Whatever you think of social media, there’s no denying the fact that Instagram has plenty of amazing benefits. After all, if you have a strong Instagram presence, you’ll boost your chances of getting noticed in your chosen field, you’ll find and connect other people of similar interests, and you’ll be able to curate and project a positive impression of your life into the world.
But if you’re always posting to your ‘gram and not quite getting the response you’d like—or struggling to get some new followers—don’t worry. Follow these simple, expert-backed tips and you’ll take your Insta to a whole new level. And for some great tips for looking amazing in your photos, check out the 20 Secrets of Ageless Celebrities.
Use natural light whenever you can
In the world of photography—even amateur photography involving your telephone—lighting is the biggest make-or-break factor for the quality of your photos. “Try to shoot during the daytime if you can,” suggests Benjamin Setiawan, food and travel writer, and founder of Hungry Editor, which has a following of 19,700 on Instagram. “If it’s really dark, ask to borrow a friend’s phone and use their flashlight app to help brighten up the scene. It may seem like a bit much, but you’ll get way better photos—especially when it comes to food photos.” And to ensure you’re looking your very best, here are 70 genius tricks to boost your confidence.
Complete your bio
And don’t be all cryptic about it! You’d be amazed how many people leave the bio field on Instagram unfilled. Followers want to feel like you’re real, so describe in detail who you are, and link out to your other accounts, as well, so people can learn more about you. And for more great life advice, know the personality traits that will extend your life.
Own your niche
While Instagram is supposed to be a snapshot of your life, it helps to let followers know what you’re most passionate about. If you love food, or fitness, or photography, or art, try to adhere to one particular theme, Instagram influencer Courtney Dasher told The Huffington Post.
Yes, use more hashtags
Especially now that people can actually follow hashtags, they’re more crucial than ever for reaching new potential followers. And if you don’t want to clutter your caption with tons of lame-looking hashtags, do this expert trick: use dots to push your hashtags down and out of view. And if you’re tired of taking photos with your phone, here are 10 amazing, next-level cameras.
Keep your hashtags relevant
“I don’t believe in using too many hashtags as it gives an impression that you are desperate for likes,” Samantha Lee, Instagram influencer, told The Huffington Post. Tags should be relevant to what you’re posting. Also, avoid well-known punchlines, such as “#blessed.” (One exception: You’re using them ironically.)
Use the grid feature
When you’re in the camera app, make sure the grid feature is on. “This will help you line up your photos and center your subject, so things aren’t crooked and have to be edited later,” says Lleva Goldney, who has a following of 21,000 on Instagram.
Yes, it’s a technique straight from Kim Kardashian West, who started adding white borders to her photos sometime in 2014. Say what you will about Kim K, but adding a border will make your photos seem instantly more elegant and artsy. Fun fact: It’s a technique first popularized by professional photogs.
Develop a routine
“If you’re going to be daily, you have to post daily,” Dasher told The Huffington Post. “Your audience will expect that rhythm.” And to make sure you’re always looking your best in your photos, know the 65 tips for your best sleep ever.
If something works, keep doing it
If your dog photos get more likes than your food photos, do more of the former. “Be sure what your posting resonates with the people following your account,”serial entrepreneur and social media consultant Ruben Chavez told Entrepreneur. Oh, and speaking of great photos: If you want something guaranteed to get some likes, Meet the “World’s Most Instagrammable” City.
Use outside-app filters
Instagram’s built-in filters are fine, but you can actually do better at enhancing your photos by downloading other apps. “I like to keep my photos as close to the original photos as possible,” explains says influencer and blogger Daena Lleva Goldney. “You have to try out filters and eye-ball it to see if it fits the theme you have in your page. I use apps like VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom to adjust brightness, saturation, and temperature of my photos.”
Specifically: use the A6 filter on VSCO
“Everything I post I really try to keep organic, and unlike other users, I post in real time,” says Goldney. “I don’t like to go crazy with filters because some can give photos a totally different look. I like my photos to be as close to the original as possible.”
Be vulnerable and honest
Don’t be afraid to let your followers know you’re a real person. “My best posts are when I’m raw and really connect with my followers on things that aren’t just photos of my Nike’s or food,” says Alex Silver Fagan, fitness trainer in New York City who has a following of 83,000 on Instagram.
Post embarrassing photos
Embrace the blooper! “With social media being one big ‘highlight reel’ of most people lives, it’s refreshing and admirable to see individuals embrace the perfectly imperfect sides of real life,” says blogger Megan Young, who has following of 60,900 on Instagram. “We all love seeing a perfectly staged açaí bowl on a marble slab, but sometimes seeing a picture of a spilt smoothie or when a model shares an outtake and one eye is caught in between a blink, that makes me happier and gets the best response.”
Again, it’s all about being true to yourself in your posts. “It makes for way less work because there is no pretense or farce to keep up,” says Rachael Yerkes, food and travel blogger with a following of 24,200 on Instagram.
Try to be consistent
Consistency is key with most things in life, right? The same goes for the world of Instagram. Chavez says that it’s good to figure out a posting frequency that works well for you and stick to it.
Make it about your followers as much as possible
“Whatever you post should add value to your followers, whether that’s entertainment, education, humor, beauty, or food for thought,” says Yerkes. “If you provide value, they will keep coming back for more.”
Connect with your followers
Remember: Instagram is a two-way street. If you scratch someone else’s back—whether it’s a like, a follow, or a thoughtful comment—expect them to return the favor. “And respond to comments and DMs,” advises Silver Fagan.
Create a network
To grow your audience, engage with people who represent the audience you want, suggests Yerkes. “For example, find someone in your field and start engaging with the people who follow them,” she says. “Comment on their stuff so you can get on their radar.”
Don’t be boring!
“The worst thing for me is to look at my own feed and be bored,” Pei Ketron, an Instagram influencer, told The Huffington Post. “I know what type of photo is going to get more likes, but I still do my best to make posts that I want to see and share. I like symmetry, I like lines, I like buildings. But it’s not like I don’t shoot landscapes or portraits as well.”
If you can be funny, be funny
Consider anything that will brighten someone’s day permanently green-lit for posting. “With everything going on in the world right now, everyone can use a bit more laughter,” says Aly Teich, founder of The Sweat Life, which has a following of 71,300 on Instagram.
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