4 Instagram Hacks That Actually Work

Instagram is a major player in the orchestra of online influence. For me, Instagram has become an outlet to share the core of my brand, my beliefs, and my heart. It’s the place in which new followers can be introduced to the value I can offer them in an environment that allows me to earn their trust.

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But sadly, most business owners have reduced their Instagram potential by posting mediocre photos with short captions and no consistency.

Below I will share 4 Instagram hacks that have grown not only my followers, but my engagement, my loyalty, and my sales.

1. Don’t Tell Me Who You Are; Tell Me What You Can Offer Me.

Your Instagram bio is 150 characters. It’s the only in-app information outside of your images users have available to make the decision to follow you or not. It’s a place to identify who you are, how you’re different, and what you can offer people.

But sadly, I see many bloggers and brands simply post a quote they love or some non-communicating words that feel artsy, but in reality, just confuse people. If we only realized how many people clicked on our profiles and were uninspired or confused by our bios, we might be more intentional with this critical real estate.

Regarding application, there are a few ways to approach a creative bio. You don’t have to be direct. The crafting of your words can bring color to the readers’ depiction of not just who you are, but what value they will obtain from following your account. Here are a few great examples I’ve found:

“Living a green, handmade life in an old Italian farmhouse with two toddlers, a tiny zoo, and the man that I love.” @growingwildthings
“This is the story of an adopted Mediterranean miniature donkey named Diego. Daily encouragements from my small farm in the Pacific Northwest.” @diegothedonkey 

Or my bio which is a balance of who I am and what I offer. But notice the words I have chosen. Because words are identifiers that trigger emotions, when I use the word “Father” or “Believer” or the phrase “Wildly in love” people can learn a lot about who I am in these tiny statements.

“Each post is a lesson. Father to Aria + Honor. Wildly in love. Farm in Oregon. Believer, bestselling author, & entrepreneur.” @dalepartridge

Bottom line: If your objective is to build an audience, then word-smithing your bio to clarify the vibrancy of value you intend to offer followers becomes paramount. Don’t be dull. Don’t be direct. Be creative and authentic to who you are.

2. Captions Should Draw People In, Not Drive Them To Scroll

Images are no longer enough to keep followers engaged. Now our captions must bring additional value to the user experience. This might be what makes my account so different. A few months ago I started the hashtag #EveryPostALesson and began treating my account as a place to offer short, useful lessons on leadership, business, and family.

This shift has changed everything. Not only is my engagement up, but I’m averaging 50-80 new followers per day from users tagging their friends in my posts with statements like, “@someone read this!” or “@someone follow this guy.” Here are a few popular lessons from my account: Lesson, lesson, and lesson.

Ultimately, this tactic comes with an increased post time. Not only are you spending the time to shoot and edit a photo, but you’re spending 15-20 minutes writing a short, powerful lesson.

But you can’t beat the value. As business owners, we must realize that people buy when people trust. And when we are captivating our followers with authentic, vulnerable, and useful lessons our tribe begins to feel close to us. They begin to know us. And they begin to refer us.

Bottom line: Your Instagram account is a chance to build a connection with your fans. Captivating captions take time, but the reward of a community of people who love you is worth it.

3. People Don’t Engage With Ugly

We must end the idea that raw iPhone photos are going to perform as well as those taken with intentionality, edited with care, and posted with purpose. To me, this form of negligent posting is based on two areas: Ignorance and/or laziness. Both are non-attractive qualities for a brand or online personality.

Of all the social media networks available to us as business owners, Instagram demands the highest level of creativity.

And our lack of creativity tells people, “If they don’t care about small details, then they probably don’t care about the big ones either.”

Bottom Line: In life, ugly things typically fall flat. Whether it’s bad interior design, an app that’s hard to navigate, or a blurry unedited photo on Instagram. I understand that learning the art of photography seems overwhelming, but taking the time to line up a photo with clean composition, good lighting, and a natural edit will earn the eyes of your followers and the appreciation of all.

