I love Instagram and I love growing our Instagram family. We’ve made good friends there, we swap birthday and Christmas cards and we share good news. We don’t just like each others photos, we engage in each others lives and I really love that.
I’ve put together a few things that have worked for us in increasing our engagement, upping our following and helping us build our Instagram family.
I hope there’s something here that helps you to build your Instagram family too.
Post your best photos
Instagram is a visual platform after all so when you can you should post your best work! The occasional blurry but oh so cute photo wont do much harm but keep dark grainy images to a minimum (unless that’s your niche of course!)
We love a posed photo, and Instagram is full of those, but we don’t always have the time, or the obedient pug to do that so we make sure what we do share is a good quality image.
We like light bright photos and have recently started editing our photos with Lightroom to try bring a more consistent feel to our feed.
When taking photos, try make sure your dogs eyes are always in focus and use ‘burst mode’, where your camera continues to take photos while you hold the shutter down, if you tend to get blurry shots, to give you more chance of at least one decent photo.
The windows in our 100 year old house never let in enough light and the typical grey UK weather doesn’t help either! I use exposure compensation for taking photos indoors. This works on your iPhone too, tap the screen and when the sunshine appears swipe your finger up until it’s the right brightness.
We try to use the maximum number of hashtags allowed, I think it’s 30, and even though we use a lot of the same ones every time we post we also try to use different ones every day too.
If you don’t know what hashtags to use take a look at accounts you like and see what they use! You can also try displaypurposes.com site where you type in a few relevant hashtags (I might type pug, puglife, pugsofinstagram) and it gives you a selection of other similar hashtags you could try.
Pleeeeeease don’t be put off by the #ad #sponsored or #gifted hashtags!
Firstly it takes a lot of hardwork to get a sponsored post or for someone to gift you something. Planning, photographing and editing some of my photos has taken the best part of a weekend!
Secondly most people (me for sure!) will only share ads or sponsored posts if it’s relevant and something they think their followers will really like. We were recently gifted some food for Hugo and Holly, and we shared it on our feed and our stories because we love it. We already buy the brand (with our own money!) and we love to support small businesses by letting others know how good we think it is, so it’s a win for everyone.
Post on Stories
Recently I’ve gotten really into Stories, watching and posting. On Stories you can post things you might not post on your feed, that blurry photo, what your pug is having for dinner, even things not related to your niche.
People want to see behind the scenes, I love staged photos and the whole aesthetically pleasing grid as much as the next person but what I really love is seeing how they got the shot or the funny out takes while trying to get the shot. If you’re really brave share your face, talk to the camera. It’s easier on stories than your feed because it disappears after 24 hours!!
Create highlights that people can refer back to too! We’re going to create a training highlight and save our training stories there so keep an eye out for those!
Engagement & the algorithm
Engagement doesn’t just mean likes. It means likes, comments, watching stories, sharing, shout outs, engaging with the whole Instagram community.
Your engagement is mostly what drives the dreaded algorithm I think. The more you engage with an account the higher in your feed it features, and therefore the more they engage with you the higher you feature, so if you want others to see what you’re doing you need to engage!
If you have a lot of followers that’s a lot of engagement so spread out what you do to avoid spending all day on the app!! One day you could like and comment on the photos of the people you follow, the next do the same for the people who follow you. Then pick a hashtag and like and comment on photos there.
I don’t just mean emoji comments, leave meaningful comments. You don’t have to write a book, just something like ‘loving your Monday face’ or ‘such a cute Tongue out Tuesday’ The more you get to know them the easier (& quicker!) commenting will become until it’s second nature and you WANT to say ‘hi, how are you, hope you had an amazing weekend’ rather than doing it for ‘engagement’.
Another great way to build your engagement is when someone comments on your photo, reply to it and then go to their feed and comment on a few of their photos! This is such a great way to build friendships too, you learn more about people and their lives by engaging with their content every day!
Turn on post notifications too so you see immediately when your favourites post and you can head straight over and see what they’ve been up to and leave a comment too!
I hope there’s something for you to think about there! Increasing your follower numbers and upping your engagement is hard work, and time consuming, and it really does depend what you want to get from Instagram as to how much of it you need to do.
Just remember to enjoy it, however you use it!