Or to at least become better at it.

By Mariah Tyler
November 27, 2017
Credit: Getty Images

Instagram is one of the most popular social media sharing apps, with more than 800 million monthly users. Most everyone we know is scrolling, posting, and liking around the clock — but despite the app's ubiquity, there is still some mystery about how to use it to its full potential.

How do you even begin to have a “following,” much less get more likes? Is it all a sham, or is it actually possible to get “famous” on Instagram? Do you secretly hope and dream for getting big on your favorite app? Do you enviously wonder how your favorite accounts got so big?

T+L has published many stories about Instagram influencers and have shared our absolute favorite accounts. So as a new year approaches we wanted to take a look into the possibility of being better at Instagram, aiming for influencer status, or just improving your grid, there are real strategies to this stuff. So here it is.

Credit: Justin Paget/Getty Images

1. Do your research.

Just like any new endeavor it’s good to set out reasonable and attainable goals. Begin your IG revamp by doing research into your favorite accounts, why do you like their feed, what can you do better or slightly different? Decide what you want out of your Instagram by setting an aesthetic tone. This can be achieved by a certain color palette (white, pastels or dark earth tones). People are drawn to accounts that are visually consistent.The Preview app is a great tool for testing out posts to better design your grid.

Ask yourself what story are you trying to tell? Looking at Instagram idols may help in determining these elements before you start. While looking through profiles, take note on what they use as far as hashtags, how do they engage with their followers and even how frequently they are posting.

Credit: Getty Images

2. Go for quality.

Take amazing photos. That might sound easier said than done, but there are simple ways to improve your photography.

Fill your Instagram grid with quality images that people want to see — which might not always be what you’d prefer to share. A thoughtful selection leads to a consistent aesthetic, which will help in attracting a core follower base.

And when it comes to photo editing, there are a million apps that can assist in the process. Popular apps include Snapseed, VSCO, and A Color Story. Avoid using the Instagram-provided filters and stick to the editing tools: bump up the contrast, straighten your image, add some “structure.”

tl;dr: Get more likes with beautiful, bright, colorful photographs. Remember light is the key to every great photograph. Post vertical images to maximize screen ‘real estate’ and grab people's attention.

3. Use hashtags wisely.

If you can type it, it can be a hashtag. But to make a hashtag work in your favor, you'll need to think strategically. #You #Do #Not #Need #It #All.

Instagram will let you add up to thirty hashtags in one post, but it’s better to select the top 12 or so that are extremely relevant to your image. Hashtagging the type of photo, the device you used, where it was taken, and the app you edited with are good places to start. There's also a third-party app, called Focalmark, that can offer hashtag suggestions you can copy and paste. (If you want the attention of us here at T+L, add #TLpicks.)

Within Instagram, hashtag popularity will pop up as you type. Find ones that are not super popular, but instead popular enough. #Cute and #travel won't get you any attention, since your post will immediately get drowned out by all those other posts. But a well-chosen hashtag has people looking at it but not so many people posting.

4. Build on engagement.

Engagement is allowing your follower base to come to know you (or at least a version of you). Consider telling a story or anecdote in the Instagram caption. You can also be witty — whatever your narrative calls for the caption is best area to express that outside of images. When you’re commenting on another account's post that you love, share your thoughts and try to personalize it so it doesn’t come across as spam.

If you’re traveling abroad or staying local the engagement via the local community can be quite beneficial. Through geotags and localized hashtags, engage with the community around you as they may be interested in your posts while you’re sharing from that location.

The frequency of posting also matters. It’s best to decide what sounds right for you and what times of day you notice your followers are more active. It depends on what you're posting, but we'd suggest one to three times daily.

It’s important to follow accounts that you admire and that post similar items as you and even follow some of their followers to attract attention to your profile.

5. And remember what NOT to do.

Don't buy followers, don't act like a spammer, don't regram other people’s posts. And don't lose your own sense of style and personality on your Instagram. It's an app to sharing your life, not to stand in for it.