Updated for 2018:
With Instagram changing its algorithm and constantly rolling out new features, there's so much to learn about how to increase your engagement and how to gain new followers. Whether you're just starting out on Instagram, or whether you're a more experienced user, the truth is, you can always improve your strategy and learn new tips and tricks that can make a huge difference! There are so many amazing bloggers out there who've walked the walk and who are willing to share their experience and tips, so I've compiled my favorite 50 tips for you in this post. I hope you'll find them helpful for YOUR Instagram journey and I look forward to seeing how you'll implement them!
Create a killer profile:
1. Your profile photo. Please have a rocking profile photo of YOURSELF. Instagram is all about the behind-the-scene shots and learning about YOU; a more personal approach to social media if you will. - Amy, Amy Howard Social
2. Be relatable. Okay, so I don't mean be mushy here and tell your entire story, no one wants that. What I mean is to make whoever is reading your bio FEEL something. You want them to read and say, 'hell yes, that's my kinda girl... FOLLOWING'! Don't be all business all day, add a little personality to it. Add a bit of your brand's quirky traits or your likes. - Lindsay, For The Gangsta Boss
3. Include your email. I ALWAYS recommend including your email in your IG bio. Why? No matter what your business is, you've got to make it simple for people to contact you. If not, you could be missing out on some MAJOR opportunities. - Lindsay, For The Gangsta Boss
4. Use line breaks and emojis. Emojis: Love em’ or hate them, they are part of the millennial generation. Use emojis to break up your bio text. In a world of business, it is unexpected. Just don’t over do it!
Line breaks: These can be tricky. First, write your bio in your notes app on iOS or Android. Between each line, hit the return key to create a line break. - Moose Studio
5. Have an easy-to-find name. Follow these guidelines when choosing your name:
Make sure your name is easy to type (no crazy letter combinations, emojis, or characters) so people can find you
Also use your actual name in the "Name" box so people can search for you either way
Try not to bucket yourself (ex: "singlefemaletraveler") in case things might change down the road
DON'T pollute your username or name with multiple emojis. Just don't. - Ana, The City Sidewalks
6. Make your Instagram public. If people can’t see what your Instagram account is selling, or what your feed looks like right off the bat – then there is no incentive to give you a follow or buy from you. By the time you see their request to follow you and you approve, they can very much land on another profile which is public and has similar content/products/services as yours, therefore, increasing the likelihood they will follow and buy from the other profile than yours! - Buzzing Creatives
7. The link in your profile. You see these phrases flying all over Instagram - “link in profile,” or “link in bio.” For those of you who don’t know, this phrase simply means to go to the user’s Instagram homepage and check the link in the bio description. Because Instagram doesn’t allow links in photo captions, users have to insert links in their bios. Don’t think the link in your profile needs to be static. Change it up! If you’re trying to promote a new blog post, post a link that goes directly to your post. - Bloguettes
8. Use link shorteners. Link shorteners like bit.ly can help you track the clicks on the link in your bio.
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Create a consistent theme:
9. Be thoughtful. Think about the photos you’re posting. What’s going to look best on your page? Will the photo fit with your theme? Does it fit with your colour scheme? If not, it’s probably best not to post it. - Kate, Layered Indulgence
10. Find your focus. Don't post about EVERYTHING, decide what your feed will be about and stick to your focus. A clear focus will help you gain targeted followers.
11. Edit all photos similarly. In order to maintain consistent branding, consider either picking a filter and just using that one, or using no filter at all. Bouncing around between filters based on the photo is not conducive to maintaining a common aesthetic. I prefer to pop my photos into Afterlight (my favorite photo editing app), up the brightness and the exposure, sharpen a bit, and clarify a bit (to bring back some of the definition you lost from over-exposing). That’s my go-to photo “recipe” for photos I add to my lifestyle blog Instagram. - Nadine, Blog Brighter
12. Define your vibe. You’ve probably heard, your vibe attracts your tribe. Think about what you want to be known for. How do you want people to feel when they scroll through your feed? The photos you share are representative of your brand and should tell your story. - Elle, Wonderfelle Media
13. Pick a color palette that matches your brand. Stick to it. One of the best things about determining this first step is it makes everything else much easier when deciding what to post. There’s no second guessing whether it fits your look and naturally creates a more together look, even if you’re still figuring out some of the other steps. This is also one of the most difficult for me as I usually find myself taking pictures of everything, but this helps control that urge to post and allows me to say, yes it’s pretty but no it’s not right for this. - Kate, The Shop Files
14. Plan your posts. Use Plann, the visual scheduling app that lets you create and visualize your feed by dragging and dropping your posts.
