Instagram: what a genius idea to have an app that acts like a digital photo album you can share with the world. I can scroll down the photo albums of different people around the world and just enjoy the pictures they post. If you are a visual person like myself and you love discovering new things/places and new people, chances are you have an Instagram account. If you want to take your Instagram account to the next level like so many others do, I have gathered together some tips and tricks for you below. How can you grow your audience (for free), and what are the secrets to a successful Instagram account/business? I will break it down for you. This is Part 2. In this part I will be discussing your feed, posts, and captions. What should you post, and what kind of captions should be added to make a picture perfect?
If you haven’t read Part 1, click here. Read up on how to start your Instagram branding, and don’t forget to come back for Part 2 for more tips and tricks.
Feed your followers wisely
You gain followers based on the selection of pictures you post, and through your posts you, in a manner of speech, feed people. Keep in mind that no one will look at one picture they like and automatically follow you. You need to be consistent on your feed. Keep to a theme so that people can immediately recognize what kind of account you have and be assured of your expertise in the pictures you post. If you have an account with all kinds of cute puppies and kittens, you can’t suddenly upload a picture of your toes in the sand. Unless you are Kim Kardashian or Selena Gomez. Actually, even these people stay close to character and their brand on Instagram and will only post the things they believe in, did, or are working on. You will need to do the same. Your feed is the first thing people see, and it needs to identify who you are/what you brand yourself as in less than 10 seconds. If your feed doesn’t look good, people won’t follow. Remember that Instagram is a very visual application, so everything needs to look good visually. You feed your followers with your posts, so only feed them with the best pictures you have. If you look at different successful Instagram accounts, you will notice that not only do the pictures follow a theme, but they also have consistent editing. You might notice that the feed is filled with vibrant and varying colors that make the feed look visually appealing and put together. Editing pictures is a whole different story, and you can actually download pre-sets if you don’t feel like putting the time in or learning how to edit pictures yourself. Whatever you choose to do, choose what looks best to you and what you like most. Because when you have an attractive feed, you will attract more followers.
Questions you need to ask yourself:
– How do my pictures look combined?
– How does it all look together?
– What vibe does it give, and do you like that vibe?
– Is it clean and vibrant?
– Does your feed have a style? What kind of pictures do you post? Is it fashion? Professional photography? Stay in the niche you chose for consistency and continuity.
Protip: If you are like me and enjoy many things, make your niche lifestyle oriented. This basically means you can post about everything and anything that has to do with life. I do have a travel and lifestyle niche because lifestyle is too broad to have it as my focus, and so travel is more specific.
Be a follower
Unless you are Beyoncé and don’t need to follow anyone on Instagram, you will need to be a follower to join the Instagram community. Follow people you genuinely like. Comment on and like their pictures. Don’t try to extort or use the community because it’s been done before. People on Instagram can just smell the difference between a person chain commenting for free promotion and one who actually took the time to appreciate a picture through a thoughtful comment. Ask a question, talk to the creators, and build your own community. Again, don’t approach others with the intention of using them. Approach to become familiar with other accounts and the people behind them. Try to find common ground with other Instagram users and interact with them. Maybe you can even take pictures with the people you have spoken to and help each other out. Trust me, the rest will follow. You don’t need to comment and like every single picture you come across to be visible.
With every post, you can type out a little note or caption to share with your (future) followers. Your caption should be short, sweet, and interactive. No one wants to read an essay on Instagram. If they wanted to read a long story, they would’ve gone to a blog or read a newspaper. Write a brief message about the photo you took. Fill in the blanks that the photo couldn’t fill. Make it a few sentences or less, and give it the vibe you felt when you took the picture. Tell your audience the experience you had when you took this picture or what it reminds you of. Be interactive. Ask your followers a relevant question related to the picture you posted. Do all this, and do not make your caption longer than a paragraph.
Also, in your caption there is a place for hashtags. Choose your hashtags wisely. I have done some research on how many hashtags should be used, and it is honestly quite confusing. One advice-giver may say that it doesn’t look good to have a bunch of hashtags so it should not be done; another may say that it’s the most effective way to gain new followers. I have noticed that hashtags do bring me an audience, and I’m still in need of using many hashtags. Try a mix and see for yourself what is most effective for your account. It is especially important in the beginning to research and try different hashtags. Remember that everyone’s account is different, and that rules are there merely to act as a guide. Find what works for you and stick to it. In a different post, I will go a bit more in depth with using hashtags because, believe me, it should be its own science.
Instagram is a great application to use if you want to show off. Did you just buy a new fashionable item? How about making a flat lay picture that includes pretty foods and lots of flowers? I didn’t even know it was possible to have such a large bouquet of flowers before Instagram. This application has become a place to show off, and you need to hop on that bandwagon, as well, if you would like to succeed. I hear you thinking, “I don’t have enough money or the resources to take these pretty pictures with pretty backgrounds.” Reality is, even if you have the money, most people don’t pay anything. You need to learn how to display whatever it is you’re wanting to show off in your own authentic way.
A very popular place in the Netherlands to photograph is the Keukenhof. It’s a magical flower garden with tons of differently shaped blooms in all kinds of colors. Everyone has taken the most obvious kinds of pictures there, but the challenge is to train your eye for the less-often used angle. It’s a tall order, but you will have to teach yourself how to show that you’ve been where thousands have been and still captured an authentic, unique photo. Become a trendsetter and try to make the un-obvious, obvious. You don’t always have to show off with pretty clothes or a hundred different coffees. As long as you think outside of the box, you can show off anything you want in an authentic way. It’s one of Instagram’s secrets to success to do something that hasn’t been done before or at least to do something that has been done before with a twist.
What is your Instagram tip for us?