Instagram is one of the hottest social networks but it’s also one of the most crowded. How do you rise above the noise? Learn the nuances of the network!
Here are six keys to getting seen and heard on Instagram—one beautiful moment at a time.
1. Put yourself out there.
Make your profile public! If celebrities (who are usually fighting for privacy every moment of their lives) are sharing chosen moments publicly, why shouldn’t you? What makes you want to stay private and protected? Stand up as a public figure and share your worldview. You can always share personal/private content via direct messages. There’s also Snapchat, texting, email, etc.
2. Complete your profile.
When someone you don’t know follows or likes your content online, you often check them out, right? If you want new audiences to follow you (once they discover your profile), give them a reason! Design your profile, or “brand” it...if we’re going to use the b-word.
Here are the three keys of profile design (and this applies to all social platforms).
Photo: Regardless of what photo you choose, highlight your best assets. Usually, that’s a cropped closeup of your smiling face. Lucky for actors, headshots make great profile photos! They’re designed to make sure that you stand out, often with a blurred or simple background. Using your offline headshot as your profile photo (and/or a consistent photo on every social network) will help you become more recognized and remembered.
Bio: This is the most underutilized piece of real estate online. Don’t overthink your bio; it shouldn’t stress you out or cause “perfection paralysis.” Something is better than nothing...and you can always edit or refine it! I recommend following my friend Phil Pallen’s recipe.
First sentence: Who are you? Why should I care?
Second sentence: Show some personality!
Website: If you don't have a website, get on it!! You can create an about.me website in 20 minutes. This can stay as your official website or just a temporary holding page while a professional designs your 24/7 virtual representation. Alternatively, direct Instagram audiences to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Bottom line: Give people a place to learn more about you!
3. Filter content, not just photos.
Instagram is not the place to share every photo you capture. I recommend taking photos and videos via your phone’s camera roll—and then choosing what, when, how and where you share this media online!
Please filter your content and give your audience the highlights, sizzle reel, or “best of.” Self-promotion and narcissism are running rampant—and they’re not attractive. Always put your audience first.
In business, this filter is called WIIFM (What’s in it for me?). Give your audience treats! Those little gifts can include selfies (because you’re giving a global audience exclusive backstage access to your life). See the value to them?
No matter what you share, aim to elicit an emotional response. Social media is storytelling. Humans of New York (HONY) is a great example, but add in your unique personality and humanity. Try to limit your stories to a beginning, middle, and end. If you want to share quantity over quality, create a slideshow or collage using an app listed below!
Literally, you can also filter your photos. Instagram provides 20 awesome filters—including the most popular, #NoFilter! Did you know you can double tap the filters to adjust their strength and/or add a border? Now you do!
4. Add apps to your arsenal.
You can do subtle editing with Instagram’s internal suite of tools. For more advanced (and fun) content, here are some of my favorite apps:
- Afterlight: Like a mini Photoshop, Afterlight edits photos beautifully.
- FaceTune: This is magazine-style editing, but please don’t get carried away. Authenticity is trending.
- Repost: Stealing is wrong, but sharing is caring!
- PicFrame: “Brady Bunch” your content into a collage.
- Flipagram: Make a slideshow! You can even add music or a voiceover!
- Tiny Planets: Share your worldview as a tiny planet or a psychedelic rabbit hole!
- WordSwag: Love sharing quotes? This app is well worth the $3 investment.
- Hyperlapse: Take us on a journey at your speed!
5. Tag locations and friends.
Tagging locations helps you get discovered by new audiences, leaving a digital footprint for future visitors of the space. You can also use the location tagging to share your local and international travel, pinning the photo to a map. Interestingly, New York City is the most geotagged city, with Times Square being the most popular location.
Note that Instagram allows you to create a location if one isn’t available (via Foursquare). Sometimes I use the location tag as a photo headline, usually directing viewers to the clickable link in my profile.
Be sure to mention friends in your comments to give them a shout out! Use the “tag people” to add this photo to their profile. If you aren’t following someone and want to mention them, you can use this feature to look up their handle!
6. Happy hashtagging.
For Instagram, I recommend initially sharing your post without hashtags—unless they’re specific and timely. Once the post has had its first life, add up to 30 hashtags to get discovered by new audiences. You can delete and repeat this twice, so… #keep #a #list #of #30 #to #90 #keywords #in #your #notes so you can easily copy and paste.
The most popular hashtags are #selfie, #love, #beautiful, #cute, #me, and #tbt, but take the time to customize your hashtags. Use small, relevant keywords. It’s better to reach an interested audience with a perfectly matched hashtag than to participate in a quick popular stream and instantly get flooded out.
*This post was originally published on March 3, 2017. It has since been updated.
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.