Growth Lessons From Top 10 Instagram Influencers

Table of Contents

Growth Lessons From Top 10 Instagram Influencers

” There are three kinds of people in this world, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened, Instagram have all of them.”

Does your business have a presence on Instagram?

It’s no secret that Instagram has incredible reach. However, not every business has jumped on the Instagram marketing band wagon and we understand why.

At first glance Instagram seems like it’s really only beneficial for those in e-commerce. Some businesses struggle with figuring out what they could post in Instagram that could really help grow their brand. And for many, it’s just one more social network to manage. Now that Instagram lets users manage multiple accounts from one device, it will be even easier for marketing managers to use. All that aside, there is some true potential and value in Instagram, and the businesses that are taking the plunge are quickly seeing results.

Now that word of mouth recommendations and criticisms spread through social media faster than fire in a dry field, influencers are people who are active on social media and blogs. They also are brand advocates and niche promoters.

The term “influencer” is wiggling its way through the tangled web. And it’s a hard one to catch because no one knows for certain what it looks like. Personally, I think that’s where the biggest challenge lies, because an influencer is like a changeling. It has a different image for every brand and often for every campaign of a brand.

While someone with hundreds of thousands of social media followers certainly could expose your brand to their followers, if they are not a snug contextual fit, their post or tweet would be moot as far as driving leads and customers.When you align with an influencer, not only do they bring their audience, but they also bring their audience’s network as well. Because of the loyalty of their audience, an influencer has the ability to drive traffic to your site, increase your social media exposure, and flat-out sell your product through their recommendation or story about their experience.

Do you want to know how these influencers might help your business grow?

Here is the list of top 10 Instagram Influencers and their 10 growth lessons.

1. Jenn Herman :

Follow: On Instagram

1. Instagram Photos:

Sure, it’s easy to post a new photo to Instagram. It takes mere seconds. But have you ever taken those photos and used them anywhere else?

You spend hours on Photoshop or make big payments to graphic designers to create images for your brand when you have Instagram right at your fingertips. Now, I understand the real value of a great designer and Instagram won’t replace them. However, you can save money and time by occasionally creating your own branded content.
Instagram has a variety of filters and photo edit tools which can help you produce high quality images quickly and easily. You can add text overlays or create image collages with ease. And once these images are created, you can repurpose them to other locations.
Share your Instagram images to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Use your Instagram images on your website or blog to enhance the visual component of your content. Use your Instagram images in place of stock images on marketing content to really give customers a true perspective of your company.

We all love photos and Instagram allows you to easily incorporate amazing images into all of your marketing needs.

2. Right Captions:

Yes, Instagram is about sharing photos, but if you leave out a caption, you are neglecting a huge portion of an effective Instagram strategy.

Anyone who uses Instagram regularly knows the value of a good caption, a call-to-action, and hashtags. So, if you’re not writing effective captions and using this real estate to build your brand and audience, you look like a rookie who just doesn’t get it.

Every caption should be at least a couple sentences, if not a couple short paragraphs. When appropriate, you should have a call-to-action. And you should always include at least 10-15 relevant hashtags per post.

3. Determine Your Style:

Because Instagram provides so much creative opportunity, it’s important to define your style on Instagram. You may be retro and vintage or trendy and modern. You may use typically wide angle shots or prefer detailed close-ups. You might like to incorporate black and white images or you may favor high intensity colors. Whatever style you choose, it should reflect the image of your brand.
Then choose the most ideal filters and style layouts to ensure that your images and content stay on theme throughout your gallery. This doesn’t mean your style can’t evolve over time. We just don’t want your gallery looking like a random experiment of every type of creative whim.

4. Why Are You on Instagram?

This question may have more than one answer. Or, you may not even know that answer right now. Or, maybe someone told you that you should be on Instagram, so you are. But it’s important to know why you’re really on Instagram.
Are you on Instagram to generate brand awareness? Are you looking to grow your audience? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Are you trying to sell products or services?
Whatever your reason is, embrace it. Then you can format your posts and content around achieving that goal.

5. Share Your Business Story:

All businesses have a story to tell, whether it’s how you got started, why you do what you do, or what you plan to do. Share this through photos and videos!
You can use #tbt (“Throwback Thursday”) themes to share older images of your business journey and let your audience get a deeper look into your business.
If you have celebrated, and continue to celebrate, milestones along the way, share them with your audience. Celebrating record events, company anniversaries, new investments, initial launches, success stories, and other significant achievements is a great way to share your story visually.

6. Posting Schedule:

Speaking of how often to post, you need to determine how frequently you’re going to post to Instagram. Choose a schedule that is both easy for you to maintain and that rewards your audience. It could be once a day or multiple times a day. It could be once a week or a couple times a month. Either way, just make sure you stay consistent and post to Instagram regularly. No one likes a dormant account!

7. Actively Engage with Others:

One of the best ways to grow your audience is to actually connect with people. This means being active on others’ profiles by liking and commenting on their posts. Responding to comments on your posts also generates conversation and followers.
Find new people to follow in your industry and start engaging with them. When they begin to recognize you and your profile, they will often follow you back and return the favor with likes and comments.When people comment on your posts, make sure you @mention them in your response so that they receive a notification and see what you wrote. Answer questions, thank them for their thoughts, or ask them how they’re doing. Keep the conversations going and more people will chime in.

8. Promote What You Have To Sell:

Obviously, you’re in business for a reason. You have something to sell. Whether it’s a service, a program, or a product to a distributor, you have something to promote. Just like all other platforms, Instagram is not a place to blatantly over promote your own products and services. I don’t want to see you posting image after image of what you have to sell. But, you can definitely incorporate this content into your Instagram strategy. If you launch a new program, create a great promo image to share on Instagram. If you have a product upgrade, announce it on Instagram. If you want to promote your service, share photos of you conducting that service for others and let your audience know you’re available for them too.

