I am not the first to publish a blog post about how to best use Instagram, and I definitely won’t be the last. I have spent weeks paying attention to the changes to Instagram and I decided to treat myself (and my Instagram account) as a guinea pig. I have tried multiple different tactics, strategies, and tips from some of the world’s best bloggers along with making things up as I went along.
Some things worked and some things didn’t.
I rigorously tracked my engagement and reach throughout it all. So, now I am narrowing it all down to best, most helpful tips for Instagram.
Disclaimer: I was my own guinea pig, I leveraged all these tips on my personal blog. Some may work for you and some may not. Some you might even disagree with. If you take away anything from this post I want it to be to TRACK YOUR ENGAGEMENT! Learn what works for YOU and YOUR audience. The soon you start the better.
Now that that is out of the way; onto the good stuff:
Change your Hashtag Group EVERY post
Every time you post change up the hashtags. This will help you land in front of a different audience every day. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to change up my hashtags every day.”
I have about 30 groups of hashtags in my notes ready to copy and paste. These hashtag groups range from topics like blogging, ootd, fashion, photography, San Diego, Los Angeles, jewelry, shoes, etc. Once you create 20-30 groups, rotate them throughout our posts. I try to not repeat a group for 3-4 days.
FREEBIE: Download 8 Instagram Hashtag groups
Leave Comment Pods
I know every other post you have probably read tells you to join them. But…
About a month ago I left all of the engagement pods I was in. Mainly because I was too busy and it would stress me out having to always catch up on commenting. So, I watched my engagement drop. Then after a few days, I watched my engagement begin to increase steadily, better than it ever had while I was in a pod. Not only that, I began to learn who genuinely like my photos. I was able to engage more authentically with my followers. I also had a better idea on when were the best times to post.
I can’t directly attest an increase in my engagement or followers to leaving engagement pods but I certainly feel more connected with my audience.
Disclaimer: Engaging with one another is GREAT! Genuinely commenting on other people photos is AMAZING! Having a community you can reach out to and share your work with is AWESOME! – I am talking about the “comment within 24 hours on everyone photos (even the ones you don’t like) or you’re getting kicked out” engagement pods.
Focus on Small Niche Hashtags
Large hashtags with millions of posts are great to include in hashtag groups. However, I suggest focusing on smaller hashtag groups with 100k-300k posts. By focusing on niche hashtags you connect with a more engaged audience. In addition, your post will stay at the top of the feed longer. For example: use #SanDiegoBlogger (or whatever city you live in) instead of #fashionblogger or #womenwithstyle instead of #style. If you are having trouble, use the suggested hashtags at the top of the feed when searching small niche hashtags.
FREEBIE: Download 15 Instagram Hashtag groups
Get Featured by Brands
This is hands down the best way to gain new engaged followers (that won’t unfollow you)!
Tips to getting featured:
- Tag the brand – (Make sure the tag is visible, not hidden up other tags)
- Use the brand’s hashtags in your caption
- Send the brand your images (this is the BIG ONE! – I always DM the brands I feature with 3-5 high-quality photos. Then I state that they have my permission to use the images freely on social media as long as they tag me and the photographer.)
- Go the extra mile – before you send a brand your photo make sure it is high-quality, not overly edited, and fits into their current feed.
Track your Performance
Whether you use an app or track engagement yourself, start as soon as possible. The more data you have on your own blog the better. I personally track my engagement after 24-hours (which I might change now that Instagram is not in chronological order). Try out different tactics. For example, I usually track what day and time I posted, the content of the photo (ootd, flatlay, quote, blog post, etc), and the group of hashtags I used. Then after 24-hours I write down the engagement and reach.
FREEBIE: Download 15 Instagram Hashtag groups
Well, I could probably write a novel about Instagram, but I won’t. I hope these tips and trick help you leverage your account more to build better engagement and grow your followers.
Leave any questions in the comments, I would be happy to answer anything based on my own experience!
This is a new Blogging Tips series I started. It will be filled with lots of great information, blogging tips, and FREEBIES. It will run over the next five weeks, subscribe here so you don’t miss a post. Plus subscribers might get a few extra tips in their inbox 😉
Great tips, thanks for sharing!
such great tips! will keep them in mind!
I recently left all of my comment pods too – and my engagement and followers have for sure increased! I also find I’m enjoying the entire process so much more than I was before – it feels less like a chore to me now!
Sharni // A Girl & Grey
love your post it is very insightful! I use a lot of these tactics as well and have found that switching out of the engagement pods skyrocketed my engagement <3 Thank you for sharing all of this insight!
Glad to hear I am not the only one who thought that leaving engagement pods helped! Plus you feel so much more authentic and connected with your audience! <3
These are such great tips, thanks for sharing! What would you say is the best way for your post to always show, especially now that instagram is no longer chronological? Thanks!
I would say utilize those hashtags so you land in front of new audiences and your post will have a longer life on the top of the hashtag if there are not 100 people posting every minute. Also, reply to comments over time to keep the engagement on your post increasing over time 🙂 Also, stay connected with your you followers and engage with them on their profiles. This will help grow your authentic audience. When people are constantly engaging with you or check out your profile you are more likely to land on the top of their feed.
These are such great tips! Instagram can be so tricky and frustrating. Loved how you shared new things that I never thought of! Thanks for sharing this post in the Blogging for Keeps group! ?
Hey Kendall! I am glad we could connect through Blogging for Keeps! Instagram has been especially tricky lately with all the changes to the algorithm so I hope these tips can help 🙂
These are great tips, Allison! I never thought about rotating my hashtags or sending brands a DM with a few pics. Can’t wait to get the hashtag freebies too! 😉
Glad I could help Erin! Those are my most effective tips!
It’s refreshing seeing someone saying leave the comment pods, I find it so stressfull and you can’t see what followers are genuine! But I’ve never tried sending brands photos, will definitely start doing that! 🙂
Thank you, Izzy! I am glad you found these tips useful! I hope they help. Leaving comment pods was honestly like a breath of fresh air. 🙂
Great tips girl!!
I’m glad I read this! I’ll definitely being using some of these myself! Thank you!
Let me know how it goes, babe! You’re welcome:)
Such great tips. I knew many but have NEVER DM’d a brand with pics. SO smart! You’re killing it, babe. Thanks for inspiring me to keep pushing harder.
Caitlin, you are amazing! Thank you! So glad a few of my tips could help ya, as soon as I am in LA we need to trade notes and catch up 🙂
Great post! Thanks for sharing. <3
Love the tips, especially the ones about using hashtags with small niches and sending a DM to the featured brands. Thanks for sharing
This post was so helpful! I have not bought my domain because I’m not sure I am in love with it yet…still figuring it out. Thank you for this post very informative.
This tips is awesome; I recently discovered the niche of using hastags, great tip on how to use them effectively. I noted these tips perfectly ?
Thank you so much, Vanessa! Finding the right hashtags can be the challenge at first but SO worth it! Goodluck growing your Instagram.