You know the feeling. You’ve spent thoughtful, planned time snapping the perfect picture, applying precisely the right filter, and crafting a caption to make even Hemingway swoon. You hit post and wait for the likes and comments to light up your screen. But an hour later you find the response to your opus is underwhelming. What went wrong?
The thing is that you can indeed take a great shot and create some well-thought-out wording to caption it, but there are a few simple tips to consider with your posting habits on Instagram to get a bigger piece of that engagement pie and the app’s more than 500 million users. And it doesn’t have take a lot of time or effort for you to get all of the likes.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear. Plus we’ll show you how you can use Hootsuite to grow your own following on Instagram and other platforms.
1. Save relevant hashtags to quickly paste into your posts
Hashtags separate content on Instagram into categories. So when you use hashtags properly, users interested in what your brand is all about can find you before they’ve heard of you. For example, if you’re opening a new coffee shop in Vancouver in two months called Bean There, Done That, chances are people won’t be searching #BeanThereDoneThat. But if you use hashtags like #YVRcoffee or #VancouverCoffee, fellow coffee junkies are more likely to scroll upon you.
Investigate before you hashtag by using the Tags category in Instagram’s search. It allows you to see how many people have used a hashtag and those related to it. While you might think #YVRbeans is clever and useful, a quick search shows that (as of today) it has only been used twice. On the other hand, using #coffeejunkie means your post has over 55,000 other posts to compete with. Try experimenting with different combinations to see what works for you.
You can also find trending hashtags relevant to your posts with Hootsuite’s Trendspottr app.
Once you have a set of Instagram hashtags that are relevant to your brand, you can save them in your phone—in Notes if you use an iOS device, for example—for quick copying and pasting into future Instagram posts.
2. Hide your hashtags to unclutter your captions
With Instagram’s October 2015 update, you can use up to 30 hashtags in a post and hide all of them so that your existing followers don’t have to look at that visual mess and users searching that hashtag can still find your posts. There are two ways to do this:
Method No. 1: Once you’ve captioned your post, leave a comment on it using your hashtags. The hashtags will all be hidden once a few more comments are made.
Method No. 2: Alternatively, if you’re building up your following and aren’t getting enough comments to hide the hashtags, you can bury them under periods separated by line breaks. In the caption or comment box, tap the 123 key. Select return and then enter a period. Repeat those steps at least five times. Comments are hidden after three lines, so by repeating this five times (or more) and then entering all your hashtags, users won’t see them.
For more Instagram hashtag tips and tricks, read The Complete Instagram Hashtag Guide for Business.
3. Share your Instagram posts on other networks
Instagram is one of the biggest stars in the social media space, but you’ll miss connecting with all of the potential customers out there if you use Instagram and Instagram only. By publishing your posts to Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks, you can see huge gains in engagement. On Facebook, posts with images have the second highest engagement and posts made with Instagram increase engagement by 23 percent.
It might sound daunting to wrangle all your socials together to be streamlined with Instagram, but there are a few simple things you can do to make it easy. Instagram gives you the option to link your Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flicker, and Swarm accounts directly to the app. Before you publish your post, simply toggle the accounts that you’d like to share said post with.
Keep in mind that not all users tagged in your comments or caption will have the same username across other platforms and in turn, you might not notify who you intend to notify or might not notify anyone at all.
The other simple way to do this is on the Hootsuite dashboard. Learn how to add to Instagram to Hootsuite and start scheduling posts and sharing them across multiple social networks.
4. Only post at the most optimal times
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, it doesn’t make a sound. Similarly, if you post at a time when nobody is scrolling, you’re not going to reach anyone. Know your audience and post when they’re using Instagram. While there is no secret formula for timing, there are some general recommendations to use as a guide:
- Hubspot: Anytime from Monday to Thursday except from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Latergramme: Wednesday at 5 p.m.
- Weekdays between 6 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for the clock to strike five to manually upload your content. Compose and schedule your posts on Instagram by publishing through Hootsuite.
Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.
5. Not enough original content? Regram
In the old days, reposting someone else’s photo on Instagram—regramming—meant taking a screen capture of the photo on your feed, reposting it to your own feed, copying the original caption, and then tagging the original user who shared it. Luckily, it’s much easier than that now. Sharing content posted by your followers, accounts you follow, and other relevant Instagram users is an effective way to increase your visibility and engage your online community.
Make sure you brush up on your regramming etiquette before diving in. There are some simple dos and don’ts to follow, like getting permission and crediting the original account so that everyone benefits.
6. Create and post compelling video in no time with Boomerang
Video brings a whole new dimension to your Insta game and visual identity that, if done well, can engage your audience in a way stills can’t. Video used to be something left to the experts, but now that Instagram has added Boomerang and extended its maximum video length to 60 seconds, your video can range from GIF-like ease to short-film complexity, without taking too much time to produce.
With Boomerang, you can record video burst of up to 20 frames. The built-in app then speeds them and up loops them beginning to end and end to beginning—creating a fun, fast-forward-rewind effect. Like video posts, Boomerang has a Views counter so you can track how many people are watching and adjust your content creation strategy accordingly.
Add Instagram to your Hootsuite dashboard and put these tips into action today. Try it free.