So it's pretty rare these days to refresh your twitter timeline without someone having something to say about Instagram. It's a hot discussion topic, the algorithm, shadow banning, ranking, bots... you name it. We talk about these things daily. So I thought I would write a little post talking about some of the things I've learnt about Instagram over the last 6 months or so.
Now I am no Instagram guru, I have around about 2,400 followers but I have a good engagement rate and I put a lot of thought into my feed. Occasionally the numbers get everyone down, It's horrible to think on your low days you base your happiness around an app but for bloggers and online creatives, that app = business. Whilst there is more recognition for the micro-influencer - it's still more ideal to hit above 10k. However, that being said - there's no point being miserable and there's certainly still ways to enjoy the app!
hashtags are your friend
but only if you use them thoughtfully
Every time I post an Instagram photo I will put a collection for 20-30 hashtags directly in the comment below - without fail. Why? Because it gets my photo seen by the right people and it helps me be involved in certain Instagram communities. Everything I know about hashtags I have learnt from Sara Tasker, her newsletter and podcast have really opened my mind to the potential of hashtags. Before finding her blog, I simply thought hashtags didn't work and looked a little bit desperate. Oh how I was wrong.
The key to using hashtags is using ones which are firstly applicable to your photo and secondly describe the mood rather than the object. Although it can be tempting to just copy and paste the same hashtags for each photo, It's worth spending a little more time and finding ones which fit the photo rather than generic ones. You'll receive a more positive engagement by putting that bit more time in.
For me, every week or so on a lazy morning I'll check out new hashtags, and save them for later. Some are seasonal like #winterstories or #springhassprung, some are great for that morning coffee and newspaper shot #morningslikethese or #tablesituation and others work well for peaceful moments #slowlived or #theartofliving. It's worth assessing what your photo is saying and adding in these thoughtful hashtags.
A little note on shadow banning - if you constantly use the same hashtags on your photos, apparently Instagram may shadow ban you. This means making your photos only visible to those who already follow you - you can imagine what damage this would do to your engagement. So to avoid this, do your research and use hashtags thoughtfully.
P.s. If you are wearing a particular brand in your photo (e.g. ASOS) make sure you use their relevant hashtag too! #asseenonme
ENGAGEMENT IS KEY
REAL GENUINE, HONEST ENGAGEMENT
Real, organic growth on Instagram requires a lot of graft. Whilst it's pretty easy to just scroll down your feed, double tapping as you go - a bit more engagement is needed if you want to grow. Sparking conversation is really what the app is all about, whilst likes get the attention - comments make the difference. Having a good engagement rate is key, especially to brands which may want to work with you, as engagement is more likely to generate revenue.
I like to try and engage daily, just making it part of my Instagram routine. It shouldn't be tasking, if you find the right hashtags to click through on - it will be a lot more fun.
I'll break this down into two sections, engaging with your current followers and engaging with others:
If you don't engage with your current followers there is a chance they may just leave. It's a social app and everyone appreciates the effort on both parties, so by neglecting your original following you may see them unfollowing. It's good to spend some moments every day or few days, looking at your following's recent snaps. Leaving a ❤️ and a few nice words goes a long way.
Growing more followers requires a little bit more effort. Using the hashtags which fit your photos you should find communities of users which produce similar content to you. So use those hashtags, go through and like / comment on some of the users photos and you may see a new insta-friendship blossom. It's really important to keep these comments interesting and genuine. I think we're all a bit done with the 'nice shot' comment. It looks a bit like a bot.
BUT APPLIED LOOSELY
The word theme sounds like such a dirty word now but It's still worth a mention. Whilst I do whole heartily believe you should post what you want, I do think consideration to the gram as a whole is worth a thought. I try to snap a few Instagram posts in advance and arrange them in Mosaico before posting. I like them to flow well, I like there to be a good variety between outfit shots and lifestyle kinda ones etc. and I do genuinely believe it helps.
My friend Mollie wrote a really amazing post on being over white Instagram themes, it's worth a read! I think if you start taking photos you're proud of but don't want to 'ruin your theme' - each to their own but that's too much for me - I would just post it because life's too short to worry about things like that. However, I do think a loosely applied idea to your Instagram theme is great. For instance, mine at the moment is pops of bright colour! As you can see below!
For someone who has never liked red before I'm starting to get really into it. I am living in this combo ❤️ We're off bridesmaid dress shopping tonight, so exciting! Although I think we're all secretly looking forward to the gin afterwards 🥂 Shop this pic via screenshot with the new LIKEtoKNOW.it app if you so wish. http://liketk.it/2qXSb #liketkit @liketoknow.it @liketoknow.it.europe #LTKEurope
THERE'S HELP OUT THERE
SO UTILISE IT!
Instagram is a great tool, it has it's downfalls but It's definetly a solid part of being in a creative business. At times it can be disheartening but fear not, there's always someone willing to chat it out. Again I will recommend Sara, she really is an Instagram genius and is always willing to pass with a few wise words. Also, just talk to your friends, ask for advice, ask them to critique, start an engagement pod. There's so much help out there, you just need to ask!
Hopefully this will help even maybe one person, but honestly just enjoy Instagram for what it is and try not to let it get you down!
If you have any more tips share below!