1. Find your niche
Probably the most important step there is and one that get’s tossed out the window so many times unfortunately. You have to remember that people follow you for a specific reason. Let’s say you’re all about salads and healthy food and you post daily recipes. Then don’t do a 180° and suddenly post your favourite pizza. This all may sound very logical and it is but consistency really is key here.
For instance in my own feed, which is dedicated to travel, I only post photos where I am also in the picture. It would be a lot easier to just snap a nice photo of a building or landscape but I want to make the extra effort to get creative and take my followers on a journey with me.
2. Geotag your photo
Try to be as specific as possible. Don’t just tag the country or city that you’re in but tag the specific location. This way you’re followers actually have a chance at finding this Instagram hotspot and will thank you for it! Don’t be a location hoarder!
3. Create a consistent feed
I edit all of my photos with Lightroom Classic CC and if you aren’t using this program already I strongly advise you to do so. Lightroom literally creates magic. When you shoot in RAW, which you should do, Lightroom will help you “develop” your photo so you can get the best end result. I use the same dreamy presets on all of my photos but I do tweak every photo separately. A great app for preparing your Instagram feed is Planoly.
4. Differentiate yourself
What makes your account stand out from all the rest? And I am not necessarily talking about your photos! You can differentiate yourself in so many ways! I strive to be open and honest with everything that I do and apparantly that’s what I am “known for” now. But maybe you’re really good at editing or writing or you are super funny! Then focus on those things and dig deeper in your captions!
5. Post engaging caroussels
Did you know that caroussels tend to get higher engagement these days? Instagram gives your photo a second chance by putting it up again the next day! On the second day Instagram will use the second photo.
I am even taking it a step further these days with carrousels and also include tutorials or behind the scenes. I think it’s a fun way to connect with your audience and show them the reality behind a photo.
6. Use relevant hashtags
The ultimate debate: how many hashtags should I use? Let’s just say it is perfectly fine to use all 30 hashtags if you change them up frequently! Pick 10 hashtags that are only relevant to this particular photo and switch these 10 up every time you post a new photo. The other 20 should be focussed on your community and may include hashtags that are used by repost accounts. I would advise you to switch these up once a month.
But be aware of spammy hashtags! When using one of these it can lead to all of your tags getting shadow banned and that is definitely not something that you want.
7. Engage the right way
The best time to engage in my opinion is 30 minutes before and then 60 minutes after you’ve posted. And I know unlike anyone else that this isn’t always possible! But if you have the time or you can make the time for it, do it!
The accounts that you should engage with 30 minutes before are the ones that commented on your previous photo: Go to their profile and leave a comment on their latest post. This way you will show up again in their feed!
The accounts in the 60 minutes after you’ve posted are the ones that either just posted themselves AND the people that are commenting on their photos. Why? Cause they tend to be online and see that you’re engaging with them!
If you’re just starting out try to get included in an ‘Engagement pod’. You can do so by contacting other accounts that are around the same amount of following as you are and that are in the same niche!
Don’t send out ridiculous proposals to big accounts. I get a lot of these lately and my reaction is to block these people.
8. Respond to your audience
Don’t just post your photo and expect the magic to happen by itself. This is not how Instagram works. You actually need to put in the effort and engage with people. If 5 people comment underneath your photo and you respond to all of them immediately, Instagram will actually also take your comments into account and read it as 10 comments.
How would you feel if you leave a nice and insightful comment on someone’s post and you don’t even get a response? Pretty shitty right? So don’t make someone else feel the same way. It’s called SOCIAL Media. Not ‘I just wanna post so I get a ton of likes and free stuff’ Media.
9. Write an engaging caption
Probably one of the most important things besides your actually photo: your caption! This is the part where you can show your audience who you really are! My biggest advice to you is to open up and show the real you. Don’t just show the good, also show the bad.
if you’re going through something, write about it or even ask your audience for advice.
The posts where I have gotten the most engagement on weren’t the ones that were just a pretty photo. It’s the ones were you let your guard down and let people know the real you.
10. Track your Engagement
Go through your statistics and keep track of your best performing content. Then educate yourself! What were you wearing? Where was this photo taken? What was the focus of the image? What was your caption about?
Keep this info in mind when creating new content. This doesn’t mean that all of your content has to be exactly the same, I also love to switch things up! And it would be very dulling for your creativity if you always have to do the same thing. But once in a while throw in a similar post to make sure your engagement stays on point!
11. Optimise your Bio
Your bio is the first thing that new possible followers will see so make sure that it’s on point. Let them know what your Instagram is about and what your story is. A cool app to use here is Characters, which allows you to incorporate different emoticons and makes you stand out from the crowd.
Use keywords to describe your page in your name box, these keywords get picked up by Instagram in the search function.
If you have a second account where you sell products make sure it’s in there!
And last but not least, if you have a blog make sure to include your OWN landing page in it! If you don’t know how to do this, read my blog post on “How to get more traffic to your blog through Instagram”.
12. Be original with Instagram Stories
Your stories are another way of really connecting with your audience so make it count and show your true self.
Show your day to day, not just the fun travel part. Show your viewers what you do in your down time.
Anounce your new post in your stories or create a countdown were only a small part of your new photo is visible.
For stories video tends to perform better than just photos.
There are a ton of cool apps out there that will help you in creating stunning and original stories.
13. Be consistent with Instagram Stories
Every time you post a new story Instagram will put it back as the first one in line on people’s feed. If you like to plan out your stories from before don’t post them all together. Rather spread them out over the time span of a couple of hours!
Instagram loves consistency and tends to favour you if you’re using their app more often. Try not to skip too many days of not posting a story. For instance when I am not traveling I tend to focus on educating my audience and giving out tips and tricks. This keeps them interested in my page and stories while I am not out there exploring the world.
Use your time at home as research time and go searching for new cool apps or an original idea for a story!
14. Photo tags
Instagram allows you to tag 20 accounts in your photo. Always tag yourself in the middle of the photo and put the other 19 tags in 1 corner on top of each other.
By this I don’t mean with brands but with other content creators! If you’re in the female travel niche like me, I tell you, there is nothing more fun than traveling together with someone who has the same goal as you. You can take photos together and also learn from each other. Take stories together and tag each other! This way other people can also discover your account. And since both of you are in the same niche chances are high they will also like to follow you!
16. Post consistantly
Try to post every day. If once in a while you skip a day that’s totally fine bur don’t make a habit of it if you want to grow consistantly.
Check what time to post either in your statistics or in the cool app ‘When to post” to get more detailed information.