Basics of Instagram: how to jump in to the flow and not sink in it?

Chapter I. How much is too much?

Of course you won’t find an all-in-one answers to this question here, but what was defined long ago is that the average number of posts should be 2-3 per day. This rate provides a sufficient amount of attention every post gets without overflowing the feed or being inactive.

Another question is – which days ensure the highest engagement. Different studies claim it to be Sunday and, surprisingly, Monday. Thursday is characterized by the highest frequency of posting, which can be explained by a very popular tag linked to this specific day – #throwbackthursday or simply #tbt, when thousands of users post their old photos.

Of course, Instagram as any other major social media is available 24/7, and considering different time zones and target audiences the perfect posting time may vary. You can learn which time produces engagement the most in your specific case with a statistic service, e.g. Iconosqure.

The last question of this chapter is “How long will it take them to response?”. Recent analytics study says that the majority of actions are made very quickly, almost 50% of comments are received in the first six hours, with additional 25% appearing in the next 48. Nonetheless this data does not apply to the posts with high performance, the most viral posts get 50% of interaction in more than 12 hours. This is another proof that long-lasting engagement is a quality of the most popular accounts.

Chapter II. What will get you the most?

Knowing the analytics is essential on Instagram. Regardless of the niche and the number of your followers, there are global trends that affect very user. You didn’t think that the only key to success here is half-naked body, did you? There are things much less apprehensible, although very influential, that can only be revealed by deep research.

Lightness. Light is obviously the essential aspect of the photography, and the statistical studies prove this: images with higher lightness get 24% more engagement than the underexposed ones. A simple trick here is to use Lux option as it allows adjusting both lightness and contrast.

Background. Instagram is now a home platform for many talented artists and artisans promoting their creations, but either you post and image of your handcrafted glass flower or a #selfie – pay attention to the background. Pictures with a plain background tend to get about 20% more likes.

Saturation. It’s very appealing, especially for a new user, to intensify a dominant color of a photo, but be careful and keep in mind that even a little oversaturation may result in quite a notable engagement loss: vibrant colors bring 18% less interactions.

Color. Some say all the colors are great, but they’re not equally perceived by followers. Blue turned out to be the most engaging, it attracts more views, likes and comments than even red which is considered very eye-catching. When it comes to Instagram, blue is the new black, remember this next time you take a photo.

Filters. The possibility to improve an image with a single tap was always an Instagram’s bargaining chip. Simply adding a bit of warmth or light can improve the photo significantly. But just as the colors, not all the filters are equally attractive. Ludwig and Mayfair, X-Pro II and Lo-Fi are among the most popular and they bring 10-22% more likes and comments than the other ones. Indicating the used filter in hashtags can be a good idea, although the tag #normal – just the hashtag, not such photos – is the most viral.

Chapter III. What gets you viral?

As it is a social medium, Instagram is all about sharing, interacting and promoting. No matter how good you are, without any visible activity or a portion of fame you’re not going anywhere. To get appreciated you have to be noticed first. Let’s take a look at what can make you stand out from the crowd.

Hashtags. This tool is the one and only way to explore Instagram with its own means. Enough has been said about this vital aspect of social media life, so there’s only one advise: always use them, but do it thoughtfully. Studies show that 11 is the best number of hashtags, while many users tend to think it’s 5, so try to fit in this frame. And don’t forget to keep it relevant.

Mentions. You can mention a user by posting a message containing their @username. The mentioned user gets a notification leading to the post. The engagement increases by 56% on average when a user is mentioned in the caption. As always on Instagram, overdoing it won’t do well. Spamming mentions may result in account ban, so be careful.

Location. Geo tagging can be very efficient in increasing the engagement. Many photographers who work in popular cities/locations drive enormous amount of followers from this feature. Also, a number of third-party applications allow to find users based on their location. Studies show that tagging a location results in almost 80% engagement growth.

Outside world. Don’t forget that you are not limited by Instagram’s built-in features. If you have a site or blog, or other social media pages, or just a bunch of real-life friends – use them! Cross-promotion is one of the best tools to go viral on Instagram. Online friends following your Instagram can bring more traffic to your site and vice-versa. You can even print stickers with your photos and  username and post them on real walls (no vandalism, fellow instagramers, keep it decent).

As a summary one thing must be said. Instagram gives many ways to generate content and make it viral, it’s only up to you what to chose. But always remember: on Instagram, less is often more, so no matter what you do, it must be thoughtful, consistent and not excessive.


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