Instagram is a fantastic photo sharing network. If you love photography, taking your own photos, or simply like appreciating someone else’s work, then this is the social network that’s perfect for you. What makes Instagram fun is getting to interact with people that enjoy the same things you do and getting likes and comments on the pictures you share with the world. The only obstacle when first joining Instagram is that you start out with zero followers but luckily there are things you can do to establish yourself and gain a following:
1. Establish Your Niche
When first creating an account, you want to think about what your focus is. This will help you find your niche.
Some people, like me, have an Instagram account where they post pictures of their everyday life, things they do, what they eat, and what they enjoy. An account like this might not get a big following unless you’re a celebrity. Most of the time, these accounts are followed by friends and family that like to see what you’re up to every day.
Other accounts are very artistic focusing on the pure quality of photography. For the artistic accounts, you want to stick with the theme and not stray away. These accounts can gain a big following if you are consistently posting unique and interesting pictures that can spark people’s attention.
2. High Quality
Now that you’ve established your niche, the next thing to focus on is making sure every photo is high quality. Yes, having an awesome avatar picture with an interesting bio is cool, but when it comes down to it people will follow you based on the content and quality of your posts.
You want to upload some good quality photos first before moving on to anything else. Every photo posted should be high quality, have engaging subjects, and fall within your established niche. Streamlining your feed by deleting all of your irrelevant photos is a good idea when looking to increase your following.
3. Increase Awareness
Having set up your Instagram with high quality content and a good profile, it’s time to let people know. A good way to start out is by using your other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Vine to publicize your work. You can use instagram.com/username to directly link everyone to your profile. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can send your email contacts a direct link to your profile.
4. Interact with Other Instagram Users
Now that you’ve gained a little bit of a following, it’s time to reach out to the Instagram population. The best way get people’s attention is by leaving a nice genuine comments to other Instagram users. I’m not just talking about simple comments such as “nice pic” or “love this.” Explain in short detail why you like their work. If you leave a good genuine comment, that user will take notice, perhaps taking the time to thank and follow you. I wouldn’t recommend going around self-publicizing by posting “follow me” on other’s posts. People are more willing to give you the time of day with a legitimate comment.
When posting your comments, avoid making one on a post that already has 50+ comments because you can easily get lost in the shuffle. Try to find people with less comments on their post so that yours stands out more. Also try to comment on more recent photos that were shared in the past couple days rather than a post that is 42 weeks old.
Some people pay to get “shouted out” by an account that has a huge following. Truth be told, this is not the greatest tactic either. Although you might gain a few followers, it could turn out not be worth the money you spend.
Another method to gain followers is by using hashtags; however, while one or two can be very beneficial, overloading your post with many hashtags can become a turn off and steer people away. If used properly, hashtags provide an excellent way for people to communicate with each other in any particular niche. For example, say you have an account that posts picture of nature all the time. Some relevant hashtags to search may be #waterfalls #waterfallwednesday #waterfallhike.
This is how you get a following that genuinely cares about the content you are posting. It will also help you get users that are actively involved on Instagram.
5. Engage Your Following
Having finally succeeded in cultivating a big following, keep your followers entertained! Post your high quality photos on a consistent, regular basis and always remember that it’s quality over quantity.
Find a happy medium between over-posting and under-posting. Usually about 1-3 photos a day on Instagram is acceptable. Anything more than that might start to annoy some followers.
Lastly, engage with your followers by thanking them when they leave a complimentary comment. Remember, they might just be starting out like you once did so when someone leaves a nice comment and you see they post good quality photos, don’t be afraid to give them a follow. It’s all part of what makes Instagram the incredible social network that it is.
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