Welcome To Instagram!
When I was a kid # was a pound sign, a number sign, or the beginning of a rousing game of tic-tac-toe. In my music lessons, it became a sharp! Nowadays, it’s hashtag, and for anyone who wants to gain any kind of following on social media it’s an amazing tool, especially if the specific social media account your looking to build is on Instagram.
On Instagram, people don’t find your posts via sharing, in fact, sharing posts (or reposting) is kind of hard. It takes a third party app to repost someone’s work and give them credit for the post. Instead, people find posts on Instagram by searching and following relevant hashtags.
So how do you pick your hashtags?
First, pick something relevant and specific. Continuing with the example of a charity set up to improve children’s literacy, let’s search for the hashtag #childrensbooks.
Yikes, this is a popular hashtag. It’s been used 978,529 times. This means we can’t use it right? Our new account will drown in a sea of children’s book related posts and no one will discover us! We’ll die in instagram obscurity and all the time we spent setting up this darn social media account will be wasted! This is the advice you’ll see from a lot of instagrammers, but let’s calm down and do a bit more research first. When we click on this tag, it will take us to a page where we can toggle between the most recent and the most popular posts using this hashtag, our goal is to get featured on the top page.
Let’s click on that first post and see how many likes it has.
6 likes, that’s not too overwhelming. Let’s click on a few more top posts and see if they are all in that vicinity.
Alright, so 5 likes in less than half an hour, 1,030 likes in 24 hours, and 11 likes in 13 hours. Three out of four of these posts have less than 20 likes, this means that this is a great hashtag to use if you want to be discovered. A hashtag that is heavily used, but features only mildly popular posts is perfect. The key is to watch how your posts are doing and keep up with hashtags that match you. Think of it like high school dating: you want to go after the best you can while staying in your league. OK, that’s a horrible analogy, but hopefully it drives home the point. The goal is to move into bigger and bigger hashtags as your following grows.
How many hashtags should you use? This is where instagram becomes more of an art than a science. Some people say they see the best results when they use the max number of hashtags (30) others recommend between seven and nine. We recommend trying out both strategies and seeing what works best with your targeted audience. What is universally discouraged is using a third party app to put more than thirty hashtags on any given post. It’s spammy and could get your posts flagged, therefore reducing their performance in relation to instagram’s algorithm.
Change up your hashtags, if you copy and paste the same set of hashtags into every post, the Instagram algorithm might see it as spam and reduce how many people are directed to it. Hashtag research can be time consuming, but having several lists of hashtags ready for switching out will help.
Create your own branded hashtag Starting a hashtag is a great way to get others involved in your cause. Remember the #icebucketchallenge? So do we, and we’re certain the branded hashtags helped it to become one of the most successful charity fundraisers ever.
So, now that you understand hashtags, what about stories?
Stories are Instagram’s answer to Snapchat, if you are unfamiliar with Snapchat, it is the most popular social media site with genz and involves posts that disappear within 24 hours of posting, similarly, Instagram stories are temporary. They give a real time feel and because they won’t show up on your profile they give you a bit more freedom. For example, if you’ve themed all your work with the color yellow, you don’t have to use yellow in your story. Stories also have filters that make for fun editing. You can add text, emoji’s, and tags right from the instagram app. So, let’s walk through creating a story.
Step 1: Either swipe left, or click the new story button in the top left corner of the homepage, (hint) it looks like a camera.
Step 2: Let’s say you want to add a quick video story, simply click and hold the circle at the bottom middle of your screen to make your video. Stories will allow you to make videos that are 15 seconds or less. When the orange line completes the circle your time is up.
There are a lot of different modes you can use.The above example is the normal one but you can also use, Type:located on the far left and can include simple text, a few stickers, and some hashtags. This is great for a quick message that doesn’t take all day to craft. Live, when you create a live video Instagram will send a notification to the followers it decides will be interested. Superzoom does a quick zoom, apparently it’s supposed to be really funny. Rewind plays videos backward, hands free allows you to video something without holding down the video button, and boomerang plays your video backwards and then forwards which can create a fun special effect. To add filters to your videos click the icon that looks like a smiley face with three little stars popping out of its head. As you can see, stories could take up a ton of your time just because it’s fun to play with.
Step 3: If you want to use photos instead of video for your story, simply swipe up or down (depending on your phone) and Instagram will show you a gallery of your most recently taken pictures. From there, proceed as you would with a post (except for the filters if you want to use them).
So now that you understand how to post and add stories to your Instagram account all you have to do is build your following. We’ll finish up this series with a post on exactly that, but if you’re one who doesn’t like to wait, I’ll leave you with an old (for the internet age) adage. Always remember that content is king. SEE YOU ON THE FLIP SIDE! I bet you can’t wait for the next session!