So you want more views?

A lot of people whose visuals end up going viral didn’t plan on it, absurd moments matched up with the ever-presence of smartphones usually brings in the magic. The outcome is 15 minutes of fame they probably didn’t shoot for.

For those who seek to achieve this Insta-fame, it’s discouraging when you don’t make the cut.

And numbers like this pile up the frustration:

User time on Instagram spent viewing videos rises by 80% annually, and there’s a 4 times increase in the number of videos uploaded to the social app daily.

Or this:

Approximately 70% of people on Instagram view Insta-Stories daily.

If there are so many views flying around on Instagram like the data states, why do I struggle to get them? Well, for one with the platforms ultra-smart algorithm and tons of creative users, it’s harder than ever to gain engagements.

But with over 1 billion active monthly users and 500 million people using the app daily Instagram is one of the best social media platforms to build a loyal following, market your brand and gain views for your content.

You just need to follow the right tips, tricks and strategies that you’ll see in this article and those views will come rolling in:

Post at the Right Time

It is important to know the best periods to churn out content as your target audience would likely be most active at certain times of the week or day and not always.

You also need to consider the time zone of your audience to determine what time they’ll probably be using the platform. However, the right time can vary based on your kind of brand and the target market you’re shooting at.

For instance, one of the worst times to post would be when your audience is asleep as within four hours, your content will be lost on your followers feeds and once they wake up, the post won’t be visible to them.

So much so that Instagram guru and business coach, Sue B. Zimmerman had this to say about posting at an optimal time:

It could take a while to get a long-term understanding of your audience’s activity but it’s crucial to ensure that you post when most of your followers are online.

The key to setting an effective post schedule lies in knowing the exact period when your audience has the time to check the platform. With that said, there are a lot of reports with varying opinions on the best time to post on Instagram.

One of such reports is from the brand known as Later. After analyzing 12 million Instagram posts they concluded that 9 am to 11 am EST is the best time to post on the social app. They went further to itemize the best times on each day of the week to make a post.

See the chart below:

Even though the result of this research may be true for some brands, it isn’t true for all. This is why it is important to find a personalized best time to post. You can use Instagram insights or any social media analytics tool to monitor relevant data that will enable you to discover at what time your audience would need your content the most.

With Instagram Insights, all you need to do is to go the Analytics tab, select “Audience” and you will see the location of the majority of your audience.

Just like this screenshot:

Knowing where the majority of your audience or followers are located will enable you to know their time zone and when they’re awake or active online. Instagram insights also offer a plethora of additional data like the age of your audience and gender, alongside their most active periods.

Here’s an example:

Once you have gotten an idea of the time the users you’re targeting would be active online based on the data gathered, you can proceed to test out the different posting times, to know the perfect time for your brand.

The easiest way to know what works is to measure the engagement rate for the posts you make at different times; the post with the highest engagement will enable you to know the best period.

If you run the test process repeatedly and still get an exact time with the highest engagement, you can then mark it as the best time to post.

Depending on the location or time zone of your audience, the perfect posting time may be at awkward times of the day or night, if you are faced with this challenge, scheduling your content would help.

You can also use Iconosquare to know the best time to post.

Schedule some posts on Instagram with the scheduler and the perfect time for posting will be calculated and displayed on the scheduler calendar for you after you’ve made a substantial amount of posts.

The best time will be shown as a yellow star on the calendar and you can then begin to post at the indicated time.

Like this:

Once you have discovered the best time to post, ensure that you post consistently. The more you post, the more accurate your timing will be.

Upload Quality Visuals

Instagram is a visual platform and users on the platform continuously show their love for such content.

And data backs this up:

Pictures posted on Instagram generate 23% more engagement than those posted on Facebook.

But to capture the attention of users on the platform you need to upload original and high-quality pictures or videos as only visuals that stand out from the nominal posts on Instagram feeds attracts people.

A pro tip to put a quality stamp on your content would be to ensure that your pictures have a dominant color, as this has been proven to help in increasing photo views on the platform.

A study involving 8 million images discovered that images with a dominant color generate 17% more likes than images that have multiple dominant colors.

As you begin to pay attention to certain aspects of your visuals such as the color and quality of the pictures that you upload, you will attract users who admire your content and this translates to more views.

To upload quality images, it’s best practice to have a good camera. Even though there are smartphones with great picture quality, you still need to invest in a camera, as the results would be worlds apart.

US-based supplement company Onnit took this approach by taking high-quality photos of their products and staff activities, and the content strategy certainly worked as the brand has over 361, 000 followers on the platform who view their content.

A pro tip is that you go for mirrorless cameras as they usually have great quality and the results are easy to edit.

