Have you thought “Wow, I’d love to be an Instagram Influencer”make a heap of money and become famous? Me too, but it’s not as easy as people make it seem. So where do you start as a beginner? Especially if you work or you have limited time to invest in an Instagram account.
Well, I am exploring Instagram as a newbie. If you are a beginner then join me and explore two basic activities you can try to get up and running. Join us, with Bionic Basil and Barking from the Bayou and let’s learn a bit about finding fans and using hashtags on Instagram.
TOP TIP: After you have downloaded the Instagram App to your smartphone and either set up a new account or linked to your Facebook page, you can start posting images. Take your time to explore the app, set up a bio, link to a blog or rescue and get the feel for how Instagram works.
One of the first things I was advised to do (after I did a lot of online reading), was this:
Learn how to use Instagram hashtags!
What is a Hashtag Anyway?
# – this is a hashtag.
If you blog regularly or surf the internet you will have met them. Hashtags are a simple way of organising subjects of all kinds into categories, just like a filing cabinet, or pages in your planner.
Hashtags are the key to being visible to people, particularly those you don’t know and who are outside your current circle of friends. Hashtags help searchers find images on a specific topic like #catlovers or #hamsters or #blogging.
How I Began to Grow My Instagram
There are two things I am using that I want to share as the approach is helping me. These are not your only options, but they are starting to work for me.
Because I am teaching online a lot, I don’t have time to spend inventing and following extended strategies to gain followers so I have to compromise. I am taking a slow approach building in small steps.
Facebook Creator Studio (Step 1)
It used to cost money to schedule on Instagram through paid apps and services. This was not great for a new blogger or a rescue volunteer trying to increase their reach and get animals adopted. Now things are different.
Facebook has added the option to schedule Instagram photos (as well as your usual posts) through a Facebook page. This uses something they call the Creator Studio which can be found at the top of a Facebook page, like mine for Dash Kitten.
Here’s how you find Creator Studio:
- Look along the top bar of your own Page for Publishing Tools,
- then look down the left sidebar for Creator Studio and click on the words.
- Select the Instagram logo along the top bar. You will see a scheduling facility called Create Post. It’s a blue rectangle.
- The ‘Create Post’ option gives you two options. You can schedule for your timeline or add video to IGTV (the movie/television channel).
From Creator Studio you can:
- Upload your image.
- Add your selection of hashtags
- Set a time for your post to go live.
How I Make Creator Studio Do the Work for Me
As part of my blogging routine each week, I have started to create and schedule seven Instagram formatted images. I have started with one each day, occasionally supplemented by a ‘live’ post or share for a rescue.
Using Affinity Photo I resize these as square 1080px by 1080px images. Instagram will compress the file and it will be displayed close to 600px by 600px but they ask (as at May 2020) for a 1080 sizing from you and me.
Sometimes I lack time to resize the images exactly to 1080 pixels square but the scheduler does a decent job resizing for me if I am in a rush. My limited time also prompted my second step (see ‘Organising Your Hashtags’ below).
Instagram is the social network of photographs, and for this reason, …… it is essential to know the exact measurements of photos, videos, stories, etc.Metricool
TOP TIP: If time is limited I prefer to add a small watermark to my images than do a resize. Not everyone does but if you post an image you value and may reuse elsewhere a watermark might be important.
Organise Your Hashtags (Step 2)
This is the second most important thing I am learning to do.
There are dozens of hashtags for each breed, hobby, brand and activity and you will want to focus on making lists of those relevant to you. Make them into files or documents you can access easily to cut and paste into your scheduler.
Here are some lists to start you off:
- Posts for specific days of the week/weekend – #ThursdayThoughts #FridayBoxParty (a cat favourite).
- Cat specific – #catvideo #cathealth #adoptableblackcats #gingercatsarethebest.
- Pet specific – #ratsofinstagram #puppiesofig.
- My 20 hashtags for Cats.
- My favourite Video hashtags.
Even posting one photo a day on IG I am finding that cutting and pasting a few hashtags into my scheduler saves time. Be conscious of the nature of yout photograph and think about which hashtags will work with your picture.
Popular Hashtags are Not Always Best
Have you checked for #CatsofInstagram? Or #TongueOutTuesday? There are millions of them and the lesson is, use them if they fit with your photo but add others specific to your topic or niche. If you do this then your reach extends beyond friends to everyone who uses a particular hashtag.