9. Use trends and hashtags where applicable:

Taking part in the Instagram community is a great way to attract new followers. Use hashtags and trending topics to join an existing conversation or start your own. Be sure that the hashtags you choose are relevant to your business, and don’t overwhelm your followers with too many.

10. Know Your Analytics:

Your Instagram strategy will often be some state of flux depending on current analytics. As your follower count increases, the demographics may shift. The posting and engagement behaviors of your followers may change over time. This is why it’s important to stay on top of your data and information. I recommend you use Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) to easily track your Instagram analytics. This is a free site that instantly produces a wealth of information related to your Instagram account. You can see who has followed and unfollowed you. You can see which posts generate the most engagement from likes and comments. You can see which filters produce the best results for you. You can also, very importantly, see which times of the day are best for you to post based on your followers interactions.

Use this information to craft posts for ideal times to maximize engagement, and determine which content creates the most engagement and drives the most traffic.

2. Social Glims

Follow: On Instagram

1. First goals, then filters:

While it’s important to take a stylistic approach that sets a nice tone, first things first. Why are you on Instagram, and what does your brand hope to achieve within this community? Not every business has the same objectives, and not every social network rallies behind the same brand calls. Retailers and e-commerce brands tend to focus on product marketing. Travel and hospitality brands typically tap the senses with luxurious to business (B2B) companies often communicate company culture. Agencies frequently highlight client work and so on.
Simply put, goals will be multifaceted. You need to agree upon them, and enlist the relevant teams within your organization for support. Set standards on key components, including publishing cadence, brand-approved filters and benchmarks for responding to comments. Then, measure performance. Be aware of the nuances and numbers to optimize your presence and maximize community engagement.

2. Identify your audience, isolate behaviors:

The makeup of your followers should heavily influence the content you produce to elevate engagement. As is the case with other brand marketing efforts, audience segments will vary, with some of your customers more active on Instagram than others. Start by understanding the platform’s basic demographic data: According to the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of 18- to 29-year-old’s use Instagram, which is more than twice as high as the next age group. Meanwhile, 29 percent of women use Instagram, compared to just 22 percent of men.
But move beyond the basics. Assess recurring behaviors from your brand and your community. Track your sent messages and publishing times to determine the type of content that sparks the most engagement. Review hashtag performance to see what keywords drive participation more than others. Identify influencers who like and comment on your posts. As you collect and analyze the behaviors related to all of this content, you will be better able to replicate and reproduce similar experiences.
Many lifestyle brands thrive on Instagram. While Old Style isn’t a premium beer, the brand demonstrates its brand essence and voice throughout its profile. Old Style uses Instagram to highlight its charitable efforts, emphasize its Chicago heritage and humanize its product by showcasing the people behind the account. The brand also often uses the platform to promote upcoming events and engage with fans through contests, supporting desired behaviors.

3. Be authentic:

Today’s customers are savvy, and you can’t fake it online. Says Sid Shuman, who runs social media for Sony Playstation: “They can smell that a mile away.” The same people who are die-hard fans of your brand will be the first to call you on the carpet for shady behavior or activity and content that does not reflect the culture that you’ve already created.

4. Engagement Is the end goal:

At its best, social media is a communications channel, and while certain networks offer greater opportunities than others, it’s important to engage as often as possible. Instagram’s increasingly brand-friendly search components enable more opportunities to join conversations that matter to your business. Monitor trending posts, explore posts of followers and search hashtags that are related to your brand, industry and category. The best way to make an impact on Instagram isn’t always through visuals but through verbal communication.

5. Use Hashtags:

“Instagram is a social discovery platform. It is not merely a broadcast mechanism,” TrackMaven wrote in a previous report that examined Instagram’s use by Fortune 500 companies. “Users are searching for content and finding new content from unconnected users. Instagram is not just about following people and brands you know. It’s about searching for and engaging with new content.”
Hashtags also help with engagement. Brands have higher rates of engagement on Instagram when there were more hashtags, the report finds.
The takeaway? Focus on your company’s Instagram account. And seriously pump up your hashtag game.

6. Create valuable and shareable content:

Most businesses make the mistake of producing content only they’d want to read, or else they simply meet the deadlines marked on their publishing calendars. What you should be focusing on is how to create useful content that your readers won’t think twice about sharing. You can find out what engages your audience by asking its members directly or by checking out what your competitors are doing. However, don’t share blindly or plagiarize, as these moves will affect your branding efforts.

7. Curate content that befits your industry:

The allure of Instagram is the curated, bespoke experience that inspires and adds value for your followers. Instagram’s visual and video components lend themselves well to the e-commerce industry. Often used as a virtual lookbook and lifestyle showroom, Instagram attracts many retailers, who use the app to directly sell products. As a result, Instagram now generates an average of $65 per order, according to Shopify.

Nothing to sell? That’s OK. While sponsored posts and organic sales opportunities should be used strategically, organic content can range from behind-the-scenes looks at product development, team member profiles and how-to videos. You might also want to incorporate user-generated content to further entertain your community and inspire participation.

For example, West Elm doesn’t use Instagram as a traditional advertising vehicle. Aesthetically, the store’s photos mimic a lifestyle blogger’s personal account, with no overt logos or product placements. Content naturally flows within a follower’s feed, encouraging engagement. Each description contains something of value for the consumer. The brand includes photos of DIY home projects, recipes and curated user-generated content. Ending each post with “link in profile” (a common network phrase) proves West Elm’s authority and familiarity with the platform.

8. Cross-promote your social accounts:

Already have a large audience on one account? Ask its members to connect with you on another. That will be as simple as sending a tweet to your Twitter followers asking if they are on Pinterest, and if they are, they should follow you there, too. Also look for opportunities to link from one social account to another. Pinterest, for example, will allow you to link to Twitter and Facebook. Woobox, a Facebook app maker, has apps that allow you to add tabs to your Facebook page for Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for free.

