It’s no secret that Instagram has been working on its algorithm for quite some time. Gone are the days of tricking the algorithm to get more visibility. Now, more than ever, Instagram values excellent content. Here are a few practices to avoid when posting on the popular social platform.
Photographers have been playing the old song and dance with Instagram for a few years now, trying to find the best strategies for getting more visibility among non-followers. Ever since Facebook purchased Instagram and the platform’s feed changed from chronological to an algorithm-based order, photographers have struggled to keep engagement and visibility high.
When using Instagram, we have to consider the goal of Instagram as a social media platform. Social media platforms seek to build community by encouraging valuable and meaningful interaction. Because of this, we as users can assume that the Instagram algorithm is looking for content that is considered to be both valuable and useful to the company’s users. With that being said, first and foremost, the goal of photographers seeking to get more visibility on Instagram should be to provide valuable and engaging content to followers and potential followers. Here are a few things to avoid when trying to achieve building your following and engagement on Instagram.
Because Instagram’s algorithm is looking for valuable and engaging content, there are cues the Instagram algorithm is probably looking for to help determine if content can be considered worthwhile. One of those cues is how many followers and non-followers engage with your posts. In addition to the engagement you’re receiving, it’s likely that the Instagram algorithm is also looking to see how much you’re engaging with follower’s posts, as well as different areas of the platform that are meant for building more community like the “Explore” tab.
One of the biggest mistakes photographers make while using Instagram is not being intentional about engaging and interacting with other posts besides their own. Not engaging with other users is a red flag to Instagram that your account is not interested in valuable interaction with other users.
A great way to help engage with other users is to set aside some time every day to browse your Instagram feed and comment on other user’s posts. Your comments should be relevant to not only the photo and its content, but the caption as well. Instagram isn’t looking for a simple emoji response either. Make sure your comments are at least five words long and inspire further interaction by asking questions about the photo or expressing further interest in the user’s work.
Along the same vein as providing valuable comments on other users’ photos, it’s also essential to be creating valuable photo captions so your followers and non-followers have even more content to engage with on your Instagram profile. Often, as gorgeous as a photo may be, users may find it hard to engage with a photo that doesn’t have a caption to build a reply on. Captions are one of the best tools photographers can utilize to encourage more engagement on their photos, and the more engagement you get, the better your photo will do within Instagram’s algorithm.
If you can get good engagement within the first hour of posting a photo, Instagram’s algorithm is more likely to show your photo to more people, thereby gaining more traction among followers and getting shown to non-followers through hashtag lists and the “Explore” tab.
Everyone knows that hashtags are one of the most powerful tools any user has at his or her disposal. Not only do hashtags help to categorize posts, they also improve a user’s visibility by adding yet another avenue to getting found. However, if not utilized properly, hashtags become a vain attempt at getting discovered by potential followers.
When utilizing hashtags, photographers need to be sure that they’re using relevant hashtags, as well as varying their hashtags with each new post. Photographers shouldn’t be using the same hashtag lists over and over again.
A great tool to help quickly discover popular and relevant hashtags is “Display Purposes” aka DSPLPURP. DSPLPURP is a fantastic tool that allows photographers to input a relevant hashtag or the main hashtag they’re using for a post and instantly get a grouping of popular hashtags being used by other users in conjunction with the main hashtag given. This is a quick way of discovering more hashtags so you can vary those you’re using for each new post. Ensuring that you’re using many new hashtags will help your posts get discovered by a wider pool of potential followers.
Making sure that you’re providing great content that is easy to engage with and easy to be found on Instagram is key to gaining favor with not just the Instagram algorithm, but your pool of followers. Remember that Instagram is not just a platform to display your work, but a place that allows you to build valuable interactions. Consumers of today are not just looking for products and services; they’re looking to build relationships with brands. If you consider yourself to be a professional photographer, then you have a brand. It’s worth focusing on your relationship and interaction with followers on social media. These are just a few ways you can up your game and continue growing your following.
Lead Image by energepic.com via Pexels, used under Creative Commons.