There is A TON of information on Instagram marketing out there, and some of it isn’t completely wrong.

But most of it is about as practical as a Masters in Fine Arts.

You probably know what I’m talking about…stuff like:

  • Post Consistently.
  • Use the right hashtags.
  • Post photos at 2 am or 5 pm.
  • Write descriptive captions.

Instagram has changed a lot over the past year—getting followers is harder, engagement rates have tanked—but all the advice out there is stuck in the past.

In this guide, I’ll equip you with 2018 knowledge—the insider strategies, tactics, and growth hacks that all the top influencers use to grow accounts to 10,000, 50,000, even 1,000,000 followers, faster than ever.

Read it, bookmark it, and come back to it often.

For best results, you’ll want to start using these growth hacks immediately. This is the stuff that’s working right now on Instagram, but in another year, it could be a totally different story.

HIGH-LEVEL CONCEPTS YOU NEED TO UNDERSTAND

 TO SUCCEED ON INSTAGRAM IN 2018

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The IG Algorithm Cheat Sheet:

Incentives, Known Factors, and Explore Page 101

In April 2016 Instagram debuted the now famous algorithmic feed. Previously posts were shown in reverse chronological order. Now, like Facebook’s feed, Instagram has a complex algorithm to determine what it shows you.

We’ll go into a little detail on the algorithm right here — focusing on the high-level concepts you should know so you can game it.

Incentives. Incentives. Incentives. Understand them and you’ll understand the algorithm.

Instagram makes money selling ads. Businesses advertise on Instagram because people spend time there. The more time people spend, the more ads Instagram can sell. More time = more advertising inventory.

The algorithm is designed to maximize IG users spend in the app.

Instagram also releases new product features (think Stories or Gallery Posts) to keep users engaged. Often it prioritizes new features via the algorithm to encourage adoption. We’ll get to that in a bit…

These are the known factors that influence the IG algorithm.

  • Engagement: # likes, comments, video views, saves, shares via DM, etc.
  • Relevancy: the genres of content you like and interact with most.
  • Relationships: your BFFs, and anyone else you interact with most.
  • Timeliness: How recent the post is.
  • Content-Type: Pics, Gallery Posts, Videos (which always do better)

When you think of the algorithm you probably just think of the order of posts and stories on your feed.

It’s 2018, and you should also think about the Instagram Explore Page – which is the golden ticket to growth hacking Instagram in 2018.

If you can game the algorithm & reverse engineer, the explore page. Your content will go viral and you will become Instafamous fast

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The 10/10/10 Hashtags Strategy

and How You Should Think About Hashtags in 2018

Yes, hashtags still help expand your reach.

 

Yes, you can hide hashtags in the first comment.

I’m going to tell you about the ‘10/10/10 hashtag strategy’ that’s working really, really well right now.  But first, context.

Your goal with hashtags used to be to reach the top posts section when people search that hashtag, your new goal with hashtags is to reach the explore page.  That’s how you bring in hundreds of new likes and followers from a single post.

To maximize your chance of hitting the explore page using hashtags, listen up…

Introducing the 10/10/10 hashtag strategy:

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags, so use all 30. Choose:

  • 10 Smaller Hashtags (10,000 to 50,000 total posts)
  • 10 Mid-size Hashtags (50,000 to 200,000 total posts)
  • 10 Large Hashtags (200,000 – 2,000,000 total posts)

When using this strategy, you’ll still need to do good hashtag research. The right hashtags can make or break your virality.

These are the three best ways to research hashtags in 2018:

  • Hashtag research tools – I like Display Purposes*
  • Find influencers in your niche that have hit the explore page and take inspiration from their hashtags.
  • Find one hashtag you like, search for it on Insta, then check out the “related hashtags” underneath.

One of the reasons I recommend Display Purposes is because it excludes banned hashtags from its search results.

Banned hashtags are a relatively new thing on Instagram that you should understand.

 

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How did I not know about this? – some guy.

Instagram doesn’t really talk about this publicly, all it means when a hashtag is banned is that Instagram hides recent posts under that hashtag.

That’s why you should always rotate your hashtags.  After you’ve done your research, save a few different lists of 30 hashtags as notes on your phone so you can keep them fresh (and avoid any penalties IG may or may not be dishing out.

One more thing about hashtags in 2018…

Instagram lately released the ability to follow hashtags so they show up in your feed, and everything you thought you knew about hashtag strategy is about to change a little bit.

How?

That’s anyone’s guess 🙂

One thing to keep a close eye on is the hashtag recommendations that IG shows you in your own feed. For example, Instagram knows I like wine, so they recently recommended that I follow the hashtag #winegasm.

Notice that #winegasm is a relatively small hashtag, with only 25k posts. If Instagram surfaces that recommendation to me, it might surface it to others. I am going to make a note of that and next post of mine that involves wine I’m going to use that hashtag.

