Instagram…anyone on social media would have heard about this and why not? It is number 1 social media beating Twitter and Facebook, with staggering figures of 1Billion active users in a month and more than 500M in a day. This only means, it is one of the most important channel for brands to develop audience. With brand comes the influencers who can sway views.
Now if you are on Instagram, you are one or more of these, either a normal user, a content creator (and influencer) or a brand.
I barely started my instagram journey in May 2018, though I had an account there since 2015 or so. In close to 2 years I have learnt a lot about the platform, (and still learning).
Being an influencer, I will share my views here on how to gain followers on instagram, more likes, better engagement and in nut shell how to work alongside instagram algorithm.
How Instagram logic works? Well no one knows for 100% sure, except for its internal developers, product owners and business analysts. So over all its internal to Instagram, and rightly so, because instagram would and should not let itself exposed as platform to let others fake away the things and harm genuine brands.
So how to get following and build a name / brand for yourself?
First thing first, there are no shortcuts, all I am going to share here is things which can help. Note that instagram keeps changing algorithm, hence what may be valid at this time may not be valid later (I will try to update this page, as and when I learn more).
Please also note, this is my personal view and you may already be knowing all or even more than what am stating here.
There is no substitute to good content. Good content will stand out. Hence my first and foremost advice is creating good content. Rest all I am going to talk about is how to make sure your content is made more visible.
Timing of the post
If you have business account, you can see what time your followers are most active, try to schedule your post at that time. Why? Because there is a higher chance your post will be seen by active user. Once the content is in front of a user, then its the merit of the content which will work.
So how does it work? When you share a post, instagram selects about 5% of your followers and show your post to them. These 5% users are made from people who you have affinity with e.g. who interact with you via messages, comments on posts or stories. If these people engage with your post, then instagram starts pushing it to your wider following. Which means higher the number of people engaging, higher the chance post will go viral (and more followers of yours will see). Hence, try to engage with your followers. If engagement starts picking up, Instagram will start showing it up on hashtags used.
Hashtag? you can use up to 30hashtags per post, make the most of it. Experiment to see which hashtags work for you and your posts. Try to use relevant hashtags, else people who will see your post on hashtags won’t engage and your post will go down in engagement quickly. As an example, I try to stick to few hashtags targeting UK based foodies, I also use post specific hashtags, e.g. if post is about curry I will use curry based hashtags, I try to mix and match hashtags some which are already in couple of million to some which are up to 100K. My theory is that out of 30 at least 10 hashtags shall kick off. There are tools available with artificial intelligence which can tell how your hashtags are doing. So you know which one to use, alternatively, you will learn if you keep close eye on hashtags.
Keep the post consistency same. If you can post daily? Do it! If you can post alternate days, do it. But don’t be erratic, your frequency of posting defines the pattern and that’s what your followers expect to see.
This is one mistake people do. A strict no! Why? If your followers are not real, two disadvantages, first they won’t engage with your post, which means if they happen to be in that 5% of users seeing the post, they won’t boost your post, rather bring it down. Secondly, if I am a clever brand, I can find out how genuine your followers are by using few simple techniques.
Follow for Follow?
This is again a common thing between influencers, which means you follow me and I will follow you. Well, it increases the following count, but these followers may not be engaging with you, so not a great idea. But you may still want to have some, who help you. I will recommend not having such followers more than 10% of total followers.
It works, as long as instagram does not sniff it, but if someone in your pod is leaving comments like “looks so good” or generic comment, then its no good, rather it hurts. AI tools catch these patterns easily. Also, if Insta sniffs it, you are risking temp bans.
Hashtags in main post or comment?
If you have your FB linked to Insta, then having the hashtags in post is useful as it shares the tags on FB too. Else, some of the surveys suggested people posting hashtags in comments likely get more engagement for like for like content. How? No idea!
Multiple photo vs Single Photo?
Till late, I felt multiple photos work, but my last few post tells me otherwise. I am likely going to stick to one photo per post. I may do experiment in between to see if it has changed.
We all know likes and comments add value to the engagement. But “Saving” a post is biggest winner here. Someone saving a post means, user will likely come back to see the post, then comes comment and last weightage to likes.
Adding “In paid partnership”
I tend to use in paid partnership if its a paid post, so that the partner can see the analytics directly, however I have seen these post fail to kick off hashtags, so does any post which has brand mention. This may be because instagram now wants you to “promote” it, and wants your money. I will now not be doing any “in paid partnership” post (rather share stats of post offline with the brand) till I evaluate it more.
Experience says, these posts also fail to garner traffic from hashtags. My normal hashtag traffic is 80% and its huge loss, hence even if I do IGTV, I will do it for other reasons but not to get engagement and following.
Diversify the followers
Being a UK based influencer, I would love if all my followers are from UK, but value of a UK based follower is different from say India based follower.Try to get right mix of followers, Uk ones are the one who help my ranking when it comes to doing a promotion, Indian followers are good in engaging. That’s why an Indian influencer with 100K is as good as Uk influencer with 10-15K (when it comes to brand spending).
Be honest to your ethics, followers and brands. One act of dishonesty, and it can hit you badly, and you won’t even know. Remember its a long game, no over night shortcuts (Surely, some of your posts can be magical and earn more following, but for that the content is the king).
Check before you post
In case of doubt of how your post may look, create a dummy private account, which can be mirror of your real account, post your content there and see how the whole feed looks, then post of main account. I don’t do it often, but I do it in some cases when I am in any doubt.
Use draft feature
Use the draft feature, get your posts ready in advance and then one click push. This is useful when you want to post at a given time, but creating the post takes time, in that case create a draft and post when its suitable (I normally keep 20 posts in draft and on mood, day, what’s happening around, my audience, I choose what to post).
Use stories to engage with followers, do live feeds, ask questions, make the most of stories. Stories are more powerful than ever! I am culprit of not using stories so well 🙁
These are some of my learnings, and as I said am still learning. I hope some of these things will help others. If you found it worthy, you may leave a comment here.