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31 Instagram tips to grow your following and build your personal brand

Instagram tips

General tips

  • Have a public account (you can always have two accounts if you want to keep a private one for close friends and family). If your profile is set to private people will assume that you want the content you post to be only seen by people you are already connected with or know in ‘real life’ and they are unlikely to follow you. Also, your posts will not show up in the search for the hashtags you use for people who do not follow you, therefore your ability to get your message in front of new people is limited and you are missing out on connecting.
  • Be patient. Create high-quality content and aim for quality over quality. Your authority will take time to grow so don’t resort to spammy tactics to grow your followers.
  • The right followers are better than thousands of followers who are never doing to hire you/buy from you.
  • Interact. While liking is nice, comments get you noticed. Share the love and it will come back around (not always directly or immediately). People notice when they see your name on the comments of others they follow. Obviously, don’t be spammy or try to ‘sell’. Build the conversation, be genuine.
  • Use a business account to get more insights. Read more about the differences between a personal and a business account.
  • Turn off/on automatically be able to tag you in photos. In your settings go to privacy then tags to turn on/off add automatically. Or leave tagging ability on and hide off-brand tagged photos. In your settings go to privacy then tags and click on hide photos and videos. Select the ones you want to hide then click on the eye with the line through it to hide them.
  • Remix old content with #FlaskbackFriday #ThrowbackThursday
  • Curate content by sharing others content with permission/citation.
  • Engage a few minutes before and after posting to work with the algorithm and gain more engagement on your posts.
  • Post when your followers are active. Check this in your insights if you have a business account.
  • Try different things, analyse and repeat what works for you and your followers. Do they love your selfies, do they love it when you talk about your research or your downtime? Try different things and continually analyse and tweak.
  • Turn on post/story notifications for key people in your industry to make sure you don’t miss important content. This is a great way to stay up to date with your industry and influencers in your field. You can do this on the person’s profile.

Caption Tips

  • Use your captions to engage with your audience. Tell interesting stories, open up and engage.
  • Include a ‘call to action’ in every post. Invite your followers to interact with you. Ask questions, ask them to double tap (like), or follow the link in your bio to get XYZ)
  • Add a blank line by making sure there is no space before you enter/return
  • Turn off notifications for likes (and comments too if you get a lot and you can dedicate a few times a day to check and respond). It’s all about batching your content and reducing task switching. More time, more efficient social media and more return on your time investment.

Hashtags tips

  • Save common hashtags to the notes section of your phone so that you can cut and paste them into your captions.
  • Find hashtags by looking at what others in your area are using in their posts.
  • Find related hashtags by searching for a hashtag and seeing the related hashtags. Check on any that relate and see those related ones.
  • Follow hashtags that are related to your area so that you can see tops posts from that hashtag in your stream. Search then click follow. If you want some ideas for academic hashtags for Instagram check-out this list.
  • Use hashtags within your reach. If you have 1000 followers then using a hashtag such as #PhD with almost 1 million posts is not going to be effective. Your post will be pushed down the recent stream in a matter of minutes. Even with an amazingly engaging post, you will never make the TOP stream for more than a few hours. Use niche hashtags to make your content last longer and been seen by more people.
  • Use hashtags in separate comments as you reply to people rather than all 30 in one comment. Note, this is more effective with niche hashtags and with comments left soon after your post content.
  • Use caps to make hashtags easier to read. While #TheLeveragedPhD and #theleveragedphd are the same the first is much easier to read.

Stories Tips

  • Use stories to share more candid and relaxed insight into your life. While your feed should be more curated and styled content your stories can be a little rough around the edges. It’s what people want.
  • Create story highlights to show stories for longer than 24 hours.
  • Create icons for your story highlights. Use a free app such as Adobe Spark to create icons for your stories.
  • Use a location sticker in stories. This will increase your reach and put your story in front of new audiences who are searching for that location.
  • Share your posts to stories for more reach. Click on the paper aeroplane icon under your post and click add post to your story. Add text and stickers too before posting.
  • Share someone else’s post to your story to fill a gap in your content and to engage with your audience
  • Add hashtags to stories (up to 10). Hide your hashtags with a sticker if you want to look less spammy.
  • Place a finger on the screen during stories to pause the story and read the long text 🙂
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