social media

Making the most of Instagram stories

Instagram stories have been the highlight for a few months now. When Instagram came out with that new feature, many resisted because it was a rip off of snapchat. I really wanted to stand by Snapchat and just ignore the Instagram stories, but I couldn't! The appeal of them was too strong and my audience is much bigger on Instagram. The thing I like the most in the Insta stories is the option to see who exactly is viewing the stories and seeing their interests and profiles. A few features have been added a few weeks ago such as the location and the hashtags. Those two have really helped me reach to more people that I thought I was losing!

I found five useful ways for using Instagram stories and I thought you might make a use of them too!  

1- Post something on your story at least once a day

With the very annoying algorithm of Instagram that makes you see only the people and the posts it thinks you are interested in, I stopped seeing many posts from the 850 people I follow. When the stories pop up on the top of the page, I remember those people exist.  I see the stories of people I haven't seen in my feeds in ages, which is good because then I click on their profiles and find that I haven't even seen their last 10 photos! My insta story views are significantly higher than my post likes. The most likes I have been getting lately on my travel instagram is 150, but my story views reach to over 400, which is massive to me! 

Ps. Don't over share though. The more stories you have, the more people you will loose. 

Impression of Instagram Stories
Instagram Story Viewers

2- Make it interesting

The Instagram stories need a little more thought unlike snapchat. Some avid instagrammers even go to the lengths of editing videos with an editing software such as Premier pro to create a much more engaging story. You can certainly do that, but you can also be interesting without spending too much time on there. I especially love the Boomerang option! It only needs a slight movement and it gives more life. I generally prefer sharing videos on insta stories and keep the good photos for the feed. Another thing people seem to enjoy is process! My art instagram gets so much love when I share a process for a new piece of art. I also get more views and engagement out of that. 

3- Add a location

One of the coolest, newest things about the Instagram stories is the public story based on a location. All you have to do is to take a photo or a video then add the location and Instagram will automatically add you to the public story. I am not sure what's the reasoning behind who gets shown or not, but it's really cool when it happens. I got 100 views once from a specific London location. This also means that your story will show up (for 24 hours) when someone is searching the chosen location.   

4- Add a hashtag

A hashtag is the key to be found on Instagram and I am so excited that Instagram has added this to the story features. I have been using relevant popular tags and it's been working. For example, I used #Ramadan2017 a few times this month since I know many people are looking it up. I got a good amount of views just out of adding that. Instagram tells you how many views you are getting from a specific location or a hashtag. Worth adding for sure! 

Instagram Stories Hashtags

5- Call to action

Call to Action on Instagram

This is what makes your story shift from an individual's point of view to an engaging story. Talk to your viewers. Don't only give them orders to check links, but also attempt to have a conversation. Ask about their days, favourite activities and recommendation. It's fun to see what people have to say and it gives you a more personal view of your followers and their interests. I posted once asking people if they are interested in visiting unusual locations like Uzbekistan and after few minutes I got five responses from people who were intrigued. Not many, but it's still something!  

More Instagram posts that you might like: 

Instagram Tips and Highlights from Polkadots Passport

Instagram shadowban and how to get around it

Instagram Fully Explained 

Instagram as a Research Tool

Over to you: Do you have any ways to use the Insta stories to their fullest potential?

Instagram Tips and Highlights from Polkadot Passport

This was on of the talks I enjoyed in Traverse 17 conference in London. 

Speaker: Nicola Easterby

Nicola aka polka dot passport is a brilliant blogger and instagramer and she shared some of her tips with us after three years growing her audience on instagram: 

How to post on Instagram

  • Only post high quality relevant photos

  • Photo orientation should be portraits or square. They take more of the screen, which leads to better engagement 

  • Hashtag photos. Also, find official hashtags and tag for feature accounts. 

  • Post at peak times 

Tips for better photos on Instagram

  • Content is key! 
  • Shooting during golden hour 
  • Finding unique perspectives 
  • Adding a subject to your photos 
  • Having both a foreground and a background 
  • Capture a sense of movement 

Making money on Instagram

  • Sponsored post- promote something for a brand 
  • Disclosing with a hashtag 
  • Creating product into your feed to tell a story that relates to your audience
  • Gifting / Contra exchange - only good when starting but after 10k you should get paid! 
  • Instal takeovers for brand accounts 
  • Long term ambassador roles
  • Hustle hard when you are starting. You can pitch to you dream brands 
  • DM brands asking for the PR contacts 
  • Find platforms to get noticed and to find work opportunities
    Example: tribe group for influencers. 

Let's getting gramming!
You can find me on instagram on Designer Esra

Over to you: do you have any useful tips and highlights for instagram that have worked for you? 

Instagram shadowban and how to get around it

Last week, I was very disheartened after I read all about the Instagram "Shadowban", especially that I have been experiencing a major engagement drop. My followers numbers have not changed in a whole year and my photos are only getting 100-200 likes from the same exact people (who I really appreciate btw!). I knew something was seriously wrong with instagram. I thought that was their way to push me to pay for adverts to "promote" my account. It turns out it was not only that, I have been shadow banned too! Let me tell you some more.  

Update: apparently this all was a hashtag "glitch" and it's been fixed by Instagram. Will keep monitoring my accounts to see. 

What does an instagram shadowban mean?

Basically an Instagram Shadowban means your account cannot be found using the hashtags you inserted to anyone else other than your current followers because you have used a broken or a banned hashtag. 

The whole system of Instagram relies heavily on hashtags because they are the "search words" people put to find accounts that relate to them. 


How Do You Know If You Have Been ShadowBanned?

  • I feel like it was clear to me before I even read anything about this. I have been on instagram since their first year in 2010, so I know how things worked normally before Facebook took over and ruined it. 
  • You can get tested in this new website:
    Their Tag line: Worried about the Instagram Shadowban? 
    You're not alone! ~4,500 people are taking the test every hour since launch (Apr 14, 2017)
    I have been checking each post after posting to see what's happening. 
  • If you have used any of those spammy services to buy followers and what not. 

Six Tips to get around the Instagram shadow ban

The main cause for this are hashtags. I think that is their way to keep the Instagram community free from spammers, but they really need to work harder to fix this because it is causing problems to everyone. As a blogger this a major disadvantage to me, but nothing I can do to change the algorithms. In the past week I have been following these tips and I feel like they helped slightly.  

  1. Delete Hashtags
    This is the most upsetting thing, but it has to be done. I am still trying to figure out which hashtags are triggering this on instagram ban, but till I do, I am being very cautious with my use. 
  2. Use two words hashtags
    I think specific hashtags are key here. Avoid all the one word generic tags like #travel #Friday #Fashion. Instead use #TravelStory #FridayThoughts #ModestFashion or something of that sort. 
  3. Switch the hashtags up
    You get blocked if you use the same hashtags all the time, so use different ones every two days or something to better your chances. 
  4. Add your "Location"
    If hashtags are refusing to cooperate, then use your location and hope to be found that way. 
  5. Engage Even More
    Instead of adding my beloved 30 hashtags, I have been searching the hashtags that I would have used. Then I like and comment photos on there.  
  6. Avoid Spammy Behaviours
    Above I told you to engage, but don't spend the day just hitting like or commenting with the same thing because that might get you banned to. 
Disclaimer: I am not an Instagram expert, but I run three accounts on there and I have been on it for the past seven years.  
Banned post on instagram because of all the one word hashtags 

Banned post on instagram because of all the one word hashtags 

Safe post on instagram after deleting the hashtags. 

Safe post on instagram after deleting the hashtags. 

Over to you: Do you feel like you have been affected by all of this? Do you have any other tips to get around the ban?