How to nail Instagram

How to nail Instagram

Oh Instagram, it’s like a problem child going through it’s arsy teenage years and changing its mind every five seconds for the sake of it. One moment it’s being a well-behaved little gem of a social platform and next it’s learning how to be difficult from it’s big brother, Facebook.

Recently I attended a talk about growing your Instagram at’s #BlogAtTheBeach event with the lovely Rhianna (she's a babe) and I thought I’d share her tips for increasing her following on the platform. I’ve been trying hard to improve my Instagram over the last six months and whilst the algorithm isn’t favouring smaller ‘grammers like myself, I’ve managed to grow my audience by 30% in that time. I’m far from being grid goals, but I’m definitely seeing better engagement since following best practice. Here are the top tips from Rhianna’s talk about Instagram:

Post regularly and when your followers are likely to be online. As the feed is no longer chronological, your peak visibility will be within 10-15 minutes of posting so getting that posting time right is essential.

Keep it high quality. The platform is visual so you need good, well lit and interesting photos – a load of grainy, over filtered selfies from your night out in Wetherspoons isn’t going to get you followers. A crisp and clear shot of your brunch however, that will get you engagement.

Use your hashtags and mix them up. You can use 30 hashtags on an Instagram post, so research what works, vary them to suit your post and use them all as why the hell not.

Be a human. Social media was built for people, so think like a person. If you like something, double tap it, if you’re interested, leave a comment as you would to start a conversation. Social media ultimately favours social people – not ground breaking news but something that’s often forgotten.

Whilst we’re on the topic of Instagram, we’re all well aware that there have been some questionable goings on of late when it comes to influencers bending the rules and trying to cheat the algorithms to get better engagement, a bigger reach and ultimately a bigger audience. In SEO terms, what they’re trying to do to Instagram is what old-school link building was to Google – shady af and comes back to bite you in the end. Having worked in social for a couple of years, I wanted to share a few ways you can see if that influence is really that influential. For bloggers in particular, we spend our lives comparing ourselves to those who we deem to be more successful and I personally don’t want to feel inadequate if someone’s success isn’t as it seems.

(Please note that I’m not trying to encourage creeping, but being mindful that people are trying to cheat the algorithm is important).

Here are some ways to spot Insta-scammers.

A lower than average engagement rate. I benchmark a 5% engagement rate (so five engagements per 100 followers) as a successful post, so if someone has significantly lower than that and is posting consistently high quality content, I’d be asking questions. It could be their timing or their hashtags... or it could be that their followers have been bought.

Spammy activity from their account. You can see what anyone you’re following is up to on Instagram and if they’re leaving large quantities of the same comment or following tonnes of accounts, the chances are it’s a bot. Bots make the account look active, which is something Instagram favours (and is also cracking down on).

A massive spike in engagement. I actually saw a blogger deny having bought followers or use bots, and yet a quick scroll led me to a six week period where their engagement increased by 500% - and nobody can grow that fast by putting out the same content. If there are big jumps, the chances are something shady is going on.

What I’m trying to get at here is that great content will win eventually. Instagram is getting wise to bots, the follow/unfollow game and has even shadow-banned posts from appearing in hashtag searches because users have been using the same hashtags each time. Be a human, follow Rhianna’s tips and it will come naturally – and in the meantime, just enjoy using the platform for inspiration and stalking people. That’s what we all use it for, right?


  1. I'm so jealous you got to go to see and hear Rhianna talk. Thanks for sharing her tips and you're so right about all those fake engagement, bots etc. game. It's just a petty that people feel the need to do it.
    Lea, xx

  2. Fab post Lizi and so so true on everything.
    Rhianna's talk definitely inspired me to try a little harder and just be savvy.


  3. Between you and Rhianna, that's some great Instagram tips!
    Now I just need to remember to put your advice into action! x