 

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Consistency is more important than ever, just don’t be too consistent

EVERY DAMN DAY.I read Instagram news articles.

And I’ve heard A LOT about consistency over the past few years:

  • “Instagram rewards consistently like no tomorrow”
  • “If you don’t post for a few days, you’re compromising your account’s potential for organic growth.”
  • “Sometimes not posting for a few days can even stop organic growth permanently,”
  • “Big accounts like @Nike post 3+ times per day, so you should too.”

I want to go back to the algorithm. We already know that Instagram’s algorithm is designed to get people to use the app, stay a long time, and return to it often.

So, if you were Instagram, would you reward users who posted consistently with increased engagement (aka more fun for individual users, and more impressions/brand awareness for business users)?

I would.

But if you’re trying to grow your Instagram account and get more followers, you still shouldn’t post more than once per day.

You’ll get less engagement per post, which means less of a chance at going viral. Moreover, you will lose followers by posting too often.

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Forget about the Best Time to Post on Instagram.

In 2018 it Doesn’t Matter…Much

There is no universal best time to post. So anyone that tells you to “post at 6 pm” or any other specific time is misleading,If “post consistently” is the #1 most overused piece of Instagram advice, then “post at the right time” is a close second.

  1. Instagram hasn’t had a chronological feed since 2016!

It doesn’t matter what hour those were posted; IG shows them to you because they know you’ll engage with them.

Viral content is viral content.  And if your post is the bomb, then it’s going to get seen no matter what.

Timing still matters a little. It’s just like the 19th most important thing you should be thinking about.

Instagram’s algorithm that determines how engaging a post is, takes time into account. A post that gets 100 likes in the first 10 minutes will have a better shot at trending, the explore page, etc. than a post that gets 100 likes in 2 hours.

So, you should still try to post when the maximum number of followers are on the platform. To figure this out, check your analytics (if you have a business page).

Why You Must Become a Professor of the Jungle to Create Great, Viral Content?

The whole IG system is rigged. But you know the game, so play it.

You play by stepping up to the plate again and again and again and taking a huge swing at creating content that gets people to react, to engage, to tag their friend, or save it to a collection.

Write this down and circle it:

Great content makes you feel something.

Ok…so how do you create that kind of content?

if you want to create great, viral content, you can’t get academic about it.

You don’t become a great baseball player by reading about it. You become great, by playing the game.

If you want to win, if you want to go viral and beat out all the other competition, you need to understand Instagram better than anyone else. No shortcuts.

Study the accounts in your niche that are doing well. Spend time on the explore page. Work. Study. Learn. Test. Analyze. Repeat.

 

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THE EXACTS STRATEGIES & TACTICS THAT ARE WORKING RIGHT NOW TO GET MORE INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS

Here are the exact strategies and tactics (read, growth hacks) that work for getting more followers and growing your Instagram in 2018.

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GROWTH HACK #1:

Tag Hashtags/Locations in Stories and Get Twice the Views

It is still really easy to make it on any given location’s Story in 2018.Stories let you tag locations and hashtags.  Use them!

When you’re tagging locations, you can tag a specific location, like “Mimi’s Tacos” and you will still have a chance at being included in the story of any larger encompassing area location — like “Pacific Beach” or “San Diego”.

Content. Content. Content.

If you want this growth hack to work well, you’re going to really need to up your story game. Your Story has to be exceptional, surprising, and stand out.

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GROWTH HACK #2:

Powerlikes; or, the Secret Trick to Hacking the Explore Page

While “fake likes” have been around forever in the Instagram growth hacking world, powerlikes are relatively new.

Powerlikes are likes from large, influential accounts (usually with at least 20k followers) in the first few minutes after a post goes live. The idea is to game the algorithm and maximize the posts chance at getting on the explore page, where it will hopefully get more organic engagement.

The difference with powerlikes is that they also affect the relevancy part of IG’s algorithm equation.  And this is HUGE for hitting the explore page.

If you follow someone and they like a photo, the chances of it showing up on your explore page skyrocket.

So, by getting likes from accounts with tons of followers, you maximize your chance of hitting the explore page, especially for their most engaged followers.

Make sense?

If you’re using powerlikes or thinking about it, one takeaway from this is to make sure you are rotating the accounts you’re getting the powerlikes from every few months..

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GROWTH HACK #3:

Why Giveaway Loops Are the Only Instagram Contests that Matter in 2018

Loop giveaways? Giveaway loops? However you phrase it, if you’ve spent any time on IG this year stalking your favorite travel/fashion/beauty blogger, chances are you’ve seen these (and maybe even participated in one).

More than just a regular giveaway, giveaway loops are a great, viral way to partner with other accounts in your niche and get a lot of followers quickly for cheap.

If you have a small budget to play with and are in a niche that is popular for influencers (think beauty, fashion, puppies, etc.) then you should consider trying a giveaway.

If you do this right, you can get thousands of followers for pennies on the dollar.

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