We’ve all heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that is so, then there are millions of novels worth of images on Instagram these days. What’s that? You think Instagram is only for fashion icons, teenagers and people addicted to inspirational quotes? Think again. Right now it is the fastest growing social media network with over 700 million monthly users. This may still be a smaller number overall than Facebook, but it is growing faster than either Facebook or Twitter right now. I spoke with Instagram expert Rachel Bell to find out what late adopters and lazy posters like me need to know about getting started with and succeeding on Instagram.

Rachel is an Instagram influencer and co-founder of Trill Media, an Instagram marketing agency focused on helping brands grow a large, 100% organic following so they can boost influence and go viral. After testing all the typical strategies on Instagram, she found ways to crack the code and gain a massive following – without using any automation or bots. Now, Rachel has used these tactics to form partnerships with other influencers, create a network of over 25 million users, and amassed a total following of over 450,000 across different accounts.

Here are some tips she shared:

Tip #1- Don’t Fake It. Don’t try to game the system. Instagram wants engagement. They want you to post in real time from your phone. Using third party scheduling apps can work, but it won’t get you the same results as posting yourself. This also applies to follow/unfollow tactics to get followers. Follow people that you are genuinely interested in and who are experts in your niche. This will help Instagram to know who to suggest to you and who to suggest you to as well.

Tip #2- Your Bio- Get the most bang for your buck out of the bio. Be sure that anyone who clicks on your bio can easily tell what you’re all about. This is also the closest thing you get to SEO on Instagram so make sure you use keywords that people will search for in here.

Tip #3- Hashtags- What are the keywords in your niche or industry? Use the search function to check out several. For each one, notice what account tops the list. Click on a popular post under that account and check out what hashtags they are using. How many of these are relevant to you? Make a list of up to 30. Rachel recommends that you only use a couple on the original post and then open up a comment underneath the post to list the rest of the hashtags.

Tip #4- Steal Like An Artist- Look at the highest ranking accounts in your niche or industry, then look at their most highly engaged posts. What makes that post special? Can you create an image that has a similar feel or against a similar background but with your product featured or with your tagline? Don’t directly steal of course, but this will help you figure out what the audience you are after is most interested in.

Tip #5- Cross Pollinate With Other Influencers- Repost images from other accounts with permission and photo credit so you can share your audience with them, and also share your account and content with their audience as well. You can even reach out to other influencers and see if they want to do the same for you, once you have done it for them.

Listen in on my entire conversation with Rachel Bell where she audits my Instagram accounts and coaches me on what to do to grow my following right here! You can also find links to Rachel’s own Instagram accounts and her website at that same link.