Blogging 101: How to Win at Instagram – Tips From Six of Qatar’s Top Influencers

Towards the end of last year, I decided to bite the bullet and share some of the knowledge that I’ve gleaned in my four years as a blogger in a new series of Blogging 101 posts. This isn’t because I think I know everything there is to know – quite the opposite, I’m still learning every day. It’s because I know first hand how difficult blogging can be to navigate when you start out, and if I can cut through some of the BS and save any one of you from fumbling your way blindly around the big, unknown and scary world of the influencer like I had to then I’ll feel like my job here is done!

It doesn’t help that blogging ‘success’ has so much less to do with quality content, and so much more to do with followers and statistics these days, with Instagram engagement, rightly or wrongly, often seen as the most important thing to get right. Love it or hate it, unfortunately the platform is here to stay, and it can be a really useful tool for gaining committed followers who can be easily converted into dedicated readers of your blog.

Whether you have four followers who rarely engage with your Instagram posts, or four thousand who often do, hopefully you will find a few golden nuggets of information in this post that will help you.

Tips for increasing Instagram engagement and followers from six of Qatar's top influencers

I’ve already let you in on a few secrets about how I edit my Instagram photos to create eye-catching, quality images in this post (and let’s not forget that this is the whole point of Instagram and definitely the most important thing if you want to increase your follower count and Instagram engagement), but what are the other things that we should all definitely be doing if we want people to take notice of us on the ‘gram?

I turned to five of Qatar’s most notable and prolific Instagrammers to ask them what they do to ensure quality engagement from their followers and a steady growth in their follower count (plus there’s a little tidbit from me at the end too).

Nuha AlSamarrae @nuhasamarrae

Iconic. @andotherstories

A post shared by Nuha AlSamarrae (@nuhasamarrae) on

Instagram is all about balance. I was getting stressed the other day about getting dolled up to take an outfit photo that I was supposed to post that week for a client, and I realised that I needed some down time. So I want to say, don’t worry about the quantity of posts or forcing yourself to do it. Instead, plan it for when it feels right and flows more naturally. That way you can focus on the quality of the image and the attention to the detail that you want to highlight. In fact, I personally notice my engagement is slightly higher when I disappear for a few days!

Pooja Adam @lesrebellesquad

Would you believe that 80% of my photos are taken on a Samsung Galaxy Edge?! I then drop them into the apps Snapseed and Facetune which are so useful for making photos look more professional.

My fave feature of Instagram is to schedule a post for later – start by creating the post, then instead of sharing it, press the back left arrow to go back to the start of the post – it will give you an option to ‘save drafts’ which makes my life so much easier so I can review it later!

Haina Uddin @haina_habibti

I usually put as many hashtags as I can related to my post. Another top tip is to share the new post on all my social media accounts directing my followers there to my Instagram.

Sally Clark @flyingfoodninja 

Beautiful food with beautiful company is the best way to spend a Saturday. In my opinion there is not better place than at @nobudoha afternoon tea. A combination of Japanese cuisine with English tradition makes for a pretty awesome Saturday. 🥂⌚️🎀 By the way what do you think of this @danielwellington watch? Use code foodninja to get 15% any of their watches until end of March! • • • www.flyingfoodninja.com Facebook: Flying Food Ninja • • • #danielwellington #watchesoftheday #mytablesituation #dohafoodie #eatnowplaylater #femmetravel #discoveryourworld #sheisnotlost #nycfoodie #thatsdarling #londonfood #nycdining #japfood #mycommontable #bangkokfoodies #topcitybites #lafoodies #tokyofoodies #beautifulapparel #seemydoha #femaletravelbloggers #girlsvsglobe #onthetableproject #sydneyeats #londonfoodie #discoveryourworld #sgfoodporn #sffoodie

A post shared by Sally Clark (@flyingfoodninja) on

I think with Instagram, my biggest tip is quality. I believe that people that follow you for the quality you produce will stay true to your brand/image. No one wants to see a sloppy selfie that is blurry. I think quality is what inspires – well that’s what I look for when I’m on Insta!

