The Instagram algorithm is not your friend. Content creators, wannabe influencers and just your average Instagram Joe will tell you that over the last year or so, that elusive algorithm (aka the formula for IG success) has become even more difficult to master. But one of the ways that still gets you noticed (although it might not entirely tame the beast) is getting ‘featured’. We spoke to the man behind one of the gram’s leading travel Instagram feature accounts, @backpackersintheworld, Lorenzo about how best to work with him, and what to expect.
What is an Instagram Feature Account?
Firstly, what the hell is a feature account anyway? Whether they are called feature accounts or ‘repost’ pages, these Instagram accounts ‘curate’ the best in their niche and select the best photographs on their feed. Think of them like a best of photo album for the industry.
In the case of @backpackersintheworld, for example, you’ll find a travel Instagram community mainly focussed on the backpacking world, as well as stand-out travel content. Each photo features a different content creator or Instagrammer, tagging them in return and helping them to get exposure for their work.
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How do Instagram Feature Accounts help my account grow?
Unless you’ve been hiding under a Wi-Fi-disconnected rock, you’ll know that it has become increasingly difficult to grow organically on Instagram. Whereas some of the original content creators and influencers were easily able to grow their communities to hundreds of thousands of followers, and garner many thousands of those coveted likes and comments, nowadays someone wanting to ‘break in’ to the IG game finds it much more difficult to even get more than a handful of followers at a time.
What feature accounts do is expose your photographs and creative work to a far larger audience, generally one in your ‘niche’. In the case of Backpackers in the World, this means that getting your image featured could see you receiving the potential eyeballs of 120,000 people; all of them passionate about travel.
And, even if the post is only shown to a fraction of those 120,000 (hello, IG algorithm!) many feature accounts do well on their own viral reach, reaching many more people than their actual follower count.
In most cases, this attracts high quality followers to your account; the kind of followers you WANT since they appreciate great content and usually leave a comment or two.
How do you get in a touch with an Instagram Feature Account?
According to Lorenzo, it’s simple: Take Great Photos – Content is Always Key. We have more on that in a bit, but what are the actual ‘technical’ steps you need to take to get your image considered?
Usually, it goes a little something like this:
- Take amazing photos. Yes, we said that already…
- Research the right feature accounts – if you are a travel couple backpacking in Vietnam, try to find feature accounts for couples (@couplestravelgoals), and backpacking (@backpackersintheworld) or the tourism boards for Vietnam (@vietnamtourismboard)
- Tag the relevant feature account in your photo
- Add their Instagram hashtags – you will usually find this in their biography / profile section
- Follow them! A feature account is far more likely to profile you if they feel like you are already part of their ‘community’
- DM them – only if it’s not spam. It can be useful to drop a private message to the feature account in question but really only if you feel you have a red-hot photo!
That last one should really be used sparingly. Remember: real humans manage feature accounts and don’t want to be bombarded with irrelevant messages. If they don’t reply, maybe that’s a hint ?.
On average, a feature account can receive between 300 and 2000 tags a day, so keep this in mind! More than the sheer volume of posts, many of the messages they receive don’t add much value.
As Lorenzo says, “I get people sending me DMs every single day with their pictures; without much substance behind their message. Rather than sending a cookie-cutter message like ‘feature me please’, why not start a conversation about collaborating?”
Related: Instagram Hashtag Cheat Sheet
What are Instagram Feature Accounts looking for?
Get the basics right
Make sure you create high quality images – a good camera, great composition, killer framing. Post photographs in Instagram’s 4:5 ratio – respecting that rule will get you far.
While filters like those in Adobe Lightroom or VSCOCam might seem like an easy fix, you might also notice that some feature accounts don’t love over edited photos. So, go a little easy on that Oslo filter, okay?
It’s also worth looking at the specific style of that feature account. For example, @backpackersintheworld rarely posts close-up travel photos or landscapes. Keep these things in mind when creating your content, and when making that final click to tag the feature account of your choice.
In Lorenzo’s words: “Chase originality, not likes.”
“In the travel niche, we see the same shots over and over. If you’re going to a popular spot then why not try a different perspective, or a different time of the day or a unique angle?”
Accounts like @backpackersintheworld want their feed to be diverse, showcasing different cultures, unique cultures and off-the-beaten track places.
It’s good advice when you’re standing in front of the Eiffel Tower at midday ready to take your shot.
Has the Eiffel Tower been featured before? Yes. Has this shot been taken a hundred times before? Definitely, yes. So, what can you do to make it unique?
While it seems Insta captions are not that critical, it is also worth thinking long and hard about the caption, particularly if it is of a really unique location or angle. The text is another way of ‘selling’ that image, so make it work for you!