Create beautiful pictures:
15. Always use a simple background. It can be a white table, a wooden board, or something more creative – you just have to make sure that it's simple enough so the main focus is on the objects you want to show. - Helena, Bloglovin'
16. Only use natural light. Good lighting is hard to come by inside unless you’re willing to buy expensive lighting kits and setups. My favorite thing to do is take my subject outside in either early morning (between 7-8AM) or later at night right before the sun is setting. Any time between then, you can’t shoot in direct sunlight or you may get odd shadows and extreme color saturation. So if you can, plan your outfits beforehand, and then take the shots during the “golden hours”. - Cynthia, Darling Down South
17. Take the plating challenge. Calling all the foodies out there! Improve your plating skills and learn from the pros how to create even more beautiful dishes for your social media. It's free! Sign up here.
Master the flatlay:
18. Select a highlight piece and create a theme. Before you even begin laying everything out, take the time to select your highlight piece. What is this flat-lay about? Are you showcasing your hiking gear for the next day’s mountain climb or your in-flight essentials for a smoother plane ride? Whatever the activity, make sure you select that one visual representation to really unify the overall theme, and then surround it strategically with the other pieces. - Sasha, MyDomaine
19. Composition. This is where the fun is! To line up in straight lines or freestyle? Lining up is a really good place to start if you aren’t sure, it is visually striking and an easy style to create. Freestyling is about finding a balance and flow to your objects. Think about the placement of larger items, grouped together catches the eye but can feel clumsy. Scattered through the frame is friendlier to the eye and draws you in for a closer look. It encourages the viewer to absorb the details and take in the smaller items that sit between the larger ones. Think also about the texture of the items, if you are mixing objects consider using some hard (ceramics, metals, glass etc) and some soft (linens, feathers, flowers) to create interest. - Julia, Humphrey and Grace
20. Keep colors within the same tone. This will really help to avoid the problem above. Even if you have a lot crammed into your square space, if all the colors are within the same tonal family, it will still look neat and modern. Just think about what works in nature; if you would see these colors side by side in the real world, then it’s a sure bet they’ll look good in the digital one too. The best thing is to experiment and play around with your pieces until you find the right mix. - Sasha, MyDomaine
21. Accessories. Whether your flatlay revolved around one central object or a number of different objects, try to create a certain vibe with the accessories in the frame. Play with the positioning of the props in the background – try to change the angles and placements, adding or removing accessories from the frame until you get a great photo. Trying to photograph a round object, like a glass, lipstick or mascara and it won’t stop rolling away? Double sided tape is the perfect solution ☺
Pro Tip: You won’t believe how many amazing accessories you have for these photos in your house! Jewelry, books, bags, cool decorative items and flowers can really add an interesting personal touch to the photo and complete your vision. - Tamar, Hedonistit
Use your captions wisely:
22. Ask a question in your caption, or request some information from your audience. It’s a no-brainer that people enjoy talking about themselves. With your next caption, take the time to construct an easy-to-answer question, and you should definitely see an increase in comments. - Humble & Whole
23. Connect in your captions. Aside from all the pretty pictures, captions are one of the things I love about Instagram. It’s a chance for people to share a bit more of themselves with every post. I have found that people are way more likely to like, comment and follow when you consistently share either quality information, candid, and authentic conversation or inspiration and moving reflections in the captions attached to each photo. - Kelsey, The Home Loving Wife
24. Use a call to action. Simple Call-to-Action Ideas for Instagram:
Click link in bio / Shop link in profile (psst > Never update your Instagram link again with this simple tool)
Tag a friend who …
Hop on over to the blog
Share your next (theme/experience) using #shophashtag so we can see what you’re up to!
