In the age of social media, everybody can choose a social platform to their taste. But there’s no denying that Instagram is by far one of the most popular platforms out there. Out of over a billion monthly active users, half a million are influencers. So no wonder that more and more people want to know how to get successful on Instagram.
Social media trends are fickle, so there is no universal recipe for success. However, there are certain guidelines that can make your way to the top much easier.
How to build a successful Instagram account
1. Find your niche
First of all, you have to understand that your success on Instagram heavily depends on the niche you choose and your positioning. A few years earlier people could get a decent following with relative ease no matter what they were posting about. Today, you’ll have to face massive competition and put in much more hard work to get to the top.
This doesn’t just mean that you have to do your best to stand out. It goes without saying that originality and unique style are a must. This also means that you have to be very passionate about whichever niche you choose. Otherwise, you’ll likely give up as soon as you face your first major challenges.
It’s extremely important to make a rational assessment of your capabilities and understand if you can get people interested.
2. Study your competition
In fact, they don’t necessarily have to be your direct competitors. They might be just people who’ve been working in a similar niche for a while and gained some good results. The idea is to get a full picture of how much effort you’ll need to invest to build your presence on the platform.
You’d be surprised what treasure trove of information you can find just by doing a little research. Look at what, how, and when they post. How they interact with their audience. What kinds of formats they use. How people react to their content. Even small research might inspire a myriad of ideas and help shape a clear plan.
3. Define your target audience
Now you need to know who exactly you are going to talk to. Naturally, you’d want to attract the attention of as many platform users as possible. Alas, you can’t produce quality content that will appeal to any demographic in existence. This is exactly why you have to understand who are the people that will be interested in what you have to say. Where do they live? What do they enjoy? What are their age and gender?
You also have to keep in mind the specifics of the platform’s demographics. For example, that the majority of Instagram users are younger than 40 and live in urban areas. So roughly speaking, if your target audience is elderly people living in rural areas, Instagram might not be the right platform for you.
4. Just start
If you take this seriously, you’ll probably have lots of doubts. Making the first step isn’t easy; there might be just too much to take into account. But don’t let your hesitance get the better of you. Sometimes, you just have to start and see how it goes.
The best time to start is now. After all, it’s better to go for it and make mistakes than live regretting you didn’t make that important step.
5. Let them know who you are
So now you are a happy owner of an Instagram profile. What’s next? Next, you optimize it so everybody who opens it gets a clear idea about who you are and what your profile is about. First of all, choose a good profile picture. Whether it’s a photo or a logo, make sure it catches the eye. Then, fill in your profile bio: use a few short sentences to introduce yourself and what you do. Add a link to other social media profiles/your website/your contacts.
Remember that your profile picture and bio are the first things people will see so treat this step seriously. The absence of an avatar or any information about the profile owner is very likely to drive potential followers away.
6. Have a clear plan
Some spontaneity and improvisation might be nice but when it comes to building a successful Instagram profile, you need a strong and clear strategy. Think of what kind of categories you’d like to divide your general theme into. What kind of topics do you want to cover? Make sure your content is well-organized and properly structured. For example, decide on specific days to post on certain subjects.
A clear content strategy will help you make sure that you always know what to post about. Delivering the content your followers expect from you exactly when they expect it helps to build a trusting relationship with your audience.
7. Think of your own visual style
Instagram was and will probably always be about visuals first of all. No matter what critics say about style over substance being the main Instagram’s schtick, having a definitive personal style is still important.
If you spent some time looking through Instagram profiles, you probably noticed that many Instagrammers choose a specific style of photo retouching or specific color scheme or a certain specific layout for the posts on their feed. If necessary, use Instagram’s own photo filters. Or, alternatively, use photo editors like VSCO, Lightroom, or Canva.
8. Don’t forget about written content
Yes, visuals are king but it doesn’t mean that you should forget about some engaging writing. They come for the visuals but stay for some great words. Even if you aren’t particularly good at writing, it’s a great time to start. The more you do it, the better you get.
Use your knowledge, your wit, your sense of humor. Talk to your followers like real human beings so they can feel you are more than just a bunch of pixels on their screens. On the platform so overly saturated by visual content, your words might be a breath of fresh air.
9. Find potential followers on other platforms
Thinking of how to build an audience? Look for potential followers on other social media. You probably have profiles on other social platforms. Don’t miss a chance to tell them about your Instagram profile. Chances are they’ll gladly follow you to see something they can’t see anywhere else.
10. Be relatable
People always like to see the real people behind social media profiles. They need to know that you are a person just like them, with your joys and sorrows, mistakes and accomplishments. Share some information about your everyday life with your audience, whether it’s through photos, videos, or Stories. When they see they can relate to you, they’ll be more interested in your content and be there for all of your profile updates.
11. Be useful
Pretty photos and philosophical quotes are nice but there is so much of this content people are fed up with it. Make sure the content you publish is actually useful to the people who see it.
There must be something you are particularly good at. You might be good at designing home decor, knitting, dancing, parenting. Whatever it is, share your knowledge and experience with others. Let your followers feel like they aren’t just aimlessly killing time when browsing your feed.
12. Make them smile
It seems like a good sense of humor is a must for anyone who hopes to be successful on the platform. What can you do? People like those who make them smile. No, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a clown and turn your feed into a collection of jokes. But a funny story or a meme here and there definitely won’t hurt.
