As I sit down to write this post, I can’t help but feel a little bit lost. This post is supposed to explain the final stage in my Instagram Process series (read the previous posts here & here); what I do with my photos once they’ve been shot and edited and how I unleash them on the world. I was going to talk about the best times to post, what hashtags to use and all that jazz, but with Instagram’s algorithm, all that’s kind of gone out the window.
When it came to posting times and hashtags, I used to have it all sussed out to ensure maximum engagement. However, in a post-algorithm world there’s no formula for getting it right. You can tick all the boxes of a nicely shot and edited image, but with non-chronological feeds and shadowblocking (certain hashtags getting blocked so you don’t appear in them), there’s just no telling whether an Instagram post will sink or swim these days.
Nevertheless, I’m going to share this part of the process as it’s obviously pretty instrumental. Also, this is the part where you get to share all the hard work you did in Part 1 & Part 2 with the world!
Instagram is one of the few social channels where you can’t pre-schedule your posts to go out automatically, which is why I like to devote a bit of time to planning my feed ahead of time.
Planning your Instagram feed also helps ensure you’re staying on-theme if you want your feed to look aesthetically cohesive (which it totally doesn’t have to, that’s down to your personal preference!).
To do this, I use an app called Preview (screenshot below) which lets me drop my photos into a grid just like Instagram’s so I can preview how they’ll look together. It lets you drag and drop images which is super handy for planning ahead!
You can even add captions and search their hashtag library so when it comes to posting you literally just hit ‘share’ and paste your caption in. The app also has a bunch of other cool functions like filters and a schedule tool which basically prompts you via notifications when it’s time to post, but I don’t really use these.
It’s also probably worth mentioning I have a folder on my phone where I keep a stash of photos to Instagram so I always have some content to fall back on.
*sneaky spoilers of upcoming Instagram photos below!*
I know some people think a bunch of hashtags under a photo can look desperate, but if you want to get your profile out there, using relevant hashtags is the best way to get your photos seen!
You can use a maximum of 30 hashtags per photo, so use wisely! Do some research into what hashtags other influencers in your niche are using and from there you’ll naturally attract likeminded Instagrammers. Generic hashtags like #photography, #fashion or #flower are likely to be overcrowded and won’t get you much quality engagement.
Once you’ve got together your hashtags, it’s a good idea to save them in categories so you have a library that you can just copy and paste. You can either use the notes app on your phone, or I use an app called InstaHelper (below) where I keep all mine in categories like fashion, beauty, flatlays, travel general and specific cities.
Top tip for all you travel Instagrammers out there: before I visit a place I always do a search for which hashtags are most used, each city tends to have its own set of hashtags!
Hashtags are important, but don’t forget to add that final flourish to your photos with a caption underneath! Short, snappy and witty captions never fail, but I always enjoy reading longer captions that tell a story beyond what the photo shows. In a sea of generic clichés, a more detailed caption can go a long way with establishing a lasting connection with your followers.
Best posting times
Like I said in my intro, this used to be pretty straightforward, but now that the algorithm’s done away with chronological timelines, when you post is pretty much redundant. Saying this, I personally tend to get the best engagement on images posted between 08:00am & 10:00am but this is rarely consistent.
And so we’ve reached the end of this Instagram journey, I hope you’ve picked up some useful ideas from this series! Do you use any apps that help with managing your Instagram?
If you’d like to read more about the algorithm or my thoughts on Instagram & the pursuit of perfection, I wrote about it here!
Photos by Sanj – full outfit post coming soon!