K I am by no means a pro at instagram, but I’ve listened to a lotttttt of podcasts on the topic and notice that doing certain things boosts engagement more than others sooooooooo… let’s break down this whole algorithm thing… basically insta is trying to make this platform as user-based and specific to everyone’s interests as possible so that the user stays on their platform longer. That’s what insta wants. They want everyone to be using it and engaging on it allllllllll the freakin time.
That being said…. your job as a content creator is to engage with the platform as often as you can (by posting/commenting/liking consistently), put out content that will be relevant to your audience (so it’s more likely to pop up in their personal feeds), and stay at the front of their minds when they’re finally looking to buy your service (because normal people don’t need photographers 24/7, but when they do… you want to be who they think of first)!!
Everyone is pissed at the “algorithm”, but I think it’s misunderstood… it’s really just how insta tries to provide it’s users with the best possible experience (which isn’t that what we should allllll be doing?? lol!!) and there are ways to use it to your advantage!
(alsoooo I realize a lot of this info is “common sense” to most of us daily insta users… but some people genuinely don’t know these things yet! So for the sake of not comparing your step Z to someone else’s step A…… let’s dive into it!)
Insta Tips & Tricks
Posting a Photo
So you should be trying to post a new photo every single day (showing insta that you’re an active member) and the new photo should match the aesthetic of your current feed (I use the app Plann). You can post at different times on different days and use the analytics to test what are the best times for your audience to interact with your photos & plan to post at those specific times (i’ve found that weekday lunch time around noon and when everyone gets off work and relaxes after 7pm are the best times for me). Then you should research specific “feature accounts” that may want to feature your photo to their own audience (I keep my list of my relevant pages on a note in my phone). Use all 20 tags to spread your photo out to as many other accounts tagged sections as possible (hint: make sure you’re tagging all vendors in the photo first, then feature accounts, then location accounts, etc!). And you can take feature accounts a step further by directly emailing them a few photos from your gallery, telling them how cool they are (lol!), and asking if they’d like to feature your work. After tagging your feature accounts, you need to be adding your hashtags to the 1st comment so that it’s hidden from the caption (keep it under 30 total) and do it ASAP (insta wants to see people engaging on your photo rightttt awayyyyy… so start the train by adding your 1st comment within the first couple seconds of posting!). While we’re on the topic of captions I also hear a lot of people say that you should be asking your audience questions in your captions, so they’re more likely to respond with a reply to the question… I personally don’t find that very genuine to my own brand voice though so I don’t do it often but it’s a good tip for other people!! The last and final way to make sure your photo gets seen right away…. Join an insta pod (or two lol)!!
Marketing that Photo w/ Quality Stories
You posted your photo… now you need people to engage on it ASAP in order for insta to think it’s relevant enough to put high on other people’s feeds (otherwise it’s just gonna be low on their feeds and never looked at again #happyhalloween!!!!). The easiest way to let people know about your new post is to share it directly to your story by clicking the little paper airplane icon under the photo. And this doesn’t need to be an excessive “NEW POST OMG GO CHECK IT OUT”… even just simply and quietly adding the photo to your story without anything else will give your audience a gentle nudge to boost engagement and not be so annoying.
In addition to letting people know about your new post… stories can be used for SO MUCH MORE! They’re truly the insight into your daily life + where you can share all of the photos that you want to post, but may not necessarily match your feed. Try to make your stories beautifully “shareable” so if you tagged vendors, they will want to just repost it, rather than make a new story themselves or not share at all.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me what app I use to make my stories cute… I’d be a millionaire lol!!! It’s called UNFOLD and you should go download it/ start using it immediately — it’s free!! :)) (side note tangent… I remember when this app first came out and I saw another photographer use it… I DM’d her asking how she did it because I thought it was sooo cool… and rather than helping me with the truth… she told me she made all of those templates herself on photoshop and how much time it took her blablabla. & now that I know it was just a super simple app I have suuuuch a bad taste in my mouth about her for not just helping me and will always remember exactly who that photographer was — please just help each other guys!! Whether someone asking you about something finds the answer from you or searches Google themselves… they’re gonna find out… so you might as well help them along and be a friend to their journey lol!!)