Ntando Stemmet @ntandostemmet

There are millions of Instagram users, and if you are a budding influencer or blogger, you need to ensure that your account is visually appealing at first glance. For me this has meant using only the best photos on my account, I don’t post based on sentiment – only quality and how the content is aligned with my theme. For quality I have to have a great phone camera! This is so important because you take your phone everywhere and sometimes you’ll come across an “Instagrammable”  moment and you don’t have your camera on you!

Although modern smartphones have fantastic camera functionality, they still don’t beat the quality of fantastic camera (even a beginner camera with a startup lens). So if your budget allows, save up for a descent camera. I use an iPhone 7 Plus & a Canon EOS 800D for my posts. Every now and then I have a semi professional photographer take my photos. Especially for my style posts because I can’t take these myself as I am the subject of the photo.

The next bit might seem a little over-the-top but I’m considering getting a second smartphone specifically for my Instastories. This is because I attend a lot of evening events and the lighting is not great. My iPhone doesn’t perform well in bad light such as dimly lit restaurants. So I will probably go for the latest Samsung or Huawei as my second phone, which perform exceptionally in dim lighting.

Polly Byles @polbag

Finally there’s a hint of a breeze in the air in Qatar – the first sign that winter is on its way to the desert. Once the temperature drops below the low 30s, I always start getting excited for my favourite time of year and everything that comes with it. In Doha, it’s all about al fresco dining, beach parties and just like everywhere else in the world these days, a daily pumpkin spiced latte! This winter, Sophia and I are going to be twinning a lot in the new AW17 collection from our favourite brand, Old Navy. Check out their new range and more #mommyandme essentials at their stores in Doha Festival City and Gulf Mall. Christmas is coming and I could not be more excited!!!! #oldnavyqatar #oldnavystyle 💛☀️ – – – – – – – – – – – – – – #followyoursunshine #motherhoodinstyle #travelwithkids #familytravel #showthemtheworld #thatsdarling #mommyblog #seemydoha #candidchildhood #magicofchildhood #childhoodunplugged #AW17 #twinning #littleandbrave #littleexplorer #mummyandme #motherhoodrocks #momlife #mummyblogger #treasuringlittlememories #littlestoriesofmylife #globetrotter #lovelysquares #girlsborntotravel #motherhoodunplugged #toddlerstyle #styled

A post shared by Follow Your Sunshine // Polly (@polbag) on

I think that there are so many people doing so many amazingly creative things on Instagram these days that it’s getting harder to stand out (not to mention that ruddy algorithm messing things up for us all!). My biggest piece of advice is to be different. Be you. Be authentic.

The absolutely brilliant thing about this platform is that not only can you wow your followers with little, beautiful teasers into your life and loves in each Instagram post, but you can also let them see the ‘behind-the-scenes’ action on Instagram stories. People don’t want to just follow the shiny side of the well-polished influencer any more, they want to see it all. Be as candid as you can in your captions. Try not to ‘curate’ your stories too much. Let your followers in; let them know the real you, warts and all. Once your followers discover there’s a real person behind the facade of your perfect-looking grid, you can be sure that they’ll be seeking you out again in the future. Persevere for long enough, and your Instagram engagement will go through the roof.

What’s your biggest tip for winning at Instagram?

For the rest of my Blogging 101 series, click here.

6 Comments

  1. January 25, 2018 / 1:52 pm

    All solid tips! I’m especially an advocate of having “drafts”, it helps me beat my natural laziness which in turn keeps me posting daily. I notice that my posting daily at the same time each day has made such a difference (as opposed to posting once a week because I keep “forgetting” to go on Instagram)! x

  2. Sarah
    January 26, 2018 / 1:51 am

    Ahh this is such a useful post – thanks for curating it! I really love the tip of saving post drafts… I knew that was an option but I actually never knew how to do it before!! So this is going to come in very handy!

  3. January 26, 2018 / 2:04 pm

    Love these tips Polly, very helpful! It’s so great to see such a great bunch of powerful ladies influencing others!

  4. adventuresofalondonkiwi
    January 26, 2018 / 5:55 pm

    Such a handy post ladies!

  5. January 28, 2018 / 7:07 pm

    I am definitely on board with the one able to prep your Instagram update in advance with the text and tags and then post it later – I’ve found this such a time saver on working days, allowing me to still get a bit of social media in when life gets busy with other things!

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