11 Instagram Tips for Beginners

Follow these essential tips when getting started on Instagram

hands on a cellphone taking picture of sky with palm tree at sunset

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Instagram is one of the hottest social networks right now. Besides being visually appealing and easy to access on the go, it's also pretty simple to learn how to use Instagram.

There's no better time than now to get started with Instagram. The following 10 tips can help you make the best out of your own Instagram experience so you can grow your followers and increase engagement.

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Post Interesting, Colorful Photos and Videos

Photo of dessert

Martine Feiereisen / EyeEm / Getty Images

Instagram is all about providing value to your followers, especially if you want more engagement. In this case, your goal should be to post photos and videos that evoke some kind of emotion – happiness, humor, motivation, nostalgia, love or anything else. High-quality photos with a lot of colors tend to get the most action on Instagram.

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Don't Overdo It With the Filter Effects

Photo with too many filters

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Instagram provides you with a bunch of filters you can apply to your photos to automatically enhance the look and style, but that trend seems to have already hit its peak. People want photos and videos that are colorful, but relatively natural-looking. Although filter effects may be tempting, try to limit your use of them to keep the color and contrast normal in most of your photos.

You can learn how to use Instagram filters to enhance their natural look rather than distort it. Check out the best Instagram filters of 2018 to learn which filters you should use for specific photos.

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Feel Free to Use Hashtags, But Use Them Sparingly

Uso de hashtag en Internet
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Using hashtags is a great way to increase you reach on Instagram, encourage more engagement and even attract new followers. Unfortunately, some people take it way too far. Their captions are often bloated with hashtags – many of which aren't even relevant to the topic of their photo. If you do decide to use hashtags, make sure to keep it to a minimum, and only use keywords that are relevant.

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Use the Explore Tab (Popular Page) to Find Great New Content

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The Explore tab on Instagram is where some of the most popular photos and videos get featured. The photos that are shown here are tailored to you according to the photos and videos that have been liked or commented on by people you follow. You can find new users to follow or engage with by checking out this tab regularly by tapping the magnifying glass icon in the bottom menu.  

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Post Often to Keep Followers Interested

Child waving hand out of window of car

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If you want to keep followers engaged, you need to post new content on a regular basis. That doesn't mean you need to be posting 10 photos a day. In fact, posting once a day – or at least once every other day – should be frequent enough to keep your current followers interested. If you go long periods of time without posting, don't be surprised if you lose a few followers.

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Use Instagram Direct to Contact Specific Users

Man's hands taking city pictures with phone
Artur Debat / Getty Images

Although it's a good idea to post frequently to keep your followers engaged, sometimes it's not always necessary to publicly post something to all your followers. Instead. you can target one or more specific users by privately direct messaging them a photo or video. Instagram Direct is a great way to connect with specific groups of users without needing to broadcast your content to everyone all at once.

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Interact With Your Followers

People sorted into groups by color represent the statistical technique of cluster analysis.

Magictorch / Getty Images

Never ignore your most loyal followers who regularly like and comment on your photos! That's a surefire way to eventually drive people away. Instead, you want to make your followers feel valued. Reply to their comments or even go check out their account and like a few of their photos. You can use a third-party tool like Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) if you want, to track comments and see which users are interacting with you the most.

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Don't Be Tempted to Purchase Followers

Illustration of man and woman exchanging money

Jerry Nelson / Illustration Works / Getty Images

There's a lot of hype around buying Instagram followers. And it's true that you can get some big numbers for pretty cheap. The problem with buying them is that they're often mostly fake and inactive. Your account may look a little strange to users who see that you have 15,000 followers, but almost no likes or comments on your photos and videos. Stick to real engagement. It's not all about the numbers.

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Experiment With Shoutouts

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Interacting with your current followers is always recommended, but the more people you reach out to, the better. Doing a shout out or s4s with another account in the same follower range is a very fast and effective way to reach more people. Two users basically agree to give the other a shoutout post on their own accounts. This is actually the main technique that many Instagram users have used to grow their accounts by the thousands.

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Stay on Top of the Latest Instagram Trends

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Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Hashtags and shoutouts are great, but even trends like these will eventually have an expiry date. If Instagram is a major social networking platform for you, it's important to keep up with the latest trends to avoid getting left behind and putting yourself at risk of losing valuable followers. Check out these five big trends that are currently hot on Instagram.

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Post Stories

Illustration of Instagram with people liking a phone

 

SiberianArt / Getty Images

Stories are less permanent, more "in the moment" pieces of content that you can post for your followers to see. They come in the form both photos and videos, which automatically disappear after 24 hours. They can be viewed at the top of the feed (in the form of circular bubbles). Stories simply offer a more casual way to connect, share and interact with your followers.