Instagram is always changing the way it operates. Getting engagement on the platform can be challenging when they make unannounced tweaks to their algorithm. They change their algorithm to prevent people from developing “hacks” that can make someone appear more popular by inflating their numbers. To prevent your engagement from dropping when Instagram changes their algorithm, a well-rounded strategy is needed, not gimmicky hacks that only work for short periods of time.
Here are 13 tips from six successful Instagrammers that will help you build a powerful and engaged Instagram regardless of the changes Instagram may make to their algorithm in the future.
Arias is a former Nickelodeon star who appeared on the TV Show ‘Marvin Marvin.’ He has worked with P Diddy, Tai Lopez, Fashion Nova. His public Instagram page, couplesofsociety has over 3 million followers.
1. Creative content
Being creative and original is the best way to gain a potential follower’s attention. Initially appealing to a specific demographic or area of interest will allow you to get your foot in the door and begin the process of trial and error. Your content’s creativity will always be the deciding variable in your ability to get a post to go viral. Content will always be king.
2. Cross-promoting your brand
Find accounts that do similar things to what you are trying to do with your brand and help each other. For example, if you are building a fashion blog, find other bloggers in that space with a similar following and promote one another. If you both have 2,000 followers, the goal would be to both attain 5,000 followers. Then, you can make another partner — this time, one with 5,000 followers, just like you. And so on.
3. Show you care
The small act of following someone back or responding to a post can go a long way. Engaging with your followers — and making an authentic effort to show that you genuinely care about them — matters. It shows you are indeed a real person with similar interests as your audience, and it gives your followers the chance to truly connect with you.
Posts with hashtags perform a little better on average than ones without. As simple as it may sound, hashtags do make a difference — just make sure to avoid the banned ones.
Mayer is a humanitarian photojournalist. She has 13,000 Instagram followers, and her engagement rate is particularly impressive.
5. Call Ghostbusters
Locate the people who follow you, but don’t interact with you — also known as your ghost followers. Some of these may be spam or inactive accounts, but a lot of them are real people who just don’t see your content anymore because of the algorithm. Interaction with these accounts will remind them why they followed you in the first place and bring you back into their feed.
It’s a lot easier to convert engagement from existing followers than it is to get new followers or chase engagement with hashtags. A higher engagement rate from those who follow you will increase your credibility within the algorithm and your likeliness to hit the explore page, leading to more followers.
A New York-based photographer working with entrepreneurs on their branding portraiture, Smirnova has 5,000 Instagram followers and runs a nationwide Instagram POD.
6. One theme only
Pick a theme for your account, focus on it, and don’t just jump all over the place. If your Instagram feed has food pics, memes, dogs and images of a sunrise over Detroit, people won’t know what you stand for and won’t be as attracted to you.
7. Educate your audience
Don’t be afraid to tell your followers and the people you follow exactly how they can support you better. Let them know how meaningful their comments are. Remember: There’s (usually) a real person behind every Instagram post.
Arias, Mayer and Smirnova
8. Join a POD
All three experts recommended joining an engagement pod, which is simply a group of 10 fellow Instagrammers who agree to like and comment (with five words or more) each other’s posts within the first 30 minutes This, according to most sources, accelerates the Instagram algorithm and boosts your post to more people. I’m in a pod, and we share our Instagram links via WhatsApp, but most pods use Instagram messenger to communicate.
Mango is a banking executive who is passionate about photography, his family and the outdoors. He has 4,600 Instagram followers.
9. Edit your photos
To post your best work, edit your photos with a more sophisticated editor than what is in Instagram itself. Snapseed by Google and Photo Editor by Aviary are excellent free editing apps.
Rick is a New York- and New Jersey-based professional photographer. He is known for chasing pictures everywhere in his Nissan Xterra, which has 400,000 miles on the odometer.
10. Be original
I like to see what everyone else is doing and try a different angle or perspective. It’s why I enjoy Instagramming close-up portraits of people in interesting places. It’s is a one-of-a-kind moment. And,, don’t forget black and white is sometimes better than color.
Related: 12 Social Media Mistakes That Entrepreneurs Make
11. Quality photos
Maybe it’s because photography is in my DNA, but it irks me when people post poor quality images. How can you expect someone to like something on social media that they don’t actually like? Poor quality pictures are the surest way to get low interaction. Take your time, use a real camera if you can (it’s no longer taboo) and post attractive images.
12. Don’t be like Google
Arias’s point about being creative and Gerrity’s point about originality. If you can find the picture you are posting on Google, you are not going to get a lot of engagement. If you take a picture of a common place or thing, make sure it’s amazing.
13. Work at it
Social media is not something you do for a little while. It’s a lifestyle. That means posting at least five times per week and liking and commenting on other posts every day.
The path to Instagram success may travel through an underground world, but you now have a map to navigate it.
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Originally published on Entrepreneur Magazine. Republished w/ permission.