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Instagram is owned by Facebook, and together they make the up the two most accessed social media platforms around today and have been leading the pack for the last few years. You will be aware of the huge number of people who are known as ‘social influencers’ whose ‘job’ is to post picture that inspire others whether they are about such things as workouts and health tips or food, recipes or travelling around the world. Everyone of these influencers, even those with 100k, 500k, or above 1 million followers, all started somewhere and seeing how they achieved this is only a small thing you should consider if you want your posts to reach a wider audience and grow your following.

It’s worth mentioning what a lot of people are thinking at this point before getting into how to improve posts. Yes you can BUY followers, of course you can, and many people will to get their first 1000 or 5000 etc., but these accounts may not like or comment on your posts, which will look bad on your account. For instance, a person with 10000 followers who post images that only around 10 people like, looks bad and people will think you’ve paid for followers and perhaps be against following you themselves.

So, let’s not focus on the ‘easy’ way of getting followers through the medium of buying them, there are many free ways to grow your following. Of course, the more followers you have, the more people who will see your posts which will more likely convert to more followers. But when people search Instagram for someone they will see images based on what they’ve previously liked or posts made by similar accounts to who they already follow. They will also search for specific tags, broad terms such as ‘beauty Manchester’ and accounts & posts related to that search will start showing up.

Previously, Instagram allowed users to see what the people they follow was liking but that was removed and so this medium of reaching people has changed.

1. Understanding the Instagram Algorithm

Not something you can physically do to your posts, but something you need to consider before making the posts themselves if you want to ensure there’s nothing stopping them reaching their maximum potential reach.

What you see in your Instagram feed is based on numerous factors, one of the biggest being the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, meaning the posts you see at the top are those that Instagram has calculated you’ll be more interested in and likely to like, share or comment with. Two others factors are involved with showing these top posts, the relationship you have with the person’s account of the post (if you’re a regular liker of the person post, who you search for the most, who you private message and so on), and the timeliness of the post I.e. the amount of time it’s been posted – this will link to a further point about WHEN to post.

There are other factors that influence what posts people see, however to keep it relatively short, consider the above for now.

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2. Choosing the best time to post your content

Timing of Posts

If you’re trying to promote a brand new product in your line of home-made candle store, and the audience you’re most likely to gain customers from are women between the ages of 21-45 that may have children, it’s no use posting your Instagram post late at night if they are asleep. You may wish to post your content around the time the children have just arrived at school, and the parent now has some free time to check their social media. If you’re product would be most likely be seen by and interest people on their morning commute to work, then posting around that time will be the optimal time if they are opening Instagram.

Researching into when your target audience is online is extremely valuable, and even if you’re not selling anything and want to attract more followers to like your travel themed Instagram, then finding out when and where people search for travel related phrases and accounts will be beneficial. These things can be achieved through Instagram Insights via a Business Account as well as other methods.

When you have found the optimal time to post, you can schedule these posts through such platforms as ‘Later’ and ‘Hootsuite’.

3. Video Content – Give it a go!

Video Vector

You may be uncomfortable posting videos of yourself demonstrating a product, talking to the camera about something or for whatever reason, and you only willing to post pictures of beaches, food and artwork. But giving video posts a chance, in whatever form, can get you more comments than pictures, even though it’s been found pictures get more likes than videos do. More comments means more valuable engagement, more engagement can lead to more new people following to view more videos in future.

Videos explaining your products or travels, giving advice, or providing inspirational information targets a different audience than written posts, some people prefer to listen and absorb information better that way rather than reading a long caption under your images.

4. Competitions

Now this one is super effective if you have something to give away that is of value to someone. Hosting a competition where users have to, for example like, comment & share your post to their story for a chance to win whatever it is your giving away, will give you a huge increase in visibility. People who follow them will see their story, click on the link to your page and see what the competitions about and perhaps get them involved too!

A personal example from a previous post on one of the Instagram accounts that sold retro collectibles and posted artwork related to Pokemon – A ‘like, tag 3 friends and share post to your story’ post was made, and by following these rules, the entrant could win an item related to what was being posted and sold on the store up the to value of around £20. These were duplicate items, and I wasn’t necessarily breaking the bank by giving such items away, and the post had 106 people entering the competition, that’s 106 stories my post was featured on which is a hell of a lot of people seeing my post even though they didn’t follow my page.

Another type of competition you could run can be a photo caption contest, whereby you post an non-captioned image (most commonly a humorous one) and people comment a relevant caption for the photo, and the most witty and humorous comment wins something of your choosing! For example if you’ve a fitness themed Instagram account who sells Nutrition plans or hourly Personal Trainer sessions, you could give away one plan away for free or a free session or two!

5. Use Instagram Stories to your Advantage

You know it’s up there above the news feed, the first thing people see when they open the app, so why not use it. If your followers are frequently liking your posts and engaging, your story will most likely be near the front of the stories they see. Stories can be saved as ‘Highlight’s under your bio area on your profile so this can be used to save accomplishments, big events, most liked photos that have been added to stories and so on.

Sharing your post to your story helps to reach those who don’t scroll enough to see your posts or those who don’t scroll at all.

Adding a hash-tag to your story will also make it so those who search for that specific tag may be able to see post/story this way – although searching for something widely posted means more competition. You can also see how many people view your story and if they follow you or not! You can have up to 10 hashtags on your stories!

6. Research Popular Tags

Research Hahstags Vector

A great way to get likes and followers on your posts is to pick certain tags that’ll make your posts visible to those searching for those tags. There are follower and like specific tags that people who also want to gain followers/likes use such as ‘#like4like’, ‘#l4l’, ‘#followforfollow/#f4f’ and so on, where millions of uses of the tag are around Instagram. Choosing tags related to your post is important also, posting a picture of the sea with the hash tag of ‘#mountain’ holds no relevance, and therefore will not be clicked on by those looking for pictures of the sea.

Go do some research on the top tags of the month, or week, and use tags relevant to the time if you want to keep up with the times. The top 100 tags on Instagram can be seen here : https://top-hashtags.com/instagram/ which will show that #love is by far the most popular.

You have up to 30 tags to use per picture, where using all of these 30 is advised to reach a bigger, newer audience. Do not use any symbols such as $£”^£& in your tags.

‘Putting the right hashtags can put you in front of your target audience, even if they haven’t connected with you before’ – Later

Remember that if you profile is on private, your posts WILL NOT be seen by those searching for that tag.

Conclusion

There’s 6 ways to get your posts seen more and potentially increase your following, but there are many more which will be covered in a later post. I’ll leave you with a cheap way to get followers – follow as many accounts as you can in your field or those who put such tags as ‘#followforfollow’ in their posts, they’ll be likely to follow you back. However, as some people think having more followers is better than following a lot of accounts, so you will find some people will unfollow you when you follow them back. Influencers starting out will do this, gain a few thousand followers then unfollow the majority of the people they followed.