Social Media is a lot like Narnia: invisible and constantly leaving you in fear of being attacked by an icy queen who wants to feel powerful. As the Content Creator for DDA Toronto’s Instagram page @ddatoronto and big fan of Instagram in general, I follow a lot of accounts for vendors, products and other Designers – many of whom are sole proprietors having to slog through creating accounts that showcase them. I realize that it can be super challenging to keep up with social media appearances when you’re starring in a one person show but Instagram is a visual medium that can act as your business card and your portfolio simultaneously. If you’re not on it, you’re irrelevant. It’s a lot and I empathize. So much so, that I’ve decided to share with you the easiest way to make your Instagram account go from dud to click magnet. 

For the purposes of this discussion, I will be referring solely to posts you make on your Instagram feed (not your Instagram stories or reels which are slightly different sections of your page that you may or may not want to use as well). I’m talking about the permanent posts that will stay in your feed until you delete them. They are the fixed content, mixing words and images, that show your skills and your brand. How you use them makes all the difference in how  Instagram will showcase and work for you. 

The best way to up your Instagram algorithm and get noticed is through engaging with your followers in your comments section of your posts. Did you think it was likes or number of followers? It’s not. You can buy those (don’t). Over 140 million Instagram accounts have over 100,000 followers. So they’re ‘Insta-famous’. They’re not. Those are bot accounts they purchased. 140 million is half the population of the USA. You think that many people you’ve never heard of are famous or ‘influencers’ ?? No. Even the majority of followers of actual celebrities are bots. And yes you can buy likes too. In fact, they haven’t been around long enough to prove conclusively, but most current research shows ‘influencers’ don’t influence anyone or anything. Their perceived popularity stems from engagement in the comments section. They actually do this with each other (called an engagement bubble) to trick the algorithms into thinking they’re important. If you actually look at the accounts commenting on an ‘influencers’ page, you’ll see almost all of them are other influencers. Is it a scam? Yes.  Can you use it similarly to your advantage with your own followers? Also yes!  This means you want to get people commenting on your posts. The easiest way to do that is ask a question in the verbiage you write in your post. And when people comment, you have to comment back. Genuinely. Not just ‘thanks’. Reply directly and maybe ask them another question to get a discussion going. It is engaging with others that puts you ahead and gets you noticed. It also keeps bringing your followers back for more content. Make sure that content is good and reflects your brand. This means if you’re a sole proprietor and your page is a mix of business and personal, keep the personal to a minimum. So don’t post too many selfies and never post gym pics or bathroom mirror pics in your underpants. They undermine your professionalism. If you need that kind of validation, create a separate personal account that’s private and be as thirsty as you like. Furthermore, Design projects that don’t show your best work or are not in keeping with the type of Client you want to attract should also be avoided. You want your content to reflect you and what you’re offering. Then when followers comment, engage with them earnestly and consistently. 

It’s hard to promote yourself and I realize this is only the tip of the Instagram iceberg. There is so much more I could get into on a variety of Instagram topics but if you do nothing else on your Instagram business page, make engaging with your followers it. This is the easiest and most effective way to get the most out of the time you invest in your Instagram page. 

Author Bio:  Steve Ryan is the sole proprietor of Steve Ryan Designs, a Toronto based Residential Staging and Design firm. In 2020, he won DDA’s Volunteer of the Year for his work as the DDA Toronto Chapter’s Instagram page. In addition to lecturing on Instagram to DDA members last year with our Affiliate Member Cambria Surfaces, he also created an online course to demystify Instagram for sole proprietors and does one on one Instagram coaching. He was also a recent guest on the Resilient By Design podcast. You can check him out @steveryandesigns or