How To Win Friends & Influence People On Instagram

I've been on Instagram for years but it was only in February this year that I started spamming with endless photographs of my house.  Much to the disbelief of my family, I've gone from having 80 followers to 12.5k followers in nine months.  Even my kids friends think it's cool.  And it's hard to make a 14 year old think you have any hint of coolness about you at 45, believe me.  Tbh, I'm in a permanent state of shock that so many of you look at my feed but if you're reading this and follow me, I would hazard a guess that you are as mad about interiors as I am.  So under much pressure,  I've put together a brief synopsis of how it all works. 

Know Your Niche And Stick To It

This an absolute must.  What are you into?  Whether it's home decor, tattoos, shoes, animals or S&M (hopefully not all together), you need a niche.  The biggest accounts have one main theme running through their feeds.  Decide on your niche and stick to it.  Don't waver.

 This is my niche and I'm sticking to it.

This is my niche and I'm sticking to it.

Be Like Mario Testino

Obvs but ESSENTIAL.  Blurry, out of focus or wonky just won't cut it.  Plan it out - I probably take about 20 photos of the same shot before I decide which one to post.  And I still often remove posts when I decide ten minutes later that they're shit or I don't like the filter.  Obsessive, not.  A photographer told me recently that natural light is always the best for taking shots so I try and take mine in the morning. Instagram has loads of filters you can experiment with and VSCO and Hipstamatic are also worth a look.  When people go in to follow you they look at your feed as a whole so your photos need to be spot on.  I generally use my iPhone but I also have an SLR if I've got time to do it properly.  Joe bought it under duress as a present so most of the time I tell him I've used it so he thinks he's getting value for money.

 This took about 50 takes.  Bloody hell.

This took about 50 takes.  Bloody hell.

Follow The Big Hitters

They know their stuff.  Find who are the top accounts in your niche and follow them.  See what they do and how they post and then apply the same to your own feed.  Check out who they follow and get their inspo from and do the same.  Basics. 

 Bath.  Plants.  Mirror.  Sequins. How to take a viral picture by  @deecampling

Bath.  Plants.  Mirror.  Sequins. How to take a viral picture by @deecampling

Hashtag The F**k Out Of Your Posts

So how do you hashtag your posts?  You can add up to 30 hashtags per post.  For info, if you add any more than that and go to share, it will delete all your caption so it's worth copying it before you post just in case you've gone over the hashtag limit.  Check out the main accounts in your niche and see what they are using.  The main interiors blogs also have their own hashtags.  Try tagging apartmenttherapy, atmine, interior4all, retroregram.  These accounts all regram their favourite posts.

 If you don't hashtag, you're going nowhere.  Neon by  @bagandbones .

If you don't hashtag, you're going nowhere.  Neon by @bagandbones.

But Help! I Don't Understand Hashtags!

Hashtags are the basis of the Instagram community.  A hashtag works by compiling all posts that have the same theme into one feed, making it a hotbed of inspiration for anyone in the interiors game.  The Americans have got this sussed big time and with four new hashtags launched here in the UK in the last month, we are trying to catch up.  In case you've missed them, these are the ones you need to be tagging to:

myhomevibe - hosted by @deecampling @around_houses and me, @_lisa_dawson_ .  How do you style your home?  We want to know, as do the rest of Instagram interiors.

styleitdark - hosted by @artynads @cowboykate_ and @jazzierere.  A homage to the joys of the dark interior.  Moody, sultry and cool.

colourmyhome - hosted by @plasticvintage @carnivalofcolour @pinkhouseliving and @nicolabroughton38.  Dedicated to colourful interiors.  Who doesn't love colour in their home?  Show them how you do it.

allthingsmetric - hosted by @metric_spaceinteriors.  Geometric delights and decor.  From wallpaper to lighting to home accessories, Samantha wants to know.

Each of these hashtags choose a winner every week that they regram so it's brilliant for attracting new followers and also building up your Instagram contacts.  Use hashtags according to your niche - as above, check what the Big Hitters are hashtagging and copy.

 An abundance of UK hashtags you need to be using.

An abundance of UK hashtags you need to be using.

