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How to post on Instagram

So, you made a beautiful post and uploaded it to Instagram, then nothing happened. One like, no new followers and it was just lost in the feed. If this is happening to you often let's take a look at ways to improve posts to reach more people, gain followers and have your message reach the target audience.

Instagram is a social media platform, but unlike the others because it is primarily visual and social. What i mean by that is the picture is the main driving force. Readers can clearly see the picture but can only read the first sentence unless they expand the text box.

Pictures Rule

A gorgeous picture that is unusual is going to catch the viewers' attention. That will push people to hit the follow button above picture. People are going to be interested in having more gorgeous, interesting pictures on their feed. When you are creating a picture for the post make it look like your brand, make it memorable and make it attractive.

There is more to Instagram than pretty pictures though. Although pictures are the main draw in Instagram it is a social platform. Unlike Facebook it isn't a personal, social platform for the most part. I can't tell you how many followers I lose when I post personal content. Be wary, you may do well going on and on about your Mother-in-laws thanksgiving dinner, but I doubt it. Instagrammers want to see upbeat, beautiful content. More along the lines of quickly scrolling through their feed seeing new information, new life hacks, new products or life experiences that are unusual. Consider posting events that people would love to be at, fresh new products that look cool, places people don't normally see, and life hacks or crafts that people would want to do.


There is much more to Instagram than meets the eye if you are a new member. There are hashtags. These are subjects that match your picture or message. If I am in Chicago at a flower market, I would take a beautiful picture and write under caption something catchy " Where can you get a fire Lilac? Chicago Flower Market!" Then under the caption I am going to place hashtags. These hashtags can be followed by anyone on Instagram, not just your friends. So, when i hashtag #Chicago, IL #FlowerMarket #FireLilac, everyone in the world that is following #Chicago,IL #FlowerMarket #FireLilac will see my post.

It is amazing free advertising!!!

There is a catch though always. Most common hashtags have millions of posts. The post amount for #soycandles is around 24million. So when I use #soycandles as a hashtag the chance of anyone seeing it is slim. It is normal practice the try to use hashtags with around 5k,10k posts. They have a better chance showing up in peoples feeds. Something like #soycoffeecandles may have a better shot at getting views.

I post and add 1-2 big common hashtags, 3 uncommon ones and 1 that is made by me.

For our example I would write

" Where can you get a fire Lilac? Chicago Flower Market!" It is sunny and 73 degrees, perfect weather to shop the most unusual flower arrangements on the market. Come check it out at 123 W. East st. Chicago, IL. They are here until 4pm.

You can see I have Things to do Chicago,IL, Flower Shop and Garden Lover. These are going to be very common hashtags that millions of people are subscribed to, and millions are posting to. My post probably wont show up in anyone's feed just for that hashtag. Ill explain in a minute why I would even use it.

The next ones in italics purple flowers, drought resistant flowers and small space gardening are uncommon hashtags. These are awesome because if someone is subscribed to those subjects they are really interested in the exact thing I'm showing. They probably love purple flowers, collect drought resistant plants or are looking for small space gardening solutions. These hashtags are uncommon too so the odds of my post showing on peoples feeds are high.

The last ones in bold are specific to me. My goal with these are to have people subscribe to them and be my personal audience. If i post amazing flower pictures that are unusual, people will be driven to subscribe to that hashtag. Every time i use the hashtag it will go to their feed.


So what's this subscribe thing I am talking about? Well in the lower bar you can see a search icon. Press the icon and search for anything and it will show you posts that used that hashtag. I love flowers so I am going to search for purple flowers. Each post from many people will show up in order of popularity. I then click on the accounts I like and follow them. This makes my feed full of my interests.

I follow sewing, candles, DIY and some brands that I love. I enjoy staying up to date with the newest content from those people or subjects.

Now we know we need interesting, uncommon photos/videos and a good mix of hashtags. There is a little bit more to this platform.

