12 Tips to Raise Your Instagram Game

12 Tips to Raise Your Instagram Game

Instagram and it’s ever changing algorithm can be a tough nut to crack. Here’s my 12 tips to help boost your Instagram profile and get noticed!

1. Engagement

Want to be noticed? Then notice other people. Search hashtags relevant to your interests, brand or niche and engage! I tend to ignore the top 9 posts and aim for the newly posted images. The idea behind is that the users will still be online after posting so they’ll be more likely to notice when you interact. Liking a photo from a user that has thousands of followers means more chance of the interactions being lost.

Here’s my top tip within a tip: Find a decent sized profile within your niche; lets say the Redbubble Instagram account if you’re an Illustrator/Designer. Naturally the people have interacted with and follow Redbubble, will have the same interest in you – art. This is where you can target people easier so take a look through the followers and likers of your chosen account and get interacting!



In relation to the first point, commenting is an important part of ‘true’ engagement; as long as you do it the correct way. Don’t leave a comment less than 4 words that says something like ‘cool!’, or ‘this post is awesome!’. Let’s be honest we’ve all seen it before, some of which would have come from bots, some from users trying to get noticed. It looks like spam and doesn’t look like you actually care. When people put photos on Instagram they want real interactions, real comments that relate to the photo so do this along with a like and follow, and you’re onto a winner.

3. Hashtags

Instagram allows 30 hashtags – use them. With Instagram’s algorithm, utilising your hashtags has become extremely important. Here’s the real tip – try not to use the most popular hashtags such as ‘instalike’ and ‘travel’. Why? Once you post your image, within seconds they get lost due of the amount of people posting under that hashtag.

The aim is to primarily use hashtags with a smaller amount of uses – say 4 million and under. This way your post will stay towards the top for longer and is more likely to get noticed. Makes sense right! Search hashtags related to your post and profile and notice the list of similar ones that appear. Pick hashtags that have around 400 000 – 4 million posts and then save them to a notes app on your phone. This will save a lot of time for future posts! It will take research and time to find the right ones, but you’ll soon find reward.

Once you have a bit of a following, check each hashtag you’ve used around half a day after posting. You may notice that your image is in the top 9 posts for that hashtag – congratulations! You know what that means – even more exposure. It may still take 100 – 200 likes for your post to be seen there, but it’s a huge difference compared to the thousands you’d need for the bigger hashtags. Test each hashtag you use and if one consistently doesn’t get you in the top 9 posts, then it’s time to change it out.

4. Optimal Post Times

There has been talk about optimal posting times not being as important anymore because of the way Instagram shows posts in your feed. But if you want go down this route, of which I still do and believe (slightly) in, then test, test, test! Posting will get you an idea of when your posts are more popular so try posting different times of the day over a week and see if you notice any spikes or flurries. If you want more specific results, Instagram has it’s own analytics tool if you use have a business account or there are other options such as Socialbakers that will give you ideal posting times.

My current tactic? I think about when people are more likely to use their phone. Maybe in the morning before work, lunch, 5-6pm when people are commuting, and late evening when people are settling down. I find the best time for me is lunch and 9pm. One thing to remember is the countries where your posts are more popular which could mean the ideal time to post is in the middle of the night! Instagram’s inbuilt analytics can help with this.

5. Scheduling

It’s important to be posting at least once a day to gain a consistent audience. Apps like BufferHootsuite and UNUM are great scheduling tools for Instagram. Unfortunately no legit tool can post fully automatically for you due to Instagram’s TOS, but you can schedule multiple posts, and receive a notification on your phone when it’s time to post. The app will ask you to copy your description, then open in Instagram ready to post. One tip is to spend an hour or so on a Sunday and schedule for the rest of the week if possible, saving you time over the course and so you don’t forget!

6. Quality

You open Instagram and what do you see? Images. So make them stand out. Take some time planning your photos if possible, use a good quality camera, and edit! There are plenty of filter apps out there including my favourite – VSCO, and of course Instagram’s own which has improved over time. Try not to go mad with the editing though, people like to relate to the image, so don’t take them away from it by making it look over done and fake.

7. Shoutouts

Shoutouts are the best way to advertise on Instagram, in my opinion better than the actual ad service Instagram provides. This is because of influencers, and this is who who need to be targeting. There are two ways to do this, one being paid influencers, the other being what I consider a mutual shoutout.

