How to use Instagram? Is it still possible if we want to start from zero in 2018? There are so many users and millions of pictures added every second.

How will I get followers if they come to my account and see 0 followers and just a few pics?  These are all common questions that many people and brands ask themselves when considering entering Instagram world in 2018.

There are no easy answers to that questions because the success or failure will depend on many factors. For the brands, the significant breaking factor may be the budget. But what about normal users with personal accounts?

I’ve decided to answer that question based on my own experience, so I’ve created an Instagram account in mid-March, just to check what results I can achieve using Instagram strategies for organic growth.

This experiment is only about organic growth, so I’m not going to use “follow for follow”, “like for like”, “following& unfollowing”, DM groups and power likes just to artificially increase my numbers. If you are interested in that methods, I will cover them in another post.

Read why follow unfollow strategy is a bad idea >>

9 tips on how to use Instagram

Choose a niche and be consistent

First of all, you have to decide on a specific subject on which you want to post. It seems obvious but a lot of users struggle with that. And believe me, if you start posting pictures that do not correspond to the subject of your profile, the followers will start to go away. They will no longer receive what they’ve subscribed to!

For my experiment, I’ve chosen travel & photography niche. It was an obvious choice because I travel a lot and I love making pictures, so I have a lot of them to share. The downside of this decision is that the competition in that area is huge. There are a lot of profiles with extraordinary pictures out there!

Quality of the pictures

Let’s get back to the quality of the pictures first. What does it actually mean? First of all, don’t worry if you don’t have a professional camera! I can ensure you that a lot of people make beautiful photos with their iPhones. An important step before posting a picture is editing it first. I didn’t realize that at the beginning. Especially that I read that Instagram favors “no filter” pictures in its algorithm. But! Instagram users edit their pictures in editing programs or apps and then publish them with “no filter”.

You can do all the tricks you want with picture settings or used some built-in filters.

Ensuring appealing look of your gallery

To grow on Instagram you definitely have to ensure, that your gallery looks appealing and coherent. There is no other possibility to attract followers and make them stay. A gallery with a certain mood (meaning filter) performs a lot better than a gallery with natural pictures. That’s the truth, although I personally prefer natural pictures. But if you stick to original colors you will end up with a gallery with pictures…in different colors at some point. Just because the world is so different.

So it will always look less consistent than a gallery using one specific filter. Anyway, for my experiment, I chose to stick to the natural colors. That’s how my gallery looks at the moment.

how to use Instagram

Choosing the right hashtags

The next question is how to use Instagram hashtag? What to remember when choosing hashtags? Of course, they have to correspond with what’s in the picture but also with the niche in which you position your profile.

So, for example, if your Instagram profile is about travel and you have a picture from Rome, you would go for hashtags connected with Rome and Italy, and travel related hashtags. Also, you should look at the popularity of that hashtag, because if you simply add #travel then your picture will be lost in the flood of new pictures added to Instagram every minute.It’s better to find some more specific hashtags, like for example #travelgirl, #travelwith me or whatever corresponds to what you want to post rather than go for more general ones like #travel. Another thing is not to use the same set of hashtags each time you post, because it is not well seen by the algorithm.

Number of hashtags

There are different schools when it comes to the number of hashtags, that you should use. In general, you can use up to 30 hashtags and not so long ago people were advised to use all of them in order to increase the chances to appear under all of them. Now, however, the trend is to use between 5 and 15 hashtags, because that’s the optimal number for the algorithm.

Personally, I am not paying so much attention to the number of hashtags, I rather focused on their relevance and potential. Having both of that things in mind I usually end up with 12-18 hashtags per post.

Choosing the right time to post

This is very important because apparently, Instagram algorithm looks very carefully at how much engagement your picture generates in the first hour. There are many theories which are the best times to post. In general, it is said that it’s better to post when people are not at work, which sounds reasonable. So, either in the morning or after 5 pm.I’ve also read many posts that it’s best to post not later than 7 pm because after that time the engagement radically drops.  But honestly, it is not easy to decide what is the best time to post, if your followers are from the whole world…What I can tell you for sure is that people are noticeably less active on Instagram during the weekend, so better save your best posts for the weekdays.

How often should I post?

Some people say as often, as you can, some say that 2 times a day maximum because otherwise you’re spamming everybody’s feed and they are very likely to unfollow you. The truth is probably in the middle, but I would recommend maximum twice a day. Especially, if certain hours are better than the others, why post when nobody will react to the picture? The average is about 1,5 posts a day, so it only confirms what I’m saying

Engaging and Networking

Instagram is a social network, so how to use Instagram other than in that way? Engaging and networking with other users is crucial for the success.

Replay to the comments

Reply to all of the comments under your pictures and possibly try to get into a dialog with the commenting person. The time in which you react is also very important, so at least during the first hour after posting a picture it is good to stay by your phone and be ready to interact with the users.

Follow hashtags

Also, what really works is to follow the hashtags that are adequate to your profile and comment and like the pictures of users that have recently added a picture with that particular hashtag. Why? Because what people would usually do is they would go to your profile to see what you have there and if they will like your photos as well.

Write an engaging caption!

This is another effective tactic used by many Instagramers. If you are able to come up with an emotional test under you picture and preferable ended with a question, you can be sure that people will start to leave comments under your picture. So, you will have a rise in engagement. Then, if you answer to each and every post, you will be able to double that engagement by yourself.

How to use Instagram stories and Instagram live

Both Instagram stories and Instagram live work very well with the algorithm.  Instagram likes when you’re using all the features, especially new ones. People who want to grow on Instagram should definitely post stories and do Instagram live from time to time.

What to post in stories?

How to use Instagram Stories to attract audience? You may think that you don’t have content for Instagram stories. This is not true. Many people simply post a photo from their gallery and cover some part of it saying  “check out my new photo from…”.

You can also post a picture and add a poll to it. This is a very engaging functionality.  As you see, you don’t really need a lot of additional content to post an Instagram story. Once you do it the algorithm will show your pictures to more people.

You should not waste the stories potential. They start to gather bigger audience now.  If you post stories that are not interesting and nobody watches them, they will not show at the beginning of the bar.

Don’t edit the caption once you’ve posted the picture.

Even if you made a mistake in a word, just leave it, because Instagram algorithm doesn’t “like” changes and will decrease your visibility if you do that.

So let’s sum up the tips on how to use Instagram effectively:

  1. Choose a niche and be consistent
  2. Quality of the pictures
  3. Ensuring appealing look of your gallery
  4. Choosing the right hashtags
  5. Choosing the right time to post
  6. How often should I post?
  7. Engaging and Networking
  8. Using Instagram stories and Instagram live
  9. Don’t edit the caption once you’ve posted the picture.

 

I hope all these tips on how to use Instagram will help you grow successfully!

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