21 tips On How To Use Instagram Like A Pro

I attended the Sydney Food, Travel and Lifestyle bloggers meetup and there was a great discussion on “Lets use Instagram”. I’ve had an Instagram account for years but I’ve been using it infrequently. In the last 4 months I have been using it more since I started the wheresmysauce food blog.

Instagram is an awesome social network for photos. It now has 300 million monthly active users as of December 2014. I have a food blog and I find that its a great way to post photos of food. It also allows me to connect with other food bloggers and foodies. I use it everyday now. I probably check it at least 6 times a day! Here’s what I learned at the meetup combined with my own experience and thoughts. Hat tip to Keren Natalia from Little Green Habits for organising the meetup and John Kapos from Perfection Chocolates for leading the discussion. I’ve taken some notes from Keren and also combined it with my thoughts.


1. Your instagram account needs to be focused

You need to focus on one topic area or complementary topics e.g. fashion or food. But don’t do food and fashion together.

In my case, I post about entrepreneurship, technology and food. These don’t mix together! I also believe that if you are focused on one topic you’ll have more loyal followers that are looking for photos of that topic. You will also be able to connect easier with people that like the same thing. Its easier for them to tell what you are posting about. So I’ll be splitting it out to have one account focused on food for wheresmysauce.

2. Have a separate account for business and personal

I haven’t done this because my food blog is a hobby and it was fairly new. Hence I was combining personal posts and food blog posts in one account. After the talk, my action point was to create separate accounts. So I’ve now got the following instagram accounts:

The other reason I haven’t done it before is because its annoying how you can’t login to multiple accounts and switch between them easily. On twitter its a cinch to be able to swap between accounts. Whereas on Instagram its painful to have to login each time. However, I believe its worth the effort if you are serious about using instagram. John mentioned that he saw immediate results when he split them out.

3. Post regularly

Posting on a consistent basis is important. Post on a daily basis if Instagram is a marketing channel and you are serious about using it like a pro. I came across Foundr magazine which posts 4 times a day!

4. Use 7 hashtags 

Use hashtags to say what the picture is about. Hashtags are a way to categorise what it is and enable others to discover it. I found this had a big impact in the number of interactions for likes and comments after I started using it. John had read some research that 7 was the optimum number.

You can copy and paste your hashtags into an app such as Evernote to save them. Then copy and paste them into a new post. This will save you from having to write them each time.

5. Post in the timezone your audience is using social media

If your audience is in a certain location e.g. US based, then you need to post in the US timezone. This tip was made prominent from an American blogger, Chuck from The Whimmer. He’s travelling in Australia and mentioned that he had to post at times that was relevant to his US audience. When he posted when in the early morning hours of US time, he wasn’t getting any interaction as his audience was asleep.

6. Quality of photos have a big impact

Big discussion here and I loved it! The quality of your photos does have a huge impact. Learn basic photography and camera manual function (i.e. ISO, shutter speed, etc). You need to consider lighting (natural is better), positioning and editing.

Do not get lazy and post photos taken from your phone if you can produce better photos using your camera. Here’s a photo from Chuck who’s into photography. He even puts it on a wooden shelf, carries the food outside, and takes the photo in the natural light to make it look awesome. Take a look!

Some people take photos from DSLR cameras and then edit them using lightroom. Another popular app mentioned was VSCO (Visual Supply Co).

To get the file onto their phones, they use email, SMS/iMessage or save the file to Dropbox. Open the file on their phones and upload it to Instagram. I also take a couple of photos to get the look right.

I’ve read that some professional instagrammers do this. Some people travel the world, post photos and sell them or do advertising of products. They need to have the highest quality photos on there.

If you are interested in photography check out my friend Rob who runs Lightstalking, one of the world’s largest photography blogs. Also Brett from Photzy who provides photography education ebooks and courses. I sit next to Brett at work so I need to give him a shoutout!

