Instagram: 10 ways to supercharge your following

Instagram-growth-tactics

Another great post from Buffer – if you’re not already following them, you’re missing out on some of the best social media tips I’ve come across.  This is a long read by Courtney Seiter – link here.

The info is relevant whether you’re growing your personal account or running an instagram account for your business. For me, the most important tips have been to post once a day, to use quality hashtags and to use the right filters.

Summary of highlights below (or go straight to the link above)

Post consistently (at least once a day)

Social media analytics tool Quintly analyzed over 5000 profiles and found that the average Instagram account posts once per day.

More intriguing: Accounts with the highest number of fans tend to post a bit more than that–up to 2 or 3 photos per day on average. This data might allow us to say that “more successful” accounts tend to post with a higher frequency.

Study and load up on quality hashtags

Nowhere on social media are hashtags quite as important as on Instagram. The right hashtags can expose your image to a large and targeted audience, and Instagram users don’t seem to get hashtag fatigue in the same way they might on other networks.

Instagram allows for a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, and many power users max out this ability.

Check out the top 100 hashtags here.

Follow and like similar accounts

One intriguing tactic to grow an Instagram is called the “follow like like like,”  as described in Austin Allred’s The Hacker’s Guide to User Acquisition.

In this process, you search a specific, relevant hashtag and choose a few of the top pictures you find. Follow those accounts, then go to each of their photo feeds and like three of their recent photos.

“This shows the user that not only did someone who is kind of like them follow them, but they also dug a little bit and really liked what they found.”

Here are the results Austin saw with this tactic:

“When we did this, the follow-back percentage approached 25%. Meaning for every four people we followed, one would follow us back…By the end of the week we had 10,000 followers. In one week. Each photo was getting over 100 likes, and other people were being tagged in each of the photos by their friends.”

Ask users to “tag a friend”

I recently got a great Instagram tip from some local friends who helped me out with marketing a non-profit food tasting event. They shared a food photo from a past event and asked their 11,000 followers to comment and tag a friend they wanted to attend with.

The response was awesome, and exposed our event to a lot of people who wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise:

tag-a-friend

Use the right filters

All those filters Instagram gives you to use aren’t just fun—choosing the right ones can actually lead to more views and engagement.

Researchers from Georgia Tech and Yahoo Labs analyzed millions of photos and corresponding data on how frequently they were viewed and commented upon to determine that filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than unfiltered ones.

What kind of filter works best? After examining five different types, researchers found that the top filters to increase chances of views and comments are those that create:

  • higher exposure
  • warm temperatures
  • higher contrast

Higher exposure was the most tied to more views, and warmth had the biggest correlation with comments.

Two types of filters had negative correlations: Saturation correlated to slightly lower views, and age effects led to lower comments.

Curalate has a great infographic with even more specific pointers on optimizing the look of your image for greater engagement:

Curalate infographic Instagram

Host a photo contest

Instagram hashtags make it easy to collect photos from followers around a theme, and many brands have had success and fun using this capability to host photo contests.

Add some emojis

Emoji are becoming a universal method of expressionInstagram reports that nearly 50 percent of all captions and comments on Instagram now have an emoji or two. I know I’m drawn to them in posts and I’ve noticed some folks are even adding to their user names for a bit of extra pop.

Anthony Thompson explains over at PostPlanner how he earned 3x Instagram growth by calling on emojis to ignite engagement in both posts and comments—smart.

 

Cross-promote

Make sure your existing fans know you’re on Instagram through cross-promotion. Instagram makes it simple to share your images to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare, which could be a great tactic to get some extra exposure.

 

Try video, too

Instagram allows users to upload videos of up to 15 seconds, and not too many of us art taking advantage of this just yet. An April 2015 study from Locowise found that only about 10% of all posts on Instagram are videos right now, but they’re getting 18% of all comments.

Share the love

An easy way to keep this principle central is to spend a bit of time each day just hanging out and enjoying Instagram. You might respond to comments, like photos, follow some new friends, and comment on awesome posts. If the “follow like like like” strategy above tells us anything, it’s that time spent showing and sharing the love can pay off in new followers. It also creates a better social media experience for everyone.

One last tactic: How to add a link?

One of the challenges of marketing on Instagram (and possibly a part of its joy for users) is that you can’t quite add links for your viewers to click.

If you want to send your followers to a specific link, though, it seems that it’s becoming common practice to change the link in your Instagram profile and add the comment “link in bio” to a corresponding photo.

You can also try an easy-to-remember shortened URL, or use this tip from Buffer follower belovednewo: She adds the link to the “location” area in order to keep from having to change out her bio link. Neat hack!

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