13. Don’t buy fake followers
There’s no denying that a hefty number of followers does make you feel good about yourself. Besides, it might make others see that your profile is already quite popular and worth following. But fake followers are just that, fake. By getting fake followers, you are tying your profile up to a huge rock that will sooner or later drag it down.
And it’s not just about the fact that these fake accounts make your engagement rate drop dramatically. They are also extremely easy to identify. For example, a quick profile check on trendHERO will reveal all the warning signs of inauthentic activity on your profile. From a low engagement rate to low audience authenticity to large numbers of suspicious profiles and mass followers in your audience.
Besides, Instagram will sooner or later remove all the fake accounts from the platform. In this case, you will either go back to the numbers you had or, in the worst case, get banned.
14. Buy ads
Yes, it’s completely possible to start an Instagram profile without investing any money. But it’s likely that at some point, you’ll still need occasional help from the platform’s native advertising tool to promote your content. People have to learn about you and you should help them do that.
As an option, you can advertise with other Instagram users – bloggers, influencers, groups. But select Instagrammers to partner with carefully. Of course, they should work in similar niches, have a decent following, and more importantly, have authentic audiences. Run a trendHERO profile check to make sure they suit your purposes.
Speaking of which, you can also use trendHERO to find the bloggers you need. By using the Discovery feature with its advanced search options you’ll select the users that fit your promotion goals.
And before you start investing money in your profile, switch to a Business profile.
15. Make good use of other methods of promotion
Apart from targeted ads and advertising with bloggers, there are multiple other methods of promotion. It’s important to choose those that work for you personally. One of such methods, for example, is shoutouts. Give other Instagrammers shoutouts and get ones in return. It’s a nice way to make yourself visible to a wider audience.
Another option is contests and giveaways. They usually attract a lot of new followers but they don’t work for everybody. First of all, because the majority of followers you gain during a giveaway unfollow you as soon as it’s over. Secondly, because events like this attract a lot of bots. So using this method as the principal way of building an audience might not be the best idea.
16. Collaborate with bloggers
Collaborations are huge on Instagram. Do some networking: talk to other Instagrammers, show interest in their content, do some projects together, or do guest posts. Anything that can help more people learn about you and give them a chance to like you and your content.
If being successful on this platform is your goal, leave your comfort zone and start getting to know people.
17. Collaborate with brands
Partnering with brands might be just as useful. Use all methods available to get in contact with brands, communicate with them, and collaborate with them. This is not to say that you should start nagging every brand within view to start a paid partnership with you. Establishing a trusting relationship first might be a wiser option.
But before you decide to do that, make a sober assessment of your profile and its performance. Make sure that you have something valuable to offer: a highly engaged audience, an attractive profile, creative ideas, etc.
18. Post consistently
There is no need to run yourself into the ground by following a crazy schedule and doing your best to post several times a day no matter what. Contrary to what many say, your post frequency isn’t as important as consistency. Some might update their profiles on a daily basis and others a couple of times a week. The main thing is to find the optimal posting schedule for you and adhere to it. Your followers must know that they can expect updates on certain days or at certain times. By posting randomly, you undermine their trust and make them lose interest.
19. Use the right hashtags
Hashtags increase your profile visibility. In other words, that’s how other users can easily find you. The platform limits the number of hashtags you can use with a single publication to 30. However, this doesn’t mean that you should use all 30 hashtags every time you post something.
Keep in mind that high-density hashtags aren’t always the best to use. Highly popular hashtags mean heavy competition. Find hashtags with no more than a million and no less than 10 000 posts under them. There’s one important thing to remember though: each of the hashtags you use must be relevant to the publication you use it with.
20. Tell Stories
Over 500 million Instagrammers watch Stories daily. Stories are probably the most popular feature on the platform today. This means that disregarding the power of Stories might be a missed opportunity.
After all, your Stories are visible even to those who don’t (yet) follow you, in case you use geotags and hashtags in them. And you can tag other people in Stories too which is a great way to establish connections and give your profile a boost.
21. Interact with your audience
Never forget that your audience and its engagement is the main key to your success on Instagram. Talk to your followers, not at them. Answer their questions and comments, interact with their content. Do regular Q&As share their posts and Stories. In short, show that you are genuinely interested in their opinions and ideas and that you appreciate them.
Creativity is always great and Instagram is definitely an amazing channel for showing just how creative you can be. But this doesn’t mean that you should distance yourself from mundane matters like profile analytics.
Add your profile to Tracking on trendHERO to be able to monitor your progress. It will give you a detailed picture of how people respond to your actions on the platform.
Moreover, there’s nothing wrong with directly asking your followers about their opinions on your activity on the platform and what they want to see in your feed. A successful Instagram profile is a perfect combination of your self-expression and your followers’ interests.
23. Never stop
Making the first step might be hard but going on no matter what might prove to be an even harder task. After all, it means that you have to constantly overcome obstacles and challenges, and look for new ways. It takes time, motivation, a tremendous amount of effort, and often money.
More importantly, you have to move on even if you think you got what you wanted. Remember that while you rest on your laurels, others will move forward. And if you don’t try to keep up, you’ll soon be left behind.
While this list is rather long it’s far from being complete. The thing is the way to success on Instagram is unique for every single person. This means that as you get acquainted with the platform’s specifics, you might as well discover your very own secrets to success.
Just remember: there’s no limit to perfection. Becoming successful on Instagram shouldn’t be your only end goal but a neverending process.