Ask a question
Leave a comment below …
25. Why you should use hashtags. In their basic form hashtags are simply keywords denoted by the use of the # symbol. They are used across social media as a way of searching for relevant content. The internet is saturated with information so hashtags are useful for easily finding what you are interested in. Hashtags are a great tool for categorising and organising your posts, tweets and images and making it easy for your audience to find them. They are also useful for growing your audience as a hashtag immediately expands the reach of your tweet beyond just those who follow you, to reach anyone interested in that hashtag phrase or keyword. - Gemma, Little Tiny Pieces
26. Hide Them. Hashtags are ugly and nobody really wants to see them. Since the hashtags don’t add any value to your followers/viewers why would you want it to take away from your message or image. Common ways to hide them are to immediately comment with your hashtags after your post has gone live or some people will include it in their caption but just add
and then the list of tags so that they become hidden in the initial screen when scrolling your feed. I personally go the route of the first comment as they are hidden and often never seen again once two people engage with comments on your feed. - Codi Lynn, CW & JW
27. Create lists of hashtags. On your mobile device, I recommend you create a notepad note (on whichever app you prefer) with your favorite/preferred hashtags. You can even create multiple lists if you have multiple types of content you share on Instagram. Set the list with your core hashtags and simply copy and paste it into your Instagram post caption to save you having to type them in each time. It’ll also make sure you don’t leave any out! - Jenn's Trends
28. Add any relevant tags to your posts! Try to think about what specifically it is about your post or image that might be interesting to people, and used details tags – avoid tagging with vague words like #beautiful or #jewellery. Not only are these likely to be swamped with thousands of images every minute, but some are so overused they no longer function on Instagram, and using one of these will stop all your tags on that post from working. - Sara, Folksy
29. Create your own hashtag. Create your own unique brand/company hashtag and encourage others to use it. Having a brand hashtag will help drive engagement and build a loyal community of followers. It could be as simple as the name of your company, tagline or the name of a product you carry. - Moose Studio
30. Use a combination of popular and niche specific hashtags. Using more popular hashtags will get you results almost immediately. But when you use a hashtag that is popular, your posts will soon be lost in the many posts of that popular hashtag. Using niche-specific/less popular hashtags usually live longer in search queries and will get you more likes/engagement in the long run. The key is to use a combination of the two. For example: you post a photo about coffee: the popular hashtag might be #coffee. Break it down to #coffeegram then to the type of coffee #Chemex and finally #pourover. All of these are relevant and they will not only get your photo seen initially but will extend the life of your photo due to using niche specific hashtags. - Lashawn, Everyday Eyecandy
31. Be sure your hashtags are active. Check the hashtag feed to see that the tags you’re using are currently being used by others. Hint: If you scroll down 20 rows and are still finding content posted in the last few seconds, that tag is probably too active! - Louise, Louise Myers Visual Social Media
32. Community Projects, Group Hashtags, Branded Hashtags. Community hashtags are a great way to connect with others, get your images in front of others who otherwise might not see them, gain followers, increase your own community, and honestly so much more. Explore group hashtags within your community, pay attention to what others are using. If you’re using brands within your work, be sure to look for those branded hashtags – I guarantee they’re out there. - Meighan, Meighan O'Toole
33. Interact with your favorite hashtags. Ok, so you’ve been killin’ it with the hashtags but what to take it to the next level? Go to one of your favorite and engage with those photos and users. If you like a picture check out that user’s page. Like and comment on a couple of their photos, chances are they’ll return the favor. If not, it’s still good #instakarma. - Georgie, In It 4 The Long Run
Increase your engagement:
34. Discovering Who Your Audience Is On Instagram. Before we worry about getting you followers you need to know a few things; who is your audience and what is your niche. Are you a travel photographer aimed at young solo travelers or families traveling with young children? A fashion blogger for older women or little girls? Decided not only what you will be doing but who you are doing it for. My Instagram is all about fashion and aimed at young girls and women looking to embrace life. I share not only my style but inspirational quotes in my captions to help motivate and inspire people. Choosing your audience and your niche is very, very important as it will help give you direction and you will be able to skip the phase of not knowing what to post. - Krysta, This Is Wore
