Instagram is a social networking powerhouse. Created in October of 2010, it’s become one of the most popular social networking companies today. If you haven’t started an Instagram account and you’re wanting to get serious about building your brand as a travel blogger (or any other kind of blogger), I’d suggest getting on it now. Not only will Instagram bring traffic to your blog, but businesses have been known scout Instagram users to offer opportunities and free stuff ! I know a couple travel bloggers that had media trip opportunities (aka your job is to take pictures and review all aspects of your trip) just because of their Instagram following.
My Instagram feed is a constant work in progress, but using these tips below has allowed me to grow my Instagram following a modest amount in the last 6 months.
1. Know your brand
I’ve had an Instagram account since 2010. Up until this year I really didn’t have a brand, vision, or niche for my Instagram account. I was posting anything and everything, and 90% of it was random. What’s my Instagram ‘brand?’ Well, travel of course. I use it as an outlet to display all our travel adventures! Followers can find pictures on Instagram that I don’t post on my blog. It’s an opportunity for followers to stay up-to-date with what’s going on and where we are instead of having to wait a month or two for the posts to publish.
I’ve been working hard on establishing my brand, and am considering deleting all the random photos that don’t exactly line up with that travel ‘niche.’ We’ll see how that goes.
2. Take captivating pictures
Yeah sure pictures of your shopping cart at Target or your brand new coffee table can be cool, but people (outside of your personal friends and stalkers) might not be interested in that. Find something that draws people in. Something different, something unique, something people haven’t seen a thousand pictures of already. As a travel blogger I strive to take pictures that inspire others to
get outside and go on their own adventures.
It’s ok to take ten thousand pictures of something and only choose one or two for Instagram. Use the best of the best. It’ll make people want to come back for more!
3. Go easy on the editing
It’s real life, make your photos look like it.
Also a past flaw of mine, over-editing can be a huge turnoff for potential followers. Who wants to ‘like’ photos that don’t even look real? Check out what the official Instagram account is featuring; it’ll help you get a sense of what people are looking for style-wise in an Instagram account.
My favorite photo-editing apps are: Afterlight, VSCOcam, and Snapseed. Go easy on the filters (or maybe just don’t use them), straighten your horizon lines, and make sure the photo exposure isn’t too bright or dark.
There are a lot of different opinions on hashtag usage. Some people find them annoying, others find them essential. I fall in the second category. I’ve been tagging my pictures since 2011, and have been featured on the official Instagram feed twice for my photos from South Korea. Tagging your photos gets you noticed. There are some accounts out there with a bazillion followers that are interested in photos you take tagged with a certain phrase. They then feature selected pictures from that tagged category on their site (hello tons of new Instagram traffic).
5. Post often
Just like blogging, to gain Instagram momentum, you need to post often. People can forget who you are and what you offer if you only post once a month. Posting 5-6 times a week seems to be what works best for me.
That being said, don’t post a thousand pictures at one time. This can be overwhelming for your followers, and maybe even annoying if you do it often. Space out your posts, using optimum user engagement times to get the best results. Most people check out their Instagram first thing in the morning as well as at night. Being on the opposite side of the world, it’s hard for me to figure out when the best time is for me to post photos. In Korea if I posted at 7am and 8pm I had the best success. Here in New Zealand? More like 11pm, 6am, and 12pm.
Just like any other social networking outlet, Instagram is constantly evolving. What started out as highly filtered, framed, personal shots has turned into established art and photography exhibits for the whole world to see. It’s exciting! Keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the Instagram world by checking out the Instagram Blog!
7. Interact with your followers
There’s nothing worse than leaving a really nice comment on someone’s Instagram post, and not get so much as a ‘Thank-you” back. When people invest in you, give it back!
On that note, please do not be one of those people who turns into a ‘follow4follow’ monster. No one likes comments of that sort on their feeds.
Instagram has amazing Weekend Hashtag projects for the whole world to participate in! It’s fun, challenging, and gives you something to do over the weekend. Thousands (if not millions) of people participate, so to get your picture featured is a feat in itself. I suppose 90% of the challenge is coming up with something no one else will think of!
There are so many other Instagram accounts that offer photography projects, it’s just a matter of searching for them and taking photos of what they’re looking for! Happy hunting. :)