1. Post at the right time.
Before you post your photo to Instagram, there are two things to keep in mind: your audience’s time zone and what time they’re most often checking Instagram. Most Instagram users login in the morning, and in the evening, on their way home from work or school. According to analytics company Simply Measured, the best time to post on Instagram is on Wednesdays between 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm.
For brands, the least favorable time to post is in the middle of the night because an Instagram photo typically has a life of only around 4 hours before it gets buried in followers’ feeds.
Post at times throughout the day that you can assume your audience has down time and is checking their accounts. For example, if you’re a company whose target audience is high school students, post your photo in the afternoon during the time high schoolers are on their lunch break. Or, if you’re a business with lots of New York City- or London-based followers, think about posting during rush hour when you know folks are stuck on trains or busses and have nothing else to do but check their phones.
2. Use popular hashtags.
Depending on the industry you’re in, there are popular Instagram hashtags that can be used to get more visibility on your photos. The best way to discover popular hashtags for your industry is to use Google, of course! A simple Google search will tell you all you need to know.
Some of the most trendy Instagram hashtags you’ll find include: #tbt (throwback Thursday), #instadaily, #photooftheday.
Keep in mind: Don’t go nuts with your hashtags! A hashtag paragraph, as I like to call it, at the bottom of your photo is not savvy. It can look a little overzealous and cluttered. Instead, stick to using 1-3 relevant hashtags per photo.
3. Use your photo captions to ask questions.
One of the best ways to get more likes on your Instagram photos is to use your photo’s caption to ask a question. This is a great way to drive not only photo likes, but comments, too.
4. Host a contest on Instagram.
Hosting a contest is often the most effective way to boost engagement and get new followers fast on any social network. Since Instagram has grown in popularity, it makes it one of the best social platforms to run a contest.
5. Share teasers.
For product-based businesses, upload photos to Instagram that feature teasers of a soon-to-be-released product or an exciting event that’s around the corner. Teaser photos are great for catching users’ interest and for driving photo likes! Check out a great example of an Instagram teaser photo from the California-based clothing company The Hundreds.
6. Share candid shots.
Think of your brand’s Instagram account as your followers’ backstage pass, or a behind-the-scenes look, at the inner workings of your company. People don’t want to see the same highly polished images your brand uses for adverts, they want to see images that are more relatable and less edited.
Your Instagram account should strive to highlight your employees and the work they do. Even if your business employs hundreds of people, featuring even just a few faces from behind your brand allows your brand to appear much more transparent with your followers.
Remember: The content you post on Instagram doesn’t always have to be marketing driven, it can be just for fun! After all, these kind of photos often get the best engagement. Stop thinking so much about how to get you’re going to get your branding message across and focus on the essence of the platform, which is a human-centric and playful.
A hashtag contest is the simplest way to gather user-generated content (UGC), increase brand awareness and reach a new audience. And people who participate in UGC campaigns are more likely to become customers. It’s easier than ever to feature moderated UGC on your website, and anyone can use a hashtag to participate in your contest.
7. Ask your users for help.
If it’s a goal of your brand’s to get on Instagram’s most popular “Explore” page, and you have enough followers to do so, don’t be afraid to ask in the photo caption section of your next uploaded photo. Ask and often you shall receive!
8. Take advantage of your Instagram bio.
Don’t neglect your Instagram bio! Use this space to feature a call to action, branded hashtags and web links. Or better still.
For Instagram users who are new to your brand and come across your account for the first time, this section is important– it often plays a hand in a user’s decision to follow your business or not.