With 300 million monthly users and more than 75 million daily users, Instagram has taken over the title as the fastest-growing social media site – and there are no signs it of slowing down. There is no doubt that Instagram has transformed the way users connect with others, making it easier than ever to create and share content.

However, simply creating a username and writing a short biography is not enough. Whether you’re creating an account in order to help grow your business or just to share fun photos with friends, Insta-fame doesn’t happen overnight. Like anything, an effective Instagram account takes a little effort. What is the key to maximizing your Insta-presence? In order to see the biggest growth in followers, it’s important that users make posting a priority.

So, grab your sunglasses and hit the red carpet. Here are the top five tips on how to grow your Instagram audience and reach that oh-so coveted status of “Insta-famous”:

1. #Hashtags Matter
We’ve all seen those social media users who are incapable of uploading a photo without adding nearly 50 hashtags to the end of their post. While I don’t recommend doing this, hash tagging on Instagram can be a very effective way of gaining followers, if used correctly. When you #hashtag a photo, users who are interested in what you’re posting can look up that hashtag and find your account. Can’t think of a witty caption to post with your picture? When in doubt, #hashtag.

2. Beware the Dead Zone
Knowing when your followers are going to be scrolling through their news feeds is key to maintaining an effective Instagram account. Websites such as Iconosquare allow users to track their posting habits, as well as let users know when is the best time to post in order to get the highest engagement from followers. Posting at a specific time of the day is simple with programs such as ScheduGram that allow users to schedule their picture or video to post at a specific time. As a general rule though, get your sleep and avoid posting on Instagram anywhere from the hours of 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.

3. Share the Love
When you’re about to post something on Instagram, the bottom half of the screen gives users the capability of sharing their post on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, and Mixi. If you have an account on one of those websites, share away. The post will link right back to your Instagram, allowing people who are following you on other accounts to also follow you on Instagram.

4. Be a Social Butterfly
Always remember that social media is a two-way street and that engaging with other accounts will always be beneficial. Click on your own hashtags and talk to people who are posting about the same things you are. Search related hashtags to reach out to different kinds of people. When followers comment on your posts, comment back. People like knowing that there’s a person behind the profile.

5. Content is Key
Though all of the above strategies are important to maximizing your Instagram audience, nothing is more crucial than having high-quality content. Before you post, think to yourself “Would I like this picture if I was scrolling through my Instagram? Would I comment?” There’s a good chance that if you like something, someone else will, too.

By following these simple steps, you will be on your way to achieving Insta-fame. Ready to take your skills to the next level? Stay tuned for my next post on how to use Instagram to monetize your business.

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