On my original Instagram tips post about growing authentically, there were a few tips I did not include because I, like many others, assumed you already knew them. These are a few very basic Instagram tips for beginners typically, but they may still be things that you did not know or that you have forgotten over time.
1. Post Vertical Photos
The idea here is to take up more space. In a world where people are scrolling, you want your photo to stand out. This starts with having quality content. However, having a vertical photo makes it stand out just a little more as people mindlessly scroll. The more real estate you can take up on a user’s feed, the more likely they are to engage with it.
Instagram allows photos that have an aspect ratio of 4 x 5. When I edit in Lightroom, I go ahead and crop to this size. If you don’t crop it, Instagram automatically will. Make sure to at least adjust what part of the photo is showing before you post (I try to use the Rule of Thirds when possible – here is one of many articles out there that explains it).
I know ahead of time that I will lose a good chunk of the top and bottom of my photo when I post it. After having a few images chop off things I wanted in the photo, I have learned to leave some extra space. I don’t zoom in as close with my zoom lenses or take a few extra steps back with my prime lenses. This ensures I have enough room to crop the photo later and still have the entire image I wanted originally.
2. Use All 30 Hashtags & 20 Account Tags Wisely
I added wisely here because many people use them, but many people do not use them wisely. There are a couple of mistakes I see happening regularly on Instagram with hashtags and account tags.
You can use up to 30 hashtags on a photo. There actually is a way to use 60 by posting, adding a comment with 30 hashtags, and then editing your caption to add 30 more hashtags. However, I did not see any additional views from this and have heard that Instagram limits your views when you do that.
When you pick hashtags to use, don’t pick a bunch of hashtags that are used millions of times. For example, I do not use things like #travel because my photo will be lost within seconds. The likelihood of it making it to the top of that hashtag is small. That doesn’t mean you should never use a large hashtag.
I use some big hashtags, but I make sure they tie to feature accounts. If I’m going to have a photo make it to the top of a huge hashtag, I would like it to also have the possibility of getting shared by that account. I limit myself to only a few large hashtags per post though. You can find more of my tips for using hashtags to get featured on feature accounts here.
The other mistake I see is tagging random people in your posts. For example, I get tagged in a handful of posts every day. Rarely do the photos have anything to do with me. If you went somewhere because you saw it on my page or used a tip I gave you or mention me in any way, feel free to tag me. I love seeing those! I do get a little annoyed when the same pages (typically pages that don’t even follow me) tag me in photos that have nothing to do with me. In fact, I hide these from my profile since they don’t fit my brand.
If you are tagging accounts that don’t relate to the photo, you are at most getting an extra like from it. Instead, tag feature accounts or brands you use in the photo. Tag the person who inspired you or gave you that tip. Don’t just tag 20 random people.
Make sure if you post a carousel that you only tag 15 accounts instead of 20. Your carousel will not post if you tag too many accounts. Find my tips for posting carousels here.
3. Have a Business Account Even Under 10K Followers
There are rumors that having a business account limits your reach, but there is no proof of this. Now we have creator accounts as well for accounts over 10,000 followers. Both of these types of accounts give you invaluable insights.
If you have over 10,000 followers, you definitely need to have a business or creator account to have the swipe up link. Even if you have less followers, switch to a business account for the analytics.
One major trick to getting more engagement on Instagram is to post when your followers are active. With the Instagram insights you get from a business account, you can see exactly when your followers are online. You can see the time of day and the days of the week they are most active. Use this to help you decide when to post. I also pay attention to the results of my posts to help narrow it down further.
Another good reason to make the switch is if you are wanting to collaborate with brands. Many people (myself included) work with brands long before hitting 10,000 followers. When you create a media kit, you will need to include a lot of the analytics that Instagram gives you. You should include things like your demographics and reach/impressions. These are all available on a business account. Some campaigns also require that you send them the results of your post with your reach, impressions, etc. for those posts or stories. A business account lets you do that.
4. The Debate on Hashtags in Captions or Comments
If you’ve been on Instagram long, you have probably seen some people post hashtags in the comments and others post them in the caption. Currently I am posting mine in the first comment. I like it better when the caption is clean, but that is just me.
As far as engagement is concerned, it doesn’t seem to matter. I have had a ton of hashtag views with hashtags in both places. I do tend to find that sometimes a few posts will have lower hashtag views. This is part of the normal cycle of posting on Instagram it seems. If it happens regularly, I switch it up and put the hashtags in the caption for a few posts. Then I go back and try again. This may not do anything, but it does seem to help for me.
If you are currently posting them in one place and not getting many hashtag views, try switching it for a couple of posts. What do you have to lose?
5. Who You Should Follow & Engage With on Instagram
First of all, you should follow and engage with whoever you want to enjoy your Instagram experience. However, know that Instagram does pay attention to this. If you like travel photos, follow travel accounts, use travel hashtags, and have people who like travel photos/accounts/use travel hashtags following you, it helps Instagram realize you are posting travel photos that people who like to travel will want to see.
If you keep the majority of who you follow and what you engage with in your niche, it helps Instagram figure that out and show your photo to people who also are interested in that niche. It also helps put your name and content in front of others who are in your niche. Most importantly, it helps you build a community, and that is one of the most important aspects of Instagram. Having a community that supports your posts makes it even easier to make it to the Explore page or for others to find you.
The Explore page is the Holy Grail of Instagram. Hitting the Explore page can skyrocket the engagement on your photo and bring you a ton of new followers depending on how many people see your photo on their Explore page. Chances are, some of your photos have already made the Explore page for at least a few people to see. Who you follow and who you engage with are just one factor that can impact your chances of making it to the Explore page.
Instagram tries to show people what they like. They use relationships and actions to help determine what you like. If you like a bunch of travel photos, your Explore page has travel photos. If you love memes, your Explore page will have some memes. By associating yourself more closely with your niche, it makes it easier for Instagram to figure your page out. When it knows what category to put you in, it makes it more likely it shows your photos to people interested in that category.
Were these tips ones people were right to assume you already knew? Or were any of them new to you? Any others I should add?
For more of my Instagram tips series, click here for tips to grow authentically, write engaging captions, get features/shout-outs, and avoid Instagram growth hacks that will hurt you in the long run.
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