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With Instagram marketing constantly changing, it can be a bit challenging to keep up with all the new content strategies and features. That’s why we’ve created this guide that will help you level up your Instagram game, perfect your Instagram aesthetic, find the best hashtags for your business and get more engagement.

Person holding a phone with the screen showing the login of instagram.

 Get Familiar With the Instagram Algorithm

If you want to advertise your business on Instagram, you need to be familiar with the Instagram algorithm and learn how to work with it. Therefore, we will first explain what the Instagram algorithm is, how it effects the performance of your posts, and the different strategies you can use to achieve better results for your posts! 

 
Person linking a picture on instagram.

How Does the Instagram Algorithm Works?

There are 7 factors of the Instagram algorithm:

1. How Much Engagement You Get

Engagement shows the popularity of your posts. Posts with more engagement are going to rank higher on your Instagram feed. The types of engagement that the Instagram algorithm recognizes are likes, comments, video views, shares, saves, story views and live video views. High engagement signals that your post is quality and engaging content, so it will be shown to more users.

It’s important to add that it isn’t always about how much engagement a post receives – sometimes the Instagram algorithm values more how quickly a post receives its engagement. One of the examples of this are trending Instagram hashtags, where top posts are the ones that receive engagement quickly.

2. How Much Time People Spend Viewing Your Post

Instagram algorithm looks at the amount of time spent interacting with content. Therefore, it’s important to craft great Instagram captions that people would read or click the “more” button, which will increase the time spent on your opst. Another good options are videos (or Boomerangs) and slideshow posts with a call-to-action “swipe” to view more.

3. Accounts You Regularly Interact With

If you engage with a particular account on a regular basis, Instagram algorithm will realise that you like that account’s content and it will show more of it in your feed. For example, you’ll probably see your friend’s posts more than some large brand’s, even if they have 100 times less followers.

4. How Recent Your Post Is

Instagram account takes into consideration how recently the post was posted. This is why you’ll see more recent post first, rather than posts from a few days or weeks ago. But this applies only if you’re using the app daily. If you visit it every once in a while, you’ll be more likely to see top posts from a few days ago.

5. What Type of Content it is

The type of content you engage with is also important for Instagram algorithm. For example, if you usually engage with fashion accounts, Instagram will begin to show you more bloggers’ posts or fashion brands’ campaigns.

6. The Accounts You’ve Searched For

Another factor that Instagram algorithm finds relevant is accounts you search for. If you search for a specific account, it’s a sign that you love their content and that you want to see more of their posts on your feed.

7. Direct Shares

Sharing posts via Direct Messages shows that you are interested in the posts by that account, so you’ll be more likely to see their posts ranked higher on your feed. Also, the person you share that content with is more likely to rank higher.

 
Apple iphone next to iMac laptop with instagram open

 

How to Use the Instagram Algorithm to Increase Your Organic Reach.

Here are 3 ways that you can use this knowledge about Instagram algorithms to improve your Instagram account:

1. Post When Your Audience Is Most Active

If you want to get more likes, comments or shares on your posts, you should check when your Instagram audience is most active during the day and post then. It’s really simple – the higher engagement on the post, the more people will see it!

2. Add a Call-to-action to Your Instagram Captions

If you want to boost your Instagram engagement, you should invite your audience to engage by commenting or liking your post. That way, the followers will not only engage with your post, but they will spend more time on it, improving it’s more relevancy. This is also a factor that Instagram considers when selecting the top posts for a trending hashtag.

3. Create an Instagram Hashtag Strategy

In order to get more engagement on Instagram, you should have an adequate Instagram Hashtag strategy. Research which hashtags your audience use often and search for posts that use that hashtag. Once you find the best posts with high engagement, start liking and commenting to engage with your community.

 
Person linking a picture on instagram.

 

Update your bio to attract more relevant fans

According to a research, it takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your account. Writing relevant bio and using the right keywords can attract your audience, so it’s important to craft if carefully and strategically. Here are some tips that you should consider:

1. Add Skills to Your Instagram Bio

Your Instagram bio should explain what your business is and what you do. This is why you want to include some particular skills, hobbies or interest that will give you an advantage over your competition and make your profile stand out.

2. Include Relevant Keywords to Your Instagram Bio

Using keywords on Instagram will help you connect with a relevant audience that would want to engage with your content. The good keywords are the ones that represent your brand’s values or your target audience’s values.

3. Optimize Your Website Link

Instagram is really strict when it comes to clickable links, and at the moment there can be only one clickable link on your profile – a link in your bio.

