Boomerang, Slideshow, Videos, Hyperlapse, and Layout to keep your posts varied and interesting.
Picking the Right Hashtags
Hashtags are the backbone of Instagram, and they can make or break your photos.
Choose a responsible number of hashtags for each photo (aim for 20 or fewer). It may take some research to find the best Instagram hashtags for your profile’s audience, but it’s definitely worth your time.
You want the hashtags you use to be a part of active communities, but specific enough that your photos don’t get lost in a landslide of #photography or #pretty. Try looking for hashtags that are in your local area or specific niche to get started.
Your posts will also be more aesthetically pleasing if you hide your hashtags. This can be done by putting line breaks in your photo caption (just press enter a time or two), or by putting your hashtags in a comment on your photo.
Standing Out With Strategy
Beyond crafting your individual posts, there are some broader strategies that can perfect your Instagram profile.
First, try to choose a cohesive theme for your profile. If it’s a personal account, that might be enough of a theme for your purposes. However, if you want to reach a lot of followers you might be better off choosing a specific theme like travel, artwork, or food.
You may also want to create a post schedule for your images. There are ways that you can automatically schedule your posts, or you can just make an effort to post at times that work for you. Most people and businesses find that their posts perform best if only one or two pictures are posted each day.
Interacting with other users is another easy way for your profile to gain a presence on Instagram. Follow the hashtags you plan on using, and comment on the photos posted by others in those communities.
Don’t explicitly ask for a “Follow4Follow.” Instead, be genuine. Following and interacting with other users in your niche will quickly lead to meaningful connections with the larger Instagram community, and may earn you some shout-outs or features along the way!
Lastly, consider using Instagram Stories as another way to engage followers. This feature is a great way to give people a behind-the-scenes look at your life. You can also give shout-outs to other users, participate in challenges, and ask followers to participate in challenges or hashtags that you are using.
Whether your ideal profile is full of hilarious cat photos or beautiful sunsets, these tips should get you well on your way to collecting followers and fame.
Next, check out our tips to manage your personal brand on social media.