The most frequent questions I'm asked on Instagram are "how do I increase my social engagement?" and "how do I gain more followers?" While I'm still very new to social media, I do have a few tips to share with all of you that might help answer these questions!
Before I get started, I just want to say Instagram is not a competition or popularity contest, and shouldn't be viewed as one. Thinking of it in this way can lead to so much unhappiness and insecurity, and that I don't want anyone to feel that way!
There are millions of people using Instagram, and you have the means to reach all of them! Now sure, each person can only follow 7,500 accounts at a time, but if you multiply that by the number of users, the follow limit doesn't really decrease your chances of getting followed. Additionally, there really aren't any straightforward rules for engaging on Instagram. The tips I'm sharing just happen to be things that have worked for me or I personally think are important. With that being said, here's my advice!
Tip #1: Share quality content
I believe this is the most important rule! Find your niche and create content that you love and that your audience will love. This isn't always easy, it can take a lot of time and effort.
For me, the first step is baking. I make a dessert that I enjoy and want to share with everyone, and I make sure it turns out looking delicious. I have made plenty of things that ended up not meeting my appearance standards. When that happens and it's something I'm super excited to share, I remake it until I think it's perfect.
The next step is actually taking the photo and editing it. Luckily, I have Chris Pieta to do these things for me, so I can't say too much about them (Chris is happy to answer photo questions if you have any.) I will say that good lighting and use of props help tremendously! There are also many online resources that will teach you how to take professional photos with a smartphone (I've heard great things about Foodtography School!)
While it isn't nearly as important as the photo, a good caption can also help engage your audience. Tell a story about your photo (not too long), ask a question, say something that your viewer will find interesting.
Tip #2: Utilize hashtags
I know they can be a little annoying, but hashtags are SO useful. The entire point of hashtags is to help you share and engage with people. If you use them properly, they can gain you a lot of attention. Instagram allows you to add 30 hashtags to every post. Since I'm just starting out, I always take advantage of that. The hashtags I use are baking/content related and usually have about 10k-1m posts. If the hashtag has too little posts associated with it, it isn't likely that many users will see it. If it has too many posts, yours might just drown in the feed.
Once I have hashtags added to my post, I like to click on them and see the recent posts. This is where I can find users with the same interests and engage with them!
Tip #3: Post consistently
Posting on a consistent basis helps build trust between you and your audience. Your posts will become part of their routine, and it's hard to forget something once it's a habit. Right now, I post 4 times a week. I do this because it's what works best for me content-wise, and I think posting less than that would be too little. I'm sure someday I'll have so much content built up that I'll want to increase the number, but for now 4 times a week is sufficient!
That's it! Those are the 3 most important pieces of advice I can give you about Instagram engagement. I haven't used any paid promotions, asked people to follow or give me a shoutout, or used any other strategies outside of the ones listed above. Getting started on social media can be really hard. You might not get a ton of feedback and followers right away, but that's okay! Stay passionate and persistent (easier said than done sometimes, I know) and you'll get there! The most important thing is that you're happy and enjoying what brought you to the virtual universe in the first place. I hope this article helped, but feel free to reach out with any other questions/comments!