Below are some photography tips that will improve the quality of your pictures:

Use Natural Light

Natural lighting plays a key role in determining the quality of a picture so you may not want to rely on flash.

Flash doesn’t do a lot of good most times because it can wash out the subject and flatten out the picture. Take pictures outside as much as you can, but if you can’t, make sure the room is well lit. Even at nighttime sources of ambient light are better than flash.

Take Pictures at the Right Time

The time of the day with low sunlight on the horizon is a perfect time to take pictures.

Shooting directly under the sun can affect the quality of your picture. If you choose to shoot at midday, ensure that there are clouds in the sky, as clouds will give your picture a softer and more flattering effect because they diffuse the light from the sun.

Choose a Captivating Background

The background of the picture is as important as the object you are shooting. If the background is ugly or distracting, it ruins the beauty of the entire message you’re trying to pass across using the picture.

Make use of creative, awesome, and relevant backgrounds if you want your visuals to captivate your audience.

Use Vibrant Colors

Bright colors give a happy and energetic vibe to your content and have a positive effect on the viewer. Adding a pop of bright color to your visuals can add life to an otherwise boring and mundane image.

A perfect example is Brit+Co’s page, with over 160,000 followers and high engagement rates the brand’s Instagram is full of colorful and bright visuals alongside quirky quotes.

Capture Candid Action

The subject does not always need to be picture perfect. Taking pictures of candid moments of excitement, motion or fun can make pictures more entertaining. You can take up to 10 pictures within a minute to capture a candid moment.

Humor

You don’t have to always take formal pictures. Humor is rewarding on Instagram because it’s a social place. If you want your pictures to capture the heart of your target audience you need to add a touch of humor to your pictures.

Edit your Pictures

Always ensure that you edit your pictures before uploading them. There are so many good apps that you can use to edit your photos, and you can start by whitening and brightening the necessary areas before uploading them to Instagram.

Privacy Please is a great example, the brand has managed to pull a large Instagram following and one of the major reasons is the quality of the images they upload. All the brand’s visuals have their temperature heightened to give a glow on the subject.

Here’s an up close one:

Use Popular Hashtags

An easy way to increase the number of views you get on your Instagram posts is to use popular hashtags.

Here’s why:

Research shows that Instagram posts that use hashtags get more views, likes, and comments than posts that don’t.

Certain hashtags are popular within a particular niche, discover which hashtag is popular for your niche and use them in your posts. Popular hashtags always show up in the search feeds so when people search for them your post will be displayed in the result if hashtags are included.

This is a great way to increase the visibility of your posts on Instagram, as you get to reach people who may not know your brand or username on the platform but are searching for something related. When they search for the hashtag, they’ll be able to see your posts and interact with them.

Now, except you command a massive following, don’t try to make your own hashtags, you won’t get any significant result as users would not be searching for those terms. But if you blend other aspects into the mix like using influencers to run your hashtags, creating unique hashtags would work excellently.

One of the most inspiring unique hashtag campaigns is the Lay’s #DoUsAFlavor hashtag. The brand asked users to use the hashtag while voting for their favorite Lay’s Flavor.

Lay’s also got the help of influencers to promote the contest via the hashtag like in the image below:

Also, at certain times the more hashtags you use, the more the views and engagements your posts get. Using not less than 10 hashtags per post can increase the number of views the post gets.

And the stats support this:

Posts containing 9 hashtags got more than 2.5 times engagements and hashtags that perform best have about 21 characters.

An excellent approach to this would be to add 10 hashtags to your Insta-Stories; and then hide them with a sticker.

Like this:

This way your viewers don’t see your content as spam and can focus on your message.

Engage with Other Accounts in your Niche

Engaging with the content of other accounts in your niche is an effective way to increase your Instagram views.

When you engage with other people’s content, you increase your visibility. The more you like and comment on other people’s posts, the more likes and comments you will receive on your post.

This, however, does not mean that you should engage with random accounts just because they have large followings. The key to seeing results with this approach is to engage with credible accounts like proven influencers, thought leaders and other relevant accounts in your niche.

Ensure that the account you are engaging with has an audience that is similar to yours and that you can benefit from.

As you leave thoughtful comments on the posts of these people, you become visible to their audience and they will check your profile and go through your content to see if it is valuable to them.

Take a look at how Verizon media did this:

The brand commented on a post about Virgin by Huffpost and this put them right where they could engage with the followers of HuffPost.

So let’s see three simple ways that you can search for accounts in our niche to engage with:

Searching for Keywords in the Account Bio

You can type in specific keywords that are common to the bio of people in your niche in the search bar and search. Instagram will show you a result of relevant matches that you can go through and choose the most relevant.

