Newbies guide to Instagram. PART 2 – Get more followers

So, for my previous blog post (here), I introduced Instagram, and the world of hashtagging. Have you caught the Instagram bug now? Are you hooked?
In this next part of the guide, I will explain how to get involved and then in turn, how to grow your network of followers and likes.

As Instagram is a social network, you’ll probably want to expand that network. You’re sharing your photos, so you must want them to be seen, and to be liked? It’s best to do this in a way that connects you with like minded people. You could go round following everyone and anyone…. but the problem is, you’ll end up with a feed full of photos that don’t interest you and followers that won’t appreciate your photographs.

1. Quality, not quantity! Post good, interesting and beautiful photos.

When I first entered the world of Instagram, I initially anticipated that it would just be a place to share my photos with friends and family. My first few photos were more like a photo blog – very much point and shoot… Photos of my cat, dinner…nights out. Then as I got more involved I realised that people didn’t really care too much for my chicken salad, empty chocolate bar wrapper or me and my mates dancing around in a pub!
I realised that on Instagram people like to see interesting, beautiful and carefully composed photos.

If you’re unsure what makes a ‘good’ photo then a quick browse of the ‘popular page’ will give you a reasonable idea. To view the popular page, simply click on the ‘explore’ button (the compass icon) and the gallery will appear. Hit the refresh button to see more photos. You’ll probably find there’s lots of landscapes, sunsets, cute animals and pretty ladies…. Many of the photos that make it onto the popular page, belong to Instagrammers who have a massive following base (i.e. in excess of 100,000 followers)!

You also need to be careful about the amount of photos you share in one go.

First, be selective and only pick your best shots. If you upload too many, they may get missed by your followers, or people will be annoyed that you’re flooding their feed. If you have a lot of photos from one shoot, it’s more sensible to stagger when you upload them. Create a ‘series’, and break them into batches, uploading 5 or 6 at a time. If you include some info with the caption explaining that they are part of a series, and there will be more from this shoot to follow, this will entice followers back for more!

I try to add something new to Instagram every day or at least every couple of days, although this is not always possible. This keeps your feed fresh and your followers interested.

2. ‘Real life’ friends and family

The first place to begin, is with following your own friends and family, who are already using Instagram. After all, they’ll be more likely to be  interested in what you post (and like wise you’ll probably be interested in their feed too).
Thankfully Instagram makes this easy to do – if you missed it at the initial set up process you can add people via your profile settings. Click on the profile settings button (the 3 ‘dot’s button, shown left) and the first menu option is ‘find friends’.

You then have several options available. You can find friends from your contact list, Facebook or from Twitter. Instagram notifies you when a new Facebook or Twitter friends joins, but it is worth checking back here every so often, just in case you missed someone.

Whilst you’re adding your friends and family, don’t forget to check to see who they follow as there’s bound to be people you know, or who interest you, amongst them.

Instagram also offers a ‘suggested users’ options. This is a list of approx 70 Instagrammers, selected by the Instagram team. They are generally included on the list for several reasons, including the quality of their content and because they are good ambassadors for Instagram.
If you wish to know more about the ‘Suggested Users’ list, there is a brilliant post by Misho Baranovic here – who explains it far better than I ever could.

3. Using hashtags or geotags to find people to follow.

I have found that the Instagrammers that interest me the most, are the ones that live in my area. There are a few ways to find people that are local to you. You can search using hashtags (see my previous blog post if you are not familiar with hashtags) or alternatively you can use geotags.

What are geotags?

Well, straight from Instagram themselves:

When you take a photo while connected via Wi-Fi or 3G, your device logs the coordinates where the photo was taken. If you want to share that location information, you can do so in the Instagram application. It’s an easy way to add context to photos, document travels, and see pictures other Instagrammers took nearby. (source: How location works on Instagram)

There is not currently a way to search the geotags, but the best way to browse geotagged photos is by geotagging your own photos. Once on Instagram you can then just click on the location above the photo, and you’ll be able to browse all photos taken at that place.

You can of course click on the geotags of other Instagrammers photos too!

Hashtags

Think about the area you live in and then use place names or locations as search criteria for hashtags. If you live in a small town or village you will probably only find a few photos tagged with that location. Try expanding the area to the borough/district/county. Also think about surrounding towns/village/cities. You can of course then widen your area to your Country! It’s interesting to see the photos taken by others in your area – I’ve even taken a photo on one end of a beach, whilst coincidentally one of my followers was on the other side of the beach. It’s only when I uploaded the photo that afternoon that we realised we’d both been there at the same time!