Selfie Free Zone

In the interiors world, it's a harsh fact but everyone knows that if you want to lose followers quickly, post a selfie.  The reality is that people follow you because of your home and lifestyle. They don't want to see you in it.  You are a distraction from the main event.  This only applies to the interiors feeds, btw.  Obvs it would be hard to not take a selfie if your speciality was wearing hats.

 The only conditions under which selfies are acceptable is during Aperol Spritz drinking at an Instameet.

The only conditions under which selfies are acceptable is during Aperol Spritz drinking at an Instameet.

No One Wants To See You In Speedos

As @chezdazzle_p once stated, displaying your holiday photos is Instagram suicide.  For pretty much the same reason as the selfie.  Post a holiday pic and you can guarantee to lose hundreds of your followers virtually immediately.  They don't want to see you relaxing on a sunbed drinking a mojito whilst they are crammed on the Bakerloo Line about to go into a four hour meeting.  Click, unfollowed.  

 On holiday.  It almost had minus likes.

On holiday.  It almost had minus likes.

Instagram Stories - The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

New in the last update, Instagram Stories is the bomb.  The last two points I've mentioned?  Ignore them when it comes to Stories.  You can post endless selfies, visits to the hairdresser, your dinner, your kids, you in the bath, your pants, whatever you like - it stays on for 24 hours and people can CHOOSE to look at it.  Which is why it's so brilliant.  If you put these photos on your feed you would drown in the Instagram abyss but on Stories, it's fair game.  If they don't want to look, they don't have to.  And I LOVE it.  Game changer. 

 No one really needs to know about my dinner but that's why I love it.

No one really needs to know about my dinner but that's why I love it.

Don't Buy Followers And Look Like A Knob

I didn't realise this was even a possibility until my kids started accusing me of doing it.  I checked it out and you can immediately tell the people who haven't obtained their followers by 'natural' means.  There are two ways to work this out.  The first is to look at their follower list.  Bought followers generally have either very few or no posts whatsoever, follow loads of accounts and have no one following them.  They also generally have unpronounceable names.  The second is to see how many likes they get in comparison to their photographs.  For example, if they've got 2,500 followers and their photo likes are in single digits, the likelihood of their followers being legit is very small.   Don't even consider it.  If you follow the unofficial Instagram rules, your followers will grow organically, i.e., they actually want to follow you and like what you are doing.  It's a natural progression.

 This person isn't real.  Get over yourself.

This person isn't real.  Get over yourself.

Prime Time Posting

So there are certain times of the day that are best to post your pictures in order to maximise traffic.  After months of studying this very subject, here are my conclusions.

Before 9.30 am.  Preferably when you are getting the children ready for school and everyone is shouting at you to make them toast or find their PE kit.  Abuse to be thrown at you for burning toast and realising you forgot to wash the PE kit when you are typing out the hashtags instead of paying attention to family.

After 7.00 pm.  Perfect timing for putting the children to bed and making dinner.  This time is really popular with Joe who loves it when I totally ignore him when he comes in from work and tries to speak to me about his day.  Also popular with the children who accuse me of spending more time with my Instagram account than with them in the evenings.

 The kitchen.  Hub of the home and centre for Instagram abuse.

The kitchen.  Hub of the home and centre for Instagram abuse.

The (Unofficial) Instagram Code Of Conduct.  It's Not The Law, But...

People take the time to comment on your posts.  They are generally always lovely and complimentary so it is only right that you should take the time and make the effort to comment back.  You should also comment on others posts if you really like them seeing as they take the time to take a photograph and post.  You know what I mean.  It's like an unsaid Instagram Code Of Conduct.  Be nice and it will come back to you one hundredfold.  Trolling is unusual but the more followers you have, the more it is likely to happen.  Trolls are easily blocked.  Logic says, if you don't like someone's feed, don't follow them.  Full stop.  Oh, and regramming.  Regrams should always have the originator tagged so that people know where the photo is from.  

 Everyone being nice to each other.  Photo courtesy of @pinterest.

Everyone being nice to each other.  Photo courtesy of @pinterest.

So that's about it.  I'm small fry in the world of Instagram but I do think it's possible for everyone to build their accounts if they stick to the rules.  Instagram works because it's all about growing a creative community and sharing inspiration.  It's completely different from the other social medias.  We laugh in the face of Facebook, we scoff at the sight of Snapchat.  Long live Instagram.