The most obvious part of becoming a winner on Instagram is that you need to add to the community and be an active part of it. You can’t sit back and watch everyone else post regularly and not do it yourself, if you want to win.

To begin, set yourself up for success.

Optimise, Strategize and Begin

I’m a big believer in setting yourself up to win before you try and do anything special. Give yourself a good platform to build on before you start doing anything complicated. I say this for the same reason we build the walls on houses before we furnish them.

Get your profile set up with a popping bio and making yourself an attractive account to follow.

The next stage of getting ready to go all-in, is knowing what you’re going to post. If you’re like me, you follow a lot of people who post awesome content and you enjoy creating your own content too. This will be enough for you to find content to repost and supplement with your own creations.

If you prefer a little more structure and organised planning to your routine, create a folder of posts that you can use in advance so you are prepared and can carry out the content creation/curation task in one go rather than continually.

A personal favourite way to do this if you love using your computer, load up Canva, and use the Pushbullet chrome extension/mobile app to design your own posts and easily push them to your mobile for sharing on Instagram.

If you’re a mobile app lover, I can’t fault:

  • Typorama
  • WordSwag
  • PicPlayPost
  • Videorama
  • Quik

It’s not all about creating images like this of course. I like to take a picture and share when I have gone to a new place that has nice scenery, or if I have met a group of people and had a group photo. On my Instagram, I share quote images from the sales industry, photos of where I go around the world and sometimes images I create because I like to mix things up.

Videos are also very important, particularly if you are a part of the video itself. But keep things short and sweet with videos, I would be very unlikely to sit and watch a video on Instagram for over 30 seconds.


Influencers are a huge, huge part of Instagram success. There are so many ways to build your community and find people to speak to based upon considering what happens in other people’s community. Take Gary Vaynerchuk for example.

He has a booming community all over the internet but perhaps he is strongest on YouTube and Instagram. The number of comments he gets on his posts is ridiculous. There are comments very, very regularly on his posts from people sharing how his work has changed their lives and what a difference his words make.

If you have a service or product that aligns with the content and topics Gary V talks about, you might find the comments on his posts to be a rich ground for making good connections. I’ll explain more on how to do that later on.

But think not just about the comments and likes on posts.

I have shared a number of posts from Tony Robbins, the Salesman Podcast and many others. People of that standing have big audiences and will often have their content reshared. People will tag these influencers in their post, so you can look at who reshares content by related influencers. You may choose to follow, like, comment on or even straight up message relevant people when you find this.

Lastly, your Discover feed is a great place to find people and content you will like. Instagram looks at what content you engage with and suggests top content that is similar to what you have interacted with on this tab. So check it out – but be careful what you interact with.

If you like celebrity account posts but you want to be known and seen as a social selling professional, your Discover tab will be full of the celebrity content. You’ll find nothing helpful there.

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s Gary V talking about the power of influencers on Instagram and how to talk to them…

Disclaimer – in a B2B sales world you perhaps need to be a little more tactful and relationship focused than Gary explains here. Think Jab Jab, rather than Right Hook (to use his terminology).

“2nd Degree Connections”

One of the beautiful things about LinkedIn is that you can see who your “2nd degree” connections are. You might be able to get an introduction from mutual connections, or you can connect yourself if you have good enough context for connecting.

Things aren’t as simple in this regard on Instagram. You will be able to see who people follow and who follows people, depending on how their profile privacy settings have been set up.

With people you follow, you’ll be able to view all of this information. Influencers do not hide who follows them and who they follow, so you can look into their fan base and see if there are any people of relevance to you.

To use Gary V as an example again, he has a lot of startups and entrepreneurs in his fanbase. If you have something of value to people like that, his followers might be worth looking at.

You can go and engage them however you want, but I’m thinking about how you will find the best people and the ones best suited to you, and give you the best chance of connecting using good context.

All you have on Instagram to create a context for reaching is:

  • Mutually following people
  • Mutual followers
  • Posts shared
  • Commonality around topics you share content around
  • Location if you live nearby or have visited areas of people you speak to


When you start to get into a routine and your engagement starts to increase, think about your new followers. Instagram rewards you when you do the things it likes (interacting a lot with content and other users, particularly when they’re bigger accounts than you – posting regularly – not spamming people). You will see a snowball effect. You start off getting no engagement, new followers are hard to come by. Then when you get moving you steadily pick up the pace and things start to snowball.

Make the most of what Instagram gives you. You get a new follower? Check out who they are, thank them for following with a real, genuine message. If they’re relevant to you in business terms, make the effort to connect with them on other social networks too and continue the conversation.

Even if people are not particularly relevant to you business-wise but follow you, let them know you appreciate them being part of your community. Offer yourself as a resource for the topics you specialise in. They might know somebody who needs to talk about those topics, or maybe even need to themselves at some stage.

You never know, and it takes minimal effort to let people know this.

Best Practices

There are various ways to grow an organic Instagram account, but it all comes down mostly to the content you share and the actions you take when engaging with others. Gareth O’Sullivan covered how to skyrocket your Instagram following – so take note of those growth tips.

Whilst it is good to follow your target audience on a regular basis to make them aware you exist, one easy way to slow down your progress significantly is to use apps to follow and unfollow people aggressively. Instagram has really clamped down on these tools.

DON’T – follow hundreds of people in quick succession. Follow people in moderation and engage with them.

DO – Engage more than you drive up the number of people you follow. Write real and genuine comments on influencer content as well as your community members’ too. Genuine interaction wins.

Using bad hashtags is another huge mistake. I’m all for being specific and winning in a niche, but you do need to think cleverly about the hashtags you will use.

Research them, I find the best way to do this is to actually use Instagram itself. Tools sometimes do not best represent the best hashtags.

DON’T – Use zero or very few hashtags. Don’t try and write out all of your hashtags when you post, it is best to have them written down so you can easily copy them in and remove any that are not relevant to your specific post.

DO – Spend the time to research your hashtags. It is now important to use 30 of them in your post, so copy them into a comment on your post. Be consistent with them as well, Instagram wants to try and suggest you as a good account for others to follow if they like content that is similar to what you post content around. If you’re mixing your content up too much and posting a huge variety of topics, you’ll not rank for your key topics. Just like SEO, talk about what you need to talk about so that you rank for it.

Lastly, think about the captions you write for your posts. Notice how Twitter is now doubling the maximum character length for tweets. LinkedIn posts are getting longer now. Instagram is the same, so don’t just write a three-word caption. Explain and offer value in every way you can, in the post itself and in the caption too. We’ve covered how to write the most engaging and successful captions for your Instagram posts in this article.

DON’T – Write very short captions that don’t explain the post at all. Don’t leave your hashtags in the caption too, use them in a comment so that they are hidden out of view so your caption is more presentable.

DO – Take the time to properly write a good caption that details your thoughts and ideas about the topic you’re sharing content around. You don’t need to write an essay, but at least think about 2 paragraphs. This is more than the average user of Instagram right now is writing in a caption, so immediately you’re putting in more there.


Ollie uses social selling every day to learn and develop new ways to create conversations and reach prospects. Outside of the office he's an avid Liverpool FC fan and regularly watches his local football team play or plays pool every week. You can connect with Ollie on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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