The 11 Pills to Cure the Instagram "IWM" Virus

02/14/2017 11:11 am ET Updated Feb 14, 2017

Do you remember when you were a kid how excited you were when you got a letter in the mail? Maybe a postcard from your grandparents while on their summer vacation in some beautiful place far away?

It seems letters and postcards have been replaces with emails, texts and photos on social media. You no longer flip thru the junk mail looking for your name on an envelope, but instead open an app looking for your name tagged in a photo or post.

And something about that makes us feel good.

Take that a step further and think about the pleasure you get watching the “likes” and comments stack up for every photo and status update you make. Every time you post something new, you hope the number of likes are higher than the time before.

I was surprised to learn there are over 500 million active users on Instagram alone every month. And those 500 million users are sharing over 95 million images PER DAY. Each one of those people sharing their photos are hoping to catch YOUR eye. And why?

Social media expert, Shannon Self explained much has to do with the IWM virus. Self manages the social media accounts for numerous high profile celebrities/personalities and is often contracted to consult with the social media teams of numerous national brands and corporations. Below are his tips to help cure what’s ailing you...

The IWM virus has infected most Instagram users in a very short amount of time, and it seems there is no “cure”. You’ve not heard of the IWM virus? No doubt you, or someone you know has it.

IWM is the “I Want More” virus that our culture is socially infected with. We are plagued by the need of instant gratification. Fulfilling that need comes from more likes, more follows, more comments…just more.

How do we find the “cure” for this obsession? If you do a search you’ll find no shortage of “experts” out there who can help you. But if you look closely, you’ll find their Instagram following just as low as yours and in some cases, lower.

There is no lack of content out there for people to engage with. People are constantly on Instagram scrolling down, looking for that one element you and others are missing. It’s simple…you aren’t capturing their eye OR their heart. Most content lacks enough vibrance that stops the human eye from scrolling or have enough value for the heart to connect. Its that relational connection that results in getting a new follower.

Anything of any value in today’s society finds us; we don’t search for it. The days of asking people to “Like” something or “Follow Me” are over.

Below are THE 11 Pills you need to take in order to maximize your Instagram visibility.

1. Make your account public

Our clients seeing more engagement on posts when their account is public rather than private

2. Automated posting software limits your content reach and engagement!

Certainly posting at times when the most viewers are online is important. However, posting at 9:01pm every night gets noticed. The organic post reach vs. scheduled reach achieve completely different results, and organic wins every time.

3. Post no more than four times a week and not at the same time each day or night

Just like any relationship less is more. Give your followers a chance to miss you and they won’t take you for granted.

4. Every post should be as bright and vibrant as possible without looking over filtered

Courtesy of Shannon Self

Brands and people are constantly scrolling through enormous amounts dim, unfocused mediocrity. As they continue to scroll and something jumps off the page with vibrancy, they back up to see what it was. Then you’ve got them! I use the app "camera+" to brighten up images.

5. Upload long photos 1080px / 566px vs. 1080px / 1350px

When taking a photo, hold your phone vertical so you can upload in a long format. Make sure to hit the two arrows “< >” on bottom left corner! Why? When correctly done you’ll have a white border on both sides of the pic. Once posted the pic will have no white border and be longer than the standard square formatted picture.

Courtesy of Shannon Self

6. Never auto post from Instagram to Twitter. Always post organically on each platform!

Brand accounts and personal accounts don't always have the exact same usernames for both platforms. For example, if you tag me on Instagram using @shannonself and send the post automatically to twitter, then I won't see you mentioned me as my twitter name is @self24! Before you post on Instagram, highlight and copy the verbiage, open twitter, paste into your tweet updating the username.

7. Think globally and act locally when using geotags and hashtags

Why? If you take a pic of the Flatiron District in New York City and post it. Don't geotag or hashtag "New York City" because it will only been seen for a few minutes because of the constant amount of photos being uploaded using that hashtag. If you use a smaller locational geotag and hashtag that’s in and around the area such as #FlatIronDistrict #FlatIronBuilding #GreenwichVillage #UnionSquareNYC or #EastVillageNYC you’ll have longevity. Now your photo is on the geotag and hashtag timeline of people who are the very same area as you. If you are intentional enough to click on those geotags and hashtags, you can then interact with people that can relate with your location.

Little visibility value:

#NYC #NewYork #NewYorkCity

More visibility value:

#FlatIronDistrict #FlatIronBuilding #GreenwichVillage

#UnionSquareNYC #EastVillageNYC

8. Never be "That Hashtag Guy" who uses 20 hashtags in their post

Why? Besides screaming insecurity it’s also annoying. Only use 1 or 2 hashtags in the original post and drop all the other hashtags to the comments section. This way the 20 hashtags will be buried inside your comments which is socially acceptable.

9. Don't watermark your content! You're good but not that good!

Accounts that watermark their content appear needy. It’s an honor to have someone post your content on their page and even better if they tag you in it. Imitation is the finest form of flattery.

10. Its not enough to place a geotag or hashtag on your content and expect it to grow your account.

You have to put in the work. Click on the geotag of choice, then like and comment on as many photos and videos as possible. Then click on every hashtag placed on your pic or video. Especially on the "Top Nine Billboard" (which will eventually be space you have to pay for)! This is the most time consuming step yet most rewarding.

11. If you're a brand, your content needs to have value other than "The Pitch"

So many brands post nothing but agenda driven content that has no value to anyone except the person that posted it. I don't care if your target audience is local or national, rich or poor, black or white ... people need to be inspired and encouraged. Brands, here's the only word you need to remember when playing social game, RELATABLE! I bet there’s a great story about how your brand got started but its nowhere to be found outside your website. Tell your story in a transparent way that people can relate to. When its time for the pitch and your brand has my trust, don't ask me to buy whatever it is you're selling, TELL ME and I will. Ten years ago my boss told be something I’ll never forget. "People don't like to be asked what to do, they liked to be told what to do, but its not what you say, its how you say it"

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