The basics: Instagram 101

As with any marketing tips/tricks/advice provided on this blog, please take all information with a grain of salt. This information is not provided as the ‘be all to end all’ word. So, take what works for you and leave what doesn’t.

Not everyone is interested in Instagram growth. So, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t care one way or another, this advice likely isn’t for you. Which is totally fine. This information is being shared for those who might find it helpful!

Without further adieu:

Hashtags are a tool that allows Instagram users to find other Instagram users who post similar images, share similar interests or are like-minded individuals. When you post an image to Instagram, if you would like the opportunity for others on the platform to find said image, it’s imperative that you use proper and relevant hashtags that depict what’s in your image.

Put the hashtags within your caption, do not put them as the first comment. When you do not put the hashtags within the caption of the photo itself, you’re losing valuable time and real estate within the Instagram algorithm for people who could potentially be viewing your image.

You can post up to 30 hashtags per image. If you are a blogger, or running a business account, it’s recommended that you try to keep hashtag use to 9-11 hashtags per image. There are several reasons for this, most important of which being, if you limit the hashtags you’re using to 9-11 hashtags at most, you’re focusing on only the most relevant hashtags pertaining to the image. When people start reaching hashtag 15 and 16, they start just using random hashtags that don’t really pertain to the image and it can become very spam-like, overcrowding different categories on the platform. This is why you can search ‘#TheGreatOutdoors’ and see pictures of hamburgers and french fries.

When selecting hashtags, select categories that you would search for. Why? Because not all hashtags are as valuable as others. If you’re searching for something on Instagram, there’s better odds that someone else is too. More people are going to be searching ‘#TheGreatOutdoors’ than ‘#Tree’. As you type in the hashtags to Instagram, the app will actually tell you how many people have used said hashtag and similar hashtags. Example:

Include a selection of both popular and less popular hashtags within the 9-11 hashtags used per image. Using the screenshot as an exampe, #LakeLouise will have the potential for more people to find your image, and in turn, your page. But, with more people searching this item, your image will more quickly slide down the Instagram algorithm than if you use #LakeLouiseLove. For this reason, it’s recommended that you use a mixture of both popular and less popular (STILL RELEVANT) hashtags when sharing your image.

If you want to connect with others, ALWAYS use a caption. There’s nothing worse than finding an image that you truly love on Instagram and realizing the person who shared it couldn’t care less about people finding their image and connecting with their content. Use a caption – share the store of the image, or share a story that has nothing to do with the image but speaks to you and your character. If you want to connect with people, a picture won’t speak for you… no matter how pretty it might be.

If you’re specifically looking for growth, there are hashtags that are for bloggers to connect with other bloggers to help support one another. Using #BloggersUnder500 or #BloggersUnder1k, etc… are like flashing the bat symbol for bloggers to find other bloggers and help one another grow their platforms. If you’re looking for growth, use these hashtags to connect with other bloggers and help them find and connect with you.

Promote your Instagram account on other platforms. I follow at least a dozen bloggers on WordPress of which I had no idea that they had Instagram accounts until they followed me. There is no mention of their Instagram accounts ANYWHERE on their blog. Why not? If you have a blog, let people know that you have an Instagram too. It can’t hurt.

Location searches on Instagram can help you to connect with people in your area that you might not even know exist yet. This one might be especially beneficial in this time of social distancing. Want to connect with people in your area without connecting with people in your area? Search your local, nearest airport code or city abbreviation in Instagram. Make new friends. Reach out to people that way. This is actually a great way for small/local businesses to reach out and let public in their city/surrounding area know they’re there and open for business.

You DO NOT have to post every day, but much like with blogging, it helps with the growth of your page if you post somewhat regularly. People like to come to instagram to see new content. If you post once and then don’t come back for a month, then post three times in a week then disappear for two months, you’re going to have a very difficult time convincing people they should connect with you and and your content. If they can’t rely on you to connect with, why should they follow you?

Share other’s images to your Instagram Story. This one doesn’t help you at all. It’s not for growth. It’s not for any other reason than you might like an image. If you like an image that someone you follow has posted, share it to your Instagram story. It furthers their reach, gives them a form of cross promotion they haven’t yet had. Also, it allows you to share images of places you might not yet have been, or might not have seen. This is also extremely beneficial for any small businesses that you might follow. Especially if they’re still operating during COVID. A little share here and there might help their business immensely during these stressful times. So… sprinkle a little kindness in whatever you do!

