Instagram may be young, but the number of followers it’s gained since it started in 2010 has exploded. There are 200 million active accounts with 60 million photos uploaded each day.
For those not familiar with this platform, Instagram is all about photos and visually sharing your life with your friends. The creators even made this platform super easy to use: take a picture with your smartphone, choose a filter, and share. Instagram allows for linked accounts, so you can post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr straight from the app.
The number of companies joining Instagram is growing rapidly, because it makes it easy for businesses to share their company stories and brand identities through visual content. Like any other social media platform, companies want to reach and interact with their communities, and analyze their efforts.
I recently discovered Iconosquare, a third-party Instagram analytics tool. It lets you browse your feed, search for users and hashtags, and view your account analytics.
Iconosquare also helps you optimize your posts, with info about the best times to post according to your community’s interaction, filter impact based on your activity within the past 90 days, and hashtag impact.
In the past, I basically used Instagram to post my pictures to Facebook and Twitter. I barely used hashtags or filters, and posted my pictures all willy nilly with no structure.
After discovering Iconosquare, I decided to write this post about how to get more likes on Instagram, using my personal account as a guinea pig. I wanted to see how tweaking three simple factors would affect likes and comments on my posts.
Let the experiment begin!
I started with my account as-is and used that as my control data, then added one factor each week for three weeks. Before the experiment, I had a total of 134 pictures, 222 likes, and 65 followers. My most-liked photo had a total of 7 likes.
Week #1: Hashtags
On Instagram, hashtags help your photos reach people outside your group of followers.
Prior to this experiment, I didn’t use any hashtags in any of my Instagrams, and wasn’t sure where to start. After some research, I decided to tag my photos using relevant and popular hashtags.
I like to play with yarn and crochet a lot, so I used this opportunity to post all my projects and use relevant hashtags like #crochet and #crochetaddict. I jumped on the weekly hashtag trend and used popular ones like #selfiesunday, #throwbackthursday, #mancrushmonday, and #womancrushwednesday.
By the end of the week, I ended up with 11 likes from people outside my community. Using hashtags increased my account totals to 149 photos, 259 likes, and 69 followers. My most-liked photo had a total of 7 likes, meeting my former record.
Week #2: Filters
Instagram is all about sharing your photos and videos, so you want your content to be visually appealing.
Within the app, you can add filters and edit your photos. I chose to use the filters that trigger the most likes and comments from my audience, as measured by Iconosquare.
By the end of the week, I ended up with 20 likes from people outside my community. Using filters increased my account totals totals to 156 photos, 285 likes, and 70 followers. My most-liked photo had a total of 9 likes.
Week #3: Best time to post
Iconosquare looks at when your community interacts, and compares it to when you usually post to create the best times to post.
For this week, I chose to only post during those times. This dropped my number of posts for the week to seven, which was about half of what I normally post in a week.
By the end of the week, I had a total of 13 likes from people outside my community. Basing my posts on peak times in my community increased my account totals to 167 photos, 347 likes, and 73 followers. My most-liked photo had a total of 10 likes. But remember, I got those results posting half as frequently.
So, what did I learn from this experiment?
I learned that I may actually have a yarn and crochet addiction (no joke here) and take too many photos of my cats.
I also learned that by optimizing each of these factors, you can increase your followers and engagement pretty consistently. Which factor is most effective for you will vary based on what you're currently doing on Instagram, as well as on what your community likes to see. So you'll have to experiment - just remember that unless you track it, you can't use it to improve.
People enjoy visual content and will respond if they see something that’s attractive to them. To get more likes on Instagram, learn what it takes to reach your community and put it into practice!