- Try breed-specific hashtags #persiansofinstagram #tortietuesday
- Hashtags to drive audience growth #followme #likeforlike (and don’t forget to follow new friends back.
- Themed cat (or dog) hashtags for a mixed pet family
- Location-based hashtags #CatsofNewZealand #LondonFelines
- Hashtags that add interest #writerscats #paintingcats #leapingdogs
This can seem overwhelming so I will add some hashtags to get you started at the end of this post.
Create an Instagram Hashtag for Your Brand
It’s a great idea to develop a hashtag of your own to identify yourself or your brand. Bloggers consider their blog a brand to will add a tag like #DashKittenCrew.
- People can follow your brand hashtag and be notified when you post.
Do I need to use just pet hashtags?
If the photograph will resonate with another sort of Instagram users like a publisher, or a stitcher or designer, I will include one or two tags relevant to them. You may or may not get a follow but your work reaches more people.
How many hashtags can I add?
OK there are millions of hashtags everywhere you look, how many can you include in a post? Instagram allows you to add a maximum of 30 tags per image, no more. Ever.
TOP TIP: If you add 30 and someone shares your image and adds a hashtag of their own Instagram will flash up an error message, reminding you politely of the 30 hashtag limit.
This is what 30 hashtags looks like all at once!
Use relevant, fun and branded hashtags and use them carefully. Your posts look will a lot better than a tangled tsunami of letters. Fewer hashtags can mean more attention unless you have a specific aim or event in mind.
#videocats #blackcatlove #fatcatlife, #likeforlike #follow4followback #catloversclubs #thankfulthursday #motivationmonday #gingercats #whitecatsrock #seniorcats #NewtoInstagram #photographylife #photographyskills #magnificent_meowdels #catsruldogsdrool #cutecat #bengalsofinsta #gingercatnation #dashkittencrew #instafollow #blackcatsarethebest catloversworldwide #newzealand #britishcats #puppies #mainecoon #siamese #birmanfans #dashkitten
This is what I am doing right now. I may never have 100,000 followers but I am already at 1,900 from about 1,500 when I started. Many people will have more and some of the nicest cats will have less, they deserve your support.
Bonus: Tips On How to Grow Your Instagram Followers
Finally, if you have no idea at all how to grow Instagram, there are zillions of posts that will help. I include to the absolute minimum number of ways that work and one that won’t – ever.
- Post regularly One or two a day is fine. This is working for me.
- Use hashtags with discernment and care. Don’t just throw some common ones into your post and hope they stick. Use relevant tags and maybe throw in a couple that are slightly off the wall.
- For animal bloggers or ‘anipals’, the popular Follow Trains can boost your number of followers. The downside is that this is (for a limited period) a big commitment to follow a lot of other IG cats, dogs and other pets. The ‘trains’ are usually well run and most follow back. Warning: These are hundreds of ‘follow trains’. Keep your eye open for one where a trusted friend is taking part.
- DO NOT ‘BUY’ FOLLOWERS. Instagrams works out this is happening and you can get into trouble. If you have money to spare and want to boost your IG following more quickly, get a friend to recommend a ‘Virtual Assistant’ to do the work for you.
Hashtags for black cats
#blackcat #blackcatlover #blackcatsrock #blackcatsrule #blackcatsarethebest
Hashtags to encourage follows
#followback #instafollow #ff #followforfollow #repost #followback
Cat lovers hashtags
catloversclub #catloversworldwide #catloversblog #catsofinstagram #climbingcatsofig #birmansofinstagram #ilovemycat #cats_with_ties #elegant_cats #ilovekittens #adventurecats #toebeans #instacat
#photography #photooftheday #nature #pets #picofday #cats #seekthelight #lightinspired #liveforthestory #photographyaddict #photographyskills #nature #photographyislife
Have you got an Instagram top tip or favourite hashtag to share? Pop it in the comments! We would love to follow you on Instagram too.
What is a Virtual Assistant (VA for short). This page is helpful once you get past the page sized pop-up so stick with it and update yourself on the 2020 view of what a VA can do if you need one.
Instagram Image Sizes. There is a detailed examination of Instagram’s ability to process images of various shapes and sizes at Metricool.