Earning the right followers, the right way. In this article I'm excited to share three easy "techniques" that I've used to drive engagement and a stronger following on Instagram. These steps have stood the test of time while trying out different ideas through trial and error. You may know one of these techniques, you may know all of them. Nevertheless, let's get started!
Before we dive into these quick methods to drive new followers to engage with on your Instagram page, I'd like to give a quick back story on how I realized I was approaching Instagram completely wrong. I would post my best work consistently and engage with those I mutually followed on Instagram. Even if I was posting my best work, I still wasn't growing. What was going wrong? The answer is that I wasn't jumping outside of my Instagram bubble.
I was posting with decent hashtags and was engaging with my friends, but I never "advertised" my page. If you're not engaging outside of your Instagram bubble, how will others know you even exist?
With that said here are three techniques I've found to be very effective in doing so:
Not Only Adding Hashtags, But Searching and Engaging Within Them
It's really easy and lazy to sit here and say, "Add relative hashtags blah blah blah." But that's not what I'm here to say. Instead of just adding a quick hashtag in your caption, actually search with other users who are using that hashtag and engage with them. For example, lets say you use #portraits. Open up #portraits and look around for users that inspire, impress, and draw to you. Whatever it may be. I've done it and it actually has sparked many friendships around the world. I've met Instagram acquaintances that I'm going to visit and collaborate with in Europe; I would've never met them had if it wasn't for using this method.
Engage with the hashtags you use!
Get Your Work Featured on Instagram Feature Pages
You may or may have not seen these "feature pages." In case you do not know, they're essentially Instagram pages that feature various user's photos (in our case, photographers) periodically to their following and that specific niche. These feature pages attract a large following because they act as a hub for followers to see amazing work without having to follow too many users. In turn, those whose work is featured, benefits from maximum exposure to who follow that specific feature page.
For example, at Fstoppers we have our own feature page where we display the best images coming from the Fstopper's community. If your image is featured, your work and Instagram page benefits from exposure to hundreds of thousands of Instagram user's that hold the same interest as you: photography!
How To Get Featured On Instagram Feature Pages
There are generally three or four different ways to increase your chances of getting featured on Instagram feature pages.
- Hashtags - Usually feature pages will establish specific hashtags denoted to their page. From that point those in charge of that Instagram feature page will harvest their favorite photos to feature from that specific hashtag.
- Tagging - Tagging an abundance of feature pages to your latest photo will also be a method to increase your chances. Similar to hashtags, those in charge will look at their tags to select their favorite photos.
- Direct Messaging Pages - This method I don't use all the time, but if I feel strongly about one of my images, I'll direct message a few pages my photo to them. Sometimes you'll hear back that they'll be featuring your image.
- Posting on the Fstoppers Community - This is specific to Fstoppers, but our team selects our work for the Instagram feature page exclusively from the Fstoppers community. Post your work under your portfolio section on your Fstoppers profile with a brief description about your photo to increase the likely hood of your work being featured!
- Post great work!
Using Not Just Any Hashtags, But The Right Hashtags
Early on when I was trying to increase my photography page's following, I'd use generic hashtags everyone uses. You've probably heard of them: #vsco, #vscocam, #instamood, etc. These are essentially useless. Why? Because of the following reasons:
- The #vscocam hashtag currently has 119,526,141 posts. Yes, hundreds of millions of posts. Not only is your photo a needle in a haystack, there are literally thousands of people posting the same hashtag as you at the same time. Your photo essentially falls into a black hole of no return and no one saw your photo because it gets lost in the feed.
- These hashtags aren't relative to your work, niche, or photography interest. Even if someone visits your page from the #vsco hashtag, they may not have interest in product photography or wedding photography.
So What Are The Right Hashtags?
The right hashtags are those relative to you and your work. If your a wedding photographer looking to reach brides or other wedding photographers, use hashtags that will be more effective and people that hold the same interests as you!
Correct hashtags have posts that range anywhere from 5,000 to 500,000 previous posts. That way your image isn't bogged down from everyone else posting at the same as you and reaps the benefits from staying at the top of the feed.
At the end of the day, the quality of your content is king. But using effective strategies to grow your Instagram will always help. Engaging with users relevant to you outside of your Instagram bubble, submitting your work to feature pages, and using correct hashtags are all effective strategies to grow your brand. There are an abundance of reasons of how hashtags can benefit your photography, the network opportunities alone is a great way to use Instagram as a tool. What kind of methods do you use to get your Instagram out there? Do you use Instagram as a networking tool to find creatives to collaborate with? Share your thoughts!
In Part 2 of this Instagram series, I'll be consolidating a list of the best hashtags for specific photography genres. Anywhere from portrait photographers to astrophotographers, and beyond! Stay tuned!