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How to get noticed and stand out on Instagram

  • February 24, 2019
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How to get noticed and stand out on Instagram

With over one billion Instagram users pumping out daily posts, stories, IG Live and IGTV the platform is starting to get crowded and noisy. There are a lot of people clamoring for your attention and it’s getting more difficult to get noticed and stand out.

Since I’m constantly in the platform for my own Instagram account as well as my client’s accounts that I managed I am often asked for advice; and so here are my recommendations:

In all my years in using Instagram I have found the best way to stand out is to focus on the intersection of the following four factors: 1.  Emotive photography.  2.  Captivating storytelling which; 3.  Resonates and speaks to your tribe.  4.  All of this has to be delivered with an element of surprise and intrigue to cause a pattern interrupt. 

Infographic showing how to stand out on Instagram

Understand WHO your target audience is

Before you can get someone to look at your photos … less alone engage with it you have to understand your typical instagram user.

They have a life. They might be a student going to college, a commuter on the train on the way to the city, a mother with two toddlers, or your friend or niece or nephew.

And here’s something you need to know. These people do not care about you. And I don’t mean that in a cruel sense. But they wake up and have a schedule. Maybe all they have on instagram is
– when they are in the bathroom
– while they are eating breakfast
– while they are in line at the grocery store
– while they are waiting for class to start
– while they are waiting for their food to arrive
– before they start their commute home

And the fact of the matter is although there are super users MOST people are only on Instagram for anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour a day.

So … where do you fit in?

how to get the attention of busy people

Understand WHY a reader is on Instagram in the first place

Let’s examine a non content producer. Someone who has a profile, maybe posts five to fifteen times a year. But they log in and scroll through their feed. They are on Instagram for entertainment. They are bored. They want to pass the time. It’s like when we used to turn on the TV looking for a show to watch.

The typical Instagram user is scrolling through their feed looking to see what’s going to capture their attention.

Why will they slow their scroll?

Why would they click through to look at your photo?

Why would they click on the read more – to read the rest of your post?

You should ask yourself these questions first.

I always look to the emotions that people are looking for. And through various marketing studies it’s been found that the top reactions are those that incite

1.  Awe

2.  Laughter


View this post on Instagram


… hella ready for life now ?#minimalist #magicalskateboardz

A post shared by Boston Terriers Maggie & Orbit (@maggielovesorbit) on

3.  Amusement

4. Joy

5.  Inspiration


View this post on Instagram


Reason no. 248 not to swim: No ? in the shallows ? #lovesthebeachnotthewater

A post shared by Boston Terriers Maggie & Orbit (@maggielovesorbit) on

One of the things you can do is ask yourself before you post your photo or video:

What would the emotional response be?

Does this photo surprise someone and capture their attention? Is there something unusual about it?

Will this post make someone laugh? An easy way to think about this is consider a person in mind when you create a post. I write for certain family members and I imagine what their reaction might be when they read it. And if I’m going for humor I ask myself if it will make them laugh?

Similar to laughter – will it amuse the reader?

Or does it spark joy and make someone happy?

Another approach will be to inspire the reader. My ultimate favorite account is @thiswildidea and all of his posts and photography inspire me and push my creativity.

Create a pattern interrupt

You’ve heard people say “be original” and “be unique”? But did you understand why?

It’s because our minds process visuals at a rate faster than we can comprehend. When your content looks and feels like someone else it doesn’t stand out.

To slow someone’s scroll … to make them look at your page … your content should cause a pattern interrupt.

Figure out a way to put your own spin on your photography? What makes your city unique? What’s your favorite parts about it? How can you tell your story visually that is different from someone else?

Or how do you take a popular idea and spin it.  For example the ASMR Eating videos have been very popular as of late.  We did one for Real Dog Box but put a spin on it by having two dogs doing the eating.


View this post on Instagram


One of us eats almost anything guess who that would be ? . #shopdogs #feedreal #aykan #tchalla

A post shared by Fresh Dog Treats! Starting $21 (@realdogbox) on

Keep Evolving

Four years ago the Instagram famous dog DougThePug started posting funny photos and most of the time he was dressed up in clothing.  Back then he was one of the few dressing up and since then there are thousands of dogs copying him.  The first few times you see other dogs dress up it’s amusing but when you realize it’s not as original you’re not as interested in that type of content anymore unless you’re the original like Doug is.

Be Authentic and Vulnerable

When you tell your own story, you give others permission to do the same.

When you lower your walls and bare what’s on your mind, your vulnerability invites others to share as well.

When you speak your truth it gives others courage to speak their’s.

Light attracts light. And confidence draws people in.

So go beyond the quotes, share what’s on your mind, and go a little deeper with your audience.

get more likes on instagram


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Boston Terriers Maggie & Orbit (@maggielovesorbit) on

Find meaning and purpose

Instagram can easily become boring if you don’t have a purpose behind your account. Ask yourself the following questions:

Is your story anchored deeply in your dreams and desires?

Are you capturing and sharing the moments that mean the most to you?