Check Instagram Recommended Content

Instagram often displays recommendations of content to every user. These recommendations are usually related to your brand.

Like this:

You can go through the recommendations and check the profiles of the owners of the recommended content and if they are relevant in your niche, you can follow them and begin to engage with their content.

Searching for Hashtags in your Niche

When you search for hashtags in your niche, you will see contents and accounts in your niche that use the hashtags. Go through the search results and follow the accounts that have similar audiences with you.

Post Frequently on Instagram Stories

Over 500 million people use Instagram Stories daily.

And if that’s not enough to convince you to dive in there’s more:

Instagram stories have 2 to 3 times more engagement than regular content

Insta-stories allow you to create fun content that may not be like what you post on your feeds. Instagram stories should be fun and entertaining enough to make your target audience engage more with your content.

To increase your Instagram views using Instagram stories, below are a few things that you can do:

Tell a story

One of the simplest ways to get more people to view your Instagram profile and posts is to tell a story in your Insta-stories.

Try to make the story straight to the point and captivating. Don’t just upload random visuals on your story, tell a story that will let the target audience understand the meaning of the images.

When they understand the context, they’ll want to engage with other posts.

Here’s the perfect example, food brand Daily Harvest sell unprocessed frozen foods and use Stories to show the possibilities of their product.

The images flip one after another and tell a story of their product.

Make use of Stickers

Making use of stickers in your Instagram stories makes them more exciting, fun and interactive. Instagram has various kinds of stickers, but the poll stickers and the question stickers are quite effective.

Poll stickers are used to get the opinion of the audience on a particular topic. You can use the poll stickers to get general feedback about your brand or product.

Here’s an example:

Just like Hubspot did in this post:

Question stickers, on the other hand, are used to prompt your audience to ask you a question regarding your brand or any other thing you want answers too.

The founder of Shopbando did this ahead of a live event asking users to drop questions about the event:

Adding stickers to your story is a great way to get more views to your posts as they make your posts interactive and on social media, everyone has an opinion!

Add captions

Some people think that Story captions aren’t that important – after all visuals take the center stage on Instagram. But a great Story matched up with a powerful caption can make your post more accessible.

For example, deaf activist Nyle DiMarco in a tweet appreciated Ocasio-Cortez for making her Insta-Stories more accessible to deaf people by adding captions to her Stories.

Take out time to write a summary of what you are saying in the video and it will increase your audience reach. This is because a lot of people go through their Instagram stories and feeds with their sound off.

When you have a caption, users will be able to know what you are saying even without sound.

Organize Stories Contests

You can get more Instagram views by organizing contests on your Instagram stories as Instagram accounts that hold contest have a 70% faster growth rate than those that don’t.

And that’s not all:

Posts that are related to contest receive 64× more comments and 3.5 more likes than regular posts.

The contests can be as simple as asking users to fill out your survey for a prize. This will increase the number of people that engage with your content.

Here’s a detailed contest image post you can extrapolate its idea for a Story contest:

Add Prompts

Adding prompts to your stories entails telling your audience what you want them to do. This can increase and retain the views you get especially for a multiple tile story.

You can use prompts like “Tap for more” or “Hold to Read” for users to get the full content of a story or to get additional relevant information. You could also use the “Get Ready” prompt to create excitement and prepare the audience for what is coming on the next tile this will keep them engaged with your story.

The aim of doing all of this is to show the creativity and personality of your brand as well as keep users glued to your posts.

With 1/3 of the most viewed Instagram stories belonging to businesses and one out of every 5 stories receiving a direct message from its viewers. There’s enough proof that Instagram stories can indeed boost your engagements.

Write Good Captions

Captions can bring out otherwise hidden aspects of your visuals on Instagram. For example, check out this post by Olive Clothing:

The captions used revealed certain aspects that people would miss at first glance when scrolling through their feeds.

Users spend more time looking at the posts that have captions and this increases the visibility of your post. Including a caption expresses personality and enables your audience to understand the context of the picture.

There are different ways you can write your caption. It can be a short and straight to the point caption that gives a context to the picture or it can be long and detailed.

Long and detailed captions are usually to tell a story. Captions can also be funny, entertaining or thought provoking. Your caption can also be a question that will trigger interaction in the comment section.

You can also add a call-to-action in your caption which will be used to increase the number of views the post gets.

How?

Well, the call to action can be in the form of asking your users to tag their friends who will be interested in the post. When they tag their friends, the tagged friends will also tag other people and within a short while, the post will have a massive amount of views.

A more subtle approach would be to ask a question like the tech brand Intel did in of their posts:

Or like Lego:

Comment on Other Users Content Before and After You Post

Directly engaging with content before and immediately after you post is an effective way to generate views for your post especially within the first hour of posting.