9. Use paid promotions:

More and more social platforms are offering you the opportunity to promote your page, push specific messages and more, beyond your immediate network of fans. You’ll see much-improved ROI by boosting posts and sponsoring Instagram photos, not only for immediate campaigns, but also for long-term ROI from newly-acquired fans who otherwise never would have discovered you.

10. Recycle past content:

Past content, especially content that your fans enjoyed, should be repurposed whenever possible, because you’re always gaining new fans who never saw the original piece. If you’re short on content, grab some of your “greatest hits” material and repost.


3. Post Planner

Follow: On Instagram

1. Get Your Business on Instagram:

Make sure to sign up as a business when you launch your Instagram account. Don’t use a personal account for marketing. This probably means not using Facebook to log in to Instagram since it’s tied to your personal profile. Use the name of your business on the account & post your logo as a profile pic.

Here’s a great primer for getting your business started on Instagram:
Every Brand Has a Point of View.

2. Tell Your Story With Pictures:

Having trouble figuring out what to post on Instagram? Use Instagram to show how other customers are using your products or services. But don’t make it a sales pitch! Show the benefits of the product in action. Starbucks one of the best brands on Instagram mastered this concept. They never talk about price, sales, etc !

3. Decide on a Brand Strategy:

Why should your business even be on Instagram?

Answer this question before you take another step.
Is it:

  • to sell products?
  • to entertain followers?
  • to drive traffic to your website?

Start by deciding on a clear strategy that makes sense for your company.

4. Use the best hashtags:

To boost engagement of your Instagram posts make sure you use relevant hashtags.
Depending on how many followers you have, you will most likely see some initial engagement when posting your image or video on Instagram. However, if you would like to boost this number PLUS receive comments and Likes from targeted fans right away, you want to make sure you are using the best Instagram Hashtags for business.
With so many hashtags to choose from, I have found this app, “TagForLikes,” to offer a great selection of popular hashtags in a variety of different niches. What makes this app unique is you can also create a custom hashtag list. The app lets you create one for free, then additional custom lists can be purchased.
Now one thing you want to be aware of is that not all the hashtags on the topics will be relevant, so you’ll have to do some mining and delete the tags not related to your business.

5. Don’t Post Too Often:

If you’re posting more than every 3 or 4 hours, then you’re probably posting too much. You don’t want to overwhelm the photo feeds of your followers so all they see when they login are your photos! This will lead to unfollows and lost potential customers.

6. Use Emojis:

Emojis will also help you get more likes, comments & shares on Instagram! Remember eyeballs go to color first and visuals are processed 60k times faster than text! Colored emojis attract the reader’s eye when viewing your content. Not only that, but emojis are universally recognized & accepted. Use them and you speak an international language that attracts readers worldwide.

Emojis are especially useful in these 3 locations:

  • Your bio
    Use emojis to highlight keywords and guide visitors from section to section
  • Your Call to Actions (CTA)
    Use emojis to tell readers to click a link, fill out a form, or engage with the CT
  • Your comments
    Use emojis to make your comments stand out and get noticed

7. Use the right call to action:

Creating a call to action in your posts is a great way to engage your Instagram followers beyond just double-tapping for that heart shaped Like. The top brands who are succeeding on Instagram have taken this one step further and created a template which they paste into every update. As you know, there is only one clickable link on Instagram and that is in your bio.

8. Post Regrams:

When someone tags your company on Instagram, share that post with your followers. You can’t share on Instagram with the Instagram app, but there are iOS & Android tools that provide this function (I use InstaRepost). And it works! People love it when you send a so-called “regram”. And it’s always nice to give a shout-out especially when your brand is mentioned!

9. Reward the Loyalty of Your Followers:

Instagram followers tend to be very loyal, more loyal than fans & followers on other social media websites. So use Instagram to reward their loyalty with exclusive deals. This is also an easy way to track sales. if you use a custom shortcode URL

10. Be Ready for Instagram Ads:

Instagram will soon start selling ads. And smart businesses will get in on the ground floor. I’m still not sure how Instagram ads will work, but I’m sure Post Planner will be using them.

4. Sue B. Zimmerman

Follow: On Instagram

1. Use Instagram Stories:

Instagram Stories are a new, fun way to foster stronger connections with your audience. But in addition to the opportunity for relationship building, using Instagram Stories well gives you the chance to be recommended by Instagram.

Pay attention to quality here. The better your stories are, and the more they speak to a specific audience, the higher your chances are that Instagram will add your account to the recommended stories at the top of the explore tab.

2. Switch to a business account:

If you really want to leverage Instagram for your business, you need to make the switch to an Instagram business account. Introduced earlier this year, this new feature allows you to sync, examine, and more easily manage your Instagram account. With a goal of opening up communication between customers and businesses, you can track the engagement on each of your posts and even see an overview of your followers (age, gender, etc.). Since the analytics are mobile-facing, it’s easy to get an analytics snapshot even if you’re on the go. Don’t just post and go. Get a deeper insight into how you can better manage your Instagram with the business account feature.

3. Create your own unique hashtag hub:

The treasure of social networks like Instagram and Twitter is the ability to be found organically through hashtags. When you create your own hubs of hashtags associated with your brand and encourage user generated content there, it’s a great way for your tribe to spread the word about you.
Examples are where my followers love hanging out with me. Check out the searches #suebtips and #suebmademedoit.

4. Don’t forget about the link:

Instagram only allows you to have one live hyperlink in your profile, so it’s critical that your link is always set up for your intended call-to-action. To add the link to your profile, go to the account tab and click “Edit Profile”. The link tells people where you want them to land, so they can either engage further with your brand or purchase your product. But as you decide which link you want to share, be sure the landing page ties in with your brand’s Instagram theme. By making the jump as seamless as possible, followers won’t feel thrown off when they engage with you on another platform.

5. Don’t Sell Just to Sell:

Don’t use photos that resemble web photos, meaning they are flat and/or feature your product on a white background. These photos tell your followers that you are more interested in selling a product then connecting with them emotionally.