It’s great for many bloggers or businesses that do not sell products online. But when it comes to ecommerce businesses that want to send followers to specific product pages or website, links become a huge issue. Some businesses update link in their bios every time they upload a new post, but the issue with that is the fact that Instagram feed is no longer chronological.

Later created a shoppable Instagram feed called Linkin.bio that makes it easy to drive targeted traffic to your online store. With Linkin.bio, you can now add links to any of the Instagram posts you’ve published through Later, which helps direct your Instagram audience to the right content or products on your site.

4. Share Your Contact Info in Your Instagram Bio

Adding your contact info on Instagram, such as email or phone number, will make it really simple for your customers to reach you.

5. Include Your Branded Hashtag in Your Instagram Bio

Whether you want to promote your brand, a contest or a campaign on Instagram, you should always add a branded hashtag to your bio. It will make it easier for followers to get in the habit of posting content with your hashtag in it.

6. Include Your Physical Location and Hours

If you run a bricks and mortar store or you have an event coming up, you should share the details about location on your Instagram bio.

 

Notification displaying new likes on instagram home screen

Themes

Building a consistent Instagram theme for your feed is important because you want to have a unique online presence and attract more followers. But, how to know which theme is the right one for your business? Here are some of the best accounts which can be an inspiration for your upgraded online presence:

1. @vitruvi’s Inspirational Instagram Theme

Vitruvi is an aromatherapy brand and it’s all about inspiring their followers. Sara Panton, co-founder af Vitruvi, said that they know the Vitruvi woman, what she cares about and other things she loves. They know that their customers’ days are really busy. Therefore, they will never put out a piece of content unless their fans can learn something new or if’s inspiring them to live a better life.

Vitruvi posts on Instagram 2-3 times per day, so the question is – how do they keep their feed so consistent? Their secret is – a lot of planning! Panton said that their planning is seasonal and quarterly, and then they break it down by month. They find a very random piece of inspiration – for example a watermelon. All of their tones and photography are pulled from the colors of watermelon.

Instagram All of their tones and photography are pulled from the colors of watermelon.

2. @k.els.e.y’s Minimal and Neutral Instagram Theme

Fashion and beauty vlogger Kelsey Simone has achieved a success on her YouTube channel, but the real success story is her Instagram account, which has over 650,000 followers to date. Simone has a few key pieces of advice on how to emulate her minimalist account – get a lot of negative space pictures and fillers. It’s also important to choose three main colours, because if you have like 7 or 8 different colours in your feed, it’s not going to have a cohesive color or tone.

Instagram that has black and white theme

3. @shopdoen’s Vintage & Warm Instagram Theme

If you want to have a retro-inspired Instagram feed, you should definitely learn from the DOEN team. Characterized by an ultra-aesthetic bohemian vibe, they managed to get nearly 75,000 followers! Despite showcasing hundreds of different outfits and styles on their account, they’ve been able to maintain a consistent color palette centered around warm earthy tones. The key is using a consistent filter, which will give your feed that 70s bohemian look.

Instagram theme of collage of tan colored pictures

4. @privacypls’s Faded & Romantic Instagram Theme

If you want to highlight one of more colours on your account, it’s only important to make is consistent – takePrivacy Please as an example. Despite posting a range of different content types, including user-generated content, quotes, product shots, lifestyle content and more, Privacy Please keeps a super-cohesive feed by sticking to a consistent color palette. You can achieve this look by editing your photos in a similar way, for example by adding the same filter to all of your photos.

Faded & Romantic Instagram Theme

5. @teamwoodnote’s Use of Borders in Their Photos

If you want to add borders in your photos, check out Caroline Ingraham Lee of Woodnote Photography! According to Caroline, a lot of work goes into preparing their photos for Instagram. She sizes her images in VSCO because it’s the only app that has a crop to 4:5 option. Next, she edits it in A Color Story, and then pops the photo into Afterlight to add the white border.

Borders in Their Photos

6. @kimkardashian’s New and Improved Instagram Theme

Sometimes, the most famous Instagrammers need some change on their accounts, too. Good example of this isKim Kardashian, who recently changed the way she was posting on Instagram. Kim is now focused on highlighting the warmth of her skin tone with a dark of cool background, and her colour centre around a cool palette of baby pinks, purples and blues. Kim has learnt that posting “filler” photos is key to a good Instagram theme and has been incorporating throwback images and detailed shots into her feed lately. She also posts black and white photos, which allows her to post any photo she wants, even if it doesn’t match with her theme.

