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How to Build Your Instagram Presence #MyBlogU

Build Instagram trafficWe already talked about generating web traffic with Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. This month we’ll discuss a different beast: Instagram

Instagram is one of those platforms where generating traffic is not only more different (there are no clickable links in updates) but also matters most (users are less likely to click). You can nonetheless build sales and brand awareness this is what we’ll talk about.

We would like to say thank you to all who shared their actionable tips on how to build Instagram presence in this MyblogU project!

Research and Use Popular Hashtags

I’d like to start with my favorite topic: Hashtags. While Twitter invented them and Facebook and Google Plus are still trying to figure them out, Instagram has re-invented them. Instagram is the only platform where hashtags really make a huge difference.

Use Instagram app to search for popular hashtags to brainstorm updates that will bring exposure. Simply go to search and then click “Tags” tab: there start searching:

Instagram updates

Instagram allows users to post up to 30 hashtags for each picture your post and there’s no reason to try and limit their use but probably it’s not a good idea to use 30 each time. The only thing: Only use hashtags that make sense. Don’t just add hashtags for the sake of their popularity. Match content with the hashtags you are targeting. Also, make sure to vary your hashtags to find more popular ones.



Search a hashtag, then get a visual look at how that hashtag is being used on Instagram. This is a fantastic way to monitor the most heavily trending tags on the platform. But it is also a means to see what hashtags are being poorly represented. You can corner a keyword by checking out its competition.



Keyhole offers you to learn which updates earn the most interaction based on posting hour and day. Access hashtag analytics, including how they influence an image or video’s popularity. See it all at a glance in engagement rate graphs.

Keyhole shows related hashtags allowing you to discover more keywords to use.

Use Keyhole to identify related hashtags and influencers using your hashtags. Engage with those Instagram posts and their users to grow your reach.


SproutSocial is a more expensive option but it gives a lot of insight into Instagram hashtags. For example, you can see which hashtags your competitors are using on Instagram:

Instagram hashtags sproutsocial

Besides, SproutSocial allows you to see which hashtags drew most engaged users:

Top hashtags instagram

Note: The report is only useful if you add one hashtag per post. Otherwise, the platform will be confused which of your hashtags accounted for the popularity of your update.


Iconosquare is another neat tool allowing you to measure hashtag performance:

Iconosquare hashtag performance

You can:

  • Select the time period for the report.
  • Filter results by type of engagement.

Read more about this tool and other great Instagram hashtag analytics tools on Social Media Examiner (by Krista Wiltbank @kristawiltbank)

Use Creative and Captivating Captions

While Instagram is a highly visual network, image captions are very important. More specifically, in most cases, image captions will encourage you to engage with the update, especially when it comes to comments; and we all know social media success and engagement are inseparable.

So while your photo content (i.e. how inspiring, original and unique it is) is the most important thing for your Instagram success, captions provoke discussion, so never underestimate them.

Instagram hasn’t made it clear whether they have any character limit for the photo caption but the users found that they cannot type more than 2200 characters which is actually more than enough to come up with a creative copy.

Apart from using hashtags (which we already discussed last week), what else can you do to make your captions stand out, spread and spur interactions?

Here are a few tips:

Use Related or Fun Emojis

Emojis spur interest, convey emotions better than words and tell your story in a very cute way. Scientists have proven that when people look at emojis, the same parts of the brain are activated as when they look at a real human face. Emojis can change our mood and even alter our facial expressions.

Ask a Question

If you want your followers to comment, ask a question. Asking a question triggers a natural answering reflex in human beings. We have an instinct to answer which is related to our need for completion.

Unanswered questions are incomplete, so humans subconsciously try to answer (complete them). Thus, a well-placed question on an Instagram caption may prompt many of your followers to stop scrolling and contribute their answers.

Once they are interacting with you, it’s much easier to take their further into your conversion funnel, i.e. they are now much likelier to click your bio link or at least they will now remember you better.

Add a Call-to-Action

Ask your followers to click a link or go to your blog. Unless you do it every single time in every single update, they won’t mind!

Instagram call to action

Tell a Story

Even with business Instagram accounts, it’s important to get personal from time to time. Social media users relate to people better than to brands, so be a person!

@MinucaElena shares her tip:

You can add some personal images to bond with your readers (like photos where you use certain products you promote, images from blogging conferences from your niche or just friendly selfies from time to time). Be careful to not overdo it. You need followers that are attracted by the topic you blog about.

Any time you share a personal update, take your time to tell a full story. If it’s a photo from conference, tell about your struggles to be accepted to speak and your excitement to be there. If it’s a photo from your company get-together, tell a story of how you managed to build such a great team. Tell a lot of stories on Instagram to build empathy and loyalty. Here’s a great example from @humansofny

“I’ve always lived off my artwork all my life. I’ve lived all over the world. I’ve had fourteen common law wives. I’ve never needed money because I’m talented. Talent is better than money because it’s always with you. Let me give you an example. Back in 1970 I was getting dinner with a Japanese model at the Sao Paulo Hilton in Brazil. This guy from Texas was sitting at the table next to me, and he’s trying to order a steak, but he keeps sending it back to the kitchen. He keeps saying: ‘The steaks are better in Texas.’ After the second time he sends it back, the master chef comes out, and I hear him say in Portuguese: ‘I’m going to kill this man!’ Now being a Galician myself, I know the character of the Latin American people. If a French person says he’s going to kill you, you don’t have to worry. The French are lovers and all lovers are cowards. Trust me—several of my former wives are French. I know this. But when a Latin American tells you that he’s going to kill you, it’s time to leave. So I walked over to the man’s table and bought him a bottle of wine, and I talked with him about Texas. I knew all about Texas because I competed in fishing tournaments there. After a few minutes of talking, I tell the man: ‘If you order one more steak, you’re going to get killed with a machete.’ So he took my advice and he left. The entire restaurant staff came out and started singing to me with tambourines. They brought out free wine and a full spread. They said, ‘Your money is no good here.’ The Japanese model was so impressed. See what I mean? Talent.”