Melissa, @colormehappymelissa, is crushing it with her posts sharing her various craft creations. By taking the time to showcase the product, and minimizing her sales-pitch, she creates relatable content that her followers love. Take the time to create a photo that speaks to your brand and its values. Followers respond strongly when they connect with a brand and its message.

6. Use Instagram instead of Yelp:

There’s little doubt that you’ve seen foodie themed hashtags on your favorite Instagram accounts, often using #Foodie or #FoodPorn. With its emphasis on high-quality visual content, Instagram has quickly become the go-to app for restaurants. But if you’re traveling or just looking to try something new, Instagram allows you to get a behind-the-scenes tour of your favorite dining spots. Unlike Yelp, which relies on testimonials and word-of-mouth, Instagram gives you a visual reference for the customer experience. Even on the go, general hashtags (like #Coffee), allow you a sneak peek into the local businesses in your surrounding area.

7. Geo-targeted hashtags:

You know that you can add locations to your Instagram post, but are you fully leveraging your location with your hashtags too? If you are a local business or hosting an in-person event, these location-specific hashtags will allow you to get your content front and centre of your ideal audience your community! Even better, especially in larger cities, there are often already popular location hashtags that you can tap into so you can become part of the conversation.

8. Focus on algorithm maximization:

Instagram now uses an algorithm to determine the order in which posts are shown in the news feed. If your content is not showing up close to the top of the newsfeed when your followers log on, then you’ll get fewer likes and comments on your posts leading to less exposure to people who don’t already follow you. Focus on maximizing your exposure by working to overcome Instagram’s algorithm. Tactics like posting at optimal times, and fewer photos than you might be used to will help. Use Instagram analytics tools to determine your optimal time to post. And remember, sharing content consistently doesn’t matter if your followers are not seeing your posts.

9. Instagram Marketing 101:

Followers are drawn to authentic content. No matter what tools you use, don’t forget that taking the time to personally engage with your audience is critical to finding business success on Instagram. Be sure that you are taking the time to respond to your follower’s comments, and you’ll see them share the love in return.

10. Advertising on Instagram:

While many business owners view Facebook as the go-to social media platform for advertising, Instagram provides another unique, valuable opportunity to connect with your potential customers. With over 500 million active users, Instagram has invested a significant amount of its resources to better understand how to create an advertising experience entirely unique to Instagram users’ preferences. That means more visually-driven ads that have the potential to instantly capture your audience the right audience.

If you’re a small business owner, solopreneur, or small team and you’re getting ready to spend money on ads, make sure you fully understand the process and your budget. Even if you decide to hire out to an expert, be engaged in the process in the beginning so you fully understand the way your money is spent there are plenty of people out there without the knowledge to do it right. You could end up wasting time, money and confidence in the process.
For those business owners who decide to take the hands-on approach for advertising, be prepared that the time commitment will vary. The time investment required of me prior to launch is significant, because it is a large part of our plan to generate leads. Once things are set up and running, I’ll spend 30 minutes or so reviewing my advertising metrics daily to make adjustments. I recommend jumping at least twice a day in the first few days of the campaign to make sure things are working properly.

5. Iconosquare

Follow: On Instagram

1. Write a solid bio:

First thing’s first: you need to have a great bio on your Instagram, so that people know who you are, what you do, what your values are etc. It is said to take less than a second for a potential customer to form an opinion of your brand based on your company website. An Instagram bio gives you even less time to make an impression. A great bio consists of your name, your company’s expertise/main skill and your website link or some form of CTA. Make sure you include these essential elements in your 150 character limit!

2. Storytelling through images:

In order to stand out and be remembered by your followers, you need to create a “connection”.
This can be done by having a consistency in your posts. Don’t just post because you need to post, post a media because it makes sense, it is linked to your “brand style”.

Here are different examples:

  • Post images of your existing services and or products.
  • Share pictures and videos from events.
  • Introduce new faces, new employees.
  • Go behind the scenes.

3. Post at relevant times:

Instagram is an internet service, thus connected to the whole world. If you are trying to reach a european market, an asian one or even if you have different time zones in your own country, mind the hours difference. According to our recent study, “The peak of interactions on Instagram is between 8PM and 9PM.” (on average in every country of the world).

4. Involving your followers:

Your followers are the reason you’re here, so take care of them! Involve them in your posts by asking them questions, answering them and replying to their comments on your posts. Make sure your followers feel implicated in your media, make the visuals about them so they feel like they want to react to them, rather than just scroll on down their feed.

5. Collect Feedbacks:

As a smart marketer you probably already monitor conversations about your brand and products on social media such as forums, blogs, Facebook or even Twitter. But do you know what people are posting on Instagram?
Whether or not your brand is present on the platform people keep talking about your products and services as they do on other social media channels. How? They publish pictures of products they buy from you, they record videos showing how they use them, they share how they feel about it and comment other’s content.

You can’t just ignore these feedbacks. They are precious both to understand how customers perceive your brand but also to identify brand advocates.

6. Have your own brand style:

The key on Instagram is developing a brand style and adopting it (if you choose to post funny pictures, art pictures, quotes, your products etc… stick to it!).
Also in order to show the values of your brand and spread your message, do not forget to connect your Instagram account to other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare…) and share your brand pictures & information across all these platforms.

It might be difficult at the beginning. Trying photography or making up creative posts takes time. But do not worry, you’ll get better with time. Always remember that practice makes perfect.

7. UGC campaigns on Instagram:

Among all the different types of contests/campaigns you could be running on Instagram none are encouraging people to engage with your brand and connect with your products as much as UGC campaigns do.

Whether you’re looking to support the launch of a new product, generate attention or build a momentum with consumers, UGC campaigns are by far the best to expand your reach, engage your community and boost virality.

Many brands have already seized the opportunity. Businesses often don’t dare to jump on these opportunities thinking a successful Instagram UGC campaign always comes at a price and believing that it requires major financial, marketing and technical efforts. That’s no longer the case thanks to Iconosquare!