Are you serving the community around you?

Does what you create change people for the better even if it’s one person?

Are you creating work that you can be proud of?

Respect people’s time

There is a scientific study that states the brain’s job is to survive and thrive. So you have less than a second to capture their attention. They may or may not read your whole caption.

Keep this in mind and realize that the first 63 characters (basically a very short sentence of 5 to 7 words) is all someone might see because the rest of the caption is truncated.

When I write … I try to deliver a short one liner and then … if I want to write more I continue that in rest of the the caption.

There’s more to engagement than likes and comments

Often times the questions are? How do I get more likes on Instagram? How can I get more comments?

And those are just two metrics.

First of all the fact that someone saw it should be metric number one. If you have a business account you can look at the number of impressions your post received.

Then look to see how many people saved, shared, or tagged others in your post. If you’re a blogger or business, the other key metric is – how many people clicked on your website. Those key data points matter far more to me than likes and comments.

I have client accounts who have very low numbers in terms of follows and likes but their website clicks, saves, tags and … more importantly … conversions … are off the charts. You have to look at the whole picture not just how many likes or comments you’re posts receive.

Use Instagram stories to get personal

I view the instagram gallery to be the “portfolio” of the very best photos you can produce.

Instagram stories on the other hand is where I document and share behind the scenes … a peak in the life of Maggie and Orbit and what we are like as a family together.

This is where the true personalities come out and the direct messages received in reply to Instagram stories is where true relationships are built. It’s because it’s hidden from the public eye and not everyone wants to like or comment on your photo but they might be more inclined to respond to your story through a direct message.

instagram tips and tricks

Learn how to use Hashtags to increase your reach.

Knowing how to use the correct combination of hashtags could put your post in front of twice as many people.

I share how to do that in two separate posts:
My Favorite Hashtags for Dogs
How To Find Popular Hashtags on Instagram in under Five Minutes
Here are a few screen shots of recent instagram posts that got in front of a lot of people.


How do you get popular on Instagram

When you consistently are able to deliver content that resonates with your target reader your audience and following will grow.

Keep in mind … this is not a one sided relationship.

Just as you want to be recognized, so do your readers. Everyone wants to be seen. One way to demonstrate that you care about your community is that you engage back with them.

There’s a methodology in how to do this and I share it in my guide below.

How do I grow my Instagram Following?

This is another question I am often asked. And it’s a result in creating content that people MISS when they don’t see it in their feed.

Let’s say they saw your posts once. And then they saw it a second time and they liked it SO much that it left an indelible mark on their memory.

This means the woke up and said … hmmmm I wonder what (insert your Instagram name) is up to and they actually LOOK for your posts.

When your content is this good or it resonates, and it resonates with more than one person then your account will grow.

There are other ways to grow as well – which are covered in my guide but … content trumps everything. You cannot hack your way to more followers. They have to willingly seek you out repeatedly and want to consume more of it because it makes their day that much better when they do.

Another way others grow is to have a secondary social media platform.  There are those that are growing because they have a YouTube, a TikTok account, Facebook page or a blog that helps drive new followers to their page.

How do I become famous on Instagram?

Famous means different things to different people. A person with 10 followers could be the most famous person on Instagram if your number one fan is your niece.

Fame isn’t something to seek it’s something that someone perceives. I always caution seeking fame because then your eyes are on the wrong target.

Your primary goal should be to create the best pieces of content every day.

instagram marketing tips

How many followers do you need to get paid on Instagram?

It all depends on how much someone wants to pay you.

I know some photographers who have less than a hundred followers on Instagram but their work is so good that someone wants to pay them for it.

It’s more about the quality of your work than the number of followers.

For example … a greeting card company might ask for five of your photos and pay you $2,000 for each one to have licensing rights to it.

Another way to get paid is through sponsorships or sponsored posts. The current market rate is about $100 for every 10,000 followers.

However just because you have an audience doesn’t mean you’re able to influence your community.

If people do not take you seriously or if they don’t believe you or trust you then they won’t act on any of your recommendations when you do a sponsored post.

Becoming an influencer means that people trust you. That they come to you for advice. That they listen to you and when they take your recommendation they are happy because you’re made their lives better because of whatever it was you said for them to buy or do.

Learn by doing

My first Instagram @zoeythebostie wasn’t polished by any means. And I wasn’t really posting regularly.

My current Instagram @maggielovesorbit on the other hand has really grown creatively. My first photos were with the iPhone but eventually upgraded my equipment and I took lessons and learned how to use my camera. I also invested in creative storytelling and worked on my writing skills.

By posting every day I was able to gradually improve. So the next piece of advice will be to be in for the long run. No one wakes up to immediate success. But by showing up daily you’ll learn what works for you and what doesn’t.

In conclusion

Instagram is a visual social media platform. People want to connect with others. They want to be inspired. They want to laugh. They want to have fun. And they are drawn to others who want the same.

Don’t focus on the numbers and the metrics. That will only distract you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Because that’s not what’s important.