New and Improved Instagram Theme

7. @peoplefootwar’s Colour Blocking Instagram Theme

If you’re looking for a colour blocking theme, than People Footwear is an ideal example. They organize their colour blocking around monthly intervals and new product lines. They use their designers, VSCO and the in-app filters to adjust the colour and size to better fit their theme. The result is a seamless feed that incorporates product shots, lifestyle shots and user-generated content. They also use scheduling apps to layout the images ahead of time to ensure a variety of colour, inspo, consumer content, video, GIFs and product focusing on their colour theme and brand ethos.

Colour Blocking Instagram Theme

8. @jl_saez’s Black & White Instagram Theme

Black and white theme can look amazing on your account, if done the right way. Take for example the Instagram account of Spanish photographer, Jose Luis. Luis states out that symmetry is always a good choice for square format photos, but spending time and effort in the selection of a scene is of central importance to ensure a good end result.

Black & White Instagram Theme
 

Hashtags

Using hashtags is one of the best ways to grow your Instagram account, as it can help you expose your brand to relevant audiences. The only issue is – how to find the hashtags that will work for your brand?

To develop an effective hashtag strategy, it’s of paramount importance to understand the different types of hashtags and their corresponding audiences. There are two types of hashtags:

1. Branded hashtags 

A branded hashtag is unique to your business. It can be your company name, a name of your products or some of your campaigns. But it can also be a hashtag that has nothing to do with your brand name, but perfectly describes your brand identity. Branded hashtags are used to promote your company or campaigns and to collect user-generated content.

2. Community hashtags 

Community hashtags are used to connect like-minded users around a specific subject, such as #ootd or #instamood. You should use them to connect with your target audience, improve SEO and gain followers.

One of the simplest ways to organize your hashtags is by posting them into Google Sheets. Later suggests using  this spreadsheet and the following headers: hashtags, category, # of posts, date and comments.

Google Sheets in organizing Instagram hashtags

What Hashtags Will Work the Best for Your Business?

Using the most popular hashtags may get you a few more likes, but millions of other posts on Instagram use them, so the chances that you’ll be rank high enough are a long run. Instead, you should use more specific hashtags that are popular amongst your audience.

For example #ootd hashtag won’t get you many likes, but if you use something more specific like #ootdstyle will give you better results. The best way to find popular hashtags are simply by researching what your audience, competitors and industry leaders are already using.

1. Research Your Audience 

Find out which hashtags your audience is using and check which ones align with your brand values, tone of voice and content you’re posting. Make sure that your hashtags are relevant and that users are searching for them daily.

 2. Research Your Competitors

Finding out what your competitors are using can help you find out which hashtags provide the most engagement.

3. Research Industry Leaders

If you want to find out trending hashtags, why not start from industry leaders and influencers? They are the best because they know what they’re doing, so following their example can help you tailor your hashtag strategy.

Picture of an iphone on Instagram with notification of followers
 

 How to get followers in 2018

Getting more Instagram followers should be a top priority for any business that uses Instagram for marketing, but it’s not as easy as it once was. To help you get more followers in 2018, we’re sharing 6 new and creative ideas that will help you get Instagram followers for free.

1. Make the most of Facebook groups

There are millions of Facebook groups out there, almost for every niche that you can imagine. Many of those groups have specific days of the week where you can post your Instagram account or a blog post. So, join these groups, set a reminder for when these weekly sharing posts go live and share your account. Don’t forget to check the other accounts people are sharing, too. Follow the ones with a good content, comment on their posts and engage with them.

2. Write blog posts

Blog posts can do magic for your business. Writing blog posts can help you grow your Instagram account in two ways – firstly, by simply adding the Instagram plug in to your posts. The other way is to insert your images directly from Instagram, which will not only make people interact with that particular post, but it will also make them interested to check the rest of your feed. If you don’t have an audience, refer to step one and share your blog posts into relevant Facebook groups.

 3. Get featured on “feature” account

We don’t mean those accounts with robot followers, we mean accounts that curate the best content in their niche. The rules to get featured on these accounts are by posting a photo with a certain hashtag. It’s not easy to get featured on one of these accounts, but if you make it, than it will be worth it. Note that you should never pay to be featured on a curated content account.

4. Make the most of location and hashtag Stories

Instagram location and hashtag stories were a total game changer, as hashtags are a great way for strangers to discover your content, but it’s also really hard to get to the top of the most popular ones. With Instagram hashtag Stories, you can get featured in the Story for a certain hashtag only by including it when you post the Story. The same applies for locations.

5. Have different content to everyone else on Instagram

You need to stand out and the best way to do that is by niching down to a really specific topic or by making your feed grid look completely different to what anyone has ever seen before. Get creative, use unique themes and content or, if you’re willing to spend more time on your visual appearance, create Instagram grid collages!

Instagram logos

That’s it! Armed with this information, you’re now ready to run a successful Instagram account and drive your business forward!

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