Many reasons can make your brand want to generate UGC, we’ve listed a few here, starting with:

  • Gaining authentic content
  • Increasing your digital content
  • Collecting content from your most loyal fans
  • Consumers see the difference between paid and earned media, thus making UGC a much more trusted form of advertising.
  • UGC is also an opportunity for true brand development thanks to the helps of your fans.
  • Developing your brand loyalty
  • With UGC, you have the capacity to influence purchase decisions.

8. Track Competitors:

You might not use Instagram as a marketing channel yet but your competitors probably already do. So use the platform to follow their activity and to see how they interact with their community. What content do they post? When? How often? How do they engage with their fans? Do they have an Instagram contest running? By answering these questions you will be able to discover some best practice in your industry and to define your own creative strategy.

9. Track your progress:

Instagram analytics can be a powerful tool for your brand on Instagram. The full potential of analytics can only be reached when they are utilized properly and are made to become an essential and instinctive part of your Instagram marketing strategy. To really tune in to your Instagram progress, you need to be tracking your analytics. This is how you will learn how to consistently please your followers and see your community grow.

6. Helene Sula

Follow: On Instagram

1. Consistency is key on Instagram:

If you want to grow a steady following and maximize your reach, post on a consistent basis. Just posting at least once a day will show your followers that you are creating good content on the reg. When someone likes your photos or follows you and you click to look at their profile to see they haven’t posted anything in a month, what is your likelihood of following them back? Pretty slim right? Because you want to follow people that inspire and add value to your life on a consistent basis. So post consistently and find unique ways to inspire and add value to the lives of your followers.

2. Tell a story:

This ties in with the theme of your Instagram feed. Your feed should tell a story. It should answer the questions: Who are you? What’s important to you? What is your mission? You can answer these questions with the type of content you post or in your captions. People are more likely to follow you and keep following you if they feel emotionally invested in you. This happens when they feel like they know you based on the content you share. What story does your feed tell? If you don’t know, write down the answers to the three questions above and start there! It’s never too late.

3. Hashtag it out:

Hashtags are probably the BEST way to get organic engagement. It can double, even triple your likes on Instagram alone. It’s also a great tool to be found on Twitter and now, even Bloglovin is utilizing hashtags. Use hashtags that will work on growing your account, and are broad enough to help you be found organically. Take a look the hashtags that work and when your followers are most engaged.

4. Create a trend:

Now, we don’t just want a hashtag that we can use, we want it to trend. A trending hashtag means that lots of people are using it which means hopefully more eyes are on your content. So continue to post relevant content with your hashtag. For example, I love the hashtag: #ABMTravelBug and the creator, @abeautifulmess uses it to showcase gorgeous travel related photos, usually with colorful themes. The account also posts relevant content WITH the hashtag.

5. The best time to post:

One of the best things you can do to grow your social media is to figure out the key times to post. This is when more people will be online and able to see what you have to share. More eyes means more engagement and ultimately means more followers.

6. Create a theme:

Do you notice when you go to some accounts all the images are pleasing, but they all come together to show a beautiful, cohesive theme or aesthetic? Some people pick a color scheme or style their photos a certain way each time. It will keep your followers interested and create a story.

7. Be authentic:

Just like a blog post, people can tell when a photo is forced. So be yourself and share what’s going on! Share your story using the caption. Remember, you don’t have to just focus on the image.

8. Edit consistently:

Oh yeah, let’s keep it going with consistency! Brands that do really well (and influencers too) create a cohesive feed. That means editing your photos in a similar way. When you can create an aesthetic that works for you, people tend to follow. You don’t need a fancy camera or expensive equipment, you just need to find a style that works for you.

9. You don’t include me:

No, I don’t mean my face. I mean, you’re not including your followers in on what’s going on. Show me behind the scenes or give me an exclusive! Make me feel like I’m part of YOUR story. Basically, the point of Instagram isn’t just followers. It’s about engaging the viewer.

10. Check your stats:

It’s important to look at your analytics, this helps you find the best time to post. Now, Instagram has their own set of analytics that will help you determine the best time to post and what pictures get more engagement.

7. Melyssa Griffin

Follow: On Instagram

1. Create a challenge:

Invite people to be a part of your Instagram world by creating a challenge. This will expose your account to a lot of new eyes, help you get to know your audience, and create a little buzz around you and what you’re doing! Be present with those who are taking the time to participate by liking and commenting on their photos whenever possible. This is not only polite, but it also creates a bigger sense of community and it shows you care.

If you’re nervous about people not participating, consider reaching out to a few of your currently engaged followers and personally inviting them to join in. Alternatively, you could pair up with another Instagrammer to host your challenge. That way, you have accountability and you get to share each other’s audiences for an even bigger chance to boost engagement.

2. Run a contest:

If you have something you’d like to give away, try running a contest. Some ideas? Have users repost a specific image and tag you in the caption. Or ask them to use your hashtag on their own images. You could even try a loop giveaway, if you want to collaborate with other Instagrammers.

3. Find something that will set you apart:

Just as there are millions of bloggers, there are millions of awesome Instagrammers. Set yourself apart from the rest and offer something of value to your audience. If you’re a food blogger, perhaps you can share a super quick dinner recipe that you wouldn’t normally share on your blog. Are you knowledgeable about a certain business? Why not share a quick business tip every day? Give your audience a reason to return to your account. Very much like blogging, being consistent and knowledgeable on Instagram can lead to great success and an interested audience.

4. Like photos in your niche:

I attended an online conference where Susan Petersen (CEO of Freshly Picked) talked about how she grew her Instagram to have almost 400,000 followers. She said that in the early days, she would spend hours liking other people’s photos each night. Her suggestion? Go through and like 5-10 photos on someone’s account. It would also help to leave a genuine comment and give them a follow. This helps to get your name out there and allows other users to discover you. I’d also suggest doing this primarily to users in your niche. How to find users in your niche? Check hashtags, or view the followers of your favorite Instagrammers. Overall, be authentic and not spammy ain’t nobody got time fo’ spam.

