Updated: 8/12/2021. There’s that old quip about it taking something like “ten years” to be an “overnight sensation,” and anyone who has ever either had fame or pondered fame quickly realizes it’s very true. It takes knowledge, skill, perseverance and of course timing and “luck” to be an “overnight sensation” on anything, including Instagram. Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas about using Instagram to be “Instafamous.”
- Instagram is available on the desktop at https://www.instagram.com/ and as App for Windows 10 (on the desktop). Of course it’s an app as well on iOS and Android.
- You can have more than one account (e.g., a business account and a personal account) and can toggle between them. Learn how to set up and toggle between Instagram accounts, here. You can also have a professional or business account, which gets you better stats and the ability to (wait for it…) – advertise!
- Sharing. Unlike on Twitter, Facebook, or other share networks, Instagram does not allow “one to many” sharing. It only allows followers to “send” a post (one to one), which is more like emailing than traditional sharing. Go figure.
- Instagram Stories. Like the Snapchat stories from which they were stolen, these are “daily videos” and useful for brands or influencers to talk to their Superfans. You can learn about Stories on Instagram, here and here. One of the pluses of Instagram stories is that you can add additional links to them, explained here. They appear at the top of your account in the circles.
- Instagram Live. Like Facebook live, you can go “live” with a video on Instagram. Learn more, here.
- Selling. Because Instagram limits you to one and only one URL in your bio, you can either tell folks “link in bio” or use a service like Link.Tree or Have2Haveit or LinkInBio. An example would by Nylon Magazine’s account or AirBnB‘s account. Another solution is a custom hashtag for your brand and people can post to that hashtag, then you can message them one-on-one about a purchase. New! Instagram is enabling Instagram shopping for selected accounts.
- Tagging a Product. If you have enabled shopping on Instagram, you can then “tag” a product. This means a cool photo of a couple of runners, and you can tag their shows or pants and then users can click FROM the photo TO your shop to learn about (and buy) the products. Here are two accounts that tends to tag products – Fenty Beauty and Bass Pro Shops. Note that “tagged products” appear ONLY on the mobile app.
- Search Instagram. Search Instagram on the mobile app, on the desktop, or via Google using site:instagram.com. Look for competitors and “companies to emulate.” On the mobile app, click on the magnifying glass as well to get to the “explore tab.” Here, the app suggests content to you (and others), so if you engage with content themes relevant to your business, then you’ll see content here that should be relevant.
- While you can’t share a URL on Instagram, you can embed or share an Instagram post to another network. In this way, you can find a URL and share it to Facebook, Twitter, or even your blog. To find the URL of a post on the desktop, go to your account, find a post, and click the three dots. This then gets you to the “embed” code. You can look at that code and find the URL in this format – https://www.instagram.com/p/BjFnRMaF5Go/. On the app, it’s simpler – just find a post to your account and then click the three dots, and then share.
- You can follow anyone you like on Instagram (including folks more famous than you) and then start commenting on their posts to “attract their attention”
- Search Instagram for people / brands to follow. (Research what they like, interact with, comment on, hashtags they use, etc.).
- Comment on what they’re posting to “attract their attention” (please have something useful to say!) – use their hashtags, for example. When you comment you can use Emojis to draw attention to your comments (or not, if you – like me – think Emojis are kind of silly).
- Hopefully they will a) follow you back, and/or b) engage in an Insta-conversation.
- Mentions. Like on Twitter, you can “mention” someone in a post by typing the @sign before their name (just type the @ and the first few laters of their handle). This “mention” should generate an alert. You can also use the @someonefamous strategy here – start mentioning persons / brands “more famous than you are” to start a conversation or relationship.
- Follow for follow. Ok this has gone INSANE on Instagram, especially due to “bot abuse.” But in general people still “follow back” on Instagram – so find a competitor and then follow the people that follow them. For example, if you want to know who follows Kim Kardashian just visit her Instagram account and click “followers” or go to https://www.instagram.com/kimkardashian/followers/. Like Twitter, it’s very open who follows whom on Instagram. (The dark side of all this mentions, follow for follow, comments, etc., is what is called an Instagram Pod. Only for the brave at heart. Or desperate. Or both.)
- Tagging People. You can “tag” people you know in a photo, and this alerts them that they’ve been tagged. To do it, either do it during the upload process or click the “three dots” in a photo, edit and then tag. Help file is here.
- Reels. Reels is Instagram’s Answer to TikTok. Upload short, funny video content. Experiment with using “trending sounds” on Instagram. Use IGTV for longer-form video content. To see either click into an account such as RusticCuff and then look for the appropriate icon.
- Hashtags are big on Instagram, possibly bigger than on Twitter. You can just start typing on Instagram AND you can also search for them on Google. Either use site:instagram.com keyword as in site:instagram.com “organic food” or @instagram.com “organic food”. Or you can search by hashtag on Google (once you know it) as in #organicfood. You can also use Hashtagify.me, but note that Twitter search is free and Instagram search for hashtags is paid. Go figure.
- Don’t confuse hashtags with geotags. Both exist on Instagram, while hashtags only are on Twitter. Geotags are helpful for local discovery; Tulsa geotag vs. Tulsa hashtag. If you are a “geo” business, you should probably use both as a promotion strategy.
- Branded hashtags. You can create a special hashtag for your business, such as #optoutside created by REI or #southwestheart by SouthWest airlines. (Notice how those are featured in their bios!).
- Contests. You can have an Instagram contest – here are the rules, as a technique to promote your account. To brainstorm good ideas, search for contests on Instagram as a hashtag or search.
- Advertise. You can advertise directly on Instagram, though for all intents and purposes it is controlled via the Facebook Ads Manager platform. As on Facebook you have many options for demographic targeting. Tip – you can link the ad as a URL to your Instagram account to grow followers and use Facebook Audience Insights to create a custom audience.
- Insights. View your (business) account statistics on the “insights” feature. Available only on the mobile app.
- Story Highlights. These are excerpts from your brand’s story and they can include clickable links. See them on REI‘s account, for example – they appear in circles just above posts.
Selling on Instagram
- Introducing Checkout on Instagram – the official post about Instagram’s transition to e-commerce / shopping.
- Instagram Shopping and Set Up Requirements for Shopping on Instagram