How do you post on Instagram? You might think its as simple as taking a picture or creating a piece of content - writing a witty comment and hitting post. But it's not that simple.
The following short guide will tell you everything you need to know when posting on Instagram, combining the knowledge that we have used and implemented to help manage multiple social media account across a large portfolio of brands and businesses. We have been developing social media strategies for over 10 years (yes, we even use to work on social media strategy for Myspace! LOL). Some of the brands and businesses that we work with include famous celebrities, sports athletes, and major start-up brands. We've tested multiple theories, targetted several different demographics and boosted accounts growth and engagement rates.
As you're reading this - chances are you already know what Instagram is.
Here's a brief rundown of some statistics you may or may not know to give you a broader understanding of just how powerful the Instagram platform is.
Instagram is an online mobile photo and video sharing/social networking service. It has well over 500 million monthly active users. A number which continues to grow year on year.
What this tells us - is that Instagram is still growing, and there are thousands of new users coming onto the platform every single day. Users who you could fit into the niche that you are targetting your brand on Instagram.
What is 1% of those 500 million users followed you? Or half a percent? Or even 1/10%? Imagine the potential of your business. Imagine what it would mean to have hungry, engaging users following your brand.
Now, this is no easy feat to get this amount of followers. In fact, very few people and brands outside of top influencers and celebrities even have over 1 million followers on Instagram. But you can get there. You can grow your Instagram followers fast if you implement the strategies we discuss below.
What is the main function that you use Instagram for? Posting content of course.
So if you are doing this wrong - you will never grow your account. Users will never follow you, no one will engage and like your posts, and you will abandon all hope of running a successful Instagram account for your business.
So, read on to find out how to set your Instagram account up for success, and successfully post on Instagram in order to attract highly engaged followers.
It is important to have a good username (@....) for your Instagram account, as well as utilizing the namespace in your profile – as this is how your followers will find and identify you.
If you are running a business page, then use your business name if it’s available. If it isn’t, don’t stress – you can always use different variations. E.G adding an underscore after your desired name (instahulk_) (getinstahulk) (insta_hulk)
Try to keep your name as short as possible, it helps followers remember you if they ever need to search for you.
If you can avoid underscores and weird characters then, by all means, do so. The more simple your name, the better.
Here is a quick little hack in regards to Instagram usernames:
For attracting new followers utilize the namespace with keywords relating to your niche.
For example, let's say I'm running a motivational page that posts inspirational quotes for budding entrepreneurs or small business owners and my @ name is @motivationinspiration. I would set my name in the Instagram profile to Daily Motivation or Entrepreneur Inspiration or something that ties into my niche and that is fairly broad so that whenever someone is searching for these particular terms, my account shows up in the list of search results.
Another good trick is copying the name of a competitor (if they are using this same technique) EG. The dominant Instagram account in this space uses DAILY MOTIVATION as their name - then I'm going to do the same to try and land on the same list as them.
You have 150 characters to describe what your page is about. No more. A tough task considering your Instagram bio needs to be spot on in order to make sure that anyone visiting your account hits the follow button.
The best strategy for this is to be direct and upfront about what it is that your Instagram page is going to be posting about.
Here are two random examples I have pulled.
Both include what they are and what they do - "Baked Vegan Donuts", "Mens Daily Fashion Inspiration". Both show how to get in touch. One incorporates a hashtag which is a good prompt for followers to utilize the hashtag. Both include their websites. Dapperedman includes an emoji so the bio isn’t overly bland and minimal. The Caffeinated Kitchen should include a donut emoji to add some color and personality.
Instagram does not allow you to post links in the captions to your photos, so you only have one chance to drive followers to your website.
This is found in the “edit profile” section of your Instagram under “website”.
For online business owners, Instagram is a great way to drive traffic back to your website, and potentially convert these followers into paying customers. (I assume that's why you're here!?)
Always be sure to mention your link (a "CTA" or "Call to Action" in your caption. It might be something along the lines of "Check out the website in my bio!") when you are posting as this will prompt and encourage people to check out your site.
However, don't spam your posts demanding your followers to click on the link in your bio. This will annoy them. Just be sure to give them gentle reminders every few posts.
This is also great for when you are running promotions on your site as you can give your followers special promo codes and discounts which they can use only if they click through.
Captions are important because they help to promote what is in your post - but mainly because they can stir up discussion with your followers.
A great way to grow your Instagram following is to get your followers engaging on your post.
If you want to get onto the discover page (where you want to be to supercharge your following even more), you must get your followers liking and engaging with your post.
You can also expand on this by asking your followers questions.
Using the example of a motivational account again - if you are posting a motivational picture - you might expand on this in your caption by saying something along the lines of, ”What are you going to do today to take action for your future? Tell us below"
This encourages discussion and engagement on your posts.
Captions are also effective for promotions and giveaways that you may be running with your followers. As discussed previously - you cannot post links to websites in these captions, so it is important to utilize this space to draw people back to the link in your bio.
For example, “be sure to check out the link in our bio for more information”.
Think of Instagram hashtags as your posts connection to the Instagram world. If you are posting about dogs, then you are going to want to use the most popular hashtags associated with dogs on all of your posts. You can use up to 30 hashtags on each post, and we recommend that you utilize as many hashtags as possible in order to connect with a broad range of people in your niche.
There are a few ways to find the hashtags that are most commonly associated with dogs.
Firstly, look at your competitors and see what hashtags they are using. You will be able to gauge which are effective and which are the most common fairly easily by looking at the hashtags they are using most frequently. Furthermore, you can click through on these hashtags and see the number of posts which are utilizing them.