Build trust and collaboration
It’s one that’s not spoken about too frequently but, with real people running feature pages, a relationship goes a long way in building exposure.
As an example, @backpackersintheworld is more than their IG feed. They have a website where they are also looking for content. Could you create a worthwhile travel guide for their blog, or offer up photography tips or a video that they could repost?
“We look for story takeovers, or guest blogs on our website or even more cinematic videos,” he adds. “It’s so much more than just posting pretty pictures on an Instagram feed.”
Remember: Just like a real world relationship, if you offer value you might receive it in return.
How do you find Instagram feature accounts?
Now we’ve dived right into this article and told you everything you need to know about editing your photos, and tagging the right accounts, and how to get in touch with them. How about we go over how you even find them in the first place?
Check out your favourite content creator
Some of the largest accounts still want to be featured themselves, so check out your favourite Grammer’s latest photo and see who they have tagged, and which hashtags they’ve used. This will, inevitably, lead you down the IG rabbit hole until you find a few accounts that are worthwhile.
Here’s an example from one of our favourites, Siobhan from A Girl Who Blooms @agirlwhoblooms.
In this breath-taking photo taken in Munduk, Bali (unrelated, but you must go to Munduk and see the waterfalls), Siobhan has tagged a few feature accounts, including @voyaged. While Siobhan, and her hubby Joe, are already famous content creators in their own right (at time of writing they had nearly 200k followers), she still knows the power of a feature account since @voyaged has 2.1 million followers and most probably has a different community to her own.
Find the top relevant hashtag or location
This one is really easy if you’re in the travel niche but can be replicated for others like lifestyle or fashion. Check out a hashtag you were thinking of using – for this example we’re using #travelcouples – and put that into Instagram’s own search bar.
From there, click through some of the Top results to see which accounts they’ve tagged and the hashtags they use. Voila!
Now we love this hack, because you don’t even need to use Instagram to find accounts. Simply go to Google and type in “site:instagram.com feature travel”, replacing the word ‘travel’ for your niche.
Google will spit out a long list of potential feature accounts for you to use. Magical.
Do you need to pay for Instagram Feature Accounts?
According to Lorenzo: don’t.
He notes, “Don’t trust pages who sell you growth services on the gram. People won’t follow you (or continue to follow you), if your content isn’t good. Rather invest that money in better equipment and your time on watching free YouTube videos on how to take better pictures.”
Of course there are many feature accounts now requesting that you pay for coverage. As with most things in life, the choice is yours…
The man behind the IG mirror – creating value with Feature Accounts
We dropped it in earlier, but it’s worth remembering that feature accounts are run by real people, with real goals, aspirations and, sometimes, concerns. Starting a dialogue via DM about your photo might even help you to understand the team running the account even better, or just treating them with respect and a polite attitude might get you further than you expect…
Take Lorenzo for example.
When he started @backpackersintheworld as an Instagram feature account it was because there weren’t many repost pages around and none of them were sharing the kind of content he was looking for. “I wanted to create something meaningful and useful for people around something I genuinely love,” he says.
Nowadays the travel industry that he so adores is fraught with issues around over tourism. “I had to have an honest conversation with myself around what we could do to counter over tourism but still share the kind of inspirational imagery on incredible destinations that people are looking for.”
Over-tourism at Maya Bay on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand, led to the closure of the bay for 3 years.
Lists of Instagram Feature Accounts to consider
We think we’ve given you all the tools to find killer accounts that might feature your work, using the tricks above. But, in case you’re as lazy as we are, we thought we’d also put together a few of our favourites in a handy list below.
At the time of writing, all of these feature accounts were on a free basis.
We’re obviously a little biased since we are in the travel niche, but here are some of our absolute favourite travel repost accounts:
- @backpackersintheworld – #backpackersintheworld
- @beautifuldestinations – #beautifuldestinations
- @bestvacations – #bestvacations
- @ig_shotz – hashtag changes monthly
- @igshotz – #igshotz
- @instagood – #watchthisinstagood #instagood10k if under 10k
- @passionpassport – #passionpassport
- @thebest_capture – #TheBest_Capture
- @theglobewanderer – #theglobewanderer
- @travelandlife – #travelandlife
- @travellingthroughtheworld – #travellingthroughtheworld
- @visuals.collective – #exploretocreate
- @voyaged – #voyaged
- @worldplaces – #worldplaces
And, if you’re part of a travel couple, we like these:
- @creativetravelcouples – #creativetravelcouples
- @earthcouples – #earthcouples
- @couplestravelgoals – #couplestravelgoals
Last up, if your picture is from a specific destination, there are usually quite a number of great city or tourism feature accounts. As an example, if your picture is shot in Berlin, you could use such as @berlin, @visit_berlin, @berlin.live, @topgermanyphoto and @deutschland_greatshots.
