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1. Find out the best times for posting with Iconosquare.

Timing is everything! To really maximize any post on Instagram, you have to post it when it will be seen the most. So what is the right time to post?

To get a truly personalized look at your best times to post, historically, based on YOUR account, Iconosquare.com offers up great data. Teh black circles in the below image represnt "your" best posting times. ($261 a year per IG account.)

If you have a business account on Instagram, you can also hit the bar graph icon in the top left hand corner to look at some posting time insights for free. (Followers--> See more.)

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Don't want to be bothered? Earlier this year (Jan. '17) Later.com shared a synopsis of the best Instagram posting times and the results are:

  • Post more during off-work hours instead of during the day: The best times to post on Instagram are lunch time (11am-1pm) and evenings (7-9pm). Think about it: when do you find yourself checking Instagram the most?
  • Weekends can be hit-or-miss: B2C companies will likely see better results when posting on weekends than B2B companies.
  • Save the important posts for weekdays: The differences are slight, but average Instagram engagement does shift depending on the day. According to

    Later, Wednesdays and Thursdays tend to drive the most engagement, while Sundays drive the least. 

  • Avoid 3pm CST, but don’t be afraid to experiment: Weekdays between 3 and 4pm typically drives the lowest engagement.

2. Be consistent in what and how you're posting.

It's an old adage and a true one: Consistency is key.

Post the same type of content on the same days at the same times (as determined by your analytics.)

Create content buckets and stick to them religiously. This forces you to be disciplined, it helps you develop a social cadence and, more frequent posting WITH INTENTION is the key to increased growth. 

3. Choose both industry and local Hashtags: If you’re a local business, choose local hashtags to attract more people in your area, such as the name of your city or #ig_cityname. Be sure to also use general industry hashtags that describe your photo, like #birthdaycupcakes or #greenheating. Industry hashtags are good for getting your post found by people in your industry, who are looking up photos of what you’re posting.

4. Use popular hashtags: Using the right hashtag (or combination of hashtags) can help you expose your brand to large and targeted audiences. In fact, your chances of attracting new followers, getting more likes, and increasing engagement are vastly increased by the use of hashtags!

5. Ask your users for help: If it’s a goal of your brand’s to get on Instagram’s most popular “Explore” page, and you have enough followers to do so, don’t be afraid to ask in the photo caption section of your next uploaded photo. Ask and often you shall receive! Also, other tips for getting on the explore page:

  • Have a clear vision of your target market
  • Select appropriate hashtags
  • Engage with followers
  • Optimize your content by releasing it at the right time
  • Post stories and geo tag them using the location tag icon within stories (Double tap the icon if you want your location to be less colorful.)

6. Welcome a guest Instagrammer: Hosting Instagram takeovers is a great way to grow your community for FREE!. 

Think of guest Instagrammers like guest bloggers. 

Here are the three main types of guest you could work with for an Instagram takeover:

  1. Influencers. Ideal for...
    1. Providing value through useful content
    2. Driving social engagement
    3. Raising brand awareness
  2. Employees or colleagues. Ideal for...
    1. Engaging your community and building relationships
    2. Showcasing your company culture
    3. Building your brand image
  3. Community members or customers. Ideal for...
    1. Building relationships with your community and customers
    2. Creating user-generated content
    3. Showcasing your coolest customers

7. Show love to your followers: One brand that’s a great example for how to show love to your followers is designer Rebecca Minkoff. If you check out their Instagram account, they often share fan-snapped photos that feature their products. Featuring user generated content is a phenomenal way to get fans involved and to create traction!

  • Invite your fans to submit content by tagging AND hashtagging images. 
  • Promote this initiative on platforms other than Instagram too, think Facebook, email, etc.
  • Include in your bio directions, ie "Show us how you wear Product  X. Tag us and use #productx to be featured."
  • CHECK the hashtags and engage with ALL users who post using your hashtag.

TIP: Spark users’ interests with content you know works. Look at your most successful and engaged posts and then think of the language that drives that content. There’s a reason those posts work. Pique users’ curiosity with well-written and straight-to-the-point text. Find out which posts perform best by looking at your analytics (bar graph top right corner) if you are a business account holder. If not you can use a free tool like SImply Measured Free Instagram reports here.

8. Pick a grid layout: This is my favorite tip in crafting a winning brand for yourself. The first thing you need to know is the layout of your overall feed. This will make it so much easier to stick to a consistent Instagram theme. 

  • Tips:
    • Before I post anything, I take a look at my previous posts. How will the new photo look in my grid? Here are three questions to ask yourself before posting:

      • How does this image look next to the last photo I posted?

      • How does this post look above the photo that will be under it?

      • Do the colors of the new image coordinate with these two photos?

      • Does the layout coordinate with these two photos (ie: avoid photos with lots of detail from being side to side.)

If you've ever looked at someone else's Instagram profile and noticed that it looked particularly put together, some careful planning has likely gone into it. You too can make subtle changes that will help your Instagram profile stand out from the rest, from adopting a new color scheme to organizing your rows ahead.

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9. Pick ONE filter/theme and stick with it: Always crop the same way.

  • Tips:

    • Keep it simple: Always use square photos.

    • White border theme: always use the same white border.

    • Pay attention to your grid and looking of content or color themes that receive the most engagement. Create more of those posts!

  • Tools:

    • Grum: free to sign up; one account is $10 a month

    • Planoly: free to sign up; one account is $7 a month

    • PicFrame: free app that allows you to create borders around your content

10. Natural light is your best friend: The best natural light to take photos is in the morning or at the end of the afternoon. It's called the Golden Hour: It’s soft, warm, dimensional, and just flat-out magical light. It adds a quality to images that can’t be replicated no matter how many actions, filters, or textures you use.

  1. Tools: 
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