Likewise, you can use hashtags to find people with similar interest to you. Perhaps you are a cat lover – search using #cats #kittens or #catofinstagram. If cute fluffy felines aren’t your thing, then perhaps the type of photography you do, could be a gateway to finding like minded instagrammers ….#macro #longexposure #portraits #landscapes #candid …… the options are endless and very personal! Think about what floats your boat and type it into that hashtag search!

4. Get active, get invovled. Share the love!

For me, as well as posting good quality images, being active on Instagram has been the one element that has increased my follower numbers significantly. Unless you’re a celebrity you can’t just upload your photos, hashtag them and then get an influx of followers and likes. You need to be active on Instagram. It’s hard work, and it takes dedication (and an element of addiction in my case)!
When I have time away from Instagram (apart from the withdrawal symptoms), I notice a signifcant drop in the amount of likes and followers I receive.

Selective following

Initially it felt polite to follow everyone, that followed me. I kept this up for quite a while, until I realised that I wasn’t enjoying browsing through my feed because it was full of rubbish, boring and uninspiring photos. There are certain types of photos I don’t like (self portrait mirror shots, fashion, quotes, internet reposts, memes, shoutouts, boy bands etc). Now, before I follow anyone, I carefully ‘vet’ their feed. If their gallery contains a significant amount of the photos I don’t like, then unfortunately I won’t be following them back.

I’ve now got it so that my feed is 99% full of good quality, interesting photos.

Like generously

First and foremost, take an interest in your existing follower base. Regularly check your feed.
Assuming that you don’t just click follow on everyone randomly, then you’ll be following them for a reason. Like their photos. If they’re a new follower, go back and browse through their gallery – learn more about them, get inspiration – check out their style.

If I spot that someone has been through my gallery liking lots of my photos, then it draws my attention to them. I will then go and browse through their gallery, returning the favour (assuming I like what I see)! This is the ‘networking’ part of the social network!

It’s good to talk!

Comment! if you think a photo is good – then don’t be afraid to say so. Instagrammers like feedback on their photos. I appreciate all the comments I get and do my best to reply to every comment made. Don’t forget when replying to an instagram user that you will need to tag their username (using the @ symbol followed by their username), otherwise they will not see your response…that can lead to a lonely conversation!

Furthermore, if someone comments on my photo it makes me intrigued to know more about them and I generally go to their feed to have a browse. If I like what I see I’ll like their photos, comment and follow them. I think this works the same for most people on Instagram.

Hashtag baiting!

I’ve found a strategic bait to entice people to look at my photos! When I post a photo I always hashtag it. Soon after posting it, I will then select a few of the hashtags I’ve included on that photo, to browse other photos under that hashtag.

For example, if I posted a photo of a donkey (which I have done on my Instagram!), I’d click on the #donkey and spend a few minutes liking other users photos of donkeys. Firstly this is a good way to find interesting and like minded instagrammers, but the added bonus is that it generally entices people to then come and visit my feed.

Instagram Contests

There are endless amount of Instagram contests. The prize is generally having your photo featured on the feed – although some do offer real prizes.

Being selected as the winner not only gives you a moment of glory but it gives your feed exposure. This in turn, can mean more likes and more followers.

Entering the contests usually involve following the Instagrammer that is running the contest, and then adding a hashtag to your photo. Sometimes their is a theme or criteria, others just pick their favourite photo. The majority are run on a daily basis.

These contests are also a great way to get inspiration and to find great instagrammers to follow.

Some of the Instagram contests I am aware of are:

#natureonly follow @natureonly

#gmy follow @gmy_pod

#pixoftheday follow @pixoftheday

#npfpictures follow @npfpictures

#photofeed follow @photofeed

#most_deserving follow @most_deserving

#photowall follow @photowall

#macro_eg follow @macro_eg

#irox_skyline follow @irox_skyline

#uk_photooftheday follow @uk_photooftheday

#instasunsets follow @instasunsets

#nightscapephotography follow @nightscapephotography

#instanaturelovers follow @instanaturelovers

#skypainters follow @skypainters

#instasunsets follow @instasunsets

#insta_trees follow @insta_trees

#insta_land follow @insta_land

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** FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM**: @kistokim

If you don’t have Instagram you can view my gallery online at: http://statigr.am/kistokim

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