Instagram has become one of the major platforms for photographers to share their work. So naturally, you want to build your audience there and get many people to see your work. If you don’t want to buy fake followers from a vending machine, photographer Chris Hau shares some tips for building your audience and growing your business organically.
1. Grid OCD/Feed consistency
The first thing Chris points out is the consistency of your feed. Your page should have a theme (for example, Chris’ Instagram is all about travel). Try to keep the colors scheme and the subject consistent, so people know what to expect from you and what your account is about.
2. Account cleanup
According to Chris, that follow-unfollow tactic doesn’t work anymore. So, you should get rid of the inactive users to have the consistent followers and real people who follow you.
Chris suggests downloading an app named Cleaner. Click on the “Followers” icon at the bottom and go to Quick Select > Advanced Quick Select > Select Inactive Users. The app will find the inactive users, and from there you can automatically block them and only leave real, active users on your Followers list.
3. Accounts you follow
If you want to grow your audience and grow your business with Instagram’s help, Chris suggests only following the people from your niche. In his case, he only follows people in the travel niche and engages with them.
Since all of us have more than one interest, Chris advises you open another account where you can follow all the other accounts. Personally, I’d lost my mind with too many social media accounts, but of course, if you can keep track, go for it.
4. Hashtags and tagging
Hashtags can help you get your photo discovered, but it’s important to use them properly. Chris suggests using up to 25 hashtags, and they should always be specific to your niche. Search for the hashtags that work for your photo. The advice is to look for hashtags with 500,000 submissions or less and add them first, and then add a few larger ones at the end.
You can also tag the accounts associated with certain hashtags and with your niche. This will increase your chance of getting featured on their page.
5. Engage with hashtags
When you’re searching for the hashtags for your photos, browse through the related photos and comment on them. This way, Instagram will “group” you with these people. According to Chris, you’ll end up on the Explore page faster. Also, you’ll grow the genuine audience by interaction, which can’t be bad.
6. Posting time
There are key moments when people are checking their Instagram. If you have a Business account, the Insights tab will show you the optimal time for you to post the photos. Chris advises posting 10-15 minutes before this time, so the people have your photo in their feed just around the time when they start scrolling through Instagram.
If you don’t have a business account, it takes a bit more effort. Keep track of the time that works best for you, when you get the most engagement from the community. If you notice it’s, for example, 1 pm, be consistent and always post your photos at that time.
7. Warm up before posting
About half an hour before you post a photo, spend some time engaging with the accounts you follow. This way, when you post your photo, they’ll (hopefully) share the love back.
8. Reply to comments
When people comment your photos, make sure to reply, especially when they take time to write a genuine comment. Chris reflects on real life – when you show a photo t someone and they tell you their opinion, you won’t just stay silent.
Another important thing is not to just post and run. Chris suggests engaging with your content an hour after posting ad stick around to reply to comments. According to him, this will give the algorithm a hint that your content is popular, so it can put you on the Explore page.
9. Build a squad
Create your little network of 5-10 people from the niche you really believe in. You can turn the notifications on for them so you can engage in each other’s content as soon as it goes live. This way you’ll all grow together and help each other during the process.
10. Stay active
Lastly, don’t forget that Instagram isn’t only about the algorithm, it’s a community. Be a part of this community and don’t just use it to earn money. Use Instagram as a platform for you to share your work, but also to enjoy the work of others.
There’s no doubt Instagram helps you promote your work and get seen. All of the Chris’ advice require some effort on your side, but they all involve genuine, organic ways of reaching the audience, engaging with them and getting your work seen. So if this is the way you want to “play the Instagram game,” I believe these tips will help you.