I've cracked the code to successful photo exposure on Instagram and I want to share my findings with you!
We all want to get likes on pictures that we're putting time and love into. It can be frustrating when you post a photo you adore but it only generates a handful of likes, then you see someone else post a so-so picture and get hundreds of likes. I mean, as much as we don't want to compare ourselves to others, we are human. And as superficial as it is, it feels good to have some social media validation in the form of likes and/or comments! That's the whole point right? To interact with others and make online friends. To put yourself out there, you don't have to have a humongous amount of followers, you just have to do it right!
To get a lot of likes on your Instagram photos it comes down to three key factors: time of day, number of hashtags, and popularity of hashtags.
the photo above. While it didn't get a HUGE amount of likes compared to accounts with tons of followers (I had about 1,700 followers at the time), it was a lot for me and had a 54% engagement rate. As of today, six days since posting the photo, it has 195 likes. Not only did it have a lot of likes, it was highlighted in the top posts section for seven of the tags I used.
In addition to having visually appealing photos, here's what helped me gain top hashtag placement:
1. Time of day. I've found that posting in the middle of the night gets me the most hits. Between 11pm and 3am is my sweet spot. So when I posted this picture at 11:30pm, it was already 3:30am on the east coast, 7:30am in London, and so on (I'm PST). That benefits me because while I'm sleeping, other parts of the world are waking up and checking their feed and I show up toward the top. Then when my local followers wake up I have a chance of showing up for them first as well. The middle of the day seems to be least successful for me.
2. Number of hashtags. Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags. Use all 30. I have a set that I use for every photo that I highly recommend. Keep your regulars in your notes app so you can copy and paste easily. These are my go-to lifestyle tags if you want to test them out yourself:
#ThatsDarling #DarlingMovement #LiveAuthentic #FindItLiveIt #LiveTheLittleThings #NothingIsOrdinary #FlashesOfDelight #PhotosInBetween #TheHappyNow #HowYouGlow #LiveColorfully #PersuePretty #TheBlogIssue #BloggerVibes #PostItForTheAestetic #ThePursuitOfJoyProject #VerilyMoments
If you're looking for tags specific to your photo, search for terms related to the topic and see what related hashtags pop up.
3. Don't target the most popular tags. This has been one of my biggest tricks. If you're using #happy you're competing with nearly 342 million other photos and yours will get lost. But when you're up against 12,000 pictures you have the ability to shine. That's not to say I don't ever use popular tags, but when I do, I try to make sure they're popular in the blogging or travel world, not the entire Instagram world.
For this particular Instagram photo, the hashtags that I had success with were:
#PostItForTheAestetic #Wandeleurspark #ThePursuitOfJoyProject #ThatColorProject #VerilyMoments #RSRoadtrip #McWayFalls (the last was the subject/location of the photo)
Below you can see my photos showed up in the top posts section for each of those hashtags (I left off #McWayFalls since it's not relevant to you). And take a look at the bottom left. That indicates the number of recent posts using that same tag. Most are in the low tens of thousands, not millions.
To get to the top posts section for a given hashtag, you have to get a lot of likes in a short amount of time. That signals popularity to Instagram - that you have quality content that others may want to see as well. Once you're photo is featured that means even more likes.
For the top posts above, my photo was sandwiched between pictures with hundreds of thousands of likes. And the users had incredible followings - 10K, 75K, I even saw one account with 448K followers! While that user has 103K followers and their last photo got nearly 3K likes, to be among those big accounts says you're just as relevant. You've achieved success by putting your work out in front of like-minded Instagrammers and found your photo niche(s)!
So remember, the three keys to Instagram success are time of day, number of hashtags, and hashtag popularity. Make sure you have bright, beautiful, eye-catching photos and that you are liking pictures within the same tags as well as reciprocating the love for those who like your photos.
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