Annnyyyyyywaaaaayyyssss…. People are more likely to see your stories than your actual posts (because they jump to the top of the home feed screen), so make sure your stories are always filled with fun/relevant/not-annoying stuff to keep you up there and at the front of their minds! Insta wants to see you making the most of the features they offer… so use them all!! Polls, questions, gifs, location tags, music, draw on your pictures, etc. — they all make the content more fun to see, easy to engage with, and make your account stand out from the rest! (I can def notice and appreciate when certain people take more time than others to make their stories beautiful and I’m more likely to open their stories because of it… so make sure you’re taking time to create captivating content before posting)!
Insta will think you’re more “popular” and “relevant” if people comment and like your photo pretty much as sooooon as you post it (which means insta will reward you by letting more people see it on explore page and higher on the feeds… because again, they want to keep users on their platform as long as they can and will only show them content that they think they will enjoy because other people seem to be enjoying it). In order to encourage other people to engage on your posts… go like and comment on as many people’s pages as humanly possible (aka: insta pods), but make sure your comments are genuine compliments with at least 3 words in the sentence (not just a quick and thoughtless emoji)! Besides this action just being a nice thing to do…. (lol!!) insta will reward you and other people are more likely to return the favor (but don’t let insta catch you in a pod… google search the ways around it)!
I feel like the whole point of insta is to share photos and connect with new friends… so let people in on your personal life & make new friends out of it! Again, use all features that insta offers (live, igtv, etc.) — share your story of how you got to where you are now or why you do what you do so people have something to relate with you on. I know it’s sooooooo awkward and the worst thing everrrr to talk to the screen but it truly helps people connect with you so just get over how stupid your own voice sounds and do it lol!!! (You can also do things like run a contest to boost engagement… but please don’t do that all the time or if it’s not genuinely coming from a place of helping people… we can tell the difference lol!!)… Also, when I say “use all the features that insta offers”… I’m excluding “ads” from that category… they seem super in-authentic to me whenever I see people run them and most research shows they don’t work that much anyways!!
My final tip is to ENCOURAGE EACH OTHER! I am alllll about sharing other photographers posts to my story or featuring people when I can tell they’re working so soo hard and deserve to have their hard work seen by more eyes!! If you support one another in the comments, DMs, stories, and share their work with your audience… 9 times out of 10, they’ll A) feel all warm and fuzzy in their hearts and like you more as a human and B) they’ll usually return the favor at some point and share yours too (which obvi isn’t my initial intentions, but undoubtably a nice side effect lol)!! I’ve also found that the more that I help other people grow with sharing information they want to know… the more DMs I get (seriously guys it’s nuts, thanks for being patient with me responding to them all lol!!) and the more my overall engagement goes up (helping others is a win-win, guys!!!!). It’s our responsibility to keep this platform positive and a place to grow together because that’s where our inspiration, collaboration, and motivation comes from!!
So to recap… you need to 1) post everyday (photo and multiple stories), 2) tag feature accounts, 3) add hashtags, 4) create solid/shareable content, 5) join a pod, and 6) support one another!!
Rather than just ending this by saying “hope that helped, good luck byeee!!” — I want to provide you guys with a tangible resource to help keep you intentional about your insta game this next month!
I’m huuuuge on planning and taking intentional steps towards your goals and making yourself a better version of YOU! Click below to download a free calendar printable for the month of November that will encourage you to plan out your content, remind you to post a photo and multiple stories daily, force you to sit down, think about, and help you stay on track with researching/switching up your hashtags/features, and track your monthly growth in followers!!
Hope you guys have fun creating and sharing dope content this next month + remember to review your analytics to make any necessary adjustments for the following month (times of day to post, whether a certain type of photo does better for you than other types, etc). DM me to show me how many hundred new followers you have by December ;)) or have any other questions I can help ya with!!
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD