How to grow your instagram followers

How to grow your Instagram followers

One of the most commonly asked questions I receive is “how do I grow my instagram followers?”. Although there is not one straight answer to this – and a whole combination of factors come together for growth to take place, I have come up with a number of simplified strategies you can adopt for account growth. Some of these strategies are straightforward, legitimate and organic methods – others are more controversial, some frowned upon and some definitely NOT recommended. I figured I’d highlight them all, as it’s worthwhile knowing why you SHOULDN’T use them.

CORE

This is the fundamental entry level of growing your Instagram followers.

The first and most basic way to get followers is to connect with your own friends and family! Within your profile options you can see ​Follow People – there you can add friends using your other social media accounts such as Facebook or from your contacts. Hopefully, if you follow them, they will follow you back!

Then, for an optimised account you should be sharing the very best of your photos or videos. If someone clicks onto your profile the first thing they are likely to do is to browse through the first 6 – 10 of your most recent images. It is important that these photos give a great first impression or a representation of who you are and your account. You will be adding a well thought out caption and possibly a few hashtags too.

LEVEL UP

The next way that you can level up your follower growth, is to do everything you would do for ‘core‘ but then build on that. Once you have followers…and they are engaging with your account, engage with them. If you don’t interact, people will lose interest, get bored and unfollow. You can learn a lot about your audience by interacting with them. When you post photos, provided your content is good, you will likely receive comments from users who appreciate your work. You can reply to followers comments on your photos by thanking them or responding to the comments they have made. It is good insta-etiquette to respond to them too! I endeavour to acknowledge all comments made on my photos as I feel it it courteous to respond if someone has taken the time and effort to write something. It’s a great way to interact and build up your community. It shows people that you value their interest and contribution.

One basic but powerful way to interact with people, find inspiration and to gain new followers on Instagram, is to ‘like’ other users photos. Liking photos is really the fundamental interaction on Instagram. When you do like photos make sure that you are authentic with the likes you give out and avoid spamming accounts for the sake of it. Don’t like for likes sake, as you will just irritate people. Take it another step further, by commenting too!

Also, by this point you will be more focussed with your hashtags – using ones that are niche, selected for the relevancy and with the content you are posting in mind. See my Ultimate Hashtags list for photographers to up your hashtag game!

FISHING

Now, perhaps you’re wanting to speed up and encourage the follower growth on your feed a bit more. So, you will already be doing everything in ‘core‘ plus adopting the strategies in ‘level up‘ and now you will start adding a bit more targeted and focussed growth strategies. This is what I refer to as fishing – you will actively go out liking and comment on photos – but in an organised and strategic way, in order to try and reel people into your feed.  You need to got out and let people know that you (and your content) exists. This is the ‘knocking on doors’ of Instagram!

Pick one of the hashtags that you use (or the geotag) and go to its feed. Select ‘recent’ and begin scrolling through the feed, liking photos as you go (but ONLY photos that you do genuinely like). When you get to about 20 photos, on the next one, leave a comment as well as liking. Make sure that the comment is genuine, sincere and shows a real interest in the content. Go back to the hashtag/geotag feed and begin the process again…liking 20 photos, then commenting on one. Repeat this for however much time you have spare. This is what I call the 20:1 approach. You can tweak the ratio to suit your available time or what works for you. By balancing out the likes v’s comments it means you are less likely to get banned for liking/commenting too fast and it gives you a rhythm to strategy.

With this method, your ‘fishing‘ will reel in people to your feed, primarily from your comments, but also through the likes. If you do this regularly, you will see a steady growth on your feed.

PODS

After you have implemented ‘core‘, ‘level up‘ and ‘fishing‘, there are very few ‘organic’ ways for you to grow your Instagram following. Two years ago, these three methods alone would have been enough to generate rapid growth. This is how I managed to get my feed to around the 10-12k mark. Sadly, now that Instagram have introduced the algorithm, it is much more difficult to get the same levels of organic growth. This is where pods (engagement groups) can come in.

A pod (engagement group) is a way to ‘hack’ the instagram algorithm. It is a group of Instagrammers (preferably of the same niche) who will collaborate to ensure that as a member posts, their post is getting an influx of likes, comments, saves and even shares. They are usually set up in a messaging software (Whatsapp, Messenger, Slack, Telegram etc) or within Instagrams own direct messaging, where members will announce when they have uploaded a new post. The idea being, that all the members of that group will then go and visit the post to like & comment on it ASAP, after it’s first posted. The reason this is important, is because the algorithm looks at the response the post gets within the first hour – before deciding whether to push it to a broader audience.
Pods are frowned upon sometimes because they can be seen as manipulative, false and cheating. If a pod is well set up – built upon a community of like-minded, supportive and genuine members they can work well. Sadly, many pods are just a load of instagrammers thrown together. This means someone who is a portrait photographer, could be engaging with a dog groomer or cake baker. In a set up like this, over time the interest will fade (unless the portrait photographer happens to be a dog loving, cake eater)!

FOLLOW/UNFOLLOW

This is a controversial, often frowned upon and dubious strategy. The basic principle of this is that you bulk follow a load of Instagram accounts, then shortly (24 – 48hrs) after, you unfollow them. Hopefully within that time period some of those accounts would have followed you. So your followers growing, but your following doesn’t. There are many issues with this – firstly, you risk getting your account banned. There are limits on the amount of accounts you can follow in a day. If the bots pick up that you are a serial follower, you do risk your account being banned and locked out. Notwithstanding the fact, that it blooming well annoys people when they see that someone has follow/unfollowed them!

BIG SPENDER

This is a big no-no! I’m only adding it here as a word of caution and for readers to get an understanding of the lengths people will go to for the sake of ‘popularity’. ‘Big Spender‘ is when people buy followers. When you buy followers, you are often getting fake/spam accounts – they won’t be people that will engage on your feed. This will then become evident on your posts. I have seen accounts that have 50,000 followers, but only get 200 or so likes on a post. This is an obvious sign that they have bought followers. Also when followers are bought, the account growth will happen rapidly over a short space of time (a couple days), where as genuine growth is steady and gradual.

With all of the strategies you adopt, you are looking for QUALITY over QUANTITY. This is why Follow/Unfollow and Big Spender are not wise strategic moves in your growth plan!

A wise Instagrammer once said “Followers is vanity, engagement is sanity”!

 

VIEW MY IGTV CHANNEL WHERE I CHAT THROUGH INSTAGRAM GROWTH.

 

About me

You might also enjoy:

Instagram Algorithm Explained

Instagram aesthetics – Make your feed stand out

 

Instagram Engagement | Tips for optimising your content | Hashtags

Contrary to what many think, the most important factor on Instagram, is not the volume of followers you have but the level of engagement you have on your posts. Increasing engagement should be your primary focus. The more engagement you get on your posts, then the bigger impact this will have on the algorithm (which will determine the exposure you get for your content). An important part of this is developing a workflow and strategy If you have a plan.

In this post I am going to talk about how using a hashtag strategy can help you to optimise your engagement.

Hashtags for increased engagement

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram is all about the hashtag, more than any of the other social media platforms. Using hashtags is one of the key factors to your content being discovered.

There are various opinions on how many hashtags you should use on a post. The most you can use is 30 – so it makes sense that you use all 30. Research has shown that posts with more than 11 hashtags perform best. There have been talks of using too many can compromise a posts performances…but if this was the case, surely Instagram wouldn’t let you use 30! If you use 30 hashtags – that’s 30 streams you can tap into. I believe the main reason social media commentators suggest not to use 30 is because aesthetically they don’t look great in a caption and seem a bit ‘spammy’. I overcome this by spacing them down at the bottom of my caption.

 

It doesn’t matter where you put the hashtags – caption or comments. I put them into my caption because it means I can edit them. If you put them in your comments, you only have the option to delete them.

 

Should I be using the most popular hashtags?

#instagood, #love, #photo, #summer, #nofilter.

 

Ideally you should be strategic about your hashtags. The hashtags you use should reflect your brand, your content and the audience you are trying to reach and should be considered – rather than just thrown in on a whim. This means that you are going to need to do some planning and research.

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram sunset hashtag

There are few different types of hashtags you can use:

 

Generic / Keyword / Popular

There are certain hashtags which are significantly more popular than others (such as #sunset). It may seem logical to use the more popular hashtags…because… they’re more popular. Actually, the opposite is true. Since such a vast number of instagrammers include these tags with their posts, it means that the posts end up immersed deep within the hashtag feed of photos in a matter of seconds. Another good reason to avoid using the popular hashtags is because the seem to attract spam and bot accounts! Having said that, you could include two or three of these hashtags in your post because they are popular, there will actually be a lot of people watching them. They are likely to help generate likes and comments.

Product / Industry / Service

Product or industry hashtags are used by professionals and brands and are related to the industry they are in.  Consider which users you are targeting and the industry that relates to your account, then choose tags related to that!

Niche

These more specific hashtags, tend to target more engaged users, but usually have a smaller reach. It helps because you’re fishing from a smaller pond of views. Again, use only a couple of these on your posts.

The smaller the number of posts to a hashtag:

  • Less competition for your post
  • An increased chance of being featured in the Top 9 posts
  • The more likely your post will be seen in that hashtag feed.

BUT! Also the less people actually look at these hashtags.

 

Community / Hubs

If you want inspiration or more exposure for your post and to increase engagement with your feed, hubs are a great way to achieve this. ’Hubs’ or ‘community accounts’ are large accounts that will feature a selection of photos throughout the day, in return for you using their corresponding hashtag.

There are countless hubs on Instagram, which cover a broad spectrum of styles such as sunsets, nature, wildlife, portraits, beauty, fashion or locations. A lot of the hubs have a massive follower base between 20k – 100k+. This means that if your photo is chosen to be featured it can receive a lot of exposure (to any individual that follows that hub).

Location

If you’re a local business then it makes sense to use location-based hashtags in order to connect with your community. Using location hashtags will help put you on the radar for your area.

There tend to be some standard format for hashtags for locations such as #igersLondon #igersBirmingham, #LondonBlogger #BirminghamBlogger, #LondonPhotographer #BirminghamPhotographer

Brands

Many businesses and brands on Instagram also use their own hashtags and they often feature other Instagrammers. Canon is an example. They have several region specific pages such as @CanonUK or @CanonUSA. If you use a particular brand – or a brand features in your image it is definitely worth tagging them in it.
Brands also create specific hashtags for campaigns, so it’s important to check regularly to see if there are current ones to be using.

Hashtags in Instagram Stories

Hashtags - instagram engagement

Instagram sunset hashtag – stories

Don’t forget about the option to add a hashtag to your instagram stories too. This is a great way to get engagement as your post will feature in the stories feed for that hashtag (as shown at the top of the image to the left).

You can place the hashtag in a sticker for or within the text. Follow the principles above when you decide which hashtag to choose.

Avoid banned hashtags. You can find a list of banned hashtags here:

https://thepreviewapp.com/list-of-banned-instagram-hashtags-2018/

Don’t just post hashtags…Interact and engage with people in the hashtags you are using.

There you go – my tips on making the most of your hashtags for Instagram engagement. Still hungry to learn more? Check out my other posts:

 

 

 

 

15 UK Instagram accounts that will feature your photos

15 UK Instagram accounts that will feature your photos

If you want inspiration or more exposure for your photos and to increase engagement with your feed, hubs are a great way to achieve this. ’Hubs’ or ‘feature accounts’ are large accounts that will feature a selection of photos throughout the day, in return for using their corresponding hashtag.

There are countless hubs on Instagram, which cover a broad spectrum of styles such as sunsets, nature, wildlife, portraits, fashion or landscapes. A lot of the hubs have a massive follower base between 20k – 500k+. This means that if your photo is chosen to be featured it will receive a lot of exposure.

Let’s see some of the popular UK based Instagram Hubs:

1) Best UK Pics

🇬🇧We feature the best pics from UK 🇬🇧Use our tag: #bestukpicsFOUNDER: @quelmarietto ADMINS: @chiarathustra@x_ray_mike@missb68@flying.jc

CONGRATS to 📷@kieran.fallows.photography for this fantastic shot 🙌 💫 Selected by @missb68 ✨(ADMIN) FOUNDER: @quelmarietto LOCALITY: Hadrian’s wall CATEGORY: #Night To appear: • follow us & use #bestukpics We’d appreciate a • REPOST or SCREEN 📷 ⠀⠀⠀ Your pic is also on FB • BESTUKPICS COMMUNITY • @bestpics_community Check out our friends at @ukpotd and @gloriousbritain and use their tag for a chance to be featured ⠀⠀⠀ THANKS A LOT! 😊🏆👏🏻🇬🇧 #bestworldpics #ukpotd #mybritain #britains_talent #photosofbritain #loves_britain #loves_united_kingdom #capturingbritain #icu_britain #scenicbritain #explore_britain #picture_to_keep #excellent_britain #ig_countryside #happytrailz #igersuk #ig_uk #gloriousbritain #britain_online #uk_shots #our_britain

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2) Love GREAT Britain

Official British Tourist Board🇬🇧 sharing beautiful Britain through your pics and stories! Tag #lovegreatbritain to allow us to share on our channels. www.visitbritain.com

3) Britains Talent

🇬🇧#britains_talent🇬🇧 Member @hubdirectory Founder @mrsali88Mods @itslittlemissb@april2740@chrissalephoto@ian_holloway_photography

• We are proud to present this fantastic photo! • 📍Location: Buachaille Etive Mor📍 • Featured artist • 🌟@lee.lumix 🌟 • •🇬🇧🏆•CONGRATULATIONS•🏆🇬🇧• • Please show some 🇬🇧 UK L😍VE to today’s artist by dropping by their gallery and saying hi, tap on a few photos and maybe even change the follow button colour to 💚 • •Photo chosen by @ian_holloway_photography • •🌟Mods • •👉@itslittlemissb• •👉@april2740• •👉@chrissalephoto• •👉@ian_holloway_photography• •🌟Founder• •👉@mrsali88• • For your chance to be featured please follow and tag accordingly: ➡@britains_talent ➡#britains_talent • •🌟Keep tagging you crazy snappers🌟• • #photosofengland #visitbritain #ukpotd #uk #greatbritain #lovegreatbritain #capturingbritain #photosofbritain #visitengland #bbcbritain #instabritain

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4) Loves_United_Kingdom

The Beauty of #UnitedKingdom * Tag #LOVES_UNITED_KINGDOM * Mbr @lovesunited * Team @mpalka_photography@annapemagic@chriswalts@leandri.dannhauser ⇓lovesunited.com

Presents PHOTOGRAPHER | @annahedderly LOVES OF THE DAY April 22, 2018 LOCATION | #Crooklets ——————————————————— SELECTED BY | @chriswalts ADMIN | @mpalka_photography TEAM | @annapemagic @chriswalts @leandri.dannhauser OUR TAG | #LOVES_UNITED_KINGDOM ——————————————————— ♡ Please show your support to our featured artists and visit their awesome galleries for more great shots ♡ ——————————————————— VISIT PARTNERS COMMUNITY: * @Loves_United_Family * @Loves_United_Life * @Loves_United_Europe * @Loves_United_Italy * @Loves_United_World * OUR MAIL | loves.members@gmail.com This award will participate in our weekly contest on @loves_united_europe __ * #l_u_t_c_e_2018_april * #luk_annahedderly — #wms_europe #ig_europa #super_europe #uk_greatshots #ok_europe #igerslondon #prettycitylondon #prettylittlelondon #london_enthusiast #london_masters #london_city_photo #toplondonphoto #unlimitedlondon #culturetriplondon #hello_london #londonforyou #loves_london #loves_united_england #explore_britain #igworldclub #topukphoto #visitlondon #photosofbritain #visitbritain

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5) UK Pic Of The Day

🇬🇧 Featuring the best pics from around the UK Follow and tag your pics #ukpotd or #ukpotd_apr18 Founder @notbrettk Mods @missb68 & @hanupnorth

🇬🇧••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••🇬🇧•••••••• @UKPOTD by: @sixmileimages ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Location: Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• New pics #UKpotd •••••••• Old pics #UKpotd_apr18 ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Selected by @hanupnorth ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Check out our friends: •@genuinebritain •@explore.wales •@bestukpics •@landscapes_of_britain . #hubs_united #britain #Explore_Britain #VisitBritain #Excellent_Britain #Ireland #InstaBritain #discoverni #gloriousbritain #loughneagh #bestukpics #lough #genuinebritain #landscapes_of_britain #ukpotd_sixmileimages #northernireland #theimaged #ig_worldclub #osmaps #frozenlake #nature #antrim #master_gallery #thelensbible

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6) UK_Greatshots

✦Tag #UK_GREATSHOTS ✦Tag #UK_GSWORLDfor Sunday’s Travel the World Features ➲ A @miniboy_ ➲ M @alycoste ➲ M @olivergmlewis ➲ M @redinscotland

® Presents Sunday World Traveling Special: ⠀ UK GREATSHOTS 🇬🇧 ® PHOTOGRAPHER | @brian__knox LOCATION | Switzerland 🇨🇭 SELECTED | @alycoste ADMIN | @miniboy_ MOD | @alycoste MOD | @redinscotland MOD | @olivergmlewis FAMILY HUB @greatshots_world_community MEMBER OF | @hubdirectory ⠀⠀ FOLLOW US | @uk_greatshots TAG US | #uk_greatshots ___________________________________________ PLEASE VISIT @icu_scotland @scotland_greatshots @traveling_uk @ukpotd ____________________________________________ #earthcapture #globalshotz #travelpic #uk_gsworld #worldshotz #besteuropepics #forbestravelguide #traveling #landscape_lovers #ig_brilliant #bbc_travel #europe_gallery #instatraveling #travelphotography #passionpassport #travelphotography #ig_cameras_united #venice #ig_mood #nightphotography #landscape_captures #europe #natgeoyourshot #lonelyplanet #switzerland

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7) Photos Of Britain

🇬🇧Founded & Stories by @timholt📸UK images, facts & history daily ✨Follow and tag this account for feature!

Tag a friend who would love to visit Stratford-upon-Avon and see Shakespeare’s home county! I’ve (@timholt) got a whole load of Shakespeare goodies to send to random replies below from this lovely place. Open worldwide! I took this picture just 12 hours ago of a typical traditional thatched house just around the corner from Anne Hathaway’s Cottage (which you can see in my story from yesterday evening) . According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptised on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptising a newborn. The whole town is celebrating this weekend… It’s bunting galore! . Could you live here? Although the upkeep can be quite expensive. A complete re-thatch could cost anything up to £25,000 (around $33,000) and there are just 350 thatching firms in the entire country, to service between 55,000 and 60,000 thatched houses. But! What a treat if you have the ability to own such a property! And to think, when other more expensive roofing materials came into vogue, thatch became a mark of poverty, and the number of thatched properties gradually declined. Thatch has now become much more popular in the UK over the past 30 years, and is now a symbol of wealth rather than poverty. Funny how things change. Have a wonderful, peaceful Sunday! Shot by @timholt 🇬🇧 Want your Photos of Britain to be featured? Follow us and then tag this account in your shots too! 🇬🇧

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8) Instabritain

📸Founder @postcardsbyhannah🇬🇧Exploring Britain and the World 👇🏼Checkout our travel guides

9) Explore_Britain_

🇬🇧Please Provide Location🇬🇧 🔹Owner/Admin @ladynicking🔹Mods @peterhumfryes @bethanyfry_ @aemorton1107@lisafroggatt_photography 🔹Part of Explore Family

.#explore_britain . 🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ EXPLORE BRITAIN is proud to present and congratulate today’s featured artist: @tomormerod ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟🌈🌟 . ♦Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures with us. ♦Please be sure to use our hashtag for a chance to be featured. ♦Please consider Following the hub and our accepted tags: #explore_britain & #explore_britain_. ♦Please only submit your own pictures, no internet or stolen photos! . 🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟🎉🌟 . Photo chosen by: @aemorton1107 . 🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟🎊🌟 Founders: @xemjade @alibongo1963. . #ukpotd #loves_united_kingdom #loves_united_england #capturingbritain #fiftyshades_of_history #britains_talent #GloriousBritain #our_britain #icu_britain #excellent_britain #britain #uk #igersuk #ebritain_tomormerod – #keephubcommunityfair A hub with integrity

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10) Visit England

Making you fall head-over-heels with England one photo at a time. Tag #VisitEngland to feature on our channels. Find thousands of trip ideas: www.visitengland.com

@Postcardsbyhannah here again, this is the last you will hear from me over on Visit England, saving one of my favourite places till last! Does anyone recognise this famous street? This is Steep Hill in Lincoln, and as the name suggests, it really is one of the steepest in England. On this street you will find a whole range of independent boutique shops, and plenty of places to stop for afternoon tea. Lincoln itself is a very historic city, dating back as far as 300 BC, making it one of the oldest settlements in Britain. It was the Romans that settled here first, in AD 50, and built a fortress atop the largest hill. The Romans renamed the town ‘Lindum Colonia’. I hope you all enjoyed my snippets of England this weekend, come say hello to me over on @postcardsbyhannah where you can enjoy more of my adventures around my home country. #VisitEngland #Lincoln #SteepHill #Saturday #Weekend #Takeover . . . .

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11) UK.shooters

#uk_shooters Shooting • Vibing • Hosting Creative Photography From Around The UK

Today’s feature 🇬🇧📷. Shooter: @thedronelad Selected by: @m.visuals . #uks_thedronelad . Follow us and tag #uk_shooters to be featured . • Team • @m.visuals | @luke_jclark | @cyrusnezami | @devise.inspire | @spidergirl | . • Fam • @uk.portraits || #uk_ports @uk.spinners || #uk_spinners @la.shooters || #la_shooters . • Alliance • @globalnightsquad || #globalnightsquad . . #shotzdelight #vibegramz #depthobsessed #serialshooters #urbanandstreet  #ourcolourdays #agameoftones #capturedconcepts #main_vision #incredible_shot #loaded_lenses #leagueoflenses  #visualcollective #moodygrams #gramslayers #all2epic #fatalframes #visualambassadors  #reflectiongram #lensbible #sonyimages #uks_moodymeetslondon

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12) Glorious Britain

ғᴇᴀᴛᴜʀɪɴɢ ʙʀɪᴛᴀɪɴ ɪɴ ᴀʟʟ ɪᴛs ɢʟᴏʀʏ 🇬🇧 🄶🄻🄾🅁🄸🄾🅄🅂 🄱🅁🄸🅃🄰🄸🄽 🇬🇧 #GloriousBritain #GB_GB for features

13) UK Scenery

The UK’s Best Scenery! 🇬🇧 Founders: @shot_by_tom & @jbs_creative🤘 #ukscenery to be featured 📸 Check out our other account 👉 @earthscenery🌍

Featured Photo 🤘🇬🇧 Photographer 📸: @creativecapturesuk Location📍: Ayr Selected By: @jbs_creative . Make sure you check out the photographers gallery and show some love! 😎 . Don’t forget to tag your photos with #ukscenery to be featured so we can show the amazing views here in the UK 🇬🇧 😜 . 👉 Hub Family 👈 @earthscenery – #earthscenery @londonscenery – #londonscenery @devonscenery – #devonscenery . Be sure to check out our friends 👇 @gloriousbritain @north_devon @uk_shooters @ukpotd @traveling_uk . #ukscenery #UK #GreatBritain #Britain #England #Wales #beautifulwales #Scotland #NorthernIreland #uk_shooters #icu_britain #mybritain #explore_britain #visitbritain #excellent_britain #photosofengland #gloriousbritain #coloursofbritain #photosofbritain #bestukpics #ukpotd #britains_tallent #capturingbritain #ig_scotland #insta_scotland

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14) Scenic Britain

Discover the Great British Outdoors! The best countryside, coast and mountain scenery. Tag your shots with #scenicbritain to share.

15) TopUKPhoto

#TopUKPhoto the best of UK 🇬🇧 info@trendingreach.com by @patrickcolpron

Read more about how to get featured on Instagram or how to understand the Instagram Algorithm

Which are your favourite UK Instagram hubs and communities? Share with me in the comments.

Top tips for getting Instagram hub features

Top tips for getting Instagram hub features

I am a moderater for two Instagram hubs and I frequently get my @kistography photos featured, so I thought I’d put together some top tips to help you optimise your posts for getting an Instagram feature.

1) HASHTAGS

This one is kind of obvious, but make sure you’re using the right hashtag. Some hubs such as @gramoftheday and @jjcommunity change their hashtag daily. More advice on Instagram feature hubs can be found here.

2) KNOW THE HUB

Make yourself familiar with the Instagram hubs & work out what style it tends to feature. Do your photos fit that style?

3) LANDMARKS/ICONS

For many of the area/location specific hubs, in order to get featured your image will need to clearly represent that area. E.g. When I am looking for photos to feature on @loveforsomerset, I look for photos that clearly represent Somerset in some way (landmark buildings, street scenes, National parks etc).

4) FORMAT

I was late on the uptake with this one, but hubs on Instagram tend to prefer to feature portrait orientation photos because they look better for the aesthetics on instagram.

5) BE DIFFERENT

If you’re photographing a popular location or scene, you’re more likely to be featured if you add something different to the 100’s of other photos like it.
As an example Durdle Door is much photographed – it’s hard to find new perspectives/compositions that haven’t already been done 100s of times. Try adding props, human interest, visit it at different seasons (some awesome shots of it in the snow got features) and don’t forget the post processing can add a different take on things.

5) GUIDELINES

Check the instructions on the hubs page. Many just require you to use their hashtag, whereas some require to @ tag them on your photo or others might want you to DM/email the photo. Some have time restrictions of when they select content. Some hubs close down for holidays. Read the instructions on the hub page.

6) RELEVANCE

Kind of obvious- Make sure the hubs you are tagging are relevant to your content!.

7) CELEBRATE

If you get featured by a hub it is polite to thank them. I usually do this via my stories but some people like to celebrate via their feed.

8) FRAMES & BORDERS

Avoid adding frames, borders or large copyright marks to your image as this can put off hubs from featuring pics.

9) LOCATION/GEOTAG

Particularly for hubs that are location specific, make sure you include the location in the caption or add the geotag. Frequently a great photo is tagged to a location specific hub, but the location is missing from the post so it can’t be shared, without knowing where it was taken.

Instagram Aesthetics | Make your Instagram feed stand out

Be creative and make your Instagram feed stand out by the aesthetics you use on your images.

Not only do the aesthetics make your Instagram account stand out,  but having a certain style or aesthetics helps to streamline your upload and editing process, because you will be able to follow the same editing workflow each time. It also creates continuity and cohesiveness for your viewers.

There are plenty of ways you can use the aesthetics to create an identity on your feed such as the style of your photography, the colour palette for your pics, filters, picture layout, photo framing or the order in which you post.

I have selected a few accounts who have a very distinct style to their aesthetics to give you some examples:

 

@alka.lloyd – Dark and Moody landscape/architecture photography

 

@caroline_south – pastel backgrounds – Ombré flat lays

 

@lernak – white framed landscape images

 

@chris_taylor_4 – uploads images from the same location, in sets of three

 

@the_millers_house – Square, framed delicately styled and soft images.

 

@thesculptedvegan – Centred quotes between lifestyle/fitness images

 

@zoepower – alternate, landscape shots – with product/flat lays. Gentle pastel edits.

 

@thewriter – multigrid images

 

@stellamariabaer – neutral, nude and white tones. Minimalist photos.

 

@navutudreamsresort – Quotes, alternating videos and photos.

 

@sascha.vanderwerf – descriptive text followed by double images.

 

@youversion – Fonts, text, quotes.

 

@bespokebride – Vibrant colour pop!

 

@anamarques210376 – minimalist and pastel colours

 

@ncltubeo – dark and moody images

 

 

Instagram Algorithm Explained – R.E.S.T.A.R.T

How to make sense of the Instagram Algorithm

 

So, what is the Instagram algorithm? Instagram originally started off as a simple ‘reverse-chronological’ feed where you would see the most recent posts of the people you followed first. In March 2016 Instagram Switched to an Algorithm. Instagram now uses an algorithm which figures out what content will interest you and this is the content you will see first.

Instagram mentions the following factors as influencing the algorithm:

  • “the likeliness you’ll be interested in the content,”
  • “your relationship with the person posting”
  • “the timeliness of the post.”.

The introduction of the algorithm means that content creators have to work a bit harder to get their work seen and to get engagement. It also means it’s necessary to have a bit more consideration about what, when and how to post. However, Instagram is a fast growing platform with it expected to top 1 Billion monthly users by Jan 2018, which allows a vast audience to tap into if you can get your strategy right.

The Instagram algorithm is somewhat of a mystery, so it’s only possible to make assumptions and guesses about how it works, based on the information they release and also from user experience. There’s no magic formula I can offer, but in order to frame the different elements that are thought to influence the Instagram algorithm, I have created the acronym – R.E.S.T.A.R.T. which I will explain in more detail.

[R]elationship
[E]ngagement
[S]hares & Saves
[T]imeliness
[A]ctivity
[R]elevancy
[T]ime spent

 

RELATIONSHIP

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - RELATIONSHIPInstagram is a ‘Social Media’….So not surprisingly ‘Relationship’ relates to the accounts you regularly interact with on Instagram.

Instagram commented:

“And no matter how many accounts you follow, you should see your best friend’s latest posts”.

How does Instagram know who are your “best friends”?!
Thomas Dimson, a software engineer at Instagram suggests the following ways may determine your best friends:

  • Accounts whose content you like regularly(which includes stories & live videos)
  • Users who you direct message
  • Instagram accounts that you have searched for
  • Anyone you know in real life

It can be assumed that the more of these elements you use with an account (i.e. if you regularly search an account, then like, comment and share their posts), then the higher they will appear on your feed as they will be considered ‘best friends’.

ENGAGEMENT

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - ENGAGEMENTA post with more engagement is likely to feature higher. It is also believed that early engagement is particularly important, because a flurry of initial activity indicates to the Instagram algorithm that a post is worth bumping to the top of other users’ feed, which leads to even more engagement. Instagram considers engagement to be likes, comments, video views, shares (via direct message), saves, story views, and live video views.

Figure out the best time to post on Instagram for your account. You can use Instagram insights to give you an idea of when your audience is online. .

Post consistently engaging visuals paired with compelling captions that encourage followers to interact with your posts. Put the most important words up front in you caption, to draw followers in and encourage them to keep reading.

SAVES & SHARES

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - SAVES & SHARESIn regards to the Instagram Algorithm, direct shares and saves are another signal that you’re interested in an account. Also who you share the content with suggests to the algorithm that you have a relationship with that individual and this could rank them higher in your feed.

The other element is posts that are saved. If a post is saved it will suggest that it’s relevant content for you.

To use the algorithm to your advantage in this respect, create content that others want to save to come back to or posts that people will want to share with others such as:
* Tutorials .
* Facts .
* Hints and Tips .
* Instructionals .
* How To’s .
* Guides .
* Reviews.

TIMELINESS

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - TIMELINESSInstagram themselves have commented:

“The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

This means that Instagram considers more recent posts, to be more relevant to you. This suggests that a post that is more recent will feature higher in your feed, than an older post with higher engagement.

With this in mind, you should make sure that you are posting fresh content regularly. Also ensure that you post when your followers are most active to hit the prime window of engagement. In addition, it would be beneficial to be active around the time that you post. So you should be available to like, comment around the hashtags/geotags you have used and also respond to comments on your post. The first hour is thought to be key.

ACTIVITY

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - ACTIVITYThis part of the algorithm relates to your activity around the accounts that you search for often.

An Instagram spokesperson commented to Business Insider that if you frequently search Instagram for a certain account, that indicates that your interested in that person or company. Their posts are then likely to appear higher in your feed.

It’s tricky to offer any advice for how to work this part of the algorithm to promote your own page in people’s feed. The only way I think you could get people to ‘search’ for your page is by using other social media channels and tell people to find you by searching. This maybe a slightly cumbersome way to go about it though when you could just directly link!!

RELEVANCY

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - RELEVANCYInstagram have said:

”The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post.”

The Instagram algorithm uses your behaviours, such as follows, likes, comments, saves and shares to recognise what content you enjoy viewing to influence the relevancy factor. It is even proposed that Instagram uses photo recognition technology so that it can tell the type of images you are viewing.

In order to make the algorithm work for you consider the hashtags, content, images and accounts you follow as this will impact on what you see in your feed. You should ensure that you are genuine and authentic in your actions on Instagram, because your feed will reflect your behaviour.
Make sure that you engage and build relationships with accounts similar to yours – and “people like you”.

TIME SPENT

INSTAGRAM ALGORITHM - TIME SPENTThis is how long someone spends looking at and viewing your images, story or feed – or vice versa, how long you spend looking at someone’s images, story or feed.

The longer spent looking at the image, feed or story – the algorithm will assume you like it more and will bump that up your feed. That content will then become more relevant.

So when you’re creating content for your feed, you should be considering ways to get people to ‘linger’ on your post, story or feed. This could be in the caption you use (including engaging and interesting text), by encouraging your audience to visit other images on your feed or by adding an element to your image that means people have to view it for longer.

A good example of making an enticing image is @humannurture who cleverly conceals HN in their image for the audience to find.


Understanding the algorithm allows you to be able to ‘hack’ the algorithm to make sure that your content is shown to as many people as possible – enable increased reach and hopefully more engagement.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Be empathic, authentic and genuine in your content and your approach – Respond and react to your audience and your organic growth and engagement will happen.

The algorithm is constantly evolving, changing and updating so no doubt I will have new information to feedback on this soon.

 

WHY IS LIKING PHOTOS ON INSTAGRAM SO IMPORTANT?

[WHY IS LIKING PHOTOS ON INSTAGRAM SO IMPORTANT?]

I try to emphasise how important it is to be an active user on Instagram and to be a serial ‘liker’ is one of the most important factors to growing your followers. I think it’s probably hard for some people to get their head round why this can be so important for you in growing your following, so I thought I’d share an analogy with you to explain it better:

Imagine that you’ve taken one of your stunning, carefully composed photos, printed it off, framed it and then you trek to the middle of Dartmoor and hung it on a tor. At this point, nobody will know it’s there. You might tell your friends and family it’s there. If you’re lucky, occasionally the odd rambler or walker may come past it and see it…and like it! If you’re really, really lucky, they may perhaps tell their friends about it. Apart from ‘chance’ like this, no one actually knows your photo is there (or that you even exist). So, if you want people to know it’s there, you’re going to have to go and find them and let them know you (and your photo) exists!

Instagram has over 700 million, monthly, active users. This is where ‘liking’ comes in – browsing & liking photos on Instagram, particularly ones which align with your style or interest, are your way of letting some of those 700 million users know that you and your account exist. Now you could be totally blatant and go around commenting on every photo you see saying “hey come and check out my feed”…but let’s face it, that’s just cringey and spammy. By ‘liking’ photos you are signalling to them that you exist and it becomes the choice of the Instagrammer whether they come and look at your account.

This method 100% works and probably accounts for the majority of the thousands of followers on my @kistography account. .

Don’t be disingenuous with those likes though!