31 Instagram Tips in 21 Days (The Round Up)
I’ve been meaning to write a post summarizing my key results, findings and lessons after completing “21 Days of My Instagram Habit.” In fact, I’ve been trying to write a weekly blog post, but I haven’t been able to do so lately due to certain deadlines and obligations related to my two current book projects and the Talking Taiwan podcast. Finally, I am back here to reflect on what I learned after my 21 day Instagram experiment.
When I started this little experiment, I thought it would be a good idea to share 7 tips a week for a total of 21 tips. At times, I thought I'd have a hard time coming up with 7 tips to share each week, but some weeks I shared 8 tips, and I also started off week 1 by sharing 7 tips right out of the gate. So in the end it all added up to a total of 31 tips. That’s 10 more tips than I’d planned to share during the 21 days! At the end of this post I’ll list all 31 of the tips I’ve shared over the “21 Days of My Instagram Habit.”
First a Caveat: In many cases I only tested out some of these tactics once or twice a week at most. In an ideal world, I should have been using these tactics repeatedly, on a daily basis. Had I done that, I'm sure I would have grown my follower base at a faster rate. Building a following requires constant, sustained effort. Also, my 21 day experiment was not just about gaining followers but exploring Instagram and discovering the best ways to use it. So with that in mind, I hope that after reading this post, you learn something new about how to use Instagram.
In 21 days I was able to increase my two Instagram accounts by about 100 followers each. My personal Instagram account @felishalin went from 531 to 635 followers and my art related Instagram account @ICarteverywhere went from 200 to 326 followers. Both are continuing to grow steadily. Here are screenshots of my two Instagram accounts at the time this blog post was written.
What did I learn and what were my findings during this 21 day experiment?
1) It is really hard to be on more than one social media platform at a time, and to do all of them well.
I’m sure this is not earth-shattering news to anyone. It takes time, attention and effort to be successful on any one social media platform. But what does it mean to be “successful,” on a particular social media platform? For me it means a couple of things:
1. You are increasing your followers/connections
This could literally mean adding more people to your network but it could also mean simply having fruitful exchanges or conversations between others on a social media platform.
2. You are getting consistent engagement from others
To be clear, this is more than just getting lots of likes, but getting comments on your posts, having others share or repost your posts, or people contacting you directly as a result of something you posted
3. You have a consistent presence
This means that you are active on a particular social media platform, post regularly, engage with others, and are responsive to others.
Currently, the social media platform that I am most active on is Twitter. During the week I tweet as many as 3-4 times a day, but that is because I am able to schedule things that I want to tweet in advance, in addition to the things I tweet live. It certainly takes time to do all this, but I enjoy it because for me Twitter is all about the exchange and sharing of knowledge. I’ve learned so much and come across so many resources because of Twitter.
My primary social media platform used to be Facebook. It was the first social media platform I got on, but since I’ve shifted my focus to Twitter and Instagram, I’ve been posting and sharing less on Facebook, and I do notice that I’ve been getting less likes and engagement there.
2) If I really want to focus on Instagram and to maintain a more regular posting schedule, I need plan my posts ahead of time, like I do for Twitter.
I need to look into apps that schedule Instagram posts in advance like ScheduGram.
3) A fast way to gain lots of new followers on Instagram is to use the “guerilla following” tactic I explained in my week 3 post.
But these followers may not be very “sticky” or the most loyal or engaged followers. I’ve noticed that the number of followers on both of my Instagram accounts have fluctuated after adding new followers using the “guerilla following” tactic. After an influx of new followers it drops off a bit.
4) Follow and follow back. ASAP
This is a good way to steadily increase your followers on Instagram. In my experience this also works for Twitter. If you have a steady number of new people following you on Twitter or Instagram, just follow them back right away, like within 24 hours or within a day or so at most and your followers will grow. I am not recommending that you just blindly follow back others. Do use your own discretion when following others back. But do so consistently and quickly.
5) Hashtags matter.
Use hashtags in your Instagram captions to get your posts discovered. Consider which of these types of hastags would work best for your post: industry-related hashtags, daily hashtags, community hashtags, trending hashtags, and branded hashtags. Note, regarding branded hashtags, these should be related to your business, product or personal project. For me two of the branded hashtags I’ve used are #Metropolicks and #TalkingTaiwan.
While Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, you probably shouldn’t put 30 hashtags in your post. It’s best to limit your hashtags to 10 per post because it can look spammy. In some cases you could use a couple more than 10, as long as they are all relevant to your post.
6) Making use of the words “Click Link in Bio” does drive traffic to a website.
For my Instagram posts that refer to my blog, I’ve included the words “Click Link in Bio” in the caption. As a result, I’ve noticed there’s more traffic on my website around the time of Instagram posts referencing my blog.
