Photo Credit: CamilleovertheRainbow
After having read, experimented, signed up to free and paid courses , spent two years researching the changing algorithm and secrets behind the success of millions on Instagram, I am finally in a place where I feel I can share with you the top secrets I have learnt, for FREE!
Are you ready?
How Instagram Works
Unlike social sharing platforms like Twitter and Pinterest, Instagram isn’t the most efficient place to drive traffic to your blog, but it’s the place to convert sales and expose millions of targeted individuals to your brand. It is a visual platform, so use it as a place to sell your brand story.
Ensure that your blog has the best visuals by taking high-quality imagery, or getting free stock photos from websites like Unsplash. It’s the best if you don’t have time to curate your own content!
We’re starting off with the basics. This section includes your profile picture, bio, and brand identity.
Instagram is the place to drive potential customers to your account through your feed. It is the one place to tell your brand story, and so it is important to keep this brand identity consistent across all social media.
To optimize your Instagram for blog traffic, this is what you need to do:
• Use an appealing logo. Preferably one that is consistent across all your social media channels. The best logos are either a) one that shows your face, so that people can connect with you easily or b) your brand logo.
• Your Bio: fill in all the details Instagram allows you to put in. Make it personable, add some emojis, and Instagram gives you one space for a link – use it wisely!
• Keep your feed consistent and congruent. You can always post a messy, random feed, on your personal Instagram. However, for your business Instagram do not post anything outside of your niche – as this will only confuse your audience.
* If you have not yet figured out your brand identity (this involves the mood of your brand: color, theme, topics, font etc. I would advise you spend some time figuring this out before you start posting on Instagram.) As well as this, make sure you have figured out your target audience.
The most important tip you will learn in this article is the importance of hashtags. I’m sure you’ve heard the conflicting views on whether to use hashtags or not. Many say that they look spammy, messy, unprofessional, and many people have this superior attitude over hashtags. Well to tell you the honest truth, that advice is great….for people with an established brand.
You see, those people on Instagram you see not using any hashtags, or using one or two per post? You’ll find that most (if not all of them) are already getting thousands of likes and followers, and the algorithm is always boosting their posts because of this. They do not need hashtags. You do.
I cannot stress just how important targeted hashtags are to growing your Instagram. If you are already using Instagram and not seeing growth, this is likely down to the lack of targeted hashtags you are using.
You may have noticed that I didn’t just say hashtags. I said ‘targeted hashtags’ as on this whole hashtag game goes a lot deeper than just using random hashtags to explain your image.
Getting your photo to the top of a hashtag (the most popular section) is based on how quickly your photo gains traction after posting. The system I use is simple, yet highly effective.
Here are the golden tips:
• Find hashtags with photos ranging between the 1,000-300,000 posts. This means that the hashtag is not over saturated and gives you a better chance at making it to the top of the feed because it won’t get drowned out in seconds.
You can play around with this number, but anything less than 1,000 usually doesn’t have enough engaged users and anything more than 300,000 is usually over saturated.
• Look at the quality of the content on a particular hashtag. Whatever your niche is – ask yourself: Are these the people I am trying to target? Will my images resonate with them? Finding hashtags relating to a collective is usually the best way forward. Some examples include: #collectivelycreate #graphicgang #visualcoop #phculture
If you are serious about using hashtags to catapult your Instagram business ahead of everyone else, there is only one Instagram course I would wholeheartedly recommend and that is Hashtag Hero for $99 or Infamous to Influential for $329. Alex Tooby is the Instagrammer who built her Instagram @menandcoffee (it’s the one you’ve seen with the hot, usually shirtless men, with coffee mugs) and now teaches Instagram courses that actually provide value. It’s one of the few (or only) Instagram course you will ever see me promote on this blog. You really get more bang for your buck than any other Instagram course I’ve joined.
Marketing fads to get you quick followers are useless in the long term. Instead, engage authentically with your audience.
If you use unsavory techniques like follow/unfollow or anything similar, like buying followers, it will immediately discredit your brand by making you seem phony or hungry for followers.
Engagement is more important than numbers, no matter what anyone tries to tell you. It is more important to establish good relationships with your readers so that engagement is authentic since those are the people that will buy your products and invest in you, compared to the followers you only have because you followed them back.
To grow your audience, communicate with them. Ask them questions, reply back to comments, and only follow your target audience. The Instagram algorithm favours comments over likes, so to make it to the top of people’s feeds, spark conversation! Ask questions on the caption of your image.
Rumour has it that Instagram only counts comments as engagement if they are longer than three words. Therefore, don’t just leave a meaningless emoji comment, but reply back to comments in an open-ended way to create a thread of conversation.
An easy task to grow your followers is to identify five competitor accounts. When that brand posts a photo, go through the likes on that image and engage with those Instagram accounts. Since they are active, they are more likely to check out your content and follow!
Timing is everything. With the smart feed now being used by Instagram, it may not seem as important, but you still need to know when your audience is most engaged. Using a spreadsheet to see what days and times give you optimum likes and follow is the best way to track growth.
Although there is plenty of information provided by Instagram on the best timings: Wednesday 5.pm e.s.t is typically the best time to post, this is constantly changing. The audience you have will always determine the best times to post. If you post quotes on your Instagram, mornings might be the best time to post as people are looking for inspiration at the start of their day. However, if you’re a fashion blogger, you have to think about when someone might be looking for style inspiration, like on a Friday night.
Look, I get it. Consistency as a concept sounds easy enough. Most bloggers recommend posting between one to three times a day, depending on what you see fit for your brand. However, consistency can be a lot harder than it looks, especially if your blog/business is not your full-time job. Life gets in the way, and suddenly it’s been a week since you last updated your Instagram profile.
However, not only will posting sporadically make your audience lose interest, but the algorithm rewards consistency. Posting every day in conjunction with targeted hashtags is the fastest, most effective way to grow you Instagram. Although Instagram does not allow any third-party apps or websites to post for you, Later and Planoly are extremely helpful time saving, apps to plan your posts in advance so that you have your content scheduled and ready to go.
With the number of Instagram users growing daily, it is important to remember that although Instagram is an app oversaturated with accounts, if you are innovative and spend a certain amount of time on Instagram daily, growing your Instagram audience will become easier. Remember, it’s not about how many followers you have, but how engaged they are with your content! It is better to have fewer followers who trust you, than thousands who are not interested in your brand.
In the next few months, I’m also going to be going more in-depth about each of these 5 tips, so if you want to keep up to date with that, make sure you follow me on social media!
Did you find this blog post helpful? Comment below any strategies you plan to implement on your Instagram.