Do blogs like this still need to be written? Do we still need to know what works on Instagram or not? This isn’t a blog for people who constantly DM me saying, “Post what you like! It’s your feed!” and I’m guessing if you’ve still clicked on this blog post after reading the title, you are still struggling to find your way on Instagram.
Every year it gets harder and harder to crack Instagram. The platform has become saturated, there are now over 1 billion monthly users with many of them trying to be seen and heard. Users are becoming cleverer with their content with endless videos of hacks, DIYs and tutorials. Which means that a photo of a velvet sofa that used to get over 10,000 likes is now competing with another “how to” post on panelling a wall.
Instagram has become quite a competitive place and with TikTok now threatening to steal its Social Media crown, how can you become an influencer in 2021 and make a living from it? Some of these steps might seem a bit obvious but I’ve delved in a little bit deeper to give you some more insight and make you think a little more about what content you are creating.
Even I learnt some new things whilst researching this post!
Instagram Content Strategy
OK, this sounds like it’s all getting a bit serious from the off, but bear with me. As you probably know, you can’t just post a photo or Reel and watch the new followers and likes come in, you have to know what you’re about because if you don’t know, how are your new potential followers going to know? Have you got something to sell? Do you love DIY? Is your passion fashion? The most important thing from the very beginning is to find a niche that you love and stick with it.
Once you’ve decided on your niche, check out the best posts of what other people are doing in your niche. When I first started out, I quickly realised that full room shots worked well and dark interiors were huge and inspiring. I also noted what hashtags the big accounts were using and added them to my caption.
It is more difficult than ever to get noticed on Instagram these days. Even I’ve noticed a huge downturn in likes and follows and this is because it has become completely saturated and nothing to do with the Instagram algorithm.
And maybe it’s just because there are a lot of other people creating better posts than myself!
If you are struggling to gain followers or have just started out on Instagram, you have to work that little bit harder to be seen and noticed. Try not to follow the crowd and be unique as possible with your content, Instagram will thank you for it.
Carrying on from content strategy is aesthetics and the two go hand in hand. When planning out your content, have a really good look at the aesthetics of your feed, it is absolutely key! People are busy and you’ve probably only got about 3 seconds to convince them when they look at your feed whether they want to follow you or not.
And finally, when it comes to aesthetics, think about the image itself! I still see so many wonky and blurry images on Instagram and the owner moaning that they’re not getting many likes or follows. Use the grid on your camera on your phone, make sure there’s enough light and use a photo editing app like VSCO or Lightroom to make the image sharp and not too saturated. I wrote about how to create stunning images for Instagram here.
This is the biggy! So many people fall into the trap of being disheartened when their posts aren’t doing very well and post less because they don’t see the point. Then, when they decide to give it another go and start posting again, their posts tank. Instagram loves consistency and followers have to be constantly reminded of who you are. If you’re only going to show up once a week and then literally disappear again, who’s going to remember you?
Decide on a schedule that suits you and stick to it. I treat Instagram like a job and I tend to take Wednesdays and Saturdays off which works for me. I like to keep my stories updated at all times, but some people say it’s good for your story views to not post for 24 hours now and then. The jury is out on that one!
Don’t give up when it seems that no one is seeing your posts, because more often that not, it’s you, not Instagram! As I said earlier, Instagram is now saturated and it is more difficult to be seen in people’s feeds. Maybe your feed has become a bit tired and dated? Perhaps you need to produce more video content or talk on stories?
I’ve realised lately that the people who seem to be doing well are producing regular Reels and IGTVs, so I know I need to up my game in that department. You have to keep up with what is popular and continue to feed the beast (that is Instagram )
Unfortunately, you have to be persistent. Becoming an influencer isn’t easy and you have to be willing to put the time in which can eventually be extremely rewarding.
Create engaging captions
Be engaging in your Captions. Give people something to talk about, or a call to action. Your beautiful photos have drawn people to your feed, it’s your captions that will keep people coming back.
Make sure you make the most of your first sentence to get people to stop scrolling and want to read more. Instagram shortens your caption after the first 2nd or 3rd line so it’s really important to get that first sentence drawing people in. Offer information, a how-to or anything that can help educate or inform your audience so that they share or save your post.
