Back in July, I wrote a blog post about Instagram. I wrote it when I was just starting to use the iPhone photography app and six months later, I can say that I am still officially hooked on it. I still have the same two Instagram accounts. One of them is under my name and one is under my dog’s name. I will occasionally post photos of my dog, Raegan, in my account but her account is full of dog photos and items related to doggyhood.
Having the two accounts has been a pretty big learning experience for me. The photos in my account tend to be random. I post pictures of interesting things that I see. They might be pictures of perfume bottles, desserts or, most recently, unique holiday decorations. Raegan’s account, on the other hand, is a lot more consistent and niche-specific. It is pretty much all Raegan, all the time. Raegan seems to be pretty popular! When I post photos from my account, I usually also send the pictures to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Flickr. When I post photos from Raegan’s account, I just send the photos to Raegan’s Facebook fan page and her Twitter account. In reality, more people should be seeing my photos than Raegan’s because I have more Twitter followers than she does but you would not know that from looking at the engagement that we both receive on Instagram.
This brings me to the topic of today’s post and I would like to share with you some tips on Instagram that I have learned from my Labradoodle:
- The fastest way to build your following on Instagram is to create a niche. Choose a passion that you want to be the main focus of your photography. When I decide to follow people now, I usually look through their images first before clicking “Follow.” If someone seems to be all over the board I, most likely, will not follow the person. “Raegan’s” niche is that she is a dog. Dog-lovers or other dogs who have social media profiles are her followers.
- Use hashtags wisely. For Raegan’s account, I tend to use the following hashtags: #labradoodle, #dogs, #pets, #petstagram, #dogstagram, #instagram, #ilovemydog. Hashtags on Instagram work in the same way that they do on Twitter. They make the photo searchable by keyword.
- Do keyword searches in Instagram. See which words are commonly used with hashtags. Small differences in a word can make a big difference in whether or not your photos are found in searches. I just did a quick search for the words “dogs” vs. “dog.” There are currently 187,976 photos that have the “dogs” hashtag associated with them and 890,482 photos that have the “dog” hashtag associated with them. As far as numbers go, that is a huge difference. My guess is that the people who use the “dog” hashtag search for other people who use the same hashtag. Therefore, I would recommend using the more widely used hashtag and regularly putting out content (photos) with that tag.
- Connect your Instagram account to Twitter and post your images there, too. By doing this, you are putting out content, with searchable words, on a second platform. The benefits of this can be two-fold. First of all, you will gain followers on Twitter based upon your searchable words. Secondly, you will lead your Twitter followers to your Instagram account and they may decide to follow you there, as well.
- Interact with the people you follow. People (and dogs!) love receiving comments on their images. Be sure to engage, just as you would on any other social media platform. Remember that social media is meant to be social! If you see a photo that you like, click “like” and leave a comment. This will encourage others to do the same for you.
- Mention Twitter users if you want them to take note of your photography. If I am taking a cute picture of my dog eating breakfast (Yes, I do this often.), I might write, “@NaturalBalance, loving a healthy breakfast! #labradoodle #pets #dogs #instagram #petsagram” as my caption for the photo. Inevitably, Natural Balance will see that they are mentioned in the tweet. They will typically retweet me (or my dog, as it may be) and comment on the photo. THAT, my friends, is social media. I use a brand and like it. I promote the brand. The brand appreciates the promotion. They thank me. They retweet the photo. My dog gets a few new Twitter or Instagram followers in the process. Everything works in a full social circle.