My Best Instagram Tips

If you have your own tips, send them to me on LinkedIn and I’ll give you credit here.

1. If you can stand it, use all 30 hashtags that you’re allowed. Why? Because they work together to boost your image’s “like” count, which can boost you to the top of an individual hashtag toplist. For example, if you had only 10 hashtags, you might get 20 likes, but 30 hashtags should get you 3x as many likes, ceteris paribus. If that’s confusing, here’s a sports analogy: a team with 30 players beats a team with 10 players. Each hashtag is a player on your team, attracting likes. The additional likes can get you into the “top 9” photo grid that’s permanently sticky at the top of each hashtag. This sticky factor gets your image in front of more people for a longer time. Likewise, you want hashtags where you actually have a chance to rank in the top 9. For example, I’m currently ranked #1 and #7 on Instagram for #valuableart.

2. Comments get more attention than likes, because there’s not many of them. And it’s obvious when a bot is leaving a generic comment.  If a photo has 1000 likes and you’re 1001, you’re just another needle in a haystack. But a comment is more personal and might help you cut through the noise. An investor like Jason Calacanis receives thousands of emails, but by comparison he doesn’t have as many Instagram comments. If you’re not sure what to say, ask a question about the photo. Usually you’ll get a reply.

3. Under the “heart” tab, look at who likes your photos. Most of these “likes” are people using bots. But behind the bots, there’s a good chance they are real people with common interests in your market, assuming you’re adding relevant hashtags to your posts. So if you engage back with these people, that could result in a mutually beneficial relationship down the road.

4. Stick to your niche and don’t stray too far from it. If people follow me to see more art (that’s my goal) then I might lose followers by posting pics of my dog or my lunch. Because art collectors don’t want dogs in their feed, right? For that reason, a single-minded obsession is probably the best strategy.

5. You need high-resolution photos. You may want to buy a real camera. Instagram is all about photos. So learn what you can about photography.

6. Without hashtags, you’re virtually invisible.

7. If you go to someone’s profile and like 10 or 20 photos all at once, there’s a good chance they will reciprocate.

8. Instagram seems to reward activity and momentum. So posting multiple photos at the same time seems to help.

9. Inactivity mostly rewards your last two photos. If you take a week off, your last two photos will accumulate tons of likes. This happens because of all the bots on Instagram. So if you go dormant, make sure you have 30 relevant hashtags on your last two (most recent) photos.

10. Vary your hashtags to cast a wider net. That way you pick up the attention of a larger, broader audience. Because it’s the same people following the same hashtags. If you’re always using the same hashtags, you’re always in front of the same people. Over time, through process of elimination, I suppose you could figure out the hashtags that work the best for you.

11. Periodically, go back and delete any photos that might be dragging you down. For example, maybe one unpopular photo creates negative bias that keeps you from getting more followers. You might set some arbitrary baseline like, “Delete any photo with fewer than 20 likes.” Think of your Instagram profile as a “report card.” If you see Ds or Fs, maybe delete those photos?

12. If you find someone interesting, check out the three “related users” that Instagram recommends. You get to see who’s “in their neighborhood” according to Instagram’s secret algorithm. They might be worth following too. Instagram’s recommendation engine seems to heavily weigh facial features, but there’s more to it, obviously.