There’s no doubt that Instagram is one of the more popular, interactive social networks out there. With 300 million+ engaged users, they’re one of the key networks you need to succeed on. However, it’s difficult to know just how to conquer the photo-sharing platform. Do you need to always use the same filter? Perhaps you have to have a hundred different hashtags? Well, here are our tips for how you can triumph at Instagram.

Don’t Use Instagram’s Camera

It seems strange, doesn’t it? Why would we suggest not using the camera in the photo-sharing app? Well, the Instagram camera isn’t that good. In fact, it’s downright crappy. This is because it forces you simply to take a picture in a small square. We’ll never understand exactly WHY Instagram forces you to limit your picture to a mere square….but it does. Our advice? Use the default camera on your smartphone or, if you’re really serious, take a photo with a point and shoot camera and then upload it to your phone.

Use Different Filters

Yes, Instagram invented the filter (practically). That was great. But there are only 22 different filters (23 if you include ‘Lux’…adjusting the exposure and contrast). That means you’re quickly going to run out of unique and wonderful filters to use. The best way to go about avoiding this calamity is to explore OTHER photo applications. Apple’s default camera offers a range of different filters to spice up your photographs, but there are plenty of different apps that offer you more options in the filter department.

Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags!

Yes, yes….we know. Hashtags. Using them must seem like a drag, but they’re important. They serve to classify and categorize photos so that they’re easily searchable. This means that your photos can be found by people who are exploring similar pictures: increasing your chance of new followers. As always, we recommend social research. This means searching for different hashtags that relate to your company or brand. From there you’ll be able to gently slide into the feeds of engaged users who are already liking and commenting on your competitors. Popular Instagram hashtags include: #tbt (throwback Thursday), #latergram and #instagood.

Be Creative

This seems like a redundant point, right? Of course you’re going to be creative. Instagram is an inherently visual social network, it’s all about bright colours, beautiful pictures and fun, fun, fun.

Is this your typical ad?

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Or, perhaps, is Old Navy having a bit of fun with themselves? Going with the Christmas theme, they’re harkening to the old carols. Furthermore, there’s no text. There’s no advert. It’s just a woman and her sweater. If you look at the variety of colours, you see the navy sweater (gettit?) and the beautiful white pullover. But there’s also a smattering of blonde and gold as well as just a hint of red. All of this is designed to cause you to pause as you swipe up through your Instagram newsfeed and simply stare at the picture. As Instagram is filled with nothing but food and legs at the beach…this touch of winter is the perfect ad to break up the monotony of your friends pictures.

Contests

Contests are a great way to grow your follower count and engage your audience. It’s surprisingly simple to run a contest through Instagram and, because they aren’t as fussy about the rules as Facebook, you can glean a great deal of organic reach. In order to run a contest simply tell your audience to:

  1. Take a picture
  2. Post it to Instagram using your custom hashtag
  3. Follow your Instagram account for the opportunity to win prizes

That’s it. From there, simply choose a winner and send them the prize. Contestants will share information about the contest and prize and your Instagram follower count will rise.

Cross-Promote

Admittedly, you should be doing this anyway. But, ask your followers on Twitter to follow you on Instagram. Add the Instagram logo to the bottom of your email (your Facebook and Twitter links should be there too!!!). Put it up on your storefront window. Maybe, even get it tattooed on your forehead? (ok….don’t go that far).

Be Social!

This is true for all social media. It’s not called ‘social media’ because it’s filled with introverts….actually…scratch that. But, it’s true. Realise that in order to create an engaged following, you have to communicate with them and others. You need to sit back and talk to influencers and audience alike. Once you do that, you’ll find that Instagram is a goldmine for engaged users.