Lessons Learned and 7 New Tips From Week 2 of My 21 Day Instagram Experiment

It’s been an exceptionally busy time for me. And it shows, as you’ll discover in this post because I wasn’t able to keep up with my Instagram posts as I’d hoped. I’m now entering the third week of this little experiment, but let’s look back at what happened last week.

On Monday, I discovered that the number of people following my personal Instagram account @felishalin had actually dropped from 608 followers to 596. What a surprise that was. I’m not quite sure what happened or why it happened. There could be any number of reasons. Perhaps it’s because I didn’t post daily. In that one week period (from April 3–10), I only posted three times. And two of those times were on the same day. Oops. So much for posting daily. Or perhaps it’s because I didn’t follow back some of the new followers that I’d acquired- this seems like a more plausible explanation for why I lost a couple of followers. I’ll expand on the importance of following people on Instagram a bit later on in this post.

Meanwhile, the number of followers on my other Instagram account @ICarteverywhere went up to 280+ followers. I didn’t take a screenshot of @ICarteverywhere at the beginning of last week (April 3–10). But at the time this blog was written @icarteverywhere had 294 followers, which is definitely more than the 200 it had at the beginning of this 21 days of Instagram. I’ll share how I was able to increase the number of followers for @ICarteverywhere later on.

Admittedly I don’t always post daily on my personal Instagram account, @felishalin, because on a regular day-to-day basis, I might not always have a photo or something “Instagram worthy” to post. It’s not like I plan out what I’m going to post ahead of time, but maybe I should, if I want to maintain a daily posting schedule at a minimum. I’ve read some articles on Instagram that recommend posting two to three times a day! But I’m having problems just trying to do the minimum of posting once a day.

Here’s a tip to save an idea for a future post: if I have a photo or image that I want to use for a future post I’ll set it up in Instagram save it as a draft. Sometimes I do that because I don’t have time to write a caption for it, or I know that I want to share the photo/image later, on a specific date.

Between my two Instagram accounts @felishalin and @ICarteverywhere, I’m more apt to post daily on @ICarteverywhere. The reason is that @ICarteverywhere is dedicated to art, especially street art. So it’s not hard to decide what to post, as long as I have a library of photos to choose from. Fortunately there’s lots of street art to be photographed in New York. I’m always on the lookout and constantly taking photos of murals or graffiti that I come across. Last summer I found myself taking so many photos of street art and graffiti that I figured I should create an Instagram account solely dedicated to sharing those photos. That lead to the creation of @ICarteverywhere.

With my personal Instagram account, @felishalin I mainly have photos, photos/ images related to my blog posts, and a couple of videos. I don’t always have content to post on a daily basis and I’d like to add other created content such as a quote, but it takes time to create. I’ll have to work on this, and try to post more than 2 out of 7 days a week, if not daily.

What happened when I implemented some of the tips that I shared in last week’s post?

Tips #1, #2 & 3 are good strategies that need to be used over time to create and build engagement. I’ve tried them with my personal Instagram account @felishalin, but it’s too soon to see what results it will yield me. Clearly, I need to do better with Tips #1, #2 & #3 since the number of followers I had on that account dropped in a week’s time. It is going to take some sustained effort and attention to consistently implement these three strategies.

Regarding Tip #5: Don’t over hashtag your post’s caption, I’ve tried clean up my captions by separating additional hashtags and posting them in the first comment of a post.

I’ve also tried another method of separating hashtags by putting blank lines in between the main caption and additional hashtags.

I didn’t notice any difference in how many likes these two different posts got. So I think that keeping the caption clean by using either of these methods seems to work just fine.

With Tip #6, I’m still trying to find popular targeted hashtags that are most appropriate for my posts.

And with Tip #7 from last week: Ask a question in your post’s caption, I intended to try it out but I never got around to it. I’ll definitely try this out this week. The response I get will be a good way to see how engaged my Instagram followers are.

I also never got around to trying out BONUS Tip #8: Share a borrowed or original quote. In the past I’ve taken photos of quotes or witty signage that I’ve come across, but those are not always that easy to come by. So I am thinking about using photos I’ve taken and combining them with quotes to create new Instagram posts.

One thing that I did try was a tactic that I’ll call “guerilla following.” I learned this from the many Instagram articles and training videos I’ve read and watched. Here’s what it entails: 1) Find an Instagram account similar to yours 2) Find their most popular posts (preferably a post that would be similar to something you’d post on your Instagram) 3) Look at who liked the most popular posts and follow everyone who liked the posts 4) Keep doing this over and over with other Instagram accounts and their most popular posts 5) Follow 80 Instagram accounts every hour for a couple of hours. With Instagram this is the quickest way to get followers. Follow someone first and it’s likely that they will follow you back. If you follow these steps you will have a massive number of people following you back on Instagram.

I tried out this “guerilla following” technique with my @ICarteverywhere Instagram account and it worked! It was fairly easy to find other Instagram accounts focused on sharing photos of street art and art.

This behavior of following and people following back on Instagram is why it’s important to follow back those who follow you, and because I didn’t do that, that might be why I lost a couple of followers from my personal Instagram account @felishalin.

It’s good to know: who your new followers are, who your most engaged followers are, who is not following you back, and to monitor when are the best times for you to post on Instagram. Monitor and take note of which posts get the most likes and what time of day they were posted. Experiment with posting at different times of the day. There’s probably app that can help you will all of this. To find an app to give you Instagram analytics and to learn about several other great Instagram tools, I’d recommend reading 10 of the Best Instagram Tools by Lilach Bullock.

Another way to acquire new followers on your Instagram account is to cross promote your Instagram on other social media platforms. I tried this out on Facebook on Monday with @ICarteverywhere.

I’ve also done this on occasion with photos from Instagram that I’ve shared on Twitter.

Time for a summary…

Here are the Lessons I’ve Learned From Week 2:

  1. Post frequently if not daily
  2. Consistently engage with others on Instagram
  3. Follow back those who follow you
  4. Plan posts ahead of time

Tips Shared In This Post:

1. Plan your posts in advance by creating a posting calendar. Select images to post on a daily basis. Plan the captions for each post and the order in which you are going to post them.

2. Save an idea in draft for a future post. If you have a photo or image that you don’t have a caption for yet or want to use for a future post, simply set it up in Instagram save it as a draft. Come back to it later when you are ready to finish writing the caption and to post it.

3. Keep your captions clean by adding blank lines between different sections and to separate out a series of hashtags.

4. Try the “guerilla following” tactic to get a massive number of new followers. Identify similar Instagram accounts and their most popular posts, then just follow all of the people who liked the post.

5. Figure out the best times for you to post on Instagram. Experiment and observe which posts are most popular and what time of day they were posted. There are apps and tools that can help you monitor your Instagram posts, which brings me to the next tip…

6. Try out some of the 10 of the Best Instagram Tools by Lilach Bullock

7. Cross promote your Instagram account on other social media platforms. Share one of your Instagram posts on another social media platform and mention that the post originally came from your Instagram handle, or invite those who like the post to follow you on Instagram.

BONUS Tip:

8. Use Instagram Stories. While Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours. They get additional exposure in that 24 hour time frame since they are shown prominently at the top of one’s Instagram feed.