4. Consistency is greater than frequency.

Nobody likes an unintentional, disorganized, inconsistent friend. The same emotions apply to Instagram. But consistency comes in a few forms. From regular posting times and editing style to the topics and imagery we promote. If you haven’t noticed, the accounts with the most followers and highest engagement are those that post every day, with similarly styled photos and an unchanging voice.

As business owners we must remember, front of mind equals tip of the tongue.

Social media is highly built upon momentum. Irregularity allows for your brand to fall to the backdrop of your follower’s minds. The rub is the cost of consistency. People struggle with the commitment and discipline required to post strong content every single day.

Bottom Line: It’s better to post once per day for seven days than two posts on Monday, none on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, and another on Saturday. Secondly, define your style. Aim to produce images of similar color, content, and communication. By offering a steady voice and approach to your account, you will remove the barriers of people looking to offer you their loyalties.

What about you? What has worked well on your Instagram account? Is there anyone I should be following? Let me know in the comments below.

Go From Instagram To Small Business

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Author

Dale Partridge
Dale Partridge is the Founder of StartupCamp.com. He's also a keynote speaker and author of the Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling book People Over Profit.

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  1. Ben Jimmerson says:

    Hey Dale and Team would really appreciate you checking out my Instagram and replying with your thoughts and suggestions in a private message on Instagram. My instagram is _jimmytherealestateagent.

    I get and understand consistency but here is how I think and I get decent engagement as far as likes not so much conversation as most don’t conversation anymore it’s more about attention and they simply heart/like things on Instagram but back to how I think about consistency. I have always been the type of person as everyone is going right I’m going left so that brings us to consistency. Everyone is trying to be consistent usually meaning it’s a lot of the same things over and over again just packaged in a different way.

    As much as I would like to be consistent I feel like being more authentic and real is 10x better. When I post I want it to be something different and unique. Something captivating so people will stop but not just that’s as much as a learning experience. I want it to be something that provides massive value. I feel like when people are consistent on things such as social media maybe more so Instagram it turns people off. People have the mindset that they get annoyed when to much Content is put out so they tend to start to ignore post when they see the same persons name. Where as if you post the best possible content you can when you do it grabs more attention. It’s something new to them and exciting so they stop and pay attention. They take a moment to read and learn. To ponder and analyze. I hope all that made sense.

    Please give me some constructive criticism on my Instagram thanks!

    Reply
  2. Wesley Selley says:

    Hey Dale, your writings are amazing. Thank you for allowing God to use you in the area. You and your family are beyond inspirational.

    Reply
  3. Thank you Dale, great article, it helped me to re-shape my bio and some of the content, now I’m more convinced in to work harder on the quality of my pictures and to place a message that provide meaning, if you can, please check mine and I would love to hear your comments, @iSpanglish
    Best.

    Jflores.

    Reply
    • Ben Sturgill says:

      Thanks J, so glad you found it helpful. Checked yours out and you have some great photos, but as you already mentioned, that meaningful message is also an important add. Keep up the good work.

      Reply
  4. andrea says:

    hi dale! LOVE LOVE this article! i recently started working for a big influencer and i would really love your advice on her instagram…can you take a look?! https://www.instagram.com/heidiswapp/

    thanks for your help! i have always been a fan!

    Reply
    • Hey, Andrea! An easy boost for her IG account would just be to amp up the quality of images and purpose/clarity of captions! The engagement is low, and that is most likely because her content isn’t really captivating or standing out in any way to a majority of her audience. Sure, the images are real-life, but they can be real AND beautiful. Hire a fantastic photographer and get really good at writing powerful, honest, and/or witty captions. That should amplify the engagement quite a it over a fairly short amount of time!

      Reply
      • andrea says:

        thank you for your feedback! this is very helpful!! it’s so great that you take the time to chat with your fans…I really admire that!

        Reply
  5. Hi Dale,

    Great post. Thanks for sharing some of your secrets to creating a great Instagram – your honesty is inspiring and motivating!