7. Actively engage your audience by talking to them

Victoria and Elaina from The Freedom Travellers told us about how they were getting lots of likes and comments on their photos. But then they started interacting with their audience and responding to comments. This increased the engagement with their photos. You can also follow their accounts, comment on their photos and tag them (more below). This how you can develop a community around your photos and what you do.

8. Tag other accounts in photo where relevant

If a photo is relevant to a particular person or account, tag them. This also notifies them. I do this if I have a friend in my photo. The Freedom Travellers gave an example that when they took a photo of an amazing New Zealand scenic shot, they tagged the NZ tourism account. It has to be relevant otherwise this can be seen as annoying / spam.

9. Its ok to repost if you attribute the original account

I’ve had one of my photos reposted recently. I noticed because someone had tagged me. I was initially shocked that they had ripped off my photo of Lebanese sweets. But they had attributed me by tagging me and stating that I took it. I thought about it and it actually is a positive thing. As they introduced my photo to a new audience that I wasn’t exposed to. It was an account about Lebanese food and culture and it was being run from the Middle East.


So that was unexpected and I thought it was really cool that an account from the Middle East reposted my photo of Lebanese desserts. That showed that the food that I was eating must have been authentic – go Bankstown’s Sweet City!

I also commented and interacted with the person that posted it. If you don’t get attribution, then kindly ask them to do so. This is the same with any form of online marketing. Seek attribution not retribution :p

If you want to repost other photos, unfortunately you can’t do it from inside the instagram app. This is incredibly annoying because sometimes I see a great pic and I would love to repost it. Check out RePost For Instagram and RePost Whiz for reposting instagram photos to your account.

10. Improve your your bio by making it more personable and simple

John Kapos changed the picture of his bio from his company logo to a picture of himself and he instantly gained more followers. He also recommends keeping it personable and simple. This is possible if you have focus on what you post about. He had a nice tip of asking his followers what they thought of his bio to also increase interaction.

11. Use URL shortener

If you want to post a long URL, then use bit.ly to make it shorter and to also track the clicks. John also changes the bitly link every few months. This could be for a new blog post, a podcast interview or new promotion.

12. Dedicated landing page for instagram

This wasn’t mentioned at the Meetup but its something that I’ve seen and seemed obvious to me. The more targeted your landing page, the more likely it is relevant to your audience. This is more likely to convert to a signup, purchase, etc..

13. Use Instagram video

You can create short 15 second videos. I’ve made a few videos as an experiment. Its definetly more effort and harder than just taking a pic. However, there are some things that are much better as a video to show what happened. Using video adds another dimension so I’d highly encourage you to try it. Check out my videos below:)

This video was taken at the fishmarkets. I can show how fast this guy is shucking the oysters and also show more depth in the video with how many oysters he’s shucked. Looks like thousands! I also captured the noise in the background which shows the hustle and bustle of the fish markets.

The shuck master. Oysters everywhere are scared of him! A video posted by Matt Ho www.wheresmysauce.com (@inspiredworlds) on

This video shows the steam rising from the scallops being cooked in butter. Plus the sizzle sound 🙂

14. Use direct messaging

You can direct message a follower for a 1 on 1 private conversation. This could be useful if you are have a specific message for a follower. This is similar to a DM on twitter. Jean-Marie Liere from OurFrenchImpressions mentioned that if he was going to a conference or event, he would direct message some of his followers. He’d let them know he was going and could meetup with them. Direct messaging could be very useful for 1 to 1 marketing as well.

15. Instagram analytics tools

Use Iconosquare to see analytics on your instagram account. You can see a snapshot of your metrics such as how many likes you get per hour after posting a photo. Then you can figure out the best time for posting. This is Foundr Mag’s Iconosquare’s analytics on best posting times. iconosquare postingtimeI’m getting my instagram stats crunched by Iconosquare so I’ll report back once I can see more.

16. Tools to create quotes and graphics

If you want to create awesome looking pictures with quotes, have a look at WordSwag. It can overlay quotes on your photos. Here’s an example of one created using WordSwag.

Other apps to check out for overlaying text and /or creating graphics for instagram are Canva (Made in Australia!) and Over.

