TECH
09/17/2015 02:13 pm ET Updated Jan 03, 2017

8 Very Easy Ways To Get More Instagram Likes And Followers

We spoke to a bunch of Insta-experts about how to use the app better. Here's what they told us.

Can't get enough of those likes and follows? You're not alone.

We asked five social media experts for tips on how you can get more likes and followers on Instagram. It turns out that with a little discipline, creativity and fun, just about anyone can be Insta-famous.

Before we dive into our tips, let's introduce our panel:

Courtney Dasher is the proud owner of Tuna -- an adorable chiweenie dog -- and manager of the @tunameltsmyheart Instagram. The account has amassed over 1.5 million followers since Dasher created it in November 2011, when she had no intention of gaining a large following. Today, she also runs an online shop selling merchandise with his face on it.

William Anderson, or @thewilliamanderson, is a New York City-based photographer whose Instagram features crisp lines and bright colors of urban buildings and landscapes. Since he created his account in 2013, he has accumulated some 33,000 followers.

I shoot Nikon (D800). What do you shoot with?

A photo posted by New York City (@thewilliamanderson) on

Matthew Karsten, a travel blogger and photographer, runs @expertvagabond, an account with some 31,200 followers featuring shots of his adrenaline and adventure-fueled travels around the world.

Jessica Siskin is the master chef behind @mister_krisp, which features photos of food made out of Rice Krispies Treats. Since she created the account in October 2012, she has garnered some 32,300 followers and has been receiving orders for her snacks since the day the first photo went up, she told The Huffington Post.

Credit: Jessica Siskin/Instagram

Last but not least, Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and co-author of marketing guide The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users.

1. Be consistent in your theme and style 

When your followers click onto your feed, they're going to have certain expectations of what they want to see.

"Very successful Instagrammers think in terms of the grid," the top six photos that show up on your Instagram profile at any given time, Fitzpatrick told HuffPost. "Use similarly styled photos and the same filters to create a cohesive look and feel to your photos." (More on filters later.)

"Be creative, but have a general theme," said Karsten. "Mine is adventure, travel and landscapes. For others it's food or fashion or cats."

Credit: Matthew Karsten/Instagram

Dasher makes sure to post a new photo of the Tuna every day, alternating between pics of the pup -- dressed up, posing in a hot dog costume, even wearing a shirt featuring his face -- and fan art.

"Choose a rhythm (how often you post, time of day, the theme and quality of your photographs) and stick with it," Dasher told HuffPost. "Try and be intentional and authentic with the brand you've created and/or are developing."

Credit: Courtney Dasher/Instagram

Siskin's feed features only photos of delicious treats fashioned into creative renderings, which she calls "Misterkrisps."

"My theme is definitely my Rice Krispies Treat art," she said. "I never post photos that don't include a Misterkrisp that I made. I try to maintain a spirit of irreverence and to keep things interesting and fun."

2. Stick to a schedule

It's important that your followers know when to expect a new picture. "If you're going to be daily, you have to post daily," Dasher told HuffPost in a 2014 interview. "Your audience will expect that rhythm."

Try to post at a particular time each day to ensure extra consistency. "We [Dasher and Tuna] lived in California for the past few years, so I would usually post between 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. PST, which is around the times when most of the world is awake, and the post gets the most optimization," Dasher told HuffPost in a recent conversation. "I still try to keep to that time frame even if I am not in California."

But what works for one might not work for all. Other Instagram accounts get their best engagement at different times, Fitzpatrick noted. She recommends using Iconosquare, a free site that combs through your Instagram posts and engagement rates to help determine the best time for you to post. There's also a free tool called PicStats, created by social media scientist Dan Zarrella, that analyzes any non-private Instagram account for the best tags, filters, caption lengths and many other factors that can help capture more likes.

Alternatively, you can consult out breakdown of the best times (on average) to post on Instagram each day.

3. Make sure you're taking the right photos

Be patient and make sure you're posting great stuff. Nobody wants to see unexciting pics taken simply because the user wanted to plump up her feed.

"Some of the shots [I take] have been taken thousands of times, but being at the right place, the right time, with the right natural light gives you an opportunity to shoot something nobody else may catch," Anderson told HuffPost.

But if you happen to have a day where you didn't take a great photo, don't sweat it. You could always scroll through your phone's camera roll and feature a throwback or #latergram photo, if it fits in well with your feed.

Looking for some inspiration, tag your favorite account 👇

A photo posted by New York City (@thewilliamanderson) on

4. Use hashtags efficiently

"Use only hashtags that are relevant to what you're posting, otherwise it's spammy," Fitzpatrick said. "Using fewer but more accurate hashtags is better."

