A Blogger’s Guide to Building Your Instagram: Part 1
I can’t tell you how excited I am to share today’s post. I’ll admit I’m kind of a social media nerd. I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing as it was my job (I’m a former community manager.) Hands down my favorite platform is Instagram, whether it’s for work a brand, for my personal account or for the blog.
I’ve been a user personally since 2011 but it wasn’t until just this year I decided to make an account for my blog. I kick myself for waiting so long. See I had always written it off as a blogger because the difficulty with click throughs and attribution (more on that and how to work around it in Part 2) but what I didn’t realize (until recently) is how fantastic a tool it is for building your brand and exposing your blog to new audiences.
Using the following strategies I was able to grow my Instagram following from around 200 followers in February to almost 3,800 today. Many of these tips also helped me grow the @drinkbai account from 1,900 to over 13,700 followers. I was originally going to keep this all to one post but once I realized I had over 2500 words and 12+ tips I knew I had to break it into two pieces. (Stay tuned next week for part 2)
Create and Share Great Content
First things first, a great Instagram is nothing without great photos. That means turning off your damn flash (especially when you’re taking food pictures… please) wiping your lens, finding good lighting and while you’re at it stop using the Instagram filters. Want to take your images from good to great? Some of my favorite apps for editing and creating great images include:
For Awesome filters: VSCO Cam
If you’re not already using it, download ASAP – their filters and editing tools take your photos to the next level.
For Powerful Editing Tools: Snapseed & Afterlight
Both these apps have powerful editing tools that can help make your photo pop.
Go-to adjustments: Brighten, boost contrast (no more than 30%), adjust the color temperature, boost saturation (no more than 20%), add subtle fade, sharpen (very subtlety)
For Adding Text: Piction
I like this for a couple reasons, it’s simple and easy to use and it has some fantastic fonts.
For Final Touches: Pic Tap Go
This is my favorite app for adding final touches and adding a frame to all my photos before I import into Instagram.
Develop Your “Look” and “Voice”
I can easily identify some of my favorite ‘grammers’ photos without even looking at their handles. Why? They have a distinct look to their photos and voice in their captions. Maybe you’re known for your bright and vibrant food pics or maybe you have these light and airy shots that have a special morning light, maybe it’s the hilarious food puns or the inspirational quotes every morning. Whatever your thing is, find it and rock it. People will notice and come back for more.
Take Advantage of Your Bio
Your bio is often the first impression a user will get of your account. It’s a great way to let people know about what you post and who you are. You can either keep it short and sweet or take advantage of the real estate to let others know where they can contact you or how to get more content from you. Because links in Instagram aren’t clickable, aside from your Bio Link use it to your advantage. If you have a post you want others to read, use that space to promote it.
In addition to having great pictures, building your engagement means being active and consistent. I’m sure there will be bloggers who might disagree, but in my humble opinion, I believe that great bloggers’ Instagram accounts are much more than just sharing their newest post. People love seeing behind the scenes, pieces of your daily life and sneak peeks of what you’re working on.
Posting consistently will make a BIG difference when you’re trying to build your following and especially engagement. I went from posting twice a week to 1-2x per day and saw a big difference in my engagement rate. I went from an average of 20 likes per picture to anywhere from 300-550 likes and around 20+ comments per photo.
Be Generous With Your Likes & Comments
Hands down one of the biggest ways I grew the amount of engagement on my page was being generous with how much I engaged with others. I call it #InstaKarma. “Instagram with others the way you’d like to be Instagram’d with.” Pretty sure that’s what Confucius would have wanted.
If you’re fun, friendly, supportive and genuine with the people you follow AND even accounts you don’t follow, people will reciprocate. Instagram is just WAY more fun when you’re generous with your support. Yup, it takes time, but it’s 100% worth it. I have a growing handful of Insta-friends whose accounts inspire me, make me laugh, think and often drool on my phone and I’m not afraid to tell them.I don’t like looking at it as a competition, to me it’s a collaborative creative environment. This is your chance to built others up. Finally when people show you love don’t forget to thank them!
Be careful though, Instagram limits users to 400 actions a day. I know that sounds like a lot but if you’re not careful you could me marked as a spammer if you go on a random liking/following binge.
Use (the right) Hashtags
I cannot emphasize enough how important using the RIGHT hashtags are for increasing your engagement. It takes a little testing, but find the hashtags that have an active community around them and get you the most engagement. Hashtags are a great way to connect users and communities to your photos even when they don’t follow you. Especially when you’re just staring out or have a smaller following, hashtags will help you get much more engagement on your posts.
Tip: to keep your photo caption clean, after you post your photo comment on your photo with all the hashtags you want use (you can use up to 30, I suggest taking advantage of that)
My favorite Foodie hashtags:
#eeeeeats #f52grams #droolclub #infatuation #nycFAT #missnewfoodie #cityfoodie #feedyoursoull #huffposttaste #getinmybelly #buzzfeedfood #foodvsco #ktchn #feedfeed #foodgawker
(I’m not vegan I just love vegan food and eat a lot of it)
#vegan #whatveganseat #vegansofig #instavegan #vegetarian #veganfoodshare
Random but Awesome:
#MyMorningView #ThingsArrangedNeatly #vscocam #flatlay #abmlifeiscolorful #shotfromabove #darlingweekend
Looking for the best hashtags to use in your niche? Check out some of your favorite instagrammers and see what they’re using. There’s a good chance you’ll stumble onto something awesome.
Side note: you can now hashtag emojis. Cray right?
My Sneaky(awesome) Hashtag Secret
Did you know you can create keyboard shortcut for you iphone?
Go to settings>general>keyboard>shortcuts> then add in all the hashtags you want to use in a specific category and name them accordingly.
Example: Whenever I type the word “igfooodie” it automatically completes with all of the hashtags I like using. I have probably about 10 different keywords that auto complete whether it’s fitness, food, vegan, health or photography related hashtags. This saves me so much time and hassle.
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.
Looking for more? You’ll love: The Blogger’s Guide to Instagram Photography