Up Your Instagram Game

The other day, I spent a good half hour sharing advice with a friend on how to boost her online presence for her travel blog. It was then when I realised that there are actually a lot of puzzle pieces to “up-ing your Instagram game.” I’m asked over and over again: “How do you get more followers?” “How do you get your Instagram to look like the way it is?” “How do you edit your photos?” “What hashtags do you use?” “What’s the best time to post?” etc. I don’t claim to be an expert; I’m for sure still learning, but since these are the questions that keep popping up,  I thought it would be useful to put it all into a blog post for those who are interested.  Let’s call this part 1 for now, as I’m sure there are more things to learn & share along the way. It’s my goal to get to 10k by the end of the year. Even though I’ll probably fall short, you gotta aim high to get the best results, right? ʕ→ᴥ←ʔ

Growing your social media presence, specifically Instagram, is a lot of hard work. It will result in hours on Instagram to start to see results, but once you start getting into the swing of things, it’ll get a little easier. You really have to invest your time in it.  If you are looking to build a stronger online presence with your Instagram, continue reading!

Quality of your Pictures

First things first. If you are serious about making your Instagram be the best it can be,  you need to make sure your pictures are the best quality possible. I’m sorry, but that eliminates all iPhone pictures, especially the ones taken indoors. It’s a personal pet peeve of mine when a picture is unintentionally grainy resulting from poor lighting. You don’t need to purchase a DSLR, a small digital camera will suffice. I have a medium sized camera – I use a Lumix GF1 with alternating lenses, but I also love Leica, Olympus, Panasonic and Fujifilm cameras. Once your picture quality increases, your perceived brand will start to shift simultaneously. Think about what commercials you like and remember on TV – it’s always the ones with the catchy music, great camera work & aesthetically pleasing concepts. Same thing applies to your Instagram.

Always Edit Your Photos

I would absolutely say ALWAYS edit your photos (remember that everything I put in this blog post is subjective, since all of this is based on my preferences). If you’re trying to be “trendy” with not editing your pictures at all and posting them in their most natural state, it’s more likely going to hurt you than help you. Every picture is beautiful without editing, it’s true. We don’t need to edit our photos, but remember that you’re trying to appeal to potential followers; in the Instagram world – this means editing your photo. It’s almost as if it’s a preconceived notion that you’re an amateur if you don’t edit your photo, which is untrue, but think of it as a stigma. You don’t have to over edit, but find your filter. Find that consistency. Pops of colours. A colour scheme. I’ll go into how to edit your pictures in another blog post, but download LIGHTROOM CC/VSCO on your phone. These are my top favourite mobile editing apps.

Curating

Ah ha. Perhaps the most difficult thing for me is to curate my Instagram. Where should this picture go? It can be such a pain in the butt, but once you have it, you will be beaming with pride with the content you’ve created. I use the app PREVIEWI don’t pay for anything. The free trial version is fine. Unless you want to schedule your posts and post them automatically, go for the premium. It will, however, give you greater satisfaction to control everything you do and see results from it. I promise. Anyway, back to Preview. This app allows you to see what your upcoming posts will look like on top of your current Instagram profile. You never want your pictures to be the same location, pose, framing, content next to/on top of each other. See how even though I have a lot of pictures of myself (lol!), they’re never the same? This is what you should aim for to avoid your feed looking crowded.

I also use another app called UNUM. Same deal, but I don’t use it to curate. I use their “Best Time To Post” tool. It takes your Instagram, and charts it into something like this so you know when you’ll get the most traffic.

How many times should you post?

Starting your Instagram is the most tedious and annoying thing in the world, but once you have traffic going, it’ll be a lot simpler. You will lose followers who are your real friends because they’ll think you “post too much.” But this is something you need to be okay with. This is part of the package. You can’t make everyone happy. If you have under 2000 followers, you should be posting everyday or 5 times a week. Once you get past 2000 followers, you can slow down to posting 3+ times. The rule of thumb is that the more you post, the better – but NEVER have a double post (2 posts in the same day).