A good, simple portrait is worth a thousand words right? If you believe you’ve got a cracking portrait photo, it’s worth trying these portrait feature accounts:
- @collectivetrend – #collectivetrend
- @discoverportrait – #discoverportrait
- @folkportraits – #folkportraits
- @ig.portraits – #xelfies
- @igpodium_portraits – #igpodium_portraits
- @makeportrait – #makeportrait
- @marvelous_shots – #marvelous_shots
- @moodyports – #moodyports
- @portrait.today – #portrait_today
- @portraitgames – #portraitgrames
- @portraitpage – #portraitpage (note: doesn’t reply to DMs)
- @pursuitofportraits – #pursuitofportraits
Nature and Earth
Epic landscapes, rolling hills, glimmering rivers, they are all inspirational photos of nature that you definitely want to promote. Here are some of the best nature and earth-related Instagram feature accounts to try:
- @agameoftones – #agameoftones
- @artofvisuals – #artofvisuals
- @awesome.photographers – #awesome_photographers
- @big_shotz – #big_shotz
- @discoverearth – #discoverearth
- @discoverglobe – #discoverglobe
- @earthfocus – #earthfocus
- @earthgallery – #earthgallery
- @earthpix – #earthpix
- @exklusive_shot – #exklusive_shot
- @fantastic_earth – #fantastic_earth
- @folkmagazine – #folkmagazine
- @livefolk – #lifeofadventure
- @modernoutdoors – #modernoutdoors
- @nakedplanet – #nakedplanet
- @natgeotravel – #natgeotravel
- @ourplanetdaily – #ourplanetdaily
- @theimaged – #theimaged
- @theoutbound – #theoutbound
- @tourtheplanet – #tourtheplanet
- @wonderful_places – #wonderful_places
Cityscapes and Street Photography
Cities provide so much photographic fodder, particularly when captured at night or, nowadays, with epic drone shots. If you’re got a stunning street or cityscape photo, it’s worth looking into these repost accounts:
- @citygrammers – #citygrammers
- @citykillerz – #citykillerz
- @illgrammers – #illgrammers
- @street.classics – #streetclassics
- @streetdreamsmag – #streetdreamsmag
- @streetphotographyinternational – #SPICollective
- @streets_vision – #streets_vision
- @urbanandstreet – #urbanandstreet
- @visualambassadors – #visualambassadors
Black and White Photography
Last, but definitely not least, Instagram is not just about perfectly curated pastel feeds and filters. There is still a huge appreciation for more classic artforms, including the simple black and white image. Check out these repost accounts dedicated to monochrome photography:
- @blackandwhiteisworththefight – #blackandwhiteisworththefight
- @bnw_drama – #bnw_drama
- @bnw_greatshots – #bnw_greatshots
- @bnw_planet – #bnw_planet (note: its worth checking since BNW Planet usually appends the year at the end of their hashtag i.e. for 2020 its #bnw_planet_2020
- @bnw_workers – #bnw_workers or #bnw_workers_5k (if you are under 5k followers)
- @bnwsouls – #bnwsouls
- @bw_mania – #bw_mania
- @flair_bw – #flair_bw – used 229,646 times – 47.8k followers
- @ic_bw – #ic_bw
- @mastersinbnw #masters_in_bnw
- @moments_in_bnw #moments_in_photography
- @monoart – #monoart_
- @photowall_bw – #photowall_bw
So, if your question was: “How do I get featured on Instagram?” we hope we’ve delivered a handy, step by step social media guide, with advice from one of the leading repost pages to back it all up.
Essential Instagram growth tools
Want to increase your engagement on Instagram? Other than great content, there are a handful of tools we love that either support your account growth, or just help to increase engagement on existing posts and stories.
Hashtags for Likes
Hashtags are one of the best tools to get views from accounts that don’t follow you. This service finds custom hashtag lists that are worth the investment, and helps personalise them to ensure you get maximum reach (and follows) on each post. You can find out which hashtags are bringing you followers. They have a 14 day moneyback guarantee, which you can try here.
There are lots of scheduling tools and apps out there but we like Tailwind since you can also connect a Pinterest account, and it’s the best one on the market. Tailwind’s Instagram tool lets you schedule photos and videos, gives you 1 click hashtag suggestions and has a SmartSchedule to post when your audience is most engaged. You can get one month free (no credit card required!) here.
If you don’t want to go full automation, this tool is a great choice. With auto like functionalities, it grows your account slowly and can avoid blocks on your account. Kicksta is a cheaper (albeit not as well-rounded) alternative to Ingramer and competitors in that niche. Try it out here.
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