How To Use Instagram — Gaining Followers, Likes, And Avoiding Stress

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.

Getting Discovered

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.

Get Specific

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.

Forget Reality

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

Probably not.

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.


The Haunting of a Vacuum on the Internet – When Advertising Becomes Sinister

  Three weeks ago while vacuuming, our cheap Vax blew up. Two years isn’t too bad for a sub-£100 vacuum.

The wife bought a new Vax without my knowledge (clearly knowing I would have gone for the more expensive Dyson, because engineering!), but the assembly was down to me.

There was something about the design of the Vax cyclone that confused me. Where does the air go?

I Googled the unit and read some articles about how cyclone vacuums work and after a bit more inspection of our new vacuum my curiosity was satisfied as to how it was designed (hey, when you have to put every piece of it together, you might as well know how it works).

For the last two weeks, I’ve been stalked by adverts for this red Vax. It’s not even the model I searched for.

It’s appeared on news websites, music sites, and even within the Facebook app.

I’ve never found online ads to be that jarring, except when they are distasteful pop-overs, but this red vacuum has gotten to me.

Why does it bother me? I know why it appears. I’ve been tagged as having an interest in this vacuum and there is the impression that there is still a chance that upon seeing this advert I will buy it. But, I won’t. Because, I already have a new vacuum. It’s like I’m being stalked, or haunted by this thing. I have little power (save dumping the cache on my iPhone) to stop this.

If you want to attract trusting customers, don’t make them feel uncomfortable. There is a difference between getting in front of a customer’s eyes and making a customer feel like they want to make a purchase.

A flasher doesn’t make you want to sleep with them. But, they followed the same principle as this advert. They showed you the goods up front, with easy access to take advantage of the deal.

They just didn’t show any decency.

Advertisers should work harder on great marketing of great products, and media outlets should only run adverts that are tasteful.

You might say this argument is flawed, but if you run with those limitations, you will find a better solution where customers by products they trust via outlets they love. Again and again.

My example of advertising stalking is one of the reasons why ad-blocking software is coming up on the Apple agenda. Not only are these ads an invasion of privacy, but they are also a drain on battery life, processing power, and network bandwidth.

The cost of advertising has passed from the advertiser and onto the consumer in the form of our privacy and the speed and life of our own devices.

It’s time for advertising to have a kick in the teeth. It’s the lesson the industry deserves.