The 2018 guide to mastering Instagram

Including the best hashtag stacks to use

You’ve seen it before, ordinary people with hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram. They post impeccable photos and their followers are full of flattery. How do you get a slice of that action?

The good news is that it’s not all lens flares and maxi dresses. All you need are a few tips to get the most out of the social media platform.

 

Build your brand

A key way to forge an emotional connection with your audience is to share authentic, personal stories. While it’s true that your Instagram feed is merely a curation of your life’s moments, authenticity is critical in today’s personality-driven world. This extends to both your photos and your captions.

What do you stand for? What do you want your Instagram posts to say about you?

Being authentic doesn’t necessarily mean #nofilter. It just means being expressive about who you are and what you believe in.

Take a look at any influencer on Instagram - it's clear that their personality is their brand. Whether you’re an architecture nerd or a bubbly party girl, you need to find your passion and niche so that what you post truly resonates with you and conveys a consistent narrative.

Being true to yourself is also what sets you apart from an ocean of other wannabes - anyone can have interesting stories to tell, but there’s no one like you.

Let your photos be a window into your life, and your captions be a reflection of your thoughts.

 

Craft a consistent aesthetic

Aesthetics are incredibly important on Instagram. It is, after all, a platform all about visuals.

Giving your Instagram feed a consistent theme doesn’t have to be a daunting task. You can start with slapping on the same filter across all your photos, or adorning all of them with the same border.

As you find your voice and an aesthetic that you love, you’ll have a better grasp of how to achieve the look you desire.

You can also use apps like Later (iOS, Android) and UNUM (iOS, Android) to plan your Instagram feed and see which photos look best next to each other.

Hone your hashtag game

Hashtags are what allow more people to discover your content on Instagram, especially now that you can follow hashtags for them to appear on your timeline. So it’s definitely wise to include some in your post.

While you’re allowed up to 30 hashtags per post, it’s generally recommended that you use anywhere from 2-11 hashtags so that your post doesn’t look overly spammy. However, if you’re just starting out and have a low follower count, don’t be shy about maximising the reach that 30 hashtags give you. Just make sure to keep your hashtags to a separate comment so that the original post is clutter-free.

If you’re looking for some hashtags you can use in your posts, search no further. Here are some of the best and most actively used hashtags for different categories.

General:

#instagood #photooftheday #picoftheday #instamood #agameoftones #liveauthentic #flashesofdelight #darlingmovement #thatsdarling #fromwhereistand #makemoments #nothingisordinary #thehappynow #pursuepretty #livethelittlethings #moodygrams #abmhappylife #justgoshoot #ohwowyes

People:

#postthepeople #friendsandwalls #bravogreatphoto #bravoportraits #aovportraits #aov #artofvisuals #portraitpage #portraitgames #quietthechaos #of2humans #discoverportrait #pursuitofportraits #portraitmood #theportraitcentral #moodyports #777luckyfish #portraitphotography #portrait_vision #earth_portraits #photohunted #portraitsociety #ftmedd #featuremeofh

Food:

#foodporn #beautifulcuisines #foodstyling #tastemade #foodphotography #feedfeed #eatpretty #f52grams #dailycortado #sweettoothforever #onthetable #onmytable #cntravelereats #huffposttaste #eeeeeats

Travel:

#passionpassport #doyoutravel #mytinyatlas #openmyworld #createexplore #visualsofearth #welltravelled #dametraveler #lonelyplanet #bestvacations #keepitwild

Fashion:

#fashion #ootd #outfitoftheday #wiwt #wiw #whatiwore #style #instastyle #madewell #lookbook #aboutalook #fashioninsta

Colourful:

#livecolorfully #abmlifeiscolorful #acolorstory #ihavethisthingwithcolor #myunicornlife #candyminimal

Looking for hashtags for a different theme? Try an app like Focalmark (iOS, Android) to help you find ones that are relevant to your photo.

Follow people like you

A lot companies that promise to grow your Instagram following do so by using your account to follow and like accounts and posts that share your aesthetic and niche. That’s something you can already do on your own!

Go into the Explore Tab on Instagram and look at what posts and accounts catch your fancy. You can also start following commonly used hashtags that fit your brand to discover content similar to your own.

Be proactive about following accounts you genuinely enjoy and liking their content. By doing so, you’ll draw attention to your own account in the process. Happy Instagramming!