Likes are more than feelings

Likes make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. It is so cool when people take time to press like to show your content is enjoyed. It is an amazing feeling to see the phone ping hundreds of likes. These likes actually have a value. The more a post is liked the more Instagram is going to push that post to new audiences. The algorithm can see that this post is well loved and is going to push that reach as far as possible. That will also rank your post higher on one of the common boards. If my post is well loved and gets hundreds of likes, then the hashtag #ThingstodoinChicago,IL is going to save my post to the top. When people search "ThingstodoinChicago,IL" my original post will be right there at the top. On top of millions!

The difference between followers and subscribers is that a follower is always going to see your post. They get every new post you put on Instagram; a subscriber is only seeing that hashtag when its used. The goal would be to have people see your hashtag post and decide to follow you. That makes them part of your dedicated audience.

Timing is everything, Maybe

Weve covered a lot and I know most of these topics could go in depth for days. I want to cover one more overview for this post. Timing. Lots of blogs will tell you timing is everything. Programs are out there that use metrics to post for you at the right time. I am not convinced it's that serious. Maybe I am wrong. It looks to me that Instagram is going to push a highly liked post for days regardless of time. But I still loosely adhere to timing.

The world is on a 24 hr. time zone cycle. If I post at 1am my time its noon somewhere. But of course my target audience isn't in the middle east where my post is going to show up at noon. My target audience is sales in the US. So unless my audience doesn't follow many people or is up at 1am then my post gets buried under hours of other posts until my target audience wakes up. Try to think of when your audience is on Instagram. If you are promoting a midnight concert 8-11pm would be appropriate time to reach the concert going night owls. If you are posting gardening tips or exercise early morning will reach these early birds. We assume most people work 9-5 or so. They are going to check their Instagram on lunch breaks, after work and before bedtime. When we run giveaways, we usually end them on Friday at 6-7pm. This gives our target audience something to think about on the workdays leading up to giveaway and maybe mention to coworkers at lunch time. Then on Friday when the giveaway winner is announced everyone is in great mood because its Friday, they are excited for us to announce winner and maybe they will mention it to their family and friends over the weekend.

If we announced winner at 3am on Sunday I would expect no one would even notice. They are probably asleep and surely wouldn't remember in am to include us in their conversations.

So, when you look to increase engagement on Instagram follow these steps

  1. Post interesting, uncommon photos/videos that entice people to see more.

  2. Use a mix of hashtags to show your post to interested people.

  3. Post at strategic times that your target audience is on Instagram.

It takes time to build a fan base. People who love your products and content and want to see more. Dont get discouraged. Instagram is not all that it appears, there are many scammers, fakes and tricky people. Lots of people will follow you to sell you something, like ad placements. What they are offering isnt a trick, per say. They are offering to post your post on their page. They usually have 10,000 followers or more. The idea is that 10,000 new people will see your product. Be wary, you dont know the 10,000 people. They could be fake accounts, or not your target audience. In this case any exposure isnt necessarily good exposure. Their audience could be an audience of 10,000 other scammers. They cant steal your account, but it will be a waste of marketing money to have unauthorized people marketing your product on their page. Its also hard to click through their account to get to your account when they post for you.

And for the love of all do not listen to these scammers that say you won something- if you didn't interact with a reputable company's giveaway- you didn't win shit but a scam trying to get your money or account information.

If you get a message with prayer hands asking for help voting in ambassador program its a scam. They want you to add them to your account so they can steal your information.

And absolutely no one needs your help because they are locked out of their account. Why would Instagram have you verify a strangers account? They wouldn't, it's a scam.

The internet is just like real life, some people want friendship and are interested in you and your work. Many people want a free ride and are scamming to get one. Be cautious in life and online.

Magnolia & Willows started as a candle and home goods store. We make natural, soy candles with pop art flair. Follow our small business journey as we learn and grow and pass our learning onto the next small business owners. We are stronger together and knowledge shouldn't be hidden, it should be built upon by each of us.

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