There are many factors when it comes to posting on Instagram, and it can feel like you're playing a video game at times. Score high, and you gain more likes/comments/followers. Score low, and your post won’t be seen by anyone. Here are a couple tips that will boost your post organically.
It’s important to have a consistent posting schedule. It doesn’t have to be everyday, so long as whatever you decide, you remain consistent. I suggest setting the bar low at first. You can always ramp up your posting schedule, but setting the bar high, missing it, and posting less will hurt consistency and hurt your reach.
For me, starting Arizona Bites on Instagram, I knew I had limited bandwidth with freelancing and my day job. I decided to set a schedule and post once a week. In the past year, I’ve gained 2K followers, kept my engagement, and now post every 2-3 days.
Hashtags are the SEO of Instagram. You can have up to 30 in a post but I recommend using 12-20. There are a lot of generators online, but the best I’ve found is manually typing out the hashtags and you can see how many times they’ve been used.
Let’s say you have a post and you’re using 12 hashtags:
4 of them should be hashtags that have been used in the millions
4 should be relating to the post specifically or local hashtags
4 should be ones that have only been used 5,000 - 100,000 times
Instagram also hinders you if you use the same hashtags on every post. You can play with this using similar hashtags. For me, instead of #Foodphotography I may use #Foodiephoto or #Instafoodiepic. I would still recommend creating your own hashtag for your product/brand and use that on all your posts to keep your reach. However, I'd be wary of using the same group of hashtags on every post.
When you make a post on Instagram, either before or after your post, do an Instagram Story. It can be related to your post, added content, or something unrelated. I’ve found that when I post to Instagram Stories and also post to my feed, I get better engagement than if I don’t.
Engage when you post
When you post, scroll through your feed and don’t just like images, comment on them. Take advantage of the explore tab, and like and comment images there. Then also take a look at the hashtags on your post and like and comment those images.
Location location location
Always add a location in your post. This is another factor that will expand your reach. You’ll want to tag your image with what's pictured as well, but I would keep it pretty specific to the image you're posting about.
Other tips you may have heard of, but I don’t recommend…
Tagging multiple accounts (even if they’re unrelated to your photo) is another way your can boost your post. While I understand that this works short term, to be honest it feels like spam. I've been the person tagged in a bunch of random posts, and it's a bit annoying-especially when it's a post that has nothing to do with food. I would use this tactic with caution.
It also depends on how you want people to interact with your brand/product- if they think you’re just a bot and auto tagging, it may hinder you.
Many people will use different bots to auto-comment or when they do comment they’ll simply with an emoji or a “Great Post!”. I don’t recommend this, because again, you’ll be perceived as a bot or worse, you may auto post to an image that is inappropriate to you or your brand. And plus, you’ll probably not get the followers or engagement you’re looking for. When you comment, be authentic and relate it directly to the post like “Wow, what a great recipe, I love coconut!”
Sometimes real comments like this instead of auto commenting can lead to great relationships and can only help you and your brand. Wendy's Twitter is a perfect example of this.
Instagram pods are groups that will go and like and engage with other posts almost as if it were a hive. Instagram has recently cracked down on these groups as it violates their terms of service. I don’t recommend these because this isn’t going to lead to someone to buy your product or be a loyal follower of your brand. It’s just a short term fix to boost your post or profile.
In the end, it's about the relationships
For me, I want to be connected to a community, so tagging, auto commenting, and pods are of no interest to me. I understand I could easily pay-to-play to boost my followers/engagement but that misses the point of real relationships. Think about the relationship you want people to have with your brand/product/service when approaching the shadier tactics to boost your posts. There’s still a lot you can do using the tips and tricks I described without having to use a bot.
Andrea Abbott is a video producer by day, and by night she is a food blogger for Arizona Bites. The food blog explores flavors of the Sonoran desert across all social platforms. In addition to these two worlds, she also freelances in photography, videography, and video editing. She loves Kpop, playing Beat Saber, and binging Netflix shows with her husband and dog, Emma.