Hashtags

I have gathered a lot of hashtags over the years and put them in categories (Fashion, Food, Desserts, New York, Coffee Shops, Travel etc). If you want my lists, just ask. You want to cater your hashtags towards each post, so if you’re in Hong Kong for example, look for Hong Kong specific hashtags. All you have to do is type “#HongKong” or “#HK” in the comment section and all the popular hashtags will pop up. You want to choose the hashtags with the highest number of posts. These are the hashtags that will generate more followers to view your pictures.

Post your hashtags in a separate comment under your caption. It’s less overwhelming for your followers & it shouldn’t need to be in your caption anyway (under all the dot separators) because no one will read your hashtags 99% of the time. Including it in your caption just makes everything messy (in my opinion).

Increasing Your Following

This will be THE worst part of it all and it will never stop until you are happy with the amount of followers you have. You basically have to engage like crazy. Go on similar bloggers’ Instagrams who have similar content to you and go to their follower list. Click on each name and like their first 3-5 posts and comment something personal on one of their posts. So if you were a travel blogger, you could maybe say something along the lines of “Great capture! What was your favorite thing about this trip?” Since Instagram operates on algorithm now, engaging and being engaged with is key. You always want to try and be personal with everyone you engage with, because people like to be seen as individuals and not as a number. You can also do the same thing with going on hashtags and engaging with the posts from there, but I find engaging with followers from a followers list of someone else’s gets me faster results and it’s slightly less tedious than the hashtag method. Geotags can also be used for this purpose. If you were recently in London and have some London pics on your feed, go on the geotag of wherever you took the picture and engage with those who were in the same location. As human beings, we are drawn to those who we share similarities with – part of the disclosure theory in Psychology.

Get Engagement on Your Posts

Since Instagram works based on algorithm now, the post with the most engagement (likes and comments) will be bumped up on someone else’s homepage. To ensure that your posts will show up on someone else’s home feed, make sure you get your friends & followers to comment on your posts. It’s ideal if their comments are around 3-4 words, but any engagement is still engagement. You also want to reply to all your comments to generate traffic onto your post. Make your captions interesting & ask questions so you get responses.

Bio

Believe it or not, an aesthetically pleasing bio will increase the chances of someone following you. My current bio is:

💬 recently on broadway in @misssaigonus
⚡️ commercials: @visa_us @buzzfeed
🚕 hk ⇾ nyc
🍒 bway actor | blogger
👇🏼 how i booked my first broadway show

I really like the use of lower case letters, starting a description with a specific emoji and writing in line by line for clarity. You want your bio to be easy to read. Where are you from? What’s your specialty? Where are you based? Where are you traveling to next? Do you have a custom hashtag you can incorporate? Any promo codes you got for your followers? If you’re a performer, are you in any shows currently or upcoming? You want your bio to be individualised. If anything, make sure each line is a different ‘category.’ It’ll be more fun to read that way.

Social Media Services

You do not need to pay someone else or a particular service to help you grow your following. Why? Because half the time, the followers on their lists are part of spam bots, which will actually have a negative effect on your Instagram as a whole (your Instagram will be detected for spam activity). A lot of the times, people who pay for these services will have, for example, 10k followers but less than 150 likes on their individual posts, which doesn’t make sense and in turn just looks bad on their part. Even if the service advertises themselves as having “real” followers, I wouldn’t recommend paying for something you can simply do yourself. The reward you feel for taking the time in growing your Instagram manually will feel great. You’ve worked hard for the results, and there will never be a better feeling. In this, as well as all other things you take pride in in life.

I think this pretty much covers all I wanted to talk about. These are the steps I take to growing my Instagram. Some other bloggers may not agree; to each their own! As I mentioned earlier, there’ll probably be part 2 to this because the journey never stops. My Instagram journey is just beginning & I hope to continue to grow in this aspect because I thoroughly enjoy it. If you have any questions or need specific guidance on something, feel free to contact me or leave a comment ˙˚ʚ(´◡`)ɞ˚˙

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2 Comments

  1. Mike
    December 3, 2018 / 12:32 pm

    Great advice. I always look forward to your posts. Thank you for your responses. It males my day when I see a response from you in Instagram.

    • vivaaace
      December 3, 2018 / 7:51 pm

      Wow, thanks so much Mike!

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