Anyone who uses Instagram for business or blogging will know how hard it is to grow. Over the past few months I have been trying out a few different tips, tricks and apps to try and see what works and what doesn’t. I wanted to share with you what I have learnt and which are my Top Apps For Instagram. I have spoken before about how I fell out of love with Instagram and how I got back on track. And I have even spoken about some of the things I use for styling my Instagram. But now I want to discuss the whole process in a little more depth.
Instagram is Tough
For those of us that are struggle to understand why Instagram is so slow to grow I wanted to help give a few pointers that I have picked up recently and answer a couple of frequently asked questions. Does the algorithm shadow ban people? Possibly. Does it favour those who pay over those who don’t? Probably. Is there a secret formula that makes it easier? Unlikely. I am not an expert but I have been listening to advice of some people who really do know what they are talking about and they all say the same 5 ‘tricks’ will boost your instagram.
- Engage. Engage everywhere. In your feed and on the hashtags you use. Check out your following section under notifications and engage with those that are online (this is the one of the only chronological areas on Instagram so the most recent activity is shown first). Don’t just like photos but comment where you want to too. And not just comments like “Beautiful” because that doesn’t mean much even if the photo is indeed, beautiful.
- Use hashtags. And use them all. Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags and I suggest you do. Some people say putting them in the caption gives them a greater reach. Others say just one or two in the caption and the rest as a comment. I personally put them in the first comment for the most part and after much experimentation I don’t find the hashtag location makes much of a difference. I will discuss hastags is more depth in a moment.
- Create consistent and good content. Not all content needs to be curated or absolutely perfect but it should be consistent so that people know what to expect from you and that will ensure your photos will stand out as yours within their feed. But if you ask me the photo’s you post should be the best photos you can do. I have posted substandard a lot in the past and I have always regretted it.
- Post consistently. I find this harder to do as every now and then things change and I struggle to post at the same time as the day before. But generally it is best to post to a schedule. This does take away from the ‘Instant’ part of Instagram but for me that is what stories are best for now. I can post to stories in the moment but save my best work for my main feed.
- Stories. Post to stories regularly. I have fallen out of love with stories lately but I am getting back on track with them. My inadvertent break from them has shown me the importance and connection between stories and overall reach. When you post you show at the top of everyones feed and occasionally half way down. It also helps Instagram highlight your main posts. Plus… You can hashtag stories which opens them up to an audience outside of your followers.
So as you can see there isn’t really a trick or a hack to grow on Instagram organically. It just takes time, a lot of consitency and a lot of hard work.
To make all of this hard work a little easier I use a few apps to help keep me organised and prepared which I thought I would share with you. So here are my Top Apps For Instagram.
Lightroom is a photo editing app that is available on its own or as part of a larger Adobe package. I am sorry but I have no idea how much it costs as I was bought Lightroom and Photoshop as a Christmas present a couple of years ago. I know Hubby pays for it monthly and I am sure it costs somewhere like £10 a month (this includes the app and Mac access to Lightroom and Photoshop).
There are a lot of photo editing apps available and I have used a lot of them. VSCO, Snapseed…. They are all very good. But for me Lightroom is the best. It works beautifully on an IOS platform and because it is part of an Adobe package I can quickly swap my editor from Lightroom to Photoshop and back again on the laptop. My phone and laptop automatically sync so I have all my edited photos in both places.
The app (and software) is so easy to use. You can make huge adjustments to a photo or very subtle ones. I know a lot of people are not a fan of edited photos but the truth is award winning photos were not just ‘point and shoot’ images; they have been tweaked and perfected in post production. Most of us can’t afford thousands of pounds worth of photography equipment but we can afford to enhance our work with some basic apps.
Hashtagger is a recent discovery for me but it has revolutionised my use of Hashtags. This app allows you to input a hashtag of your choice. I have chosen to show you the results under ‘#pblogger’ as it is one I use often. Once you input the hashtag you want to search around the app will search the use of this hashtag on Instagram and show you the top 100 other hashtags most commonly used in conjunction with #pblogger. You can select “Top 30” and the app will copy the top 30 tags to your clipboard ready for pasting, or you can go through and select each tag individually from the 100 shown.
