This blog post is the first in a multi-part series where we’re going to highlight some of our favorites ways to get more engagement on our favorite social media. Let’s start with Instagram.
First, we recommend running a free Instagram account checkup to get a baseline for your Instagram account activity. We always recommend taking note of how many followers you have, what the best time is for you to post, which hashtag you’re using that’s the most popular, who your biggest fans are, and what common themes you can find in your most-and-least-engaged posts.
So now that you have that information, here are some things you can do to increase your Instagram engagement before you come back and run another account checkup in a week or so.
1. Find relevant accounts to follow (or follow back).
Look at your followers vs. following ratio. If you have a lot more people following you than you’re following, go through and see if any of them are relevant or interesting enough to follow back. Likewise search the hashtag that’s giving you the most engagement and find some new accounts to follow, or at least some photos to like. Notifications will often prompt other users to come check out your profile and if they like what they see they might just stick around!
2. Post regularly, but test different times.
Our research has shown that consistency is more important than posting at any “magic” time because everyone’s audience is different. So try out different times, and see if your regular account checkups tell you a different story about your engagement at each time. If you keep getting the same one or one is far and away more engagement than any other time, be sure to post then (but continue to test other times).
3. Go through photos on niche hashtags and like some.
You often see users who do the “like for like” method, but that isn’t what we’re encouraging here. Rather, see which hashtags are related to the one that has gotten you the most engagement, but that is more of a niche hashtag. Find these by choosing less common hashtags you see on photos on mobile. For example, #reflection is a huge, popular hashtag, but there are some more specific ones. Clicking on #reflectiononwater shows you even more specific ones people are using:
Going through these photos will give you ideas for your own content in the future, new accounts to follow, and even more related hashtags to test out. Plus any photos you do like are likely to get some reciprocal action from the owner of that account.
4. Come up with creative content ideas based on what people are posting in niche hashtags.
As we just touched on in the previous point, looking through a few niche hashtags related to a more popular hashtag can give you a lot of creative ideas for content of your own going forward. Maybe you’ll think of a similar site to visit in your own area, or just some new ideas for composition or editing.
5. Add niche hashtags to photos a little while after you’ve uploaded them for a second boost.
Some of the other related hashtags you’re finding you can use to add to any recent photo you’ve uploaded, or remember to add later in a comment in the future. Remember that Instagram treats hashtags in a comment the same as the ones in the caption as long as they’re from the photo’s owner. Adding very large, popular hashtags like #TBT a long time after you’ve posted won’t help much, however, because it adds them chronologically to the search page results at the time you originally posted the photo, not at the time you add the new hashtag. But some niche hashtag result pages are small enough that adding it later could give your photo a second boost.
6. Try new things with your photography.
The biggest fun with Instagram is trying some new things with your approach to photography! Things that scare you (within reason; we’re not suggesting you start scaling buildings and hanging off of them for better shots) behind the camera often get a better audience response. Try to reproduce in method or spirit some of the photos that catch your eye as you explore different hashtags, and see what you come up with to try around your own hobbies, interest, subjects and more. At the very least it will be a learning experience.