The most important thing about your caption is authenticity, be yourself! It is very difficult to keep a pretence up and be something you are not. Tell a story, but in your own voice. Sometimes I find it easier to write my caption away from Instagram so I am not distracted or bombarded with notifications whilst I’m trying to get my point across!
Which leads me onto hashtags! Hashtags are still as important now as they have ever been and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t listen to anyone who says “the rumour is hashtags are dead”. No, they’re not. There is no rumour and it’s just clickbait. Unless you are Kim Kardashian and can just post a picture of you drinking a cocktail on holiday with no hashtags and 2 million likes, you have to use them and all 30!
They are still one of the best ways to get discovered by new followers on Instagram.
Try and mix them up in every post and try to keep the hashtags with over 200,000 uses to a minimum. It is better to use hashtags that are smaller and more tailored towards your niche.
I have about 10 firm favourites that I use almost all the time and then I mix it up with other hashtags that are relevant. If you are stuck for ideas on what hashtags to use, find an image that is similar to yours and has done extremely well with likes and comments and see what hashtags they have used.
Get on board with new features and in particular, Reels. Instagram has put Reels at the forefront of the platform and are consistently pushing users to create, browse and share Reels. Reels has its own separate tab and takes centre stage in the navigation bar. I wrote a blog post on how to create a Reel here.
Instagram is trying to rival TikTok and instead of just seeing videos from people you follow; you can see Reels from all accounts. This means that when you create a new Reel, it has a serious potential of going viral and if it does, bring 1000s, if not 10,000s of new followers your way. A single static post will never be able to rival this.
Build a Community
Your audience is your community and they will be the ones that will keep coming back to comment and like your posts. Make sure that you are producing content that connects with your audience and adds value. Stay authentic and try not to become something you are not. I like to pop up in my images once in a while, but as the majority of my audience follow me for home inspiration, I can lose a few hundred followers by showing my face!
I have also been popping up in my stories more regularly recently and I find this helps with my story views. I think people like to see the person behind the account in stories as this is where the “real” stuff happens.
Interacting with people’s stories is a great way to build a community. Use all the interaction tools that Instagram has to offer like polls, question stickers and quizzes. You are probably more likely to answer a prompt than just send a message and how many times have you seen someone’s image at the top of your feed after you have spoken to them via stories?
Another very important thing when building your community is to connect with other Instagrammers and influencers. Building relationships with people online can have a really positive effect with your social media experience and overall growth as other Instagrammers are more likely to share your content and comment.
Keeping up with the Trends
This is something I struggle with on Instagram. I like my interior style and I don’t want to keep changing up (or glow up which now seems to be the buzz word) my home as I find it a little wasteful and unsustainable.
There are a lot of trends that you can get onboard with, without it costing the earth or having to get rid of perfectly good furniture. Upcycling, upholstering and painting your walls are a brilliant way to keep your house updated and these types of DIY’s are Reel material gold!
Wall panelling, Ikea hacks, boucle and garden renovations are all huge at the moment and if all else fails, get a pet! I joke. Kind of….
Use other platforms
Oh, I know! You’re trying to find your feet on Instagram and now I’m telling you to also create content for other platforms? It is quite easy to get social media fatigue, but this is where a content strategy comes in handy.
TikTok is huge and I am finding myself on it more and more these days. In fact, you can link your Instagram account directly in your TikTok bio and I have found quite a few new accounts recently by seeing their content on TikTok. Also, it’s fairly easy to integrate your content across the two channels. If you create a story or Reel for Instagram, pop it on TikTok!
Pinterest is also a massive traffic and referral driver. I probably get more messages from people saying they found my kitchen on Pinterest which led them to my Instagram account more than anything else. I cannot underestimate how important it is to get your content out to all platforms if you want to grow your account.
But, above all, you have to enjoy it!
Yep, it’s really that simple. How are you going to continuously create content, stories, videos and engage with other accounts if you find it all such a bore and time consuming?
I absolutely love interiors, decorating, designing rooms and renovating houses so creating content is something I thoroughly enjoy. I am extremely lucky to now do this full time and if you follow these steps, be consistent and put some effort into really curating your feed and bringing value to your audience, it can be extremely rewarding!