Create from the heart. Craft your own style. Tell your own story. And as long as you’re staying true to yourself then you will achieve your goals.

stand out on instagram

By, February 24, 2019
  • 24
  • Lisa
    February 24, 2019

    I have been following your accounts for over a year now and I love your tips! Thank you for taking the time to research and for sharing your invaluable insight. You are my go-to for Instagram tips and I enjoy processing your advice, implementing it in my own way through posts and stories and seeing the results! You rock 🙂

    • Maggie Loves Orbit
      February 25, 2019

      So glad I can share a different perspective and that it helps!!!!

  • katie
    February 26, 2019

    Thank you so much for your helpful tips! I’ll be sure to apply them to my own Instagram and hopefully can become more successful like yourself. There was a lot of content within this article that I did not know, which is very refreshing to read.

  • Beth
    February 27, 2019

    These are such wonderful pieces of advice. I absolutely love your Instagram account and it helps to have things laid out in such a straight forward way.

  • Missy Zane
    February 28, 2019

    Great tips. Thank you!

  • Hindy
    March 1, 2019

    I actually just started on Instagram this week, I’ve been avoiding it and now I see why!! Your post is amazing, full of really helpful tips and advice particularly for a newbie like myself. There’s no way I can produce anything near as interesting as your images, I definitely need to find someone to do it for me!!

    • Maggie Loves Orbit
      March 2, 2019

      I have an IG page BarkCommunity I share tips there if you’re just starting =) and photos can be phone photos… just getting content out regularly is probably step one.

  • Michelle & The Paw Pack
    March 1, 2019

    Thanks for the tips! I’ll for sure be implementing them on my own Instagram accounts. I’ve never been a big social media person but for whatever reason I’ve found Instagram to be more enjoyable than any of the other platforms. I especially love having one place to share pictures of my pets, increasing my audience so I have even more “pet people” to interact with would be awesome.

    • Maggie Loves Orbit
      March 2, 2019

      hehe yup Instagram is not going away and it’s a lot of fun.

  • Jana
    March 1, 2019

    I did open an account but I cannot bring myself to actually making any use of Instagram.

  • Adriana
    March 2, 2019

    Thanks for all the tips we all need to learn new things every day and being Instagram a trending channel that isn’t going away we need to be more educated on how to grow it.

    • Maggie Loves Orbit
      March 2, 2019

      It’s like microblogging – just photos and content … none of the hard stuff really. Blogging to me is MUCH more difficult.

  • Ruby and Kristin
    March 2, 2019

    I always enjoy your approach to Instagram. It’s interesting because I do much of what you discuss above on my blog much better than I do on Instagram – which is definitely why my blog audience is my most engaged, devoted, and invested audience. I’ve never quite figured out how to translate my blog mojo to my Instagram – probably my fault because I spend most of my time on blog posts and then sometimes rush through Instagram.

    • Maggie Loves Orbit
      March 2, 2019

      Omg I’m the reverse. I told myself if I could channel my IG mojo to the blog and be able to write longer form blog content then I’d be ok lol. We all have different strengths and I loved your article about the Westminister show I was laughing reading it. Thank you for stopping by.

  • Ruth
    March 2, 2019

    I started Instagram with my laptop about 4 months ago I think and have over 400 followers so feel really good about that, I try to put up one photo a day sometimes more and have also been adding videos. I am happy with how I am growing and your tips are going to help me more, thanks

  • Sonja of Montecristo Travels
    March 3, 2019

    Love your tips. Sadly I need to hire someone because I have a full time career that takes up easily 16+ hours a day. I want to do all this but just can’t fit it all in. Maybe when I retire…LOL

  • Alex
    March 3, 2019

    Really awesome tips! I think a lot of people want that simple, easy answer for instagram, and as you showed, there isn’t one! I will definitely be sharing this post with our friends <3

    Thanks for sharing
    -Alex and Navy

  • Emilia
    March 3, 2019

    I have a hard time with instagram, I’m not a visual person and I’m not a good photographer. But I’m trying to do something. This was really helpful. I bookmarked for review again later.

  • Sweet Purrfections
    March 3, 2019

    Very informative post. Instagram isn’t my social media of choice, but anything to help is greatly appreciated.

  • Marjorie Dawson
    March 3, 2019

    I am definitely not an Instagram person. There is so much work here to even find your USP let alone find the time to generate enough visuals to generate traffic.I remember the wonderful I Party with Bruce Wayne who says she spends upwards of 5 hours A DAY on IG – posting and also responding to people.

    IG seems shallow and fickle. People disappear from your list of fans as fast as they arrive like small children stamping their foot at not being entertained. Once my blog starts getting decent traffic I might give it a go but even Pinterest seems to generate more interest and traffic which is odd because I don’t do anything much there!

  • Rebecca Sanchez
    March 4, 2019

    These are truly great tips – we’ve been fans for a while, so it’s amazingly wonderful that you are sharing your inside scoop with us! I am going to re-read and apply some of your techniques – thank you! ?

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