A post shared by Humans of New York (@humansofny) on

Tag and Quote

If you have someone to tag in your caption (which is always a great idea because tagging brings influencer interaction), go ahead and quote them in a caption. That is, if you did a video / podcast / text interview, use quotes and tag. If you met a niche influencer at an event, shoot a selfie of you two and ask to give a fun quote for the caption. This always works great for building up meaningful interactions!

Work on Your Instagram Bio

Minuca Elena @MinucaElena is the one who submitted this week’s Instagram tip:

Each social network attracts a different type of audience. Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are a great fit for bloggers that rely a lot on visual content. Sites from niches like fashion, travel, home decor, gardening, food, photography attract a lot of traffic to their blog.

Pay attention to your bio on Instagram. Write your mission statement (your niche in which you are blogging, what type of readers do you aim to help and why or how). You can fit all these in just a couple of clear sentences.

Here are a few more specific tips:

Make the full use of all allowed characters

Instagram bio can be 150 characters long max. Make sure to take the full advantage of the space because your bio is very visible within Instagram. It helps you build connections, market your business and build a memorable brand.

Again, use hashtags

While hashtags make your Instagram updates more findable, when it comes to the bio, they are perfect to convey your emotion or tell a quick joke. They are also great to brand your unique hashtag.

Play with emojis

Emojis make sense in Instagram bio too, especially because they save space and allow you to say more within the allowed character limit. Use emojis to signify:

  • Your hobbies and interests
  • Your Zodiac sign
  • Your family status
  • Point to your link below the bio or emphasize your call to action

Remember to include a link to your blog in your bio

Your bio is the only place on Instagram that allows clickable links, so it’s important to complete it if you want to get some clicks from Instagram.

Tip: Once you have a new article on your blog, you can temporally change your Instagram bio link to refer directly to your new post (especially when you publish a new update on Instagram to promote your blog post). In this case it will be easier for your followers to check out your article right away:

Instagram link

This will send more targeted traffic to your blog which is likely to convert and interact much better than home page clicks.

Further reading:

Use Instagram Tools for Better Photos

Instagram has lots of filters that make any photo look great. How do you stand out with your business account?

Here are a few tools to help!

Typorama (Free)


Typorama lets you create amazing visuals by “automagically” transforming your text and photos into beautiful typographic designs.

Aviary (Free)


Aviary offers over 1,500 free photo effects, frames and overlays. It even offers drawing tools to give you full control over the outcome.

Alternative: Pic Stitch.

PicFrame ($0.99)


PicFrame helps you combine multiple photos into amazing looking collages.

Layout (Free)

Layout is a simpler tool but it may be just enough for your needs (it is for mine!). Put together collages using 9 Camera Roll photos max.

Quotes Creator (Free)

Quotes Creator

Quotes Creator allows you to create beautiful visual quotes. Take a picture, overlay it with text and share within one minute of time.

For text, you can:

  • Pick a font (a bit limited but quite enough)
  • Adjust the font size
  • Adjust the photo brightness

Tiny Planet (Free)

Tiny Planet

Turn your photos into Tiny Planets, Rabbit Holes and amazing videos in one tap. Transform your panoramas, travel and landscape photos into unique artworks that can be shared on Instagram.

Alternative: Swipeable

Boomerang (Free)


Boomerang lets you create engaging content with just one button. The tool shoots a burst of 10 photos and turns them into a short mini-video that loops back and forth, in an animated GIF.

Hyperlapse (Free)


Hyperlapse lets you shoot time-lapsed videos.

Using Instagram’s in-house stabilization, Hyperlapse shoots polished time lapse videos that were previously impossible without bulky tripods and expensive equipment.

Clips (Free)


Clips lets you create short-form videos complete with special effects, text, graphics, and more. It allows you to add captions, so you can reuse the videos on Facebook too!

Offer a free product and hold a giveaway

Raelyn Tan has contributed a great idea:

Pay for Instagram ads with an image featuring an attractive product that you can procure at a low price. In the ad, say that you will be giving the product away for free to every single person that follows you on Instagram, and also get them to tag 3 friends. Say that all they have to do is pay for shipping and handling. Get them to pay for $9.95 shipping for the item and break even on the money you spend.

Following that, step back and watch your Instagram account grow. I recommend for you to first post a couple of high-quality photos onto your Instagram page so that your profile looks more legitimate, increasing the likelihood of people following your account.

Mentions of the month

MyBlogU community also helped in creation of this project:

Recommended projects to participate in

Thank you for being with us this month! See you in September!

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