5. Create a theme for your photos:

Cool, so if you followed #4, people will naturally start to notice your username and may check out your account…give them something to fall in love with! I’ve found that it really helps to create a theme for your Instagram. Write down a few words that you want people to associate with your account. For mine, I hope people glean that it’s bright, artistic, and full of love. Which words would you use for your account? Once you’ve settled on a theme, try your hardest to stick to it! A few accounts that are killin’ it? Studio DIY, Wonderforest, and Jessica Safko!

6. Ask questions:

People like to know that you value their thoughts and opinions. The best way to create an engaged community is to, you know, engage! Ask your followers how their day is going. Take a photo of what you’re working on and ask them for their opinions. Share about your upcoming summer trip and see if your followers are headed anywhere, too. Anything to get them talking. It may feel a little awkward at first, but just go for it, friend! You’ll be surprised at how many people will usually reply.

Additionally, if you’re travelling, ask your followers if they’ve ever been there and what recommendations they have for you. This one is a total win-win because you get to hear about fun places you can explore, and you get your Instagram pals chatting and engaging with you.

Remember, if your followers are going to take time to connect with you, the least you can do is connect with them, too. If people ask you a question about something on Instagram, answer it! Really get in there and chat with everyone. It shows you care about them and appreciate their enthusiasm and support. If someone asked you a question face-to-face, would you ignore them? The same rules apply for social media.

7. Create a hashtag and encourage others to use it, too:

This is a great way to build community and gain new content for your account. First of all, create a unique hashtag (make sure it’s not already being used!) and ask others to use it. It works best if the hashtag has a specific purpose. For example, A Beautiful Mess encourages followers to use #ABMLifeIsColorful on all of their colorful, happy photos. Once people start using your hashtag (and YOU use it, too!), then you can repost images from your followers (giving them proper credit, of course!). Not only does this build community by showing your followers that you appreciate their photos, but it also gives you content for your own account.

8. Approach popular users to collaborate:

Think outside the box! Ask another Instagrammer if you can “take over their account” for the day as a guest contributor. Or start an Instagram challenge with daily prompts. Ultimately, think of fun, creative ways to collaborate with other users.

9. Study your followers:

Get to know who your audience are. Beautiful photos and witty captions will do you no good if your audience is not present to receive it. One of the best tools in knowing more official stats about your followers is Iconosquare. This awesome website links to your Instagram account and gives you information on when your audience is the most active, which photos are most liked, and what your audience comments on the most.

10. Respond to all comments:

Last but not least, be sure to respond to all of the comments you receive. If you follow the steps above, it’s likely that people will start commenting on your photos. If you ignore their comments or only respond to a couple here or there, it shows them that you’re not interested in building a community. Be sure to respond to each person who comments to show how much you value them and to build friendships with your followers. This will lead to an even stronger connection and more engagement. Woo!

8. The SITS Girls

Follow: On Instagram

1. Write an Instagram bio:

You only get a small amount of space under your profile picture to write a brief bio, but make sure that you do write something. I’ve seen a few where they have left it blank and just placed a website url, now this is fine if you are Beyonce, but if you’re not as well known as her, it will make people click the back button pretty quickly. No one is going to take the time searching for who you are, what you do or what your Instagram is about. I hope these tips have helped guide you with starting your Instagram account. Now take some pretty picture and go share them!

2. High quality content is key on Instagram!

One of the most important, if not THE most important tip for gaining Instagram followers and likes, is to use interesting and unique photos to set yourself apart. This is your chance to offer exclusive content and your own views and angles! A good photo does not have to be perfect to tell a story and connect with your audience, but quality can be important.
Try to take photos that will resonate with your target audience. If your audience can connect with your images and captions, they are more likely to follow you and “like” your photos.
An interesting and genuine caption can turn a good photo into a great one. Captions can grab followers’ attention.
Sometimes it helps to look at your profile as a whole, and see how your photos look together. People’s eyes are drawn to white, so try to use a white background sometimes. Black & white photos get a lot of likes, as well as oddly cropped photos, instead of perfectly centered subjects. Try taking photos of special details up close, like decorations at a party.
You’ll want to space out the timing of your photos, and use editing software and apps, which brings us to my next two points.

3. Use hashtags:

This helps people search and see your pictures. When I first started out it was hard to think of which hashtags to use that would get images seen, so I was so happy when I found the phone app TagsForLikes. It groups the most popular hashtags used on Instagram and all you have to do is copy and paste them into your pictures. I’ve gotten more likes than normal by using this app, plus it’s free.

4. Be consistent:

Try to post every day or maybe every other day. (I confess I have had several days in a row that I don’t have pictures to share.) Sometimes I share pictures from blog posts or pictures from the past that I haven‘t posted (#latergram) if I don’t have new picture to post. Sometimes just responding to comments and visiting others might draw them to your posts.

5. Promote yourself on Instagram!

When you are posting a photo or video on Instagram, check off the options to share the post on Facebook and Twitter. Many times, I have gotten followers this way, and have also followed people I already liked or followed on Facebook, Twitter, or their blogs.

There are also plug-ins you can install on your blog that will show a gallery of your Instagram account, or even a current, as-it-is-happening feed of what you post on Instagram. You can put a follow button for Instagram on your blog or website to attract new followers. I also like to write about Instagram on my blog occasionally, and I always make sure to put the link to my Instagram profile in my posts too. Sometimes a new reader or even a current one will see it and follow right then.

The best ways to promote yourself can be through the channels in which you already have existing followers, whether that be Facebook, Twitter, your blog or website, or even email signatures and newsletters.

6. Don’t forget to respond to comments and likes:

I try to respond to all comments. I totally want the people that leave comments to know I have seen them and value their thoughts. Make sure you mention them in your response so they will see you have commented back.

