Whether it’s gaining the coveted blue tick, promoting your work or brand or just having more fun with your feed and gaining followers in the process, here are a few ideas to make your Instagram account shine, from two women who make it their business to know

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On the average day in Insta-land, a staggering 80 million photos are shared. Just how do you go about getting yours noticed in a sea of #blessed sunset uploads, what’s the key to attracting engaged, invested followers and how do you go about holding onto them? From driving revenue to bigging up your profile or simply making your Insta stories unmissable, Marie Louise Pumfrey founder of Instagram and communications company MLPR , share her nuggets of ‘gram wisdom. Get ready to scroll your way to Insta stardom. Or at least use an emoji to your advantage. Every little helps.

1. Outline your goals

You wouldn’t start a company without a clear business plan  or defined KPIs, so focus on what you want to achieve, and how best to make your Instagram account serve you, your objectives and your brand, if applicable. Even if it’s just about promoting little old you, understanding and establishing your niche can ensure that you grow a dedicated organic following. What are others in your field doing? What can you offer up that’s different, real and appealing? We’ll get into the practical nitty gritty of how to maximise the impact of your profile, but a succinct, attention grabbing and witty bio never goes amiss. Emojis are your bullet points, add a personal or brand related shortened  bitly  link to keep it neat and ensure that the visual elements of your feed also portray the messaging you’re trying to get across. Most vitally, if you look like you’re having fun, that’ll come across, and who wouldn’t want to join that Insta party. Speaking of which…

2. Invite people in

Marie Louise advises treating your Instagram account as a never-ending drinks party round yours- tidy up before people come over, create a mood, be warm and welcoming and make it easy to connect and stay in touch. Consider which colour schemes summarise what you’re all about, what theme you’re going for and what you’ll be serving up. Save or screenshot inspiration and pictures you like, try concentrating on a focal object and consider that visitors see between nine and twelve images on your grid at once, so feel free to change up your style and feed in line with this.

Knock on doors by reposting and crediting other Instagrammers you admire (in a non-sycophantic manner), add a location tag to connect with others around you and be inclusive. Remember that it’s more about your ‘guests’ than you, so address their needs, desires and problems and identify what your audience might want from you. Respond to comments, bear in mind that you can change your name and bio/ business description to keep things dynamic and use focused rather than generic hashtags in posts to ensure you’re reaching your ‘people’.

3. Prudent posting

Instagram’s new-ish algorithm is well known for causing headaches for even the most popular posters. Ironically for a supposedly ‘instant’ platform, chronological feeds are no more, your images are likely getting less exposure and posts with higher engagement (read: likes, comments, views, shares and saves) are pushed to the top of your feed, even if they were uploaded last Thursday. It can be a tricky nut to crack, but maximise your chances of being seen with strategic tagging, useful links and information, calls to action and questions to drive comments and engagement and killer visuals. Use filters to your advantage, ensure that posts aren’t too ‘samey’ (even if you are aiming to keep things consistent- separate posts that are too similar) and be creative- consider creating distinctive imagery on your desktop to set your visuals apart from the online crowd.

On the issue of when to post, while the timeline is warped, there are still Instagram spikes when the US and Australia wake up in particular, so consider using a scheduling tool to align yourself with these timings to test engagement, and whatever you do don’t go on an Insta publishing spree- two posts per day is more than enough, and Marie Louise deems three too many. Stop the spam, stat.

4. Tell your story

Instagram Stories is where the Insta party gets a bit wilder. Less cocktail soiree, more school disco. Marie Louise encourages teen-like behaviour- use stickers, GIFs, bright colours and leave any self-consciousness at the door. Share snippets of your life and work from behind the scenes and don’t be shy- ‘warts and all’ wins over trying to create a façade on stories and helps to humanise both yourself and your brand, depending on whether you’re posting from a personal or business account. Instagram story polls can be very useful for market research, while image ‘stories’ can hook an audience in. Considering planning a regular Instagram live slot thereby treating your account almost like a TV channel- brainstorm ideas and discussion points and keep it interactive at all times. Stories keeps your account ‘alive’- static posts alone won’t cut it.

5. Crunch the numbers

If you’ve got a business account, you’ll be able to monitor ‘insights’- think tracking profile visits, promotion activity and analytics as to how you’re performing over time. Use this information to tailor future posts according to what’s worked, what hasn’t and subject to any feedback in comments and polls. Figure out how people are using your account, and serve up delicious snippets of what they love to keep them coming back for me. Have a target group of people to reach out to to expand your influence, and partner up for Instagram takeovers and the like with other businesses, popular posters and accounts that align with your brand vision and values.

6. Get appy

Aside from Instagram’s internal insights, there are a huge host of tools out there to boost your posts, help you to get under the hood of Instagram and really hone in on everything from effective hashtags to seeing who’s playing the follow/unfollow game. Here are a selection recommended by Marie Louise but she’ll give you the full roster for both iOS and Android at her   ‘Instagram for Business’ workshop  (see point seven for more intel on that):

Command : An analytics tool that can be used on both personal and business profiles to assess how sharp your use of hashtags really is, plus it’ll come up with the numbers for who’s followed and subsequently unfollowed you.

Later : There are heaps of scheduling apps about (see Tailwind  too)- you can caption posts, see your grid in advance and time post publication to precision.

Typorama : Provides stock imagery that you can place text onto- particularly handy for campaigns.

KiraKira+ : A distinctly non-serious app that adds sparkle to photos and videos.

Squaready and  SquareadyV : Crops photos and videos to fit the Instagram ‘square’ and allows you to play around with image backgrounds.

7. Book into an ‘Insta Clinic’

Unravelling the mysteries of Instagram can be a long game, but give yourself and your business a head start and troubleshoot any individual issues by signing up for a MLPR   ‘Instagram for Business’  workshop.

During the three hour session (you’ll be happy to know there’s a coffee and biscuit break) you’ll learn how to use Instagram to its full potential to boost marketing objectives, set your own Instagram goals, understand your target market and optimise posts, stories and your grid as a whole. From hashtag strategy to gaining high quality followers (not the ‘dead’ kind) and enhancing engagement, you’ll leave enlightened and clued up on the intricacies of one of the world’s most powerful social media and marketing platforms. Given that 50 per cent of Instagram users conduct product research via the app, and that engagement with brands is 10 times higher than on Facebook and 84 per cent higher than on Twitter, modern businesses can’t afford not to have an Insta presence. Making said presence prominent and pertinent is possible with just a few changes, so learn how to tap into Insta gold with a morning of insight and training.

The next MLPR ‘Instagram for Business’ workshop will take place on Friday 26th April at 9.45am, British School of Fashion, E16 PX for three hours. Tickets are available from here  for £100.50 but Get The Gloss readers receive 10% for this event and any future Instagram training workshops .  Use the code GTG at the check out.  The Instagram training workshops are limited to approximately 20 people - if this one’s full by the time you come to booking keep an eye out for upcoming workshops on the  MLPR website , or enquire about in-house Instagram training  for small, medium size and start-up businesses.

A guide to using social media to improve your career prospects 

On Instagram Follow Marie Louise MLPR on  @mrsmlmode  and Get The Gloss  @getthegloss