Don’t just post things because you think they’re trendy. People aren’t so dense that they cannot figure out who’s being a try-hard on social media. While you might like the instant gratification of sharing something that’s been going viral day after day after week after week, the tired, tried and done a thousand times means being a trendy Instagram user gets old real quick. You won’t build connections, you won’t have the interaction you’re searching for and, you’ll lack authenticity. It’s 2020, people. Real is the new real.

Be nice. Hopefully this one doesn’t require an explanation.

You have to have 10,000 followers in order to post links. Unlike Twitter where you link every tweet, you have to reach a threshold of engagement to earn that ability with Instagram. So, if you’re looking to use Instagram to promote your blog, you’re going to have to get creative.

Don’t spam people. I don’t even want to tell you how many unread messages I have in my inbox of people trying to sell me MLM products or sign me up to work under their MLM business. If you spam people, it will annoy them. And if you are looking to grow your Instagram profile, I would recommend you not annoy people in the process.

If, and only if, you’re not worried about privacy, make sure this option is checked off under your settings tab:

If you’re worried about your privacy, or family or friends finding your page, and in turn, blog, then make sure this box isn’t selected in your settings. This could recommend your page to people in your area or people who you share mutual friends with. So, if someone you know follows your page, but not everyone you know is aware of your blog, be careful with this function.

If you are running a small business, or any business for that matter, stick to business and keep your personal opinions out of it. I recently witnessed a cafe in Vancouver lose 10,000 followers in less than 24 hours after the owner got on his Instagram Story to proclaim that the government was ruining everyone’s futures so that fewer people would die and that we should risk the deaths of those that could catch it anyway to ensure that business can keep going as normal. This cafe is one that’s been on several TV shows (Diners Drive Ins and Dives, You gotta eat here and a couple of others) and had grown a rather large following online because of that. And he threw it all away when he started sharing his personal opinions. Whether someone agrees, or vehemently disagrees with your opinions, they don’t want these opinions from a business. No one followed his cafe on Instagram to get advice on economics, government or politics. They followed his business account to find out what soup of the day he was serving for take out. What baked treats he could deliver that day. A move like that could quite literally kill a business reputation.

Lastly, for lack of better conclusion, if you made it this far, follow me on Instagram! @MillennialMe88

36 thoughts on “The basics: Instagram 101

  1. Thanks V!
    I have avoided Instagram because I didn’t understand it. Everything I heard seemed weird. People uploading pics of their lunches, Hollywood characters.
    I do not take many pictures except for family, especially my grandchildren. For me that would be a no go to posting.
    So, I know that I am hearing nothing but myths. So, forgive me for not being educated with that part of social networking.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah, Instagram definitely has a catch-22 to it. I don’t personally post photos of family or friends that their faces are identifiable, so I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to post pictures of family/grandkids.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I am tempted to make my IG account private, but if I do, I won’t have the ability to add hashtags. I rely on hashtags for traffic, which is why I am concerned. To be honest, I stopped posting on IG because I would get ridiculed by my mom and aunt for posting stuff. If it was a private account, I would be able to post freely and share more content, but with that comes a cost. I miss Instagram! *sigh*

    Liked by 3 people

  3. “Be nice”, we would hope that goes without saying but there are some right assholes out there sometimes! This is a fantastic guide, V, really spot on and lots here I never knew before, like the 30 hashtag limit. I also hadn’t come across those blogger hashtags before either, the #BloggersUnder500 or #BloggersUnder1k ones – I assume the amounts there related to number of blog followers?) It feels rather revealing if that’s the case. I’ll use #BloggersUnder6million 😉 or #BloggersUnder6millionminus99percent.
    Very nicely done on this post, thanks for sharing your marvellous wisdom! How’re you doing today..? I really hope you’re hanging in there. Please take good care of yourself.  ♥ ♥
    Caz xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Definitely interesting to read! If you use Instagram with your real name and blog privately and followers from your blog can see Instagram can Instagram see your blog?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes and no.

      From an outside angle – if you’ve not ever posted your blog link anywhere on your Instagram page then Instagram has no way of knowing it and thus, it’s not just going to magically appear for people such as a brother or sister that might follow you on your Instagram account presently.

