Instagram is an interesting social-media service. It’s a community built solely around images. But, getting noticed requires tactics, similar to the way building a following on Twitter would work.
Disclaimer: my experiments with Instagram and not complete, hence my followers are not astronomical. However, I have been doing plenty of research into the matter, and completing some A/B testing. I have been capable of a steady growth of followers since I took the platform seriously in January.
See my profile by searching for KG_Heath.
The most powerful element of Instagram is that the discoverability factor is high. Whilst Twitter is a closed book when it comes to finding people you might want to follow (you need to know the person you want to follow), Instagram has discovery at it’s heart.
Tapping the magnifying glass button gets you straight into discovery mode. It starts out by suggesting images you might like, and as you view and like images, Instagram’s algorithms take over and start suggesting more images based on your liking behaviour.
That means, you have a great chance of being discovered, because everyone has a chance to dip their toe in the discovery button and your images will be suggested automatically by the platform.
The next important factor is #hashtagging #everything #you #post. The more hashtags the better, but they need to be relevant to the image you are posting.
When you type in a description, you can then use the # key and as you type a word, Instagram will suggest existing hashtags and how many posts have been tagged. Choose only the really popular hashtags as that means the more people that are posting to that tag, the more people will want to look at that sort of feed.
Don’t worry about using lots of tags, everyone does it, and it’s a proven method of building your audience.
Some tags that are worth always using are the #instagood #photooftheday, and anything else with millions of posts to them.
I’d like to think that I’m a pretty good photographer, not the best, but also not the worst by any means. However, Instagram (especially in the early days) likes your very best images, and it likes you to be focussed on a niche.
Maybe you like making cupcakes, or have a dog — the cuter the better, like watches, beards, sunglasses, spoons, interior design, or anything else that is niche.
It’s the same rule as content creation in general, the more specific you are the better.
Comment and Like
You’ll only get so far on your content. You need to engage with the community, so they will engage back.
If you like an image, even slightly, like it. If you really like it, give a comment like: “I love it”, “awesome shot”, “you really are a talented person”.
Don’t be stingy with your likes. The cool kids like the hell out of everything, even if it’s not great, but they like everything their friends post, it’s the rules.
If something you see is really up your alley, then go ahead and follow that individual. Again, don’t be overly picky with who you follow. The more people you follow, the more likely they are to follow you back. Have I used the word follow enough yet?
Once you are following someone, make sure to comment on their images, that way you won’t be seen as a stealthy follower who does it only for the refollow.
Don’t forget, it is a community and they want you to engage with them.
Reality is the last word you should have in your mind. Everything that is posted to Instagram is not real. It is highly polished, staged, and never shows the negative side of the individuals’ lives.
So, don’t get jealous about popular people with their amazing, perfect lives. It’s not like that. They are just as flawed as you and me.
That means, you’re allowed to ham it up a bit. Compose your shots, make them look good, take multiple shots to make sure you get the best image.
Have fun and entertain your audience. They want to see wonderful images, taken well, showing something interesting.
Ermagod I’m Gonna Be Rich
Professional social media content creators are rare, especially the ones earning a pretty penny. It doesn’t mean you can’t earn some money, through product placements and sponsorships, but just don’t go into this thinking that is a certainty.
If it stops being fun, then you have the opportunity to stop. Delete the app, put down the phone, go and see the world.
I hope that helps you get started with Instagram.
Did you like this post? Let me know in the comments. If you have additional questions, you can comment or email thekgheath [at] gmail [dot] com.
Kieron Heath is a healthcare technology professional, author, podcaster, and lifestyle blogger. You can download his debut novel, The Marsh free here.