You’ve seen their content. More to the point, you’ve seen their engagement. Composed and sent by a true influencer, even the most mundane of posts draws Mona Lisa-level crowds.

What’s a non-influencer to do? Should us mere mortals simply give up, resigned to the knowledge that we’ll never be as visible or popular or influential as the gods and goddesses of Instagram?

Not so fast. Giving up wouldn’t be very influential, would it? And while you might not be a true influencer, at least not yet, you’re too proud not to have a seat at the table.

Using Instagram like an influencer is easier than you might think, anyway. It’s not entirely formulaic — the best influencers do have that je ne sais quoi — but a lot of it, maybe most of it, comes down to a process. Mastering that process will get you in the door; it’ll be up to you to make the most of your Instagram presence after that.

Ready to learn to ‘gram like an influencer? Away we go.

1. A Question That Your Followers Actually Want to Answer

Instagram influencers aren’t as self-centered as they appear. They know that self-absorbed musings alone can’t engage audiences. Their followers want and need to be activated, to be drawn into the conversation. A probing question is liable to do the trick.

2. Visuals That Viewers Recognize Immediately

Your Instagram account doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel. It can, instead, leverage extremely recognizable bits of the public domain to draw in your audience. That’s what South African entrepreneur Paul Esterhuizen’s Instagram handle does to tremendous effect. U.S. President Joe Biden, Parasite, various well-known screen actors — these images resonate with audiences the world over.

3. Sparing Hashtags (If Any at All)

Resist the temptation to “hashtag bomb” your posts. When you must, use one or two per post, never more. And only use “real” hashtags with verifiable engagement, not intentionally silly ones you made up on the spot.

4. An Unexpected Element

The last thing you want your followers to think as they scroll past your latest post is, “Oh, I’ve seen this one before.” You want to surprise them, throw them off their game, and — most importantly — stop their relentless scrolling, if only for a moment. 

5. Great Timing

When you post is nearly as important as what you post. Opinions differ as to the absolute best time of day to launch your Instagram broadsides, so you’ll need to do some engagement testing (and more testing, and more) to determine which slots work best for your audience.

Show Your Followers What You’re Capable Of

These five influential Instagram strategies can up your social media game beyond all expectations. You won’t truly join the ranks of influencers until you are consistently and expertly employing them, though. That might take time, it’ll definitely take hard work, and it couldn’t hurt to have some talent either.

You’re capable of all three. After all, you’re an aspiring Instagram influencer. You’re capable of great things. Now, it’s time to tell the world.