I would recommend going through individually as it ensures you only have tags that are appropriate to your picture.
Use all 30
This brings me back to hashtags in general. Use all 30 I beg of you. If you want to grow then hashtags will be the biggest tool that you can control to help get your work seen by as many potential followers as possible. I know it can look spammy but it really isn’t, think of it as good business marketing. You want to sell yourself and your work. There is only so much word of mouth that will get you customers as a business. You need posters and adverts out there to entice people. Hashtags are your poster distributers. If you are worried about looking spammy then I would suggest you put a few in your main caption, maybe two or three and then the rest in the first comment. Once you have a few comments on your picture this hashtag comment will be truncated and doesn’t show up unless someone physically views all of your comments.
The other thing of note is that you need to post your hashtags at the same time as posting your photo, or within a few seconds. Instagram keeps the hashtags in chronological order so if you forget to tag for over an hour your photo will appear but along with all the other photos posted an hour ago.
This is a great app that allows you to plan your overall grid. This does completely detract from the instant Instagram but I have found that to genuinely grow I need to post at the times of the day that my audience is most likely to be online. Therefore there is nothing Instant about my Instagram anyway. This app allows you to upload the photos you want to post to Instagram and then to arrange them into the order you want to publish them. There is no limit to the amount of times you can change things around. It even allows you to crop and adjust the images, such as changing the brightness and exposure. I crop all of my images into squares to ensure they look exactly how I want them.
This allows me to take photos in bulk when I have the time. Life can be hectic and it is hard to get a photo a day. Also, I find that some days I am in the mood for taking flatlays and others I want portraits. Preview allows me to store these images so that I don’t publish similar flatlays all at once. Whilst many of my followers may not notice that is what I am doing, (as Instagram shows published posts into peoples feed at random times,) this holds a huge benefit when attracting people to hit that follow button. If someone finds one of your photos on Instagram and likes it enough to click through to your profile then what will they see? Will they like what they see enough to hit ‘Follow’? People will rarely follow off the merit of one photo but if they find they like 12 or more photos then they will be far more inclined to follow. And these are the people you want following you. Genuine fans who will like and engage with your work.
The joy of being able to Preview all of your upcoming posts alongside your existing posts is that you can see how they all work together. Is there a recurring theme or ‘feel’? If not you can edit the image within the app to make it work, or you could decide to ditch it all together.
Even more features…
The other fabulous feature with this app is that you can caption and tag your image within the app ready for posting. I select my upcoming image on the day and write out the caption I want posted with it. I can then add my 30 hashtags, which I can do using Hashtagger or I can use the saved hashtags function. Once I have selected and typed or pasted my 30 hashtags there is a + button which will save that selection of hashtags as a preset for me. So, if I post a picture with one of the girls and some photos I have a saved preset containing 30 hashtags suitable for both children and flowers. That way my hashtags are always mixed up which should help with reach and the photo should be seen by an appropriate audience. I can even post directly to Instagram from this app. As it exports ready for publishing it will copy my caption ready for pasting in Instagram.
Generally I use my Olympus PEN EPL8 to take my photos. This is an amazing camera which allows me to customise the shutter setting to take as many photos as I need with a gap between them that works. However, the camera is heavy and I struggle to get overhead shots with it. To get these I use my phone either in my teeth or in a cardboard holder taped to the ceiling (yes seriously I go to this much effort). Using the basic camera on the phone I wouldn’t be ready for the picture to be taken when the shutter goes off. This app allows you to customise the amount of photos taken and at the timing gap. This allows me to press the shutter button and then get ready to capture the perfect overhead shot.
This is an app I only use for stories although you could use the images for your feed. Hype Type creates moving writing over a photo of your choice. You can even add music over the top and elongate how long the post is, from 4 seconds to 15 seconds. This means it can be used to add some interesting text and sounds over your image before posting to your stories.
Do you use any of these apps or do you use alternatives? Let me know if you have any of your own Top Apps For Instagram as I am always on the look out for things to make my posting and creating for Instagram easier.
*This post contains affiliate links so I may receive a small fee for referring you. However all of these apps I genuinely use and recommend.