35. Post Consistently. While there is no hard rule about how often you should post on Instagram, I simply recommend picking a posting schedule that you can honestly stick to. - Chelsy, Jump Into Monday
36. Engage with others through liking and commenting. Everyone loves getting likes and comments on their photos, so why not be that person? I know that if I notice a person liking or commenting on a bunch of my photos, I'll often click on their profile and maybe end up following them, so it can be very effective! Don't go too overboard with liking one person's photos though because then it can be a bit spammy and annoying. Try and keep the likes to 1-10 (at most) per profile at a time! - Lauren, Lauren Schroer
37. Socialise and be nice! Since Instagram is a social media I think the best way to make yourself interesting is to show interest in others. - Julia, @morning_temptations
38. Comment often on your followers' images. Show the love on your followers' photos and comment every now and then. No, you don’t have to like and comment on every photo one of your followers' posts, but it doesn’t hurt to comment occasionally if you have something nice, funny or positive to say! Remember, people post on Instagram in order to receive some love... show them the love! - Chrystie, Living For Naptime
39. Engage with your Community: Seek out other bloggers, follow Instagram’s suggested users, geotag photos, throw on a hashtag or two (nothing cray), etc. Each of these things will get more eyes on your Instagram page. - Cortney, Cort In Session
40. Reply to every comment on your posts. Try and reply individually to each comment, and leave meaningful replies instead of just emojis. Mention the other user by including the "@" symbol in front of their username.
41. Spread the Love. As I mentioned above, Instagram is a two-way street, you’ve got to give to receive. So, each time you post a photo & someone likes it. Repay the favor and like one of their images. If you aren’t following them yet, go ahead and give them a follow. This is a great way to show your Instagram followers that you are engaged and enthusiastic about what they are sharing. - Chrystie, Living For Naptime
42. Follow Everyone That Follows You (Except Spammy Accounts). Now this rule is one that you must follow! In order to get the love, you must GIVE the love. That means, if someone follows or likes one of your photos, check out their account and if they are legit, follow them. Then go a step beyond and like a few of those photos to show that you noticed them. - Chrystie, Living For Naptime
43. Post videos, not just photos. Video is on the rise. There’s no way around it, and that’s good news for businesses that get behind the video marketing trend.
A few video marketing statistics:
Customers are 64% more likely to buy a product online after watching a video
YouTube reports mobile video consumption rises 100% every year. Every year!
90% of users say product videos are helpful in the decision process
One third of all online activity is spent watching video
92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others
44. Use Instagram stories. Give your followers a look into your "real life" and share your behind the scenes pictures and videos with them!
45. Give and Get Shoutouts. Another way to get featured on Instagram is by giving and receiving shoutouts. Look for users with similar content and talk about giving each other shoutouts. This simply means posting an image and telling your followers to follow the account. A shoutout is the quickest and most effective way of growing followers on Instagram. - Zoe, MassPlanner
46. Host a giveaway. Running a giveaway or promotion for your business can bring you more traffic and a whole new audience to your brand. We know it can be really overwhelming to organize, promote, and follow through with a giveaway, but this is your chance to be able to offer up something you know your audience will love. Abagail & Emylee
47. Host a photo contest. You don't even need to offer a physical prize like in a giveaway, simply give a shoutout to the winning entry. Check out the exact steps for running an Instagram contest here.
48. Share posts correctly. It's fine to share other users' posts on Instagram, but you should always ask first before you share it. Most users won't have a problem with you sharing their pictures, as long as you do it properly and give them credit. Tag the owner of the photo in your post and mention them in your caption. Make sure you include the "@" symbol in front of their username.
50. Measure your growth. As with any other platform, it’s important to take a peek every so often into your analytics to see what is working / not working. Use any of these recommended tools to track and understand your growth. - Ian, RazorSocial
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