For paid, search a hashtag related to your own profile, find the most popular posts and check out their profiles. Ideally you want to find somebody somebody with 20 000+ followers to message, asking them how much they charge and how long they put your post up for. Popular times are 4/8/12 hours, sometimes permanent. I recommend emailing them if they have one available as these influencers will get sent DM messages a fair bit and you’ll want yours to stand out.

Similarly, use sites like Hype Factory where they allow connection between yourself and Instagram influencers so you can choose one right for you. One important point here is to find an influencer with good engagement. It’s possible these big profiles have thousands if not hundreds of thousands of followers because they use follow bots etc, which means your post will be seen by almost nobody!

Mutual shoutouts are where you will find somebody in a similar field, around the same level as you and ask them if you could could get a shoutout on their profile in exchange for you giving them one. As both profiles are similar, you could be reaching a different audience that has a genuine interest in your posts but doesn’t know it yet. This may not work well if you’re just starting off as it still needs the similar profile you want to swap shoutouts for to have a decent amount of followers to share to, but at least you won’t pay.

Try to warm up to these that you’ll be contacting, especially for mutual shoutouts, as you’re more likely to have luck if they notice you follow them and have interacted with their posts before.

8. Contests

How do you get somebody to notice you and stick around? Give them something! (Or at least the chance to). Find something you can give away that is relatable to your field and the field you want to promote to –  you want genuine interest. Running giveaways where you ask Instagram to follow/like and tag somebody in a comment can be a hugely successful way of boosting your follower account and engagement which in turn makes your post more visible across Instagram. Run a giveaway once or twice a month and your account will grow in no time. If you’re an artist, you could giveaway a print; it relates to you, can be cheap to produce, and will be of genuine interest to people who follow you.

9. Bio

Let’s start with the basics; your name. People may well search your name to find your account to follow, and it helps people look further in acknowledging the person behind the account, rather than just the account itself. Same goes for your hobbies and interests you should be listing in your bio; let people relate to you, get an idea about you and whether they should be following you. Tell them what you offer!

Use 1 or 2 certain hashtags in your bio to make your profile more visible. If you’re a Designer, using the hashtag #Design in your bio makes it easier for people to find you if they’re searching for design related media.

You have use of one clickable link on Instagram and it’s part of your bio so lead it to your website if you have one. Update the link depending on your latest posts to link to a certain place on your site. For example if you have posted about your latest blog post on Instagram, change the link in your bio to point straight to your latest blog post. In the description of your image post you can then say “check the link in my bio to see my latest post”, or words to that effect. It saves followers (and yourself) from typing out a long link, making them more likely to actually read your blog post straight from Instagram.

Finally, use a bit of creativity. Emojis are a fantastic way of splitting up sentences and remain visually appealing. Also, using line breaks to create a list (of hobbies/interests) is a great way to get to the point and make it easy for potential followers to read. Remember, you haven’t got long to grab people’s attention.

10. Tag Accounts

Have you tagged a friend in a photo before? Try tagging several larger accounts that are of similar interest and reposts and/or takes submissions. If they have thousands of followers and they post your submission on their profile, it’s a larger audience you wouldn’t normally reach, and could garner some profile engagement for yourself.

11. Captions

My biggest tip here is to ask a question in your caption, related to the image. Spark some discussion and make sure you get involved. The more comments you get, the more people are going to see the image and are likely to interact, so add your own opinion if you can and reply to others.

Personally I hide the hashtags in the caption by using a 5 dot line break, which means you have to click ‘more’ on the image to see them. This leaves a cleaner looking caption, so make the most of it!


12. Be Creative

With over 700 million users, you’ll have to think outside the box to get noticed on Instagram. Utilise videos, apps and Stories to gain attention and keep your audience entertained. With Stories being more popular than Snapchat now, there’s no better time to use this to bring people in. The ability to use stickers and filters along with features such as ‘Boomerang’ and ‘Rewind’ brings a new level of creativity and the options are endless!

Try not to go overboard on your actual posts though. They can end up looking messy, inconsistent and like you’re trying to hard, so keep the fancy features to Stories.

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Hello. I’m Liam, a Designer and Illustrator from Weymouth, Dorset. Let’s work together.