Last time I touched on the subject of Instagram, mentioning how engagement has decreased sharply over the last two years. I could put some of this down to my use of (or absence of) hashtags.

In November last year, I made the conscious decision to cut down the number of hashtags I posted. I went from posting the maximum of 30 to roughly 10, losing a third. The reason I gave at the time was that hashtags aren’t as useful as they once were – a few years ago using 30 would result in roughly 70 likes per post. Doing some quick maths: If I did the same today I’d probably get about 21 likes from random sources, likely people glossing over what I’ve actually posted.

Lots of those people like things in a quick attempt to get followers themselves. Of course, that doesn’t work. I don’t think there’s been one occasion where a random account has liked something I’ve posted, and I’ve liked something back in reciprocation. A next level example of this would be to give a copy/paste comment of something along the lines of ‘nice photo!!’ or ‘Sweet :)’. It’s not hard to see through at all, and some people justifiably block these accounts outright. Frankly, it pisses me and I know many of you off.

Something Austin Kleon tells us in Show Your Work (clearly fresh in the mind right now with all the mentions it’s getting!) is not to become ‘Human Spam’. People see through it, and it won’t build you any meaningful relationships. Your best bet would be to leave genuine comments on posts that relate to something i.e. location, business or etc. It all depends on who you’re trying to reach. It would take time to gather any traction with that alone, but it’s a matter of perspective. If you were to comment (meaningfully!) 10 times a day, that’s 70 a week, which in turn is 3640 comments in a year.

Today’s takeaway: I’ve heard it said before that brand building is a marathon, not a sprint. The golden days of easy Instagram exposure are over – anyone looking to build an account, much like a brand, has to be in it for the long haul.

What are you doing to get noticed? Today I’ve taken the plunge and put myself on a video on Instagram Stories (it’s on my profile if you’d like a gander). I’m well out of my comfort zone and appear pretty sheepish but I’ll get better with time.

If you’ve any thoughts or suggestions on ways to get noticed on Instagram I’d love to hear them – let’s start a dialogue!