My Future Thoughts on Using Instagram
I still need to try out the following:
1. Schedule Instagram posts in advance
2. Increase engagement with my followers
3. Use Boomerang on Instagram
4. Experiment more with Instagram stories
5. Look at my Instagram analytics
It would be helpful to use an app like Iconosquare to find out when most of my followers are online and which posts have been the most popular.
FINALLY, here’s the big round up...
The 31 tips I’ve shared over “21 Days of My Instagram Habit”
1. Use relevant hashtags in your posts to get discovered by others on Instagram.
2. Use emojis in your bio and in your posts on Instagram as another way of communicating your thoughts and ideas. Go crazy, have fun with them!
3. Use the words "click link in bio" if you'd like to direct people to a specific web link in your Instagram post.
4. Use Notes (on an iPhone) to type out text and emojis for your Instagram bio or post. In Notes you'll be able to control the spacing of text on your Instagram bio or posts, then copy and paste it into your Instagram bio or post.
5. Include a web link in your bio that is relevant to your posts if you are directing people there, or use a web link that lets people know more about you in general.
6. Search a specific hashtag to find new people to follow. See what's posted there, which posts are most popular and who posted it, then see who their followers are, and follow their followers.
7. Find influencers in your industry or area of expertise. See who their followers are and look at something they recently posted. See who likes their posts, then follow the people who liked the post.
8. Write useful, meaningful comments on the posts of others on Instagram. These types of comments are more likely to get you noticed. Liking and commenting is a good start to increase your engagement, but writing one-word comments don't do much.
9. Mention someone's Instagram handle in a post's caption where relevant- to give credit, thank, or notify someone about your post.
10. Invite people to share your post by mentioning others in the comments if they think someone else might be interested in your post.
11. Craft your caption. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters in the caption. Whether long or short, make sure your caption does the following: provides context, shows personality, speaks to your audience, and inspires action.
12. Don't over hashtag your post's caption even though Instagram allows you to put up to 30 hashtags in a caption. Keep the number of hashtags in your caption to 10. Put additional hashtags in the comments of your post.
13. Use popular targeted hashtags in your captions rather than general hashtags. Do your research to find them.
14. Ask a question in your post's caption to invite discussion, comments and debate.
15. Share a borrowed or original quote related to your area or expertise, or that connects with your audience and get creative with how you present the quote on Instagram.
16. Plan your posts in advance by creating a posting calendar. Select images to post on a daily basis. Plan the captions for each post and the order in which you are going to post them.
17. Save an idea in draft for a future post. If you have a photo or image that you don't have a caption for yet or want to use for a future post, simply set it up in Instagram save it as a draft. Come back to it later when you are ready to finish writing the caption and to post it.
18. Keep your captions clean by adding blank lines between different sections and to separate out a series of hashtags.
19. Try the "guerilla following" tactic to get a massive number of new followers. Identify similar Instagram accounts and their most popular posts, then just follow all of the people who liked the post.
20. Figure out the best times for you to post on Instagram. Experiment and observe which posts are most popular and what time of day they were posted. There are apps and tools that can help you monitor your Instagram posts, which brings me to the next tip...
21. Try out some of the 10 of the Best Instagram Tools by Lilach Bullock
22. Cross promote your Instagram account on other social media platforms. Share one of your Instagram posts on another social media platform and mention that the post originally came from your Instagram handle, or invite those who like the post to follow you on Instagram.
23. Use Instagram Stories. While Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours. They get additional exposure in that 24 hour time frame since they are shown prominently at the top of one's Instagram feed.
24. Use Instagram's photo carousel function. Learn how to do this and get some tips on how to use photo carousels in the Social Media Examiner's article: How to Use Instagram Multiple Image Posts.
25. Use Instagram's Boomerang function. Refinery 29 has 11 Tips For Taking An Awesome Boomerang.
26. Use daily hashtags in your posts. The Social Ms has a great list of daily hashtags to use in this article: 16 Inspiring Ideas to Spice Up Your Instagram Feed With Creative Posts by Susanna Gebauer.
27. Post a video. Videos get twice as much engagement on Instagram. They are a great way to tell a story, about yourself, your product/business/brand.
28. Geotag your posts. Here's a great post explaining geotags and how to use them on Jenn's Trends: How to Use Geotags on Instagram For Your Business.
29. Look at posts using the same geotag as your post to see what hashtags are being used and to see what else is being posted for a particular location.
30. Use user-generated content. This works especially well if you have a brand with loyal customers or are a celebrity/public person with fans. Followers are asked to share their photos with a product or as part of a photo contest. If selected, their post will be reposted and featured on your Instagram account.
31. Try out some of these 9 Instagram Apps and Tools.