Instagram is one of the main ways to get your work out there into the world, but that also means that everyone does it.
Big hashtags on Instagram have millions of photos in their feed and that means your post will be buried in with all types of content. To get your work or brand out there, you need to be strategic. I’m going to show you what I do on Instagram and while this is completely subjective and unique to every person, it will give you a baseline of what you need to do with all your social media accounts.
Keep On Posting!
Because almost everyone and their mother is on social media, that means there are billions of posts floating out there. The best thing to do is POST, POST, POST! Posting on any social media platform is the key way to receive engagement. However, this doesn’t mean post every hour of every day. If there’s one thing that gets people annoyed, it’s seeing their feeds full of the same thing. Posting too often is an easy way to get unfollowed or unfriended. Personally, I post 2-3 times a day on Instagram. Try to avoid posting before 12PM and after 9PM because this is when online traffic is slow and your post won’t show up on the feed of people who check in-between these times. Neglecting your Instagram or any account will lead to people unfollowing you because avid social media users remove inactive accounts from their feed.
Consistency all around is key to getting followers, keeping followers, and having a beautiful feed. The routine is like this: someone sees your profile, they click on the profile, they follow you. If someone looks at your profile and sees a mess of colors and images, they won’t follow you. Use 1-2 filters consistently so that your feed looks clean and flows nicely. If you’re like me and don’t like your feed looking too similar, find clever ways to break up your feed without making it completely random. For my photography, I post 3 color images and then 3 black and white images. This way, my feed looks consistent but I’m still staying true to my aesthetic. Keep a steady schedule of when you post and stick to it. Followers will know when you’re going to post and it’ll keep them engaged.
Show Your Personality
People are following you because they want to get to know you! Have a good balance of personal posts and business posts. Most accounts that strictly post their work and nothing else seem cold and distant when a new person looks at their profile. If you have too many personal posts, people won’t see you as a brand or a business. Despite what people say, selfies are okay and I encourage them! I like to see the face behind the business and it makes a person seem more friendly. For freelancers, people want to know who they are hiring and what they look like. When captioning a post, don’t be afraid to add your own flair. Show people who you are because your photos won’t always do your personality justice.
Hashtags… so millennial. They work, though! Once I started posting with hashtags, my engagement and follower account rose dramatically. I personally don’t look through hashtags, but many people and potential clients do. Try to find hashtags that fit to your aesthetic and work. Don’t use a food hashtag when you post a picture of a car. Common sense! DEFINITELY don’t use follow hashtags, such as #follow4follow. You’ll get ghost followers, which I’ll explain in a bit. Do your research and find feature accounts that don’t spam your own feed or promote their account manager’s own work. These feature accounts don’t feature people without a ridiculous amount of followers and honestly, it won’t benefit you much. PhotoShelter posted a great guide to photography hashtags, check it out here.
Check Your Analytics
If you don’t know, Google has a website called Google Analytics, which is used to monitor website data and give business owners insights into who visits their website and what links they click. Unfortunately, this doesn’t transfer over to social media accounts. Instagram released an update with analytics for your account, but I don’t find them that accurate and they don’t update as often as I’d like them to. Don’t worry, though, there’s a ton of apps for that! Get an app that gives you detailed analytics into your account so you can see which posts are working and which aren’t. My favorite type of app for Instagram is one that lets you see who's following you and who isn’t following you back. This is great to know when you get the most annoying type of follower: the ghost follower. The ghost follower is an account that follows you strictly so you’ll follow them back and then they unfollow you the next day. These profiles SUCK. Once you follow too many of these, it throws off your following/follower ratio, which leads to a dry-spell in follower count. The app that I use is Instagram Cleaner. It let’s you filter accounts that you follow and you can see which accounts don’t follow you back. It’s an easy way to avoid ghost followers!
Lastly.. Give Instagram Stories A Try
I know, I was skeptical of them, too! I don't like that every social media platform is trying to mimic each other, but this change to Instagram can actually benefit you. Snapchat makes it really hard for users to find you and watch your content, but Instagram is much easier and user-friendly. I recently started using the new Stories feature and the engagement I get from it is 3 times more than what I get on Snapchat. Not only is the engagement higher, but your Instagram followers get to know more about you and you can connect with them on a more personal level than your posts do. It's a great tool to use and I highly recommend using it!
If you keep your Instagram account consistent and beautiful, you’ll get followers in no time. Here are some of my favorite Instagrammers that I believe have great feeds and content: Lena, Nesrin, Brian, Alison, and Sam. Don’t get discouraged when you can’t get over a hump when it comes to followers. Instagram is changing quicker than ever, thanks to its new Facebook ownership, so keep up to date with the newest updates to the app and plan different strategies each time it changes. Overall, if you keep posting quality content, you’ll get noticed.