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5 tips for Being More Successful on Instagram

reading time: 6 minutes

There are a lot of great social media peeps in the 417 area, there are also alot of terrible ones – we all know that one guy with 70k followers but every comment sounds suspiciously robotic and uses software to comment the same “great post, what do you do?” on every locally posted photo or that local photographer who sells presets they took off /presetbay before it got shutdown and despite having 12k followers only gets 32 likes per post – OR (could seriously go on for days here guys) that local barbershop who went up 20k followers overnight but their engagement certainly did not.

Believe it or not our own network possesses the largest if not one of the largest Instagram audiences in the area so we like to hope that we know what we are talking about and we’re here to help you NOT be one of the prior mentioned social media nuisances.

01. Takeover the Screen.

Like really take it over, like a Pinky and the Brain global domination level takeover…

Take up as much phone real estate as you can!

If you must, post square – if you can, post portrait. Portraits take up as much of your followers phone screen as possible thus forcing them to spend more time on your content instead of others above or beneath you.

Be selfish with your content and don’t share a screen with other tappable usernames on your followers’ feed.

More screen being filled tells the algorithm that they’re interested in your account because they spent more time on your photo – even if it was because it took one extra scroll to get past it.

5 Instagram Tips for Better Engagement and Content

See above, the taller post takes up far more screen than the landscape post on the right. The photo on right is still a stunning photo but it leaves more room on the top and bottom for other account’s to squeeze in and distract from your content.

Another reason to avoid landscape posts: they’re a pain for aggregator and curator accounts to repost! Trust us, we own about 10 other accounts that are purely repost accounts. Perhaps it’s not fair, and we know we are missing out on some great and stunning landscape photos – but we will always pick the square or portrait photo to repost. It takes no additional cropping on our part and because of that we don’t have to worry about memorizing the username for credit – thus saving us time.

Don’t believe us? Pull up your favorite repost account and see how many landscape posts they have compared to square/portrait.

02. Be Yourself.

Quit trying to be funny by posting a viral tweet as your caption as if you wrote it – Quit trying to be cool with your motivational calendar copy/paste caption.. The world doesn’t need another Gary Vee. Open a real dialogue with your followers. Show them the real you, or atleast the calculated version of yourself you created for social media. Stand up for what you believe in, be original and take that cliche Oscar Wilde quote to heart…just don’t use it as your caption.

Your followers will always reward your authenticity over you acting too cool to be yourself and have your own opinion. Be Authentic.

This leads us into the next tip:

03. Create Engagement, Don’t fabricate it.

Connect with your audience, it’s not easy – we still struggle with it on every post. We don’t think our audience cares or don’t think we possess this worldly insight that others care about reading. We aren’t going to be that shmohawk that asks you to comment your battery percentage on our posts – but there’s a healthy medium. Asking your followers a question, getting to know them, opening up a dialogue. Yeah, it’s tedious to hit that sweet spot but when you ask the right question you will be surprised and appreciative of the response you get. For whatever reason, your followers chose to follow you – get to know them. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the more comments on your post the better it does for your engagement algorithm.

Bonus Tip: Spotting the Bullshit

Yeah you’re gonna pick up a few fake and ghost followers along the way – and some of your comments are going to be by automated accounts due to the hashtags you’re using. Buying followers never works out for you, you may think it’s helping you look like a big deal but it actually shoots your own account in the foot. Let’s get mathematical about it:

If by default Instagram initially shows your newest post to  only about .1% of your following. The algorithm then bases the amount of engagement from this first .1% to decide whether or not to show your post to a larger percentage of your following. So, if even part of that .1% initial reach are simply bot/fake accounts incapable of engaging with your post…you see where we are going with this right?

Your followers aren’t stupid, and trying to get away with fake engagement is basically you thinking that they are. There’s realistic engagement and unrealistic engagement. Not every photo is a “banger” with hundreds-thousands of likes and dozens of comments. Check out some of your favorite “local creator/influencer” accounts. Does every one of their posts have roughly the same amount of likes? We don’t mean variations of 900 and 1,200 or 300 and 600. We mean like 600 and 632, or 1,100 and 1,050 – on every post. That kid with 10k followers but only 60-65 likes per post, systematically? Yeah after the algorithm catastrophe engagement can be that bad.. but why do 70% of the likes on every post come from an account with 3 posts and no profile photo?

5 Instagram Tips for Better Engagement and Content

Take a closer look and read the comments. Do they all sound like they were written by the same person? Do they all only focus on one similar buzzword? Almost like they put the word “dope” into a comment generator or telegram group huh..

Cool, growth hack your account. Try out engagement groups, trade comments, follow and unfollow people to build awareness of yourself, like for likes, use all the hashtags, figure out what works and what doesn’t. Just please don’t think we don’t know, like you’re getting one over on your followers and carry yourself as some big deal influencer.

Put in the work, earn your stripes.

04. Hashtags are your frienemy.

Use hashtags, but use them the right way. Make sure they apply to your content for that post specifically. Without hashtags you’re limiting your audience to only your following – and because of Instagram’s ever changing algorithm that’s really only about 1-3%  of your following. Hashtags are like SEO for your post, keywords for a search engine.

Pro-tip: one of our favorite apps is Focalmark, it lets you input a keywords like portrait, citylife, food, etc and then generates you hashtags you can copy/paste.

Everything is sort of up in there air as far as how Instagram is treating hashtags. People are seeing less engagement through them and there are even rumors of them becoming obsolete due to image recognition algorithms etc. However, in the meantime they still work – so use them.

Bonus Tip: Alt Text

A newer functionality on Instagram is the ability to add alt text to your post – much like alt text for images on a website that shows a description of a photo before it loads. Use it. Even if you don’t think anyone will ever see it, Instagram rewards users who make use of their features and limits those who do not – yeah they’re petty like that.

05. Content is King, but quality over quantity.

Back when your instagram feed was chronological, it made sense to post often. On average, instagram users check their social media every hour or so – So, we posted every hour or so. Because of this our engagement was always high and follower count grew daily. Now, life as we know it has changed.. Flint is still without clean water, People literally deny scientific fact and instagram is no longer chronological… it’s a bleak and discouraging world we live in in 2019. Now, quality of posts is significantly more important than frequency. We went from posting multiple times a day, to about once a day and sometimes every few days.

No content is better than poor content – seriously. The internet is an amazing place to find 7,894 people that are better than you. Get inspired, do market research, justify it however you want but look at other people’s feed. We apply this same rule to any sort of creative work we do, find an example of work that you are impressed by, that you love.. and if your work doesn’t compare or measure up.. DO BETTER.

That about wraps up our 5 tips on being more successful on Instagram – Now get to implementing them!

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Ryan Smith / Founder

Sgf.Life founder and executive director with 10+ years experience in entrepreneurship, marketing, merchandising and creative direction. Ryan leverages his passion for design, social media and photography for a variety of endeavors including Sgf.Life.

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