In a nifty guide on how to come up with smart hashtags, Fitzpatrick recommends four rules of thumb: make sure they're easy to spell, easy to remember, make people want to join in (something like #TeamLannister) and don't spell something awkward or potentially embarrassing.

Similarly, Anderson limits his use of hashtags, and features only tags relevant to his photos. "I use a couple of hashtags that primarily promote New York City, as well as a couple of media outlets," Anderson noted.

Siskin always tags her pictures of Rice Krispies art with #misterkrisp, and she adds additional tags if they're relevant to what's in the photo. "I use hashtags in the traditional sense," she said, "in that I'm simply using them for their function to aggregate images so people who are interested in a particular topic might come across my photo."

The number of hashtags you use is totally up to you, however. While Fitzpatrick says 11 hashtags are her "sweet spot" to get the most engagement, Anderson says he tends to use only two. Dasher, on the other hand, says she typically doesn't use hashtags unless it's for a holiday, promoting a shelter group or just being funny.

"I wouldn't recommend overusing them," Dasher said of hashtags. "That can be an overkill." 

Tagging people, brands and things within a photo could help boost your engagement, too. (In the photo above, click the little black box at the lower left-hand corner of the image to see its in-photo tags.) Zarrella, the creator of PicStats, combed through almost 1.5 million Instagram photos from over 500,000 users in 2014 and found that the more in-photo tags a post has, the more likes and comments the post will garner.

<strong></strong>Source: <a href="http://danzarrella.com/infographic-the-science-of-instagram.html" target="_blank">Dan Zarre
Source: Dan Zarrella 

5. Get featured 

Some media outlets might feature your posts on their social media accounts or websites if you join in their hashtag campaigns. 

"The best way to grow your following is to be featured on other accounts or in articles online. I've found that after a few companies feature you, others find you and want to do the same," Karsten wrote. "Participate in different hashtag projects like the one Instagram does. Find a unique angle."

"A lot of getting featured is luck, but it's also shooting the right shot for the right publication or article at the right time," Anderson noted. "Hashtagging helps get your shot out there and recognized by various outlets."

To start you off: If you tag #HuffPostGram and #WorldPostGram in your posts, you could get reposted by The Huffington Post's Instagram accounts or even featured in The WorldPost's biweekly "Through Your Lens" photo series.

A spectacular #huffpostgram from @bare_kiwi! Can you guess where it was taken? Hint: What a great username!

A photo posted by Huffington Post (@huffingtonpost) on

6. Caption wisely

To make sure your Instagram posts are well packaged, your captions should also be consistent with the theme of your post.

Captions should be written "depending on the photo and the message you are trying to send," Dasher said. "I typically aim for short and witty captions, but if I am promoting a shelter or an event, they are usually longer and more inspirational."

Karsten, on the other hand, isn't overly concerned with length. "The important thing is to make people feel emotion," he noted. "Use the caption to tell an interesting story about the photo."

In his 2014 study, Zarrella found that featuring calls-t0-action in captions can also help you get more Instagram love: Captions with the words "like" and "comment" tended to get 89 percent more likes-per-follower and 2,194 percent more comments-per-follower, respectively.

7. Get to know your audience

If you love your followers, they'll love you back.

"I think it is really important to make a strong effort, no matter how big your following is," Dasher said of responding to comments and messages. "I just think people appreciate it and like to be seen and known." Dasher has even taken Tuna on "Tuna tours" around the United States so the pup's fans can meet him in person.

"If you can commit to 15 minutes in the morning and at night to post yourself and then comment and like other people's post, I think you'll see growth and grow your Instagram community," Fitzpatrick noted.

8. Trust your instincts, use the filters that make your photos look best

While researchers noted in May that photos with filters are 45 percent more likely to receive comments, Zarrella's 2014 study found that photos with no filter overwhelmingly got the most likes-per-follower, and that the next most-liked photos had either the Willow, Valencia or Sierra filters.

But don't let polls and reports dictate which filters to use. You are the best judge of what works with your individual photos. You can consult Zarrella's PicStats to learn more about the filters that get you the most traction, but you should also trust your own artistic judgement. When a certain filter makes a photo pop, go with it!

"Over time, the type of photography you shoot will generally change, and so does your editing technique," Anderson said. "If you feel a filter adds to the character of a photo, use it! Change is a good thing." 

Yankees VS Sox Congrats Juli and Sean! #meetthemcvickers

A photo posted by New York City (@thewilliamanderson) on

Good luck, and you're welcome.

For more tips from more Instagram celebrities, check out our post from July 2014.

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