You know how to take great pictures. So you join Instagram and start posting your best work, capturing fascinating and artistically pleasing moments from your life, forever immortalized for the world to admire on their mobile screens. You sit back, waiting for the adulation to start pouring in as the likes and followers on your page grow.

But nothing happens. Few people outside your immediate circle of friends seems interested in your photos. The problem might not be with your work, but with your presentation. Instagram may be a global platform for artists, but it is also a marketing program used by thousands of professionals every day. And they know how to work the system to get maximum results.

The key is to pick a niche and run with it. So, with that in mind, here’s what you need to do to stand out and get noticed on Instagram.

Pick Your Niche Subject

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Image Credit: Nathan Rupert/Flickr

Your Instagram page should be known for one thing. It could be any subject that you are interested in, from food recipes to breathtaking travel pictures, to cosplay photos at comic book conventions. You must own that one specific niche which you feel passion for and can post endlessly about.

To get new followers, you must make your page the foremost authority in your niche, so that users interested in that niche know that the best and most up-to-date content about the subject can be found on your page.

If you’re having trouble zeroing in on a niche, explore Instagram some more. Comb through your favorite pages relating to the activity that you are interested in. Get to know the people in that space, how they and their followers identify their community, and the hashtags most commonly associated with that particular subject. Picking your niche should be easier once you’re better informed about the niche’s presence on Instagram.

Use Instagram Hashtags for Everything

You may have seen a few popular Instagram posts and felt annoyed by the sheer volume of hashtags attached to them. But these hashtags serve a critical advertising purpose. Every single post on Instagram is filed under various hashtags, which are then cross-referenced every time a user searches for a particular term to show them the most relevant posts.

So do some research to find out which hashtags are the most relevant to your niche, and use them every time you make a new post. But also don’t limit yourself to hashtags which are just about your niche. Your hashtags can be about a location, an activity, a trending event or simply an emotion. If it is featured in your picture, then it needs to be included in your hashtags.

Tip: Adding hashtags is a learned skill. More hashtags increase your post’s visibility. But irrelevant hashtags dilute their search effectiveness. Before adding a hashtag ask yourself if it is relevant to your post and whether it is crafted in such a way that it will be easily understood by users.

Make Your Instagram Profile Count

There are efficient profiles, and there are attractive profiles. Some rare profiles are a combination of both. It is that rare kind of perfect Instagram profile that you need to cultivate. Some of the best ways to improve your profile include:

  • Having a clear, high-resolution image of your face as your profile picture, or a photo of something related to your niche, so it becomes immediately apparent what your page is about.
  • Having a brief bio that clearly states what your niche is about and encourages your followers to share their passion for that niche through your page.
  • Including emojis to show the playful side of your account and tell a more emotionally engaging message than mere words can express
  • Including a link to your website or channels on other social media platforms where you further explore your niche.
  • Picking a username that is distinctive and memorable. Bonus points if it is easy to spell while searching for your page.
  • Adding a second link to your bio and changing it regularly to direct the visitor to your newest, most popular content.
  • Managing to get your Instagram profile verified.

Use the Right Equipment

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Image Credit: Olga E Zanni/Flickr

We know there’s an epidemic of captured-via-mobile photos on Instagram, but you need to step your game up a notch if you want the attention of hundreds of thousands of Instagram users. Every niche has certain camera equipment that can provide the best photos.

Drone cameras capture amazingly in-depth photos of high-altitude scenery. DSLR cameras are great for taking snaps in poor lighting. GoPro action cameras capture incredible point-of-view shots of sports-based activities. You get the idea.

Take the advice of professional photographers to determine which camera equipment would best capture images in your niche. It might mean paying for new equipment, but the investment will be worth it once you start posting pictures of a far superior quality than what most other people in your niche can provide.

Network With Other Instagrammers

The other people who are operating in your niche on Instagram are not your competitors, but your friends. Always remember that no one person can ever be the absolute authority in a niche. In order to grow, you need to network. It can be something as simple as following other accounts in your niche, or liking and posting positive comments on other people’s posts.

If you find some Instagrammers that you get along with particularly well, you can even pool your resources to create better posts that you take turns hosting on your pages.

Tip: Networking is about reciprocity, but it is also a numbers game. It is estimated that out of every four accounts you follow, only one will follow you back. It’s a good idea to regularly purge your account of profiles that don’t follow you back so you can keep the list of people you’re following more exclusive.

Keep Updating Your Instagram Page

Nothing kills a page faster than stagnant content. People today have very short attention spans. Once you’ve captured their attention with excellent content, your job is to keep their attention by continuing to post regularly.

Remember that there is no shortage of content on Instagram, so much so that the app’s creators have been forced to add a mute button. But there is always a shortage of quality content. That’s where you can come in and prove your skill and passion for your niche.

Tip: Instead of posting whenever you feel like it, create a schedule for taking photos and posting them online. Then stick to that schedule so your followers know when to expect new content from you.

Share and Engage With Other People’s Work

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Image Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

As has been mentioned before, Instagram is not a place for lone-wolf types. If you see the amazing work of someone from amongst your followers or other people in your niche, you can share their work, while being careful to give due credit to the original poster. This allows you to share in the success of the post, and also adds a positive vibe to your page, which followers respond well to.

Keep an eye on trending hashtags so you know when something relevant to your niche is in the news. When you have the opportunity to add your knowledgeable opinion to the online discourse, make the most of it. Talk about the topic with other influential people in your niche and invite your followers to give their opinion on the issue as well.

Use Geolocation Tags

One thing that people often forget about, but which you should absolutely remember to do, is use geolocation on your posts. Adding a location to your post will allow you to add a local flavor to your content and help users find Instagram photos by location. Also, local businesses which come across your post can often do a shout-out to your page, which results in valuable cross-promotion for both brands.