Whether you’re a personal blogger or a brand looking to expand your customer list, Instagram is a great way to reach people. But what if you’re struggling to attract followers? How can you transform your account into something worthy of the “explore” page? Here are just 16 tips, tricks and techniques for Instagram.
1. Download Analytics Software
Analytics software can be used to track, locate and identify the followers you have on Instagram, so it’s an extremely valuable tool if you’re wondering about your audience. Is your account most popular with users aged 14-19? Do you get the most traffic from London, Sydney or Hong Kong? Analytics software can tell you. Below you can see a screenshot of Crowdbabble’s Instagram Analytics platform.
2. Post at the Right Time
Once you know your audience, you can use this information to post at times when they’re most likely to see your updates. For example, if your followers are mostly businesspeople in New York, you can time your updates for rush hour when they’re all stuck on the subway and browsing their phones out of boredom.
3. Ask Questions
Engage your followers by asking questions that they can answer in the comments.
- “What do you think?”
- “Does this happen to anyone else?”
- “What should I do?”
Not only will this increase your number of views and likes, but it will also boost the quality of your content by encouraging meaningful discussion instead of shallow validation.
4. Be Exclusive
Make your Instagram account a one-of-a-kind place. Post content that your followers can’t get anywhere else, including other social media platforms. Don’t cross-post your Instagram photos to Twitter and Tumblr. If people want to see your pictures, make them go to Instagram to get them.
5. Use Airplane Mode
If you update from your smartphone, put it in “airplane mode” while you fiddle around with the Instagram app. Airplane mode disconnects your phone from the web, so you’ll be able to upload images to Instagram without actually posting them live. Edit, crop, filter and tag before anyone sees the fruits of your labor.
6. Use Your Rear-Facing Camera
Selfie lovers, this piece of advice is for you. Don’t use your front-facing camera to take pictures when the rear-facing camera provides photos in a much higher definition. It’ll require an adjustment period to get used to taking selfies with the rear-facing camera, but the effort will be worth it.
7. Utilize Apps for Your Most Frequent Subjects
If you take a lot of puppy photos, use an app like BarkCam that makes noise to get Fido’s attention before snapping a picture. If you’re a foodie with a gallery full of delicious dishes, use Vibrantly to take brighter, sharper and more colorful photos. There are also apps made specifically for editing Instagram pictures and turning them into collages, panoramics and other fun things.
8. Be Smart with Hashtags
There’s an entire art to the use of hashtags on social media, but a good rule of thumb is the “three” rule:
- One popular hashtag to draw traffic
- One descriptive hashtag to set the tone of your post
- One unique hashtag to stand out from the crowd
So a photo of your dog for the trending hashtag #StuffMyDogDoes might have the hashtags #stuffmydogdoes, #goldenretrievers and #theregoesmytoiletpaper.
9. Support Your Followers
Give shout-outs to your most devoted followers. Host challenges and contests to highlight their work. Arrange giveaways or promo-for-promo events where they’ll get freebies in exchange for likes, views and clicks. There are a million ways to say “thank you” to your followers, and all of them will net you positive energy.
10. Improve Low-Quality Images
Instead of posting fuzzy or grainy images with an apologetic caption, try your hardest to increase their quality before uploading. There are a number of tricks you can use to achieve this. For example, one trick of the trade is to make your photos black and white to hide pixellated details.
11. Post Teasers
If you have a certain type of content that’s popular with your followers, give them a little taste before the main event to drum up intrigue and attention. For example, if you’re a brand with an upcoming product, don’t launch the product right away. Tease its release for a week before unveiling the real deal.
12. Utilize All Features of Instagram
Don’t leave your bio blank. Don’t turn off things like GeoMap. They may seem inconsequential, but if you want to make the most out of Instagram as a website, it’s important that you utilize all of the features they have to offer. Consider yourself a hunter using every part of the animal.
13. Emulate the Experts
If you want to improve the quality of your Instagram content, follow a few professional photographers. Not only will they inspire you with the way they use lights, settings and filters, but they’ll also provide a benchmark that you can measure yourself against as you grow as an Instagram user. One such expert is Sue Zimmerman which can be found @TheInstagramExpert. Sue is an Instagram coach and and the author of Instagram Basics For Your Business.
14. Maintain Your Image
Everyone has been tagged in an embarrassing photo at some point, but you don’t have to let your friend’s sense of humor drag down your public image. Instagram has a variety of options for adding, editing and removing tags, so make use of them if you feel that the integrity of your blog or brand has been compromised.
15. Go Behind the Scenes
This is especially important for businesses. People don’t follow your Instagram account to see the same highly-polished content that they can get from your official website; they want something more intimate that suits the nature of social media. Give them a closer look at your company. Let them see the bells and whistles of your operation.
16. Get Noticed by Instagram
This is easier said than done, of course, but if you’re a regular contributor to Instagram’s challenges and projects, you might get your account added to their “explore” page or “suggested users” list. That kind of attention can net you thousands of new followers!
These are just 16 ways to improve your Instagram experience. There are many more, but sometimes you need to dive in and experiment with settings, filters and options for yourself. Have fun!