When it comes to social media, there are two types of people in the world: those who want more likes and those who are lying. We all want more engagement on our Instagram photos, tweets, Facebook posts, and beyond; it's just a matter of how badly we want them, and how honestly we admit to this desire.
If you're in the market for increased likes on your Instagram posts (which, let's be honest, we all are!), you'll want to hear what our resident Instagram expert has to say. Michael Kwolek, the director of research at social media consultancy firm Room 214, had some pretty mind-blowing suggestions for how to build up the number of those little red hearts underneath your Instagram shots.
Keep scrolling to learn his tips on getting more Instagram likes!
"Both are valuable, but the likes number is just so much bigger that it’s more of a bellwether for engagement," Kwolek tells us. "Comments can be really cool, because it takes more effort for a person to comment, so they’re higher-value engagements individually; but the number of likes is an easier estimate of how engaging a piece of content is. On one post, you can have 1000 likes and only 22 comments."
"There are a bunch of different ways we look at boosting engagement," Kwolek insists. "Some of them are technical, some of them are more conceptual, but content is the biggest piece; it's the key. If the image isn’t very good, people aren’t going to care. If you post a mediocre image, it won’t get as much engagement as it would if you did a really fresh-looking layout or inspiration or #OOTD. You definitely see huge swings when the image looks a little better."
He continues, "It’s all about whether you’re creating something that resonates, that is cool, exciting, fresh, that pops in people’s feeds, and that feels really new and unique—that’s the type of post that’s going to get the most engagement. Think about a lot of the stuff we’ve talked about before—how to write a good caption and take a good photo—and check all those boxes. Make sure the content really shines—that’s the first step in ensuring people are going to like."
"Before you post, you need to be asking yourself, 'What’s really resonating with me right now?'" he says. "A lot of times, looking outside the fashion industry is a great way to get inspiration for that—musicians, street artists, and others that are great signifiers of what’s happening in culture in a bigger sense. Then ask yourself how you can apply that from a fashion perspective. Fashion in particular is so inspired by a lot of different elements other than just fashion designers and people in that world. Oftentimes, musicians actually create what becomes fashionable, so it's good for you to see how they are photographing themselves, etc., then to try creating something new from your perspective."
"When you see something that’s been done a bunch, that might be a sign that you want to avoid it," Kwolek emphasizes. "Thinking about some of those clichés we’ve talked about before—like a flat-lay of your brunch, for example. If you're going, 'I’ve seen this so many times,' then you should avoid posting it unless you have a really unique spin on it."
"If you go to an event, for example, and you use the hashtag of the event, that’s a great way to gain exposure," Kwolek tells us. "People are going to look at what other people are creating from that event. Coachella is a huge example—it’s become a thing for a lot of brands. Coachella is on the verge of being cliché at this point, but there are tons of other interesting events happening in cities all over the U.S. Being there, being present and active, and taking interesting photos—tagging it to that event can quickly expand your engagements. If you’re looking to engage with a specific brand’s current campaign, use that hashtag, and make sure you spell it correctly! If it’s a really long thing and maybe they’re abbreviating it—just double-check the spelling."
"Instagram is all about having a point of view and having a perspective, and that takes time to develop," Kwolek urges. "It rarely, if ever, happens with anybody instantly; if you establish that personal voice and vision, that’s what’s going to get you engagement in the long run. The likes will come if you believe in what you’re creating, in your unique voice. It doesn't really happen overnight."
"Ultimately, you want to do what you're doing for the love of it, not for the likes," Kwolek advises. "Focus more on the art, the content, the body of work you’re creating, and less on those numbers; otherwise you’re just going to start to create generic content. Any artist that starts making art based on other people’s taste, and not on her own, is going to become a generic artist and in the long run will not be as highly valued as someone who keeps plugging away and does what they feel they have to do from their own mind."
He reminds us, "Everyone feels that on social media in general, you want to get more likes, comments, and shares. And you start to place your personal worth in those numbers a little bit, which can be really psychologically damaging in some ways; you start to basically quantify your worth based on likes. The interesting thing about it is that from our perspective as a consulting agency looking at so much content, a lot of times there is an element of randomness to engagement; a post was just in the right place at the right time, and it got a crazy amount of engagement. You can’t place all of that on you."
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