I try to visit all the people that like a picture and like one of their pictures, too. I don’t always follow them back though. Why? If they have a secure profile, I can’t see what kind of pictures they share. I really like to know a little bit more about someone than what is in their profile before I follow them back. If they are sharing photos I can’t relate too, I don’t always like one of their pictures. But I try to make a connection with everyone who finds me.

7. Post pictures that fit your brand or blog focus:

Not every picture has to be on brand. I have found that it does help to stay in the realm of what I blog about, though. My blog focuses on growing and learning with my son. I try to post pictures that share those things.

8. Learn proven ways to connect and build community:

I like to think of the who, what, where, when and why of connecting with other Instagram users. You have to make yourself visible. Leave lots of comments and participate in photo challenges. I learned from an Instagram expert to leave witty comments on like-minded accounts. While I agree with this tip, not everyone connects by being witty. You can benefit as much by leaving genuine comments on like-minded Instagram accounts – whether they be sweet or funny or even hungry. (People post a lot of delicious food photos on Instagram) Be inspiring. Be yourself.

9. Make Good Use of Apps and Tools for Instagram:

First, Instagram’s recent update added a lot of new filters and controls. I love to edit my photos right there in the program before sharing. You can also get other photo editing apps like Snapseed, Camera+, VSCO Cam, Photo Editor, Afterlight, Bokehful, Overgram and many more.

Besides editing, there are many useful apps and tools to help you connect with other Instagram users:

  • Iconosquare is the world’s leading analytics and marketing suite for Instagram.
  • Repost will enable you post other user’s photos.
  • ScheduGram helps with web uploading, scheduling, and supporting more than one account.
  • With Flipagram, you can create video stories using music and your Instagram photos.
  • SnapWidget allows you to embed photo galleries in your blogs and websites.
  • Instafollowers helps you to keep track of new followers, unfollowers, inactive users, and people who are not following you back.

10. Let your social media accounts do the work for you:

Finally, amplifying your Instagram content is an important way to extend your reach. One of the best ways to do this is to integrate your Instagram photos with other popular platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. Luckily, connecting your accounts is easy.

9. Lauren Bath

Follow: On Instagram

1. Always edit your photographs:

Even if it’s just using an iPhone/Android app.

2. Consistency:
Be very consistent with your Instagram habits. Be consistent with the quality of your posts.
Main points to consider regarding consistency
– How many times you post per day (I recommend 2-4 but separate each post by at least 3 hours)
– How much you engage when you are on the platform, give back!
– Keep the quality and style of your content consistent.

3. Personality:

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Write interesting captions that share a little of your personality and story.

4. Use Hashtags:

Use a relevant group of hashtags and I recommend using between 20-30 per post. Very important : Don’t use these hashtags in your caption. Create a note of hashtags and paste these into a comment box BELOW your caption.
Keep on top of the hashtags that are relevant to you and popular, resist using hashtags like #follow4follow. I use a combination of popular travel tags, feature account tags and image specific tags.

5. Engage:

Engagement is right up there with content. The more you engage with other Instagram users the more you will see engagement come back to you. Be social, social media is a two way street! Network, Like, Comment, Follow relevant accounts.

6. Biography:

Make sure you have a strong profile photo and some relevant information in your bio along with a contact if you want to be easily contactable.

7. Content:

The quality of your content will directly affect the traffic to your Instagram page. Attempt to post only the highest quality photo or video that you are capable of producing and use editing tools to polish them, even if they’re just mobile applications like “Snapseed”.
At the very least most images should be cropped square, straightened and colour adjustments made.

8. Takeaways from my mentor:

  • Be social
  • Don’t ask for shoutouts and
  • Good pics help.

9. Have a community:

One of the the things that I’ve always loved about Instagram and still love to this day is the community, so when I was learning photography I had a lot of people – a whole network of people that I could call on to ask questions and people could come and ask me questions.

10. Have fun:

Try to enjoy the platform and the experience. If you only use Instagram to gain followers the interactions you have aren’t organic and genuine. Share your story, share a bit of yourself and enjoy.

10. Alex Tooby

Follow: On Instagram

1. Post consistently:

All of the best Instagram accounts know that in order to get the highest engagement, create the strongest relationships with their audience, and continue to increase their follower count daily, they MUST be posting consistently. Depending on your niche and your audience, the number of daily posts can vary but for most, ONE post per day is the norm.

Depending on where you get your information, you may have heard that 3-5 posts per day is the best but that amount can be overwhelming to your audience (most instagrammers prefer a variety of different posts in their feed and not multiples from the same account), and it can actually hinder the amount of engagement your posts get. In my personal experience when I post a second image within the same day, it brings my first post to a halt and stops it from getting as much engagement as it could have if I had let it be for 24 hours.

Now, having said that, being consistent seems simple but it can actually be really difficult to maintain. In order to help keep yourself on track I recommend using a scheduling app like or You can use these services to pre-plan your posts ahead of time and have them go live with just a few clicks. (*Pro Tip: any scheduling app that automatically posts for you is against Instagram’s terms of service and can get you in hot water.. stick to my recommendations to be safe!)

2. Have a better Instagram bio:

You can both make your bio better as well as optimize it for marketing and building your brand simply by following this steps.

  • Have your email included in your description, so that it is easy for people to contact you and get in touch.
  • Have the one link that you are permitted within your bio sending your audience to a call to action, make sure to use this link wisely and that it gives value to those who go out of their way to click on it.
  • Be sure to note in your description to click on your call to action link.
  • Create beautiful and enticing images that resonate well with your target audience that you are trying to reach.

3. Use high quality images:

As you probably know by now, Instagram is alllll about imagery. In contrast to social platforms like Twitter or Facebook, Instagram’s native content is photographs and that’s exactly what it’s users love so much about it. So, having said that, it’s absolutely critical that you make sure your account is filled with high quality images!

