I started using Instagram in 2012 and quickly realized it was a great way to have a visual diary of my photographic exploits. At that time, it was a photos-only app which had a much simpler logarithm that followed a time linear feed of photos posted from people you followed.
After Facebook purchased the app, its overlords started messing with the logarithm – and everything changed, including the sequence of things landing on your feed as well as the injection of ads. Then video exploded across all social media, and everything changed again.
This has led many to hypothesize that there are “rules” to Instagram. But where do these rules come from? Don’t waste time scrolling through the terms and conditions you initially signed but failed to read — you won’t find them there. These “rules” stem from social trends and specify what does and doesn’t work based on how the general audience uses the app.
Nine things to keep in mind to be successful with Instagram:
- Hashtag 101:
In the caption area, try to keep it short. After three lines, a published caption cuts off, so try to keep to just one or two hashtags in the caption and only one or two @mentions. In the comments: You can’t include more than five @mentions or more than 30 hashtags in a single comment.
- Don’t use banned hashtags
Not all hashtags are created equal. While some banned hashtags are pretty common sense and align with Instagram’s terms of service, others aren’t so obvious. According to the HuffPo, the banned list includes #adulting, #citycentre and #eggplant. Research the hashtags you use carefully. Make sure that they are relevant for your audience and don’t have a secret, urban dictionary or emoji meaning you didn’t know about.
How do you check if a hashtag is banned? Simple. Just type it into the search box.
If you get the “no results found” page then the hashtag is banned and you are best off staying away from it.
- Don’t ignore comments: If someone has taken the time to interact with you, engage with them! Otherwise this won’t turn into much of a two-way relationship.
- Come up with a posting schedule: If your Instagram account is just for friends and family, you don’t need an official schedule. But, if you are using it to grow your brand and business, you need a solid posting plan to maximize your return on investment. In essence, don’t post at times when people are generally busy or asleep. So, good times to post are in the morning before work/school, following work/school hours, after dinner, and never past 10 p.m.
- Create a theme for your posts: This makes it easier to post regularly because you know what’s coming next. It also builds a branded look for your account.
- Be human: Instagram’s best practices really come down to how a real person is likely to interact with an account versus how a bot/spammer/troll would. Using common sense will get you a long way.
- Exercise some selfie-control: After 16 consecutive selfies, you better believe we know what your face looks like, so mix it up.
- Don’t be a snob: If a person you know follows you, follow them back.
As Instagram continually evolves, we at Sabo PR are keeping up with the changes. Whether you are using it for branding or chronicling your every meal, gain followers by keeping them engaged. Remember to post often – no one will continue to follow you if your account is stale.