If you’re like me, you probably started your Instagram account by posting random photos from your phone’s camera as you went about your life. Really, that’s what it was invented for. But times have changed and the bar has been raised. Instagram has become one of the most important platforms on the planet for sharing imagery. Its user base and engagement levels have made it a key piece of marketing strategy for everyone from independent creatives to the world’s largest brands. Here are some ways to stay at the front of the pack as the competition grows ever more fierce.
1. Post Interesting Content – There are two kinds of interesting. The first kind is interesting to you because you were there and experienced something in person. The second kind is interesting to your friends, followers and the public at large. Aim to share content that falls into the second category of interesting. If you do that, you’ll keep the followers you have and you’ll likely find more joining your feed every day.
2. Develop a Personal Style – To grow a strong presence on Instagram, you have to make the visual case that people should follow you. This means that you must make your stand out to the point where it’s not interchangeable with the next guy or gal who likes to travel or climb or make designs with food. This style should be a visual reflection of the way that you personally interact with the world. You’ve just gotta listen to your gut on this one.
3. Be Consistent – I try to post at the beginning of the work day, at least five days a week. People like to be able to count on the people or entities that they follow online. When you’re spotty with your posts, whether through sporadic scheduling or variable quality or style, people lose interest. If you post liquid gold, right on time, people will want to come along for the ride.
4. Cross Pollenate – No matter what you do, your organic sphere of visibility is inherently limited, so is everyone else’s. Come up with opportunities to cross pollenate with other users who have audiences that would be a good fit for your work. This can range from reciprocal shout-outs between individual users, to friendly takeovers of other accounts, to having your work shared by brands or publications with a photo credit going back to you. Just make sure you’re protecting the value of your work while working to increase your visibility.
5. #HashTag (with discretion) – Hashtags are the easiest way to get your photos in front of new eyes who might be interested in what you’ve got to share. They function as keywords that are searchable within Instagram as well as through many other platforms. If you’re sharing a photo of #powder #skiing in #japan with @sierraquitiquit, you can use the hashtags to make the images visible to anyone looking for recent photos or videos from featuring powder or skiing or Japan. Cool, huh? Just don’t over do it. Spewing hashtags on every single post is a sure way to lose followers, who just want to read a good caption along with a nice image.
6. Engage the Community – The internet is really just a bunch of humans interacting on computers. To put your stamp on the internet, you’ve got to be a human about it. Be nice, celebrate the good work of others, give likes and comments, and thank the people who make the effort to like and comment on your work. Make internet friends, and you’ll be surprised how often you’ll have the opportunity to make these people friends in real life as well. Bonus points for never saying anything nasty about anybody. You’ve got a finite number of comments to make with your short life on this earth, why not make them all positive?
You can find me on Instagram at @scottrinck. Head on over, give a shout, and I’ll do my best to check out your work and give a follow as well. Have fun!