With constant algorithm changes, saturated markets, and people cheating the system with those dreaded bots commenting “Love this! *thumbs up emoji”, it’s hard to know where to start when it comes to creating an Instagram Strategy. I am no expert, but in the last year I have learned a lot about the platform and how to utilize it to grow my business and blog.
Below I’ve outlined the Top Instagram Strategy ideas that I believe will help you attract the right people to your profile in order to gain raving fans, and not just those aliens that “follow/unfollow.” Let’s get started:
Take Better Photos
Instagram is a visual platform. At its core, it’s all about the photos. The shot itself, the quality of the photo and the editing all play a role in mastering that perfect picture.
In my opinion, you need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera to achieve this. Many people say iPhone cameras are just fine, but in my experience (and for the long run) I have to disagree. Yes, this will work in a pinch, but if you’re serious about photography and growing your social media channels, investing in a good camera is a must.
I use a Fujifilm X-T20 Mirrorless Digital Camera w/XF18-55mm F2.8-4 lens and I love it. However, when I first started out I had a cheaper Canon from the Rebel series (this one is only $455! Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DC III Lens). You can find them on craigslist for cheap! I recommend a 35mm or 50mm lens for those blurry backgrounds.
Tip: Be picky!! Don’t just post a picture because you haven’t posted anything in awhile, or you feel the need to post everyday. It’s better to post a few quality shots versus a bunch of average photos that you don’t LOVE. It will take time for you to get the hang of your camera and editing style, so be patient and go easy on yourself. You’re doing great!
Show Some Love
So, you’re looking for more exposure on Instagram to attract potential readers or clients, encourage them to visit your site, and perhaps buy your product and become a loyal user. Just like brick and mortar stores, people aren’t going to show up if you don’t get out and interact with people. Let them know you’re there!
In the virtual world of Instagram, that means lots of love with likes and comments (the organic way, this is a bot free zone!). The best way to do this is to like and comment on profiles:
- from like-minded individuals in the same industry
- people using the same or similar hashtags to you
- your target audience (find them by looking at the comments on other accounts in your niche/like-minded peoples photos)
- Your own followers! This will help engagement on your profile as well
Genuinely engage. Use the platform for what is was created for, to connect with people! Avoid comments like “Love this!” or “Great shot!” as those are too generic and can come off as spam-like. Instead, pretend it’s one of your best friends feeds and they just posted a new picture. You might comment on their outfit (aka that color looks *fire emoji* on you) or “I’ve always wanted to visit Morocco! This just bumped it up on my bucket list!” or ask them a question if you’re curious about their caption, where they are or what project they are working on. Honestly, just be yourself and specific and only comment when you have something to say.
A great article for this is Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 Instagram strategy. He essentially suggests giving your “2 cents” AKA a comment/like on photos that have reached the Top 9 in a specific hashtag. For example, you’re a fashion blogger. Search: #OOTDFashion and like and comment on all the Top Posts. Do this for 9 different hashtags. I like this idea but it doesn’t necessarily need to be the top posts. Chances are you’ll have a lot of success with the smaller accounts that are using the same hashtags as these accounts are your target audience and will be more likely to engage with you back!
You are allowed to use 30 hashtags per post. I know this seems like a lot and people have mixed feelings about them. The algorithm is making it hard enough to get noticed, so when you post, try to use 30 strategic hashtags to up your chances of being seen. Try mixing up the number of hashtags you use. Try 9 for one post, 15 for another, and 30 for another. Use the Instagram analytics that business profiles provide to see what your impressions through hashtags were to see if the ones you are using are working.
Mix up your hashtags
I like to use a mixture of hashtags depending on the photo. I tailor them towards each specific picture or topic I want to share about.
For example, if I post a picture while on vacation in Palm Springs, I may search Palm Springs photos and see what people are using for hashtags. I’ll also look to see if there is a specific hashtag for that region from the tourism board like #visitpalmsprings or #palmspringsstyle. I’ll then sprinkle in a few about travel in general, California, or life as a digital nomad.
If I’m sharing something more business or creative based, I might use a few hashtags to attract those creativepreneurs. To do this, check out your favourite Instagram accounts that focus on the topic you’re posting about, and see what hashtags they are using! You can also use google to get a few ideas.
Tip: Consider tagging accounts in your photos too. With so many people using similar hashtags, tagging brands, companies, hotels, and accounts that repost pictures of a certain genre will help you get noticed.
The algorithm rewards engagement (likes, comments and overall interaction). Instead of doing this an unnatural way with instagram pods or bots, try to use this as an opportunity to build a community and connection with your followers. I like using captions to encourage conversation. Ask questions, dive deeper to tell a story, get vulnerable, and show your personal side. Everyone is just looking to relate to someone.
While Instagram is visual, cutting through the clutter can only be done by being YOU and only you. Think of a few things that make up who you are (ie. sports fan, coffee lover, traveling addict, Harry Potter
nerd enthusiast) and weave these themes throughout your content so people start to get a sense of who you are. They are more inclined to engage when they know there’s a real person under those squares on the grid! I know, I know, I know. It can be nerveracking and a little embarassing to put yourself out there, especially if it’s #crickets the first few times you post. Don’t worry too much about that and just keep going. Build it and your tribe will come.
I hope these Instagram Strategy tips are helpful! Don’t get too discouraged if you’re not building a following as rapidly as you’d like, and remember we are all fighting for space on this saturated platform. Instagram can sometimes feel like that bartender that keeps ignoring you and serving other people even when you make eye contact and awkwardly wave at him. Use these strategies and you’ll get that margarita in no time!