Creating an Account
We’ll need an active account, over 2-3 months old with followers and publications. You don’t have to have many followers and tons of pictures, however, Instagram has to see that it is a functioning account.
The account’s age and quantity of content it has are the limiting factors. The threshold of activities that Instagram might treat as spam, is somewhat lower for a new account as compared to a trusted one.
Picking a Picture to Promote
Let’s take an ordinary picture, not one with exotic landscpes of tropical countries or amazing flora or fauna, but just a picture taken in a usual boring city park. The only thing that makes it stand out among others is the coloring.
Specifying the Main Theme
For starters let’s take a look at the picture and define its main elements:
- bird (птица, oiseaux, vögel, 鳥類)
- color (цвет, couleur, farbe, カラー)
- nature (природа, natur, 自然)
Let’s use the most common languages (depending on your target audience) to reach out to as many people as possible. This way we’ll have 11 basic hashtags, and we’ll have to pick 19 additional ones. Instagram allows to use 30 hashtags in a description.
Putting Together a List of Hashtags for your Publication
I use the Websta.me service to do this. The service allows to pick the most popular hashtags, calculated on the amount of pictures a hashtag is used with.
Let’s enter a hashtag you need and paste the generated list into the table. After that we filter the nonthematic results, junk, spam, porn, etc.
Let’s sort the results according to their popularity and divide them into categories (highlighted with different colors).
* Try not to use hashtags with a popularity count over 1-3 million, as Instagram has made its algorythms stricter and the thing with million hashtags doesn’t work that well now.
You need to collect and sort in Excel at least 60 hashtags, then you can select the package of hashtags that contains thematically related ones.
A large number of tags will let you get the image to TOP by several hashtags, and get additional Like/Follow.
Hashtags use instructions
The most common error in promoting an Instagram account is to search for and publish the most popular hashtags instead of relevant ones that can capture the users’ interest. Popular hashtag doesn’t equal suitable hashtag for promoting your account.
There’s a direct dependency between a hashtag’s popularity and its “life span” – the time interval during which a user can like or visit your page. This dependency can be illustrated with the following graph:
For example, the life span of the most popular hashtag on Instagram #love (point A on the graph) is only a couple of seconds, as a multitude of images gets published with this hashtag. According to my latest measurements, from 500 to 1000 images a minute are published with it.
And on the contrary, the hashtag #elfsight (point C on the graph) might have an eternal life span until it becomes popular, but in this case the chances that a user will visit your page by this hashtag in the course of a day or week, are very slender, as this is a new hashtag no one’s heard about.
What is the right way to pick a hashtag for an image?
It turns out that points A and C are the two extremities that don’t answer the purpose of a typical Instagram account promotion, unless the account already has 30000-90000 or even more followers.
Right now we’re analyzing the case of promoting an account with 500-2000 followers or even less. This is the right approach to use in such cases – find hashtags from point B, or rather, from the area marked by points B1, B2 and B3 on the graph below.
Publishing a Picture on Instagram
Now that we have picked a picture and collected the tags, we can go and publish the picture on Instagram:
- Let’s copy the first 30 most popular tags and publish the picture. I mean the hashtags with a popuraity count from hundred thousand to several million.
- The moment the picture is published, we begin to monitor the activity in the feed. The most popular hashtags usually get an instant feedback and people start liking your picture. This is the first wave, and the point here is to keep your eyes open!
- The first wave gives the fastest likes portion to a new picture. You can get from 20 to 100 likes during the first 2 minutes, and then this activity gets diminished and in 4-5 minutes it stops altogether.
First wave users are the most loyal ones, and most ready to follow you and let you follow them. In other words, use these 2-3 minutes to trace everyone from the feed, give them 1-2 likes and start following them.
If you interact with the users in time, the response rate might be as high as 60-70%!
Editing Picture Description in Instagram
The moment the first wave starts to diminish, what happens in 2-4 minutes after a picture is published, you have to immediately delete the first 30 hashtags from the description under the picture, and publish the second 30 hashtags in the comments below the picture. Not in the description, but in the comments under the picture itself.
And right after you do it, insert the next 30 hashtags into the description under the image. That would be your second edit of the publication.
The moment you finish editing, you’ll get a second wave of likes.
It is different from the first one, calmer and more deliberate, and a little less loyal. You don’t have to hurry at this point, and you can choose who to like and follow, and who to let go by, without wasting your time.
Second wave users are choosier and more exacting, they might reciprocate your likes, but not every one of them will reciprocate following.
There’s a trick with the second wave of users, if you choose the ones who don’t have too many friends, the chances of mutual contact are much higher than with the ones who have many.
It is important to consider the number of friends, the more friends, the less are the chances of mutual following. The best variant would be users who’ve got from 200 to 2000 friends.
Getting into Instagram TOP
So, you’ve processed the first wave of 30 hashtags from the A point in the graph, collected some likes that would help you put the best pictures into Instagram TOP and used 60 hashtags from the B and C points of the graph, that allow the picture to get into TOP if you have from 100 to 800 likes.
Now let’s collect what is left of the second wave, at the same time establishing a mutual friendship with the new users, and check the TOP by the weakest hashtags of point C – that are the last 5-7 tags from the third portion.
In about 20-30 minutes after the picture was published and got 150-200 likes, it should make it into the TOP best by the weakest tags.
A Few Words More
The moment all the three waves have passed, and the picture is no longer displayed in TOP best ones, what usually happens in 2-5 days, remove ALL the hashtags under your publications! Don’t publish a new image until your previous photos still have the wave hashtags (60 of them).
As the result of these simple actions you can gather about 300-600 likes, get to the TOP by several hashtags and, most importantly, get new followers.
Some people would say it is not enough. However, keep in mind that this is the effect of publishing an ordinary photo (refer to the first image). Considering the fact that this process can be automated, and an online shop, for instance, might have over ten or even over a hundred accounts, the process might become very attractive.
Last words of advice:
Experiment with hashtags, try to publish at different times, use different languages and test different pictures. This way you’re sure to find a key to your target audience and reach all of your goals.
Remember that before you use this method on your main account, you should try it on test pages. Instagram constantly changes its algorithms and you might get negative consequences as the result.