Alright, you’ve got the ideal image, video or graphic selected and edited, you’ve crafted up the perfect caption and you’re ready to hit post on Instagram!
But wait—stop right there! Are you doing everything you can to optimize your post for success?
Though I will always preach that good content will always trump any algorithm “hack,” it’s still best to optimize yourself for success so your content doesn’t get drowned out amid the tens of millions of posts being shared every day on Instagram.
Below is a checklist for you to follow in order to find more success in your Instagram content:
1. Make sure your caption is optimized for success.
I actually have a full blog post all about how to write better captions, but here’s the short version in case you didn’t catch it: Start with a strong opener. Write in a conversational tone. Make your caption easy to read (think spaces and shorter sentences). Use emojis. End with a strong call-to-action.
2. Engage with your community before you post.
Before you hit post, spend some time with your community: comment on their photos, reply to their stories, engage with and DM accounts you find in your niche hashtags. Community building is a two-way street—if you want to get engagement, you’ve got to give engagement.
3. Tag your location.
This one is plain and simple, and especially important if you’re a local-based business. Keep in mind to make your location specific enough or you’ll get lost in the shuffle if your location is too big! For instance, tagging Lincoln Park would serve you much better than tagging the entire city of Chicago.
4. Check to see if this is the best time for you to post.
What works for someone else might not work best for your audience! See when your audience is online by clicking the “insights” button on your profile (you’ll need a business profile for this!), opening the “See All” button in the Audience section, and scrolling to the bottom to see when your audience is most active on which days.
5. Choose hashtags that will give you the best results.
Your hashtag strategy is important! Choose 30 hashtags (some small, some medium-sized, and some large) that are specific to your niche. You’ll also need to decide if you’ll be placing your hashtags in the caption or the first comment. Both are just fine, it all just depends on the goal you have for your post! Hashtags in the caption generally boosts reach, and hashtags in first comment generally boosts engagement! Keep in mind, though, that if you choose to put your hashtags in the comments that you’ll need to do it within the first few seconds of posting.
6. Zoom out your photo so it’s as vertical as possible.
The age of the square photo is over; vertical photos are queen! Vertical photos are much more likely to perform better for two reasons; firstly, the Instagram algorithm loves when you use any new features. While vertical photos aren’t very new to Instagram, they’re by far newer than the square-only option that Instagram originally had. Secondly, vertical photos take up more of the screen while scrolling. More screen time = more opportunity for your photo to stop the scroll and get engagement!
7. Tag any relevant accounts.
Wearing a new brand you want to give a shout out to? Using a quote from your favorite podcast? Is there a certain creator who inspired your caption? Tag them! Tagging relevant accounts not only builds your relationship with the person tagged, but also gives you the opportunity to be exposed to their audience!
However, note that I said relevant accounts. Tagging ten random accounts that have nothing to do with your post might get you an extra like or two, but won’t build any relationships and won’t connect you to the right audience.
I hope you find these steps helpful! Be sure to start implementing all seven steps into your posting checklist and you’ll be sure to see an increase in your engagement!
If you have questions about any of this or need me to expand on any of these points, just shoot me a DM at @saltlightsocial on Instagram, Salt & Light Social Media on Facebook, or send me an email through my contact page!