    My husband and I have been listening to your podcast for months from Australia and are just about to launch our first business, Page and Pine. If you have a spare minute, I’d love some advice about our Instagram page; @pageandpine .

    You’re a blessing to so many, keep it up. (Plus it’s so cool that you actually reply to people’s comments, sets you apart!)

    Larissa.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the encouragement, Larissa! I am so humbled by it. And I’ve checked out your Insta feed for @pageandpine! Super great start. I’d incorporate more backgrounds to the account other than the one wood look. Try using people, too! And throw wit/humor in there as often as possible (its an incredibly comforting and connecting tool that creative brands should use way more often.)

      Reply
  6. Yesssss! I love all of these tips! I am doing my best to implement them all in my own work! Have any suggestions for mine? Instagram.com/kaleydignen

    Reply
    • Great feed, Kaley! I’d say just make sure you keep sharing real, honest parts of life in either the image or the caption, or both which is better! People want real connection. 🙂

      Reply
  7. I just started but using quotes on high quality pics seems to be getting more engagement… I’m curious if anyone has switched their personal Instagram account to the business account? Any pros or cons to switching?

    Reply
    • I have not. I know it’s a new function. I bet it will offer analytics which might be cool.

      Reply
    • Sara says:

      I’ve heard that it’s helpful because it (of course) connects your IG account to your business page on Facebook. It gives insight into analytics and then gives followers the option to contact you from your IG profile but deliver the message to your FB Business page inbox where you will be more likely to (1) get notified you have a message, and (2) faster to respond to it since it’s far more native to message via FB than it is still on Instagram.

      …from what I’ve heard. 🙂

      Reply
  8. Dom says:

    Great article. It reiterated the philosophical wisdom my boss (patiently) imparts on us every day.
    Just a little spelling error with one of your “Your”. Before point 3.
    Thank you Dale.

    Reply
  9. Great article – the no nonsense approach is refreshingly honest and to the point. Totally agree with all of this!

    Reply
  10. Marko says:

    Invaluable advice. It gives a clear perspective and shows your comprehension on modern marketing. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  11. OKRickety says:

    Had to laugh when I read “If they don’t care about small details, then they probably don’t care about the big ones either.” followed immediately by “Botton Line:”. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Thanks for this post, Dale. Just what I needed to hear!

    I’ve been working on creating my instagram content behind the scenes for a few weeks now so I can time it for consistency. The thing I am struggling with is the colour theme. I know some people I follow have a ‘faded’ theme etc. But I just can’t seem to find a theme.

    If you have a moment I’d really appreciate if you could look at my account and give me some feedback – http://www.instagram.com/heartlifestyle – my main theme is travel and creating a life you love. I was happy with all my Santorini pictures as they are bright and beautiful… but somewhere along the way I feel like my theme has disappeared? I feel a little stuck at the moment and need a bit of wisdom to get the ball rolling again.

    Thanks!

    Sapphire

    Reply
    • Thanks Sapphire! Looks like you haven’t posted on your feed for a while. Keeping those post consistent is important. The pictures look great, but engagement is just as important as the pictures you are posting.

      Reply
      • Thanks for checking it out Dale! 🙂 I’m making consistency my number one priority from now, I think the theme/colour scheme will naturally come to me once I’ve got the hang of it.

        Always look forward to your posts sitting in my inbox! Thanks again.

        Reply
  13. Hi Dale! Excellent information, I’ve already applied some of these tips to my Instagram account. Do you advise using a dslr camera instead of an iPhone or android camera? Also, could you elaborate on any advice when it comes to videos? Since those have become huge and are a vital part of my own Instagram account. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I would advise using a nice camera for your post. I use a DSLR for my photos and videos. Specifically the Samsung nx500.

