Instagram Cheat Sheet — Follow These 8 Steps Every Time You Post

Since Instagram is a major tool for businesses today and since you keep hearing tips and tricks to make the most out of your account, I decided to share with you the exact process you should go through every time you decide to post a picture on this platform.

Instagram got more and more technical over time, and getting the technique right is the best way to focus on content creation rather than reading about obscure techniques and weird hacks to “trick the algorithm”

There is no magic formula, if your content is bad to start with, this cheat sheet will not save you.

However, if you’re taking professional pictures and if you have an actual value to deliver to your audience, these steps are the actual best way to get your content to be seen by your followers but also to be discovered by a broader audience.

Portrait images take a larger space while scrolling through your feed. That makes your content stand out more. It also makes your post look bigger and nicer on a mobile device. If you only have landscape pictures, crop them into portrait, it does make a difference! You want your content to take as much space as possible!

Drop keywords, make it short and straight forward. You want your content to be as easy to consume as possible. I know it became trendy to use Instagram posts as small blog posts lately. While the Instagram algorithm does take into account the amount of time a user spends on a post, I really think spreading a clear and simple message should be the priority. Even if this is impossible to measure, I really don’t believe that most people read these long posts. The attention span is extremely low on Instagram, you want your picture to stand out — that’s why a portrait format image is important — and your message to be delivered clearly and simply, without having to click to read more.

Use 30 of them. Only use less popular hashtags, those with 90k to 600k publications in them. Don’t bother using more general hashtags, it won’t help your content get discovered. Spend time finding the best 30 hashtags of your niche, hashtags are still a very powerful tool to use to get your content discovered. You won’t regret spending extra minutes finding the best ones.

I wrote an entire guide about hashtags that you can find here.

To make it cleaner, people used to post hashtags separately, in the first comment of their post. Don’t do that, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and it is likely that this technique won’t work in the long run. However, try to make a clear separation between your caption and your list of 30 hashtags. It will increase the readability, but it will also make your post cleaner and more professional looking.

Be specific. Don’t just add the city, tag the most precise location possible. If it was in a restaurant, tag that specific restaurant. It will make your post stand out more than if you were to tag the town you were in. Small businesses also love to share UGCs on their Instagram feed. If your content gets reposted by another account, that will mean more exposure for you, for free!

If you want more information about this new feature, I’ve written a dedicated article that you can find here.

Basically, an Alt Text (short for Alternative Text) is a series of keywords that describes your image. Instagram uses its AI algorithms to determine what’s on your image so it can better understand what your audience likes and it can then recommend your content to a similar audience. You can write your own Alt Text (that’s a new feature Instagram launched in 2019) by going in the advanced settings when your post from your phone (scroll down to find it). From there, write your own Alt Text: put as many keywords as you can regarding your specific niche and audience. Your input will be more precise than what Instagram’s AI can do, therefore, it can boost your visibility on the platform.

Not only the people, but also the visible brands, the location, the model, the photographer, the camera brand that was used to take the shot and so on. Tag everything that you can see in the picture. Don’t be spammy, only tag what’s relevant, but make sure to tag what’s visible.

This one probably goes totally against what you’ve always heard. Your analytics on Instagram show you when your followers are online. Avoid those time frames. Everyone and every brand will be posting at these hours. Those time frames are extremely competitive and your content can be totally ignored and masked by Instagram if it does not perform as well as your competitors’ posts. By posting before or after these rush hours, you’re avoiding the competition. As less content will be posted at this specific time, your post has a higher chance of showing up first on someone’s home screen.

Make sure you follow these 8 things every time you post on Instagram.

By being consistent on the platform and by making sure you’re following these 8 steps every time, I can assure you that you will grow on Instagram. More and more people will discover your content and more and more people will engage with it. Instagram is not about “hacking the algorithm” nor it is about secret techniques that you haven’t heard of yet. It’s about being consistent, it’s about getting to know your audience and how to interact and engage with it.

Don’t forget that technique doesn’t do everything in social media. But you have to get the technique right in order to focus on discussions and interactions.

Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.

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