Break out the birthday cake – and snap a photo before you cut it – because that moreish, endlessly-scrollable feed of eye candy that is Instagram turns five today. As of September 2015, there were 400 million active users on the platform (5 million of those Australian) but, let’s be real here, not all Instagram accounts are created equal. So what is it that can make a feed worth a follow?
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite ‘grammers to find out their secrets to Instagram success.
Show Them Who’s Under The Mask
South Africa’s top Instagrammer Gareth Pon’s motto is to fill his Instagram feed with photos you can’t google – that means no sunsets and no landscapes. But great photography doesn’t mean an anonymous photographer.
“Instagram is like a giant, worldwide masked ball. You’ve got a mask on your face and no one knows you, so you have to walk into this big room and introduce yourself. The more you do that, the more people will know who you are and the more people will talk about your work as a photographer and an Instagrammer.”
Experimenting is the Only Way
With AU$1 million in annual revenue, Beginning Boutique’s Sarah Timmerman knows what she’s talking about when it comes to online success, though she openly admits to underestimating the 20 hours a week it takes for her graphic designers to create social media content. Something she never underestimates, however, is the need to be constantly trying new things.
“It’s really important to make sure we are watching to see exactly what our customer likes us posting. We’re always trying new things, testing and measuring, and then if it goes well we will implement it more, and if not we cut back and do something differently. It’s all about experimentation.”
Captions, Captions, Captions
According to blogger Shiralee Coleman its best to post between 6-9pm and bright images (particularly those with blue tones) are always a hit, but don’t forget the power of words.
“Something brief and to the point, punchy, funny or that has character is what we are aiming for. Essays are not encouraged, although occasionally pages do [use them] and it works for their particular audience. Hashtag in the second comment so you don’t bombard people with all your tags in the first caption, and then go and engage with people who have just uploaded the same [hashtags] and are online at that moment. They are likely to come back to your page and show you the same love.
Ditch the Screen
In the last 18 months, in 70 countries, more than 1000 Instameets have taken place and joining – or hosting – a meet-up is a great way to meet your customers or other Instagrammers that can support you, says Kristen Joy Watts, the New York-based fashion lead for Instagram.
“Follow partners, spokespeople, advocates and influential members of the community whose storytelling relate to yours… consider meeting other Instagrammers in person, whether by attending an Instameet or asking someone out for a coffee. It’s about connection and creativity.”
Don’t Look For The Perfect Picture
Guidelines are an Instgrammer’s best friend says travel photographer Kirsten Alana, who advises you should respond to every single comment and believes in a stringent posting routine.
“On Instagram my rule is not more than twice a day. My average is once per day. I think it’s like dating. You should leave them wanting more. Post too much and people will want to break up with you.”
Oh, and a perfect picture doesn’t exist she says.
“There’s no such thing. The enjoyment of photography is so subjective that one person’s definition of perfect may be the very opposite to the person standing next to them. But sunsets, sunrises and cute kittens always seem to break the Internet and do well on Buzzfeed, so there’s that.”