17. Be authentic

This is for any social media and communication. You need to be authentic. Be you. People will follow you for what you are and what you stand for. Develop your own voice and style. Don’t fake it as you’ll get found out.

18. Don’t buy followers

There are places you can buy followers. If you instagram for any amount of time, you’ll notice spammy looking accounts offering you followers in exchange for cash. But this is not recommended. Again, you want to be authentic and have real followers. Instagram did a purge a few months ago wiping out fake followers in your account. My account went down by about 10% in followers.

But I don’t want these fake followers in my account. I also expect this to have a negative impact on your account if you have a majority of fake followers. Fake followers can also like other dodgy accounts and there could be unintended consequences.

19. Use your own hashtag

I frequently use my own hashtag #wheresmysauce so I can find my own photos. It also enables other people to find them too. In addition, if people want to join in they can also use that hashtag too. Its about building a brand or a movement around a hashtag. It could be something hilarious like #firstworldproblems. Pick one that you can own and doesn’t have any noise. It should be unique to you and then own it.

20. You can resize photos

This is something that annoys me as Instagram crops your photos. For resizing picture to the 1:1 picture size on Instagram you can use these apps:

21. Schedule instagram tweets

There are some apps that can notify you when to post and when its best to post. It doesn’t automatically post the content for you like Buffer or Hootsuite. Its function is to help you plan and schedule your posts. You still need to post it manually.

For apps that help you with scheduling, take a look at:

The app will notify you, such as an alarm. Then you post it manually from the instagram app. This is because Instagram doesn’t allow you to upload and post from a third party app. If you are interested in finding out more, read the Instagram API developer documentation on media endpoints.

The summary

That’s my epic guide on instagramming! Happy instagramming folks.

If you are on Instagram, add me 🙂 I have these accounts

If you’d like more information on Instagram, check out this fantastic blog post on how Foundr grew 0 to 110k followers in 5 months.

I’m going to do a follow up post on Instagram analytics once I’ve used Iconosquare. I’m also keen to chat to people on how they track last click attribution from instagram for eCommerce. I would like to know how they track traffic from instagram to their website using google analytics or other analytics tools. I expect what you can do is look in google analytics at source of traffic then see if goals or events were completed. If this is you, please contact me and I’ll feature you in the blog post. Like the terminator, I’ll be back!

I’m out like Kodak moments,
Matt Ho

6 thoughts on “21 tips On How To Use Instagram Like A Pro

  1. Thanks for writing this post. It was a great meetup; I think we really learned a lot, both from John and each other. We will be making several changes to our instagram based on the above pro-tips.

    Regarding point 11 – Using a URL Shortener, I didn’t want to interrupt the flow at the meetup, but you can have a more customised shortener than bit.ly. There is an open-source URL Shortener called YOURLS (http://yourls.org/) that is pretty straightforward to setup.

    An example – our brand is Newlyfeds, and using our YOURLS site you can get to our instagram by using the short address http://nwfd.co/ig

    • Yeah there was few times I wanted to chime in with some things that I was doing as well. I also didn’t want to interrupt the flow as well. I really liked the energy and organic discussion that was happening.

      I’ll def look into YOURLS. I like that idea of a more customised one.

    • Thanks for the feedback. Great to meet you as well! I really like how the name of your blog and how its a variation on newlyweds :p

      See you at the next meetup!

  2. Saeed Ansari says:

    Very helpful tips, thanks for sharing! I especially appreciate that you included different application, i found a couple that i didn’t try yet. But i’d like to propose adding to your list of useful tools a service fast-unfollow.com. It’s an app similar to unfollowers, but much faster (up to 5000 per day) and you pay not for time, but for exact number of unsubscriptions. Unlike many others it has a free trial of 1000 unfollows. API is used in it so it’s safe. And it’s web based so there won’t be any problems with compatibility. As a person using Windows Phone and Linux i can only be glad about that last aspect

  3. Pingback: How to add instagram to wordpress bloginspiredworlds

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