      That being said, if you are using a personal Instagram page and you share it with bloggers and their Instagram accounts are connected to their blogs, then if anyone you know is some sort of a super sleuth, they’re only one degree removed from your blog. Instagram will start suggesting they follow these bloggers too, and if any of the bloggers ever talks about your blog in your comments section, these are all clues that could possibly lead to/help someone find your blog that you might not have wanted to find your blog.

      So, if you’re going to share your personal Instagram account with fellow bloggers but do not wish to share your blog with fellow Instagrammers, be smart about it. Take precautiouary measures to ensure that your two worlds stay apart.

      OR… make an account dedicated to your blog if it’s something you’re worried about. Instagram does allow you to be logged into multiple accounts from one phone at one time and, it would fix any worries you have about people finding out about blogs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm. I’d share my pictures on instagram. But my family could recognise them. So if it’s a personal account it’s pointless, coz can’t share with bloggers. Unless can you do invite or something only?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You can create an instagram account specific to your blog in which, if you don’t give them your personal phone number or personal email address, there’s no way that it appears on suggested accounts for anyone that you know to follow.

        I have personally set up the email address for this blog and the emails I get sent. So, all I did was make my Intagram account for this blog using that email address. If no one in my personal life knows the email address, or the Instagram account exists, and I don’t connect my phone number to the account, then I will never appear as a suggested account to anyone in my personal circles.

        I also don’t post any photos of which my family or friends can be identified on Instagram because, well, they don’t ask for their photos to be posted online so I like to respect their privacy. If, for some reason, my mom or someone found my account, they probably could figure out that it was someone who lived near here, but I don’t think they’d ever be able to deduct that it was my account.

        I do have a personal instagram account that have my family and friends connected to it. Honestly, it got a little stale with everyone bragging about how great their lives are (when they’re not) so I haven’t really logged into it in at least ten months. I much prefer the Instagram account I made for this blog and the people I’ve met through it. Would I ever allow the accounts to cross? Probably not. I don’t say anything or share anything I think my family and friends would be angry or ashamed of. I just really like it not having any ties to family/friends.

        That being said, that’s a personal choice and not something everyone would opt for. You have to do what’s best for you!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks! That helps. And can it be that only followers can see your pictures? I actually don’t care about anyone except for one of my sisters. I don’t want her to ever find my blog because it’ll be so unhealthy. Maybe one day when she stops ever crossing my boundaries.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the thing that annoys me most about instagram is people either posting photos they didn’t take (e.g. magazine shots of products), or any sort of fabricated images – posters, etc. It was designed as a photo sharing platform that captured moments – not a billboard for marketers to pollute.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The marketer in me says that there is a way to do it right and a way to do it very wrong. I completely know what types of accounts you speak of when you say people post fabricated images or photos that aren’t there own. I can’t stand accounts that are just someone reposting images from tons of other accounts. I think that if you didn’t take the photo, or hire the photographer (I add this stipulation in because I used to hire photographers to take photos when I knew they could take better corporate images than I could) who took the photo, you don’t deserve the right to share it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No thank you for passing on knowledge for us to chew on. I’m currently working more on building the audience for my website. Problem is I can’t link my Instagram to wordpress like I can with twitter. So synchronized publishing isnt feasible 😭😭. The blogging hash tags, the technique on how to reach an audience on instagram; it’s all dope that you took the time to compile this gold for us. Thanks 😁. You gained a follower!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You should be able to insert a ‘Widget’ in your menu that runs down the right side of your blog. That will share your Instagram photos with your readers. I have this blog and another private blog, I’ve also used blogs for corporate purposes before and I’ve never crossed paths with a layout that didn’t allow for the instagram widget. Under ‘Design’ click ‘Customize’ and then click ‘Widget’. Instagram should be able to be imported!

        Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think I may have miscommunicated my hang up. I certainly have the option to add Instagram as a widget. But when I publish a new blog post it sync posts to my twitter automatically. Instagram wont allow that. The widgets are awesome. I’m embarrassed by my Instagram presence so I cant even entertain the widgets like you’re speaking of lol 😂. I have 3 followers on instagram lol

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ooooooooooooooh, yeah I get you now. Sorry! That’s where the 10,000 followers comes in handy. Once you reach the 10,000 followers threshhold then that’s possible.

        Liked by 1 person

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