Some of the best Instagram accounts are photographers, for obvious reasons, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be a photographer to have a great account. Take for example my account @menandcoffee. While all the images I use are user generated (meaning they are taken by others and submitted to me for posting) I am still able to create a feed filled with super high quality images that my audience loves. (ok maybe the abs have something to do with it, but truly, I make sure to only choose the photos that have the best composition and quality!)

4. Maintain quality:

Once you have determined your focus itʼs time to start crafting and curating a beautiful feed. If you havenʼt noticed yet, Instagram is all about visuals. The aesthetics of your feed are so so so important. Having a feed filled with high-quality, professional photos instead of a feed full of low-quality selfies is going to make a huge impact in your success on Instagram. So, get out there, take some real quality photos and start uploading. If you canʼt take high-quality shots on.

5. Write personal captions:

This concept is something that all of the best Instagram accounts certainly are aware of, although chances are good it took them sometime to realize it, or become comfortable with it. This is true for me too. When I first started posting to my account @instawithalex I acted solely as a business owner and simply wanted to share Instagram tips and hopefully funnel my audience towards my website and eventually to my courses. While that did work (specifically offering value in the form of a tip really helped with my credibility and likeability) it wasn’t until I started infusing a bit more of my personality into my captions that I really saw an upturn in clicks to my website and subsequently, sales of my courses.

If you take a good look at a couple of your favorite Instagram feeds, chances are not only do you like them because of their images, but also because you feel some sort of connection to them. That connection, whether you noticed it or not, was formed most likely by the way they write their captions. When we open up and share more of our personal lives (the story behind the picture, the emotions you felt at the time, any current or past struggles that are relevant) we let our audience see our real, authentic and relatable side, which often leads to the creation of a genuine connection. While you may not meet or even speak to all of your followers, you can still build individual relationships with them by simply opening up and letting it all pour out into your Instagram captions. Give it a try and I promise you’ll notice an increase in comments!

6. Know & engage with your target market:

If you want to be ranked among the best of the best on Instagram, you must take the time to get to know and engage with your target market. What exactly is a “target market” you ask? A target market is the ideal person you would like following you on Instagram, or the person you believe would benefit the most from your content, products, services, etc. For example, my target market is primarily female entrepreneurs, ages 25-35, who own a small creative business. The details of this person actually go much much deeper but in it’s most basic form, that’s my target market.

When you make the effort to figure out who your target market is, and become as familiar with them as possible, your efforts on Instagram become a lot easier and you’ll see a massive increase in engagement and followers. With your target market in mind you can create content specifically for them, you can write captions you know they’re going to resonate with, you can post at a time you know they’re going to be online, you can use hashtags you’re certain they’re searching for, etc.

On top of this, the best Instagram accounts spend time every single day engaging with their target market. So whether that’s responding to comments they’ve received on their pictures, or going out of their way to like and comment on the photos of people who aren’t following them yet. These actions don’t take much effort but can result in a substantial increase in followers!

If you’re intrigued by this concept and would like to learn more about discovering your own target market and using that information to your advantage on Instagram, please check out my course Infamous to Influential. This course focuses on determining who your target market is then implementing a variety of different methods to appeal directly to them. If done correctly, this can quickly and easily increase the amount of targeted, engaged, and potentially profitable people following you! Sure it would be nice to have 100k followers but if they aren’t your target market, you aren’t going to make any money from them, right? Get the right followers with Infamous to Influential.

7. Implement a strategy:

I know we’ve all been there before.. posting haphazardly, randomly choosing hashtags for each image, and not really knowing what direction we’re going with our accounts. It’s

actually very common and simultaneously self sabotaging. This strategy, or lack thereof, can be really detrimental to your success on Instagram. So, let’s take a final cue from the best Instagram accounts; they all have a strategy and goal in mind when it comes to their accounts!
That means they’re considering an ideal time to post when their audience is most likely to be online.. they’re researching and using hashtags that will increase their engagement.. they’re consistently using ‘call to actions’ to encourage their audience to take action (leave a comment, tag a friend, click the link in your bio, etc). These small, purpose driven actions can make a massive difference in the success of your Instagram account, so take it from the pros; be organized, be purposeful, and implement a strategy!

8. Focus:

What is your niche? What is your brand? What is your message? These are some questions you must ask yourself before starting your quest to Instagram success. Once you have decided what your brand encompasses you must absolutely stick to it. Consider these the most important words in this guide. I don’t care how good that meal you just cooked looks, or how cute your kitten is if it isn’t relevant to the focus of your business, then it doesn’t belong on your feed. Feel free to use photos from other feeds, or sites like Pinterest. Just make sure you give credit to the original source.

9. Connecting your social media accounts:

Connect your accounts that you don’t necessarily focus on but still want to grow in the background. By doing this, you are “covering your bases” and making sure that you can be found on any social media that people may be searching for you on. An example of this that is connecting my Twitter and Instagram accounts so that some (not all) of my posts that are sent to Instagram are also posted on Twitter. Although i’m not necessarily focusing on Twitter, i am allowing people to have access to me and be able to find @alextooby in multiple ways as well as building that audience in the background, with minimal work, so that i am is able to focus on the platforms that i can get the most out of and bring the most value to.

10. Don’t use hashtags that are too popular:

Generally speaking, any tag with over 1 million posts associated with it, is too big. When you add this tag to your photo, your image may appear in the tag for a split second, but is almost immediately buried by 100’s of other images that were added to the tag at the same time. This is a waste as it’s highly unlikely anyone will see your image within this tag. *If you have a large following and get substantial engagement very quickly, you may be able to use a tag of this size. For example, if you make it to top posts of a tag this size, then by all means, use them, but if you don’t these probably aren’t the tags for you. (My suggestion? Try tags between 5,000 – 500,000)

This post is a part of a blog series on Marketing Success by ReportGarden, an ad agency client reports & dashboards automation software.

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