Secondly, broaden your search. Look at hashtags for words that relate to "dogs", like "cats" "pets" "mansbestfriend". Write a list of these and expand until you find the top 30 hashtags for search volume numbers. This will ensure your posts are reaching as many people as possible.
Look at the following pictures below...can you spot the difference?
As you can see, one picture has a caption that is cluttered with hashtags. You might be thinking that's the correct way of doing it - as that account has lots and lots of hashtags - which is exactly what we said you need right? WRONG.
While we encourage the use of hashtags - there is a smarter way of adding hashtags to your post.
The problem with the image on the right is that It draws focus away from the caption and looks messy. The other looks a lot cleaner and the caption isn’t cluttered with hashtags. But where do the hash tags go?
The hashtags are in the first comment on the post.
See, with hashtags, it doesn't matter if they are in the caption or in the first post, you still get the same benefits and effects of hashtags, but they don’t take up all the space. The trick is to keep these hashtags saved in the note section on your phone, and as soon as you post a picture, post these as the first comment. It will keep your Instagram looking cleaner - and you get all of the same benefits of hashtags.
Creating Your Own Hashtag
Creating your own hashtag is a good way to track your own promotions or how much people are engaging with your brand.
A good example of this is Frank Body Scrub, who encourage their followers to take photos with their product and use the tag #thefrankeffect ...it allows Frank to quickly find follower content and post it, which enables them to have a constant stream of content which they can re-post and share with their followers.
There is also the added bonus of creating 'social proof' amongst your Instagram audience which is the concept of seeing another person using your product or service. This qualifies the product or service and encourages users to purchase.
This saves them a tonne of time finding new content to re-post, as their users are generating it for them.
Instagram allows you to tag up to 20 users in each photo that you post. Tags look like this. Like the hashtag, this allows your photos to appear in other places and potentially get seen by other higher profile accounts, or even celebrity accounts.
If you are running a humor account for example, and posting memes that you create, you could tag major humor accounts like UniLad, TheLadBible or WorldStarHipHop in the hopes that these sites see your content and repost it with your tag (similar to the picture next to this paragraph). This will help drive traffic to your page and grow your following fast.
Another method is to tag celebrities or larger pages in your niche on your photos. Of course, pages have the option of manually selecting to accept tagged posts or not, so it will take some trial and error to see which ones accept them or not – but if you want to check simply go to the page and go to their tagged photos section.
If they have a constant stream of tagged photos (which most high profile users have) you will be able to see if they accept tagged posts automatically or manually (most do).
Engaging with Your Followers
It is important to show your followers that you are human. Not a robot, a bot or an automated follower.
Your brand/page needs to be human, and have personality. If your followers comment on your post – comment back. If they DM you, respond to them.
This is powerful relationship building and an easy way to build rapport with your followers. It could be the difference between a follower engaging with your content, continuing to follow you, and recommending you to their friends, versus unfollowing you or not engaging with you at all.
Engaging with content on other Instagram accounts
Commenting on your follower's posts is another way of building a rapport with them. Ensure that your comments are genuine and promote discussion about the post.
Don’t just say “Cool post” or “Great!”, that is spammy and doesn’t sound like something an engaging human being would say. Tag the original poster so it is as if you are having a conversation in real life.
For example, “This is such a nice place @follower, where was the photo taken?” You can also utilize this on accounts with massive followings in your given niche – as people who follow that account might see your comment and check out your page.
The key here is to make sure that you come across in a conversational tone and continue to respond and communicate with those who reply.
You must ensure that you post at minimum 3 times a day to your Instagram account. Especially in the beginning. This might seem daunting at first - but the more you post, the better off you will be.
Of course, you don’t want to over post either, so be wary of sharing just for the sake of sharing. You need to ensure that your posts still contain value and are not just where – you don’t want to annoy your followers.
Posting consistently also boosts your chances of appearing on the discover page on Instagram. In order to appear on the discover page, Instagram takes into account a number of factors. These include things like the engagement rates on posts, including the number of instagram likes and comments, the age of your account and how long it has been running, and most importantly, the consistency that your account posts.
In order to be consistent, there is a number of tools available that will be discussed in the tools section. It is important, also, to make sure that these posts are scheduled at the best possible time to maximize engagement with your followers.
For example, posting at 3am in the morning will get you less likes and comments then if you posted at 8.30am when people are catching the bus into work. Or 12pm when they are on their lunch break.
It really depends on the demographic and type of follower you have, this will take some testing and learning – however when you find the sweet spot of when you get the most engagements on your posts –you should start to build a schedule around this. Also be wary of different time zones that your followers exist in. Finding this information will be discussed in the tools section.
Don't oversell on Instagram
This is a big no-no when it comes to Instagram posting. There is nothing worse than annoying your followers with constant offers and advertisements.
They might be regular customers who love your products, but it will not matter if you are constantly spamming them with offers. It is good to promote your brand, yes – but get creative with the process.
Show them behind the scenes shots of your product being made, or discuss topics that your niche will find interesting.
For every 1 post you do promoting a competition, or product or service, ensure that you offer 4 posts with other content.
We hope you have found the above useful. We identified the fundamental knowledge you need to know before posting on Instagram - and then covered off what to do when you post on Instagram. Of course, there is a lot more we could cover off such as how to post great pictures or finding your Instagram niche, but we will save them for later posts.
For now, happy snapping.
If you want to kick-start your Instagram following or drive high-quality likes and engagement to your posts, then be sure to check out our store section.