To find relevant accounts to engage with you can check the content recommendation page:

Then choose the most relatable posts to your recent post and add an interesting comment on them.

If your comments are hilarious, or intriguing enough, and other users that see your comments on the visual will visit your profile and view your recent posts.

Once the Instagram algorithm notices that your post has gotten lots of engagement within the first hour of posting, it will mark your post as a quality one and allow it to rank high up in the feeds of your followers, further boosting your views.

The good thing about this method is that even after a long while the comments that you left on the posts of others before and after you posted on your feed will still be available for their followers to see. And would still pull in views.

It’s a strategy that won’t only get you lots of views but also allows the Instagram algorithm to give your post a high rank.

Collaborate with Like-minded Brands

Many brands offer services like yours and a lot of influencers within your niche can help to increase the number of followers and views you have.

Take out time to research and connect with the right ones that you can work together with to boost your brand. But don’t rush into a partnership with any brand or influencer you see, as there are three major things you should be on the lookout for when partnering with a brand or influencer.

First, are your goals similar? If your goals are similar then the success of the partnership is 90% guaranteed, but if the goals are conflicting, you may end up achieving nothing.

Take for example Melbourne based bakery Lune’s collaboration with chocolatier Koko Black. Both brands having the same goals formed an amazing product and used Instagram as part of their promotional tools.

The fact that you have the same target audience or product does not mean that your goals are similar, so don’t get into a partnership because your brand sells the same kind of product or service.

On the other hand, you may have different products but have similar business goals. The similarity of goals will make you work well together and produce a unity that your target audience would want to engage with.

The second thing to consider is whether the partnership can last for at least a year. With Instagram users becoming more aware of sponsored ads, they tend to trust long-term partnerships more than one-off contracts.

The longer you collaborate with the other brand or influencer, the more your target audience trusts you.

One-off sponsored collaboration projects do not yield the kind of engagements that long-term partnerships yield. To get the best out of the partnership try to make the contract be a long-term one, for at least one year.

Finally, you need to consider what your audience will gain from collaboration. If you collaborate with an influencer strictly for what you will gain while neglecting the audience, you will not get the desired result.

The product of your collaboration needs to be unique, valuable and unequaled. Once your audience discovers that they can’t get the kind of value you offer elsewhere they will engage more with your posts and also tag their friends.

When reaching out to other brands or influencers, ensure that you wow them with your authenticity. Make your proposal irresistible. There is every possibility that they get lots of similar requests from other people, so yours has to be exceptional.

Make the uniqueness of your content style obvious to them. If you do it right, some brands may even offer to feature you on their page and this will expose you to their followers.

Reply Comments Promptly

To see an increase in the number of views you get on Instagram it’s important to keep the conversation going and one of the best ways to keep conversations going is to reply to comments.

Replying to comments pushes your post to rank high on your followers feeds as a press release from Instagram on June 2018 stated that relationship with users is a major ranking factor.

And in June 2016 Instagram stated this:

To add to this customers hate it when a brand ignores their comments online or when they don’t respond to comments.

And data proves this as:

15.3% of customers to unfollow some brands on social media because of lack of interaction

When a question or a comment is made on any of your posts, attend to it as soon as you can, and ensure that your comment is friendly. If your response is rude people won’t comment and you will lose some followers.

Here are visual examples on how to respond to certain comments:

One word emojis:

Praises:

Negative Comments:

A smart way to get more views through comments is by mentioning and tagging other people on your comment.

When answering a question in the comment section, you can tag or mention a person that is relevant to the answer you are giving, you can also tell your followers to tag other people who they think will be interested in the conversation.

This keeps the conversation going.

The secret behind getting more views through replying comments is in the fact that, when the response on your post is high and more people are commenting, Instagram views the post as a valuable content that should be visible to your followers.

The rank of the post in the feeds of your followers is increased so that it is one of the first content that they see when going through their feeds.

Cross-Promote Your Content

You can increase your Instagram views by promoting every content your poston other social media platforms. If you are active on Facebook or Twitter, always post the link to your Instagram posts on the other platforms.

If you have a fan page or a group on Facebook or a blog, you can share the links to your Instagram posts there also. Cross-promotion is easy but beneficial especially for increasing Instagram views.

When your friends and followers on the other platforms visit your Instagram profile and read the post, if it is valuable, they will share it with their friends and the more the shares, the more views you will get.

Conclusion

Instagram has over 500 million daily users but to get the attention of a fraction of these users, you need to implement certain tricks and strategies when posting content on the platform. And following the ideas and tips in this article will help you achieve that.