At its very basic, Instagram is a social media platform that allows users to post beautiful photos for others to enjoy, comment on and repost. Simple, right?
So when you post a fuzzy photo or a pic of something that is indistinguishable, you can’t expect a “like” or a “comment.”
Tip #1: Picture Quality is Key
There’s a reason that photo editing software and apps are exploding.
The photos you post on Instagram should be your best photos, not the secondary ones you didn’t include in your blog post.
Pictures should be clear, easy to see and understand what’s going on in them. They should also be edited with the same filters each time. Uniformity is your friend.
Instagram users also tend to respond better to photos of people rather than things, so keep that in mind when choosing what to post.
While you can totally take great pictures using your iPhone or Android, mixing in photos by professional photographers can definitely up your game.
Tip #2: Stop Selling
Instagram is not a platform for you to scream at people to buy your product or service. No one will buy something they’ve never heard of nor will they continue to follow you if all your posts are shouting at them to make a purchase.
If you post a photo of a product you sell or you describe a service you provide, make sure there’s a broader purpose to the words.
So if you’re a realtor, talk about why selling a home makes you so happy because you know a wonderful family has found their forever home.
Or if you sell designer socks, talk about how the socks will make someone feel – cozy when they get home after a long day or bold enough to take on the day.
Tip #3: Captions Should Tell a Story
One-liners are so 2018.
The copy you write on a post should be interesting, revealing and relatable. It should also be on the longer side. Use your judgment here of course. If you’ve posted a quote, for example, you might only need one line to say your piece.
Here’s an idea of a starting point for a longer caption:
Are you having a long week? I am. My dog ate my shoe and then I got a flat tire and it’s only Tuesday!
Then you go on to explain more about your week, what else you hope to accomplish and you can ask your followers how their week is going.
Tip #4: Engage With Your Audience
The word engagement gets thrown around so much but it’s truly an important element to successfully growing your following on Instagram.
What do you have to do to engage?
Well, for starters, reply to comments on your posts! If someone is kind and thoughtful enough to write something to you, the least you can do is respond.
You can also like other people’s photos and leave comments on them. That builds engagement. Who knows, you might even start creating a whole community of engaged followers who you feel like you know even though you’ve never actually met in person!
Tip #5: Use Hashtags
To clear up any confusion, a hashtag is a word or phrase that helps you search topics you might be interested in. When you include hashtags in your posts (which you should ALWAYS do), you’re giving people a way to find you.
If someone is looking for a plumber in Harrisburg, PA and you’ve used the hashtag #harrisburgplumber, your ideal customer is going to find you.
You’re allowed to use a total of 30 hashtags in any given Instagram post. Some people prefer to add them to the caption, while others add the 30 hashtags as the first comment.
Don’t always go for the most popular hashtags either. You’ll be more searchable if you stick to tags that have 10k to 200k posts as opposed to millions.
Tip #6: Use Instastories Effectively
These days, more people will organically see your Instastories than your posts. That doesn’t mean you should not follow the rules above. It just means that Instastories are important too.
To create Instastories, at the bare minimum, you can press the arrow icon and use your post as an Instastory.
You can also press the camera icon in the top corner and start with photos from your library or take photos with your camera to use as Instastories.
Instastories should be used for showing things going on behind the scenes, asking questions, short videos, and extra pics that didn’t make it into your post.
Make sure to add a hashtag, a location tag and anything fun you want to say.
Another great tip for Instagram success in Instastories is to ask questions or take polls. It’s hard to resist giving your opinion when someone asks which idea you like better.
Tip #7: Use The Highlights
That row of circles that sits above your post grid is where your Instastories highlights live.
You can select any photo as the cover for each highlight and pick a name that suits it.
Highlights help you organize your Instastories into categories. They’re also helpful because they make those 24-hour stories last forever.
The highlights you pick should show off what you like to talk about on your Insta feed, and help further your message to your followers.
Any Instastories you’ve ever posted should be housed in your Instastories archives so you can select them to add to your highlights.
Tip #8: Plan What You’re Going To Post
Use planning apps to make your life easier.
You’ll know what you’re posting on a given day and you’ll also be able to move the tiles around to see what looks best to tell your story.
You can post a month in advance!
I recommend Planoly.com because you can upload all the photos and fill out all the captions, plus add in the appropriate hashtags on your computer.
When it comes time to posting, you simply open the app on your phone, copy and paste!
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Tip #9: Make Use of that Link
Don’t hesitate to change up the one link you get in your Instagram bio.
If you blog, for example, you can link to your blog post each time you write one. If you’re hosting an event, you can link to your Eventbrite or Evite on there.
Some people like to use a service like Link Tree. It allows users to create one link to be posted on their Instagram bio.
When someone clicks on that link, it sends them to a homepage of sorts that has different buttons. Each button can be a link to something different.
Tip #10: Don’t Compare Your Feed to Others
Comparing yourself to others is like a knee-jerk reaction in the age of Instagram.
When someone has 65k followers and you only have 120 people following your account, it’s easy to feel discouraged.
The trick, however, is to look at engagement. If you have 120 followers and 85 of them are liking your pictures regularly, you’re doing really great.
That account with 65k may only have 85 people liking and commenting too! That tells you not only is their engagement low, but also the people following them are not actually part of their tribe. The followers might even be bots.
You can master effective Instagram marketing. Follow these steps and repeat as often as necessary!
To your success,