      Reply
  14. i usually read your blogs love way of explanation of topic and most attractive part of your articles is Photo as well well done Dale

    Reply
  15. Thanks for this great article! Your Instagram account is so uplifting and always puts a smile on my face. I run the Instagram for a small online ministry (@helpclubformoms) and am always trying to make improvements. Your tips were super helpful.

    Reply
  16. Dale,

    Thanks so much for these wise tips. Your advice is always so helpful and seemingly right on time. The thing that has been working for, a little, has been hash- tagging, but in all honesty, I’m not always a fan of how it looks. It seems to sometimes come across as begging for followers instead of gaining N genuine ones. However, I recognize that it’s one of the biggest seeming opportunities to bring awareness to my page. I would love to hear your thoughts. I am currently brainstorming a re-branding strategy and would love for you to check out my page at @perrywisdom at Instagram.

    Again, thanks so much for your encouraging words and thoughtful and timely messages.

    Best,
    Aarsenio Perry

    Reply
  17. Thanks for this article Dale, I could not agree more, it has definitely made me think of some things I need to look at changing over on my IG (@missaimeefleur) Thanks again

    Reply
  18. Fantastic article Dale and extremely timely for me as I am beginning to put together my social media strategy!

    Thanks so much for more great insight.

    Nick

    Reply
  19. Awesome and valuable tips dale! While my insta (@nishseq) is fresh and i dont have a product to sell these tips are great in just conveying to people who you are and being authentic.

    Another tip thats worked for me is not just responding to every comment but taking the time to visit their insta and learn about them. While its time consuming, it results in having much better conversations on a personal level. My insta is small so i can still manage this!

    Reply
  20. I love reading all of your blogs. All the information is fresh and gives different ideas. There are way to many blogs out there that all generally say the same thing but yours really stands out to me. I can’t wait to read more and see more emails in my inbox 🙂

    Reply
    • I completely agree with you, Alicia. Too often I land on posts about “hacking Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.” and they always say the same things.

      Thank you, Dale, for offering a fresh, new perspective. I’ve personally been trying out #2 with one of my clients. It hasn’t gotten much traction yet, but I think it will start to take off.

      Personally, I always “expand” the Instagram captions of users I know consistently write inspiring captions. Once people realize you’re sharing an interesting story or information with your photos, then they’ll get in that habit, too!

      Reply
  21. Love this! Thank you for sharing. Do you have any recommendations on how to take better and edit pictures? What equipment/apps do you use?

    Reply
    • Thanks Kevin! I use a dslr for most of my photos, specifically the Samsung NX500. I use VSCO for all of my editing.

      Reply
      • Sara says:

        Do you have specific preset that you prefer? I noticed that your photos all tend to have a similar style with the lighting + the tone, so I was curious. I tend to get super distracted with all the options on VSCO because I’m like: “Oooh! We could go with dark + moody. Oooh! We could go with chromatic + in-your-face-bright!” versus having a consistent preset style.

        I’m working on learning better photography hacks to help my new IG feed. Ooooh, you should totally do a quick photography hacking class to share your tips + tricks for both phone and camera. I would TOTALLY join that class! 🙂

        Reply
        • No favorite presets! I usually edit each picture individually depending on what I feel it needs in order to line up with the feel of pictures I usually like, or I choose a photographer I know will edit and tone the way I like 🙂

          Reply
  22. Randy Barias says:

    Thank you this Dale! U always provide fresh and honest perspectives on things. THANK YOU!

    Reply
  23. I would love for you to check out @treeschool! We are still a very young company. We believe childhood matters, being a daddy I think a lot of what we do will speak to your heart. I am also a StartupCamp student 🤗👊🏼. Loved this article. We are striving to fine tune our skills and this gave us a lot to work on!

    Reply
  24. Great stuff Dale! We’ve been focusing on stepping up our quality over the last year (@inpursuitpromo). For me, that’s the easy part. The hard part is the consistency. Thanks for the encouragement tips. I’m going to have to take a good look at our bio.

    Reply
    • Completely agree. The consistency is key, but so hard. Thanks Eric!

      Reply

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