I confess, I am obsessed with Instagram. It’s a place for people to share the beauty around them, things they are working on, items they love, their town, their animals, delicious food, etc. in a really beautiful way. It’s all I ever wanted before I knew I even wanted it. With the recent news that Facebook just released, there is even more reason to find other social media platforms to get word out about you and your small business. I thought it would be helpful to compile a bunch of hints that have helped me gain followers and grow in the Instagram world. I am, by no means, an expert and I have no where near the amount of followers some people have, but I have worked hard to gain the real followers that I do have and have learned a lot in the meantime…so I thought I’d share it with all of you!
1. Make your feed beautiful. This might mean using the same color palette, using limited filters, keeping your backgrounds the same color, etc. I think this is the most important component of having a successful Instagram account.
2. Use hashtags. This is how you find followers and followers find you! Keep your hashtags pertinent to your photo, but then experiment a little with general hashtags like #igers, #instagood, #photooftheday. Also, I use VSCO all the time and then use the tags #vsco or #vscocam. I love to click on this hashtag and search for people that are also using this app. It’s a great way to find like-minded followers too.
3. Make sure you have a mix of product photography and personal photography. There is nothing worse than finding a brand you love, clicking on their Instagram account and only seeing products that you could easily find in their shop. Keep it a mix of both and you’ll find that you gain a lot more authentic followers that way. I love to see my favorite artist’s town, their pets, bits of their home or studio, their vacations-anything that lets me feel like I’m getting to know the artist as a real person.
4. Edit your photos. There are some fantastic (and oftentimes free) editing software out there that you can use to make your photos sing (okay, not literally, but you know what I mean). I think there was a time that editing felt like you weren’t being authentic, but that has definitely passed. All of the fantastic Instagram accounts use editing software-don’t get left in the dust.
5. Use your camera phone. This might just be my thing, but I hate when I realize that a fantastic Instagram account is using their fancy DSL camera to post their photos. I feel like it’s cheating. Plus, it’s waaaaay easier to take a photo, edit and post rather than downloading, emailing, opening on your phone, editing, posting, etc. Keep it real.
6. Post regularly-this is important to keep your followers interested. I don’t necessarily post everyday, but I try to. Also, don’t wait til evening to be like…oh crap, I haven’t posted a photo today and then take a dark, weird photo of your dog and post it. Try to keep Instagram ideas in your head and snap some photos throughout the day. You’ll be surprised by how many photo opportunities reveal themselves throughout your day.
7. Follow others and share the wealth. Don’t expect followers if you’re not out there sharing the love. I could spend hours (literally hours) stuck in the Instagram world clicking hashtags, clicking followers of followers and looking through other people’s feeds. It can be a time suck, but a little bit of time here and there really makes a big difference…and building relationships on Instagram is key.
8. Like other people’s photos and comment…just make sure you are being authentic. Don’t just follow to follow, like to like or comment to comment. But if someone takes a beautiful photo, tell them! If someone has a delicious looking photo of a dinner they just made-ask for the recipe if you’d like to experiment in the kitchen yourself. Interacting in Instagram gets you places.
9. Respond to comments other people make. If someone comments on your photo, give a quick response back. Don’t feel like you have to write a paragraph, but if someone says they like your photo, a simple “thanks” is a nice gesture and again, builds relationships.
10. Most importantly, enjoy yourself! This goes for any social media platform that you are using-if you are not enjoying it, maybe it’s not the best platform for you. But with time, practice and some knowledge, I hope you will enjoy it just as much as I do!