Our proven 6 steps-process to create high reach and engagement Instagram posts.

Some Instagram posts get loads of likes and comments while others only get crickets. Why is that? Contrary to what you might think, there is so much more to an Instagram post than just showing a pretty picture.

Here is the full process we use at Moondust when working on Instagram content plans. 

1.    Yes, you need a good picture.

This is just the first step, but it’s an important one. Of course, what your picture shows will greatly depend on your brand. If you work with a brand ambassador or spokesperson that your community recognizes as the face of the brand, then use photos of them. People enjoy seeing pictures of other people on Instagram.

But if you sell physical products and need to show those, that is fine too.

In both cases, we have 2 recommendations:

-    Batch photo creation and ensure great quality by doing regular professional photoshoots

-    Make sure you brief the photographer on your brand’s aesthetics and colors, so that all the images you get can contribute to your brand image.

2.    Time to write captions.

Instagram is really just not about the picture. A lot of things happen below the pic! Long-form captions, which are almost like mini blog posts, work really well and will increase your engagement. That is why Instagram is such a great place to do some storytelling about your brand.

So, don’t be afraid to write long format copy – and use a few emojis to structure your text.

Remember to include a call-to-action at the end of the post, to encourage engagement: ask a question or ask people to comment on the topic.

As an agency, we use tools to post to Instagram from a desktop. If you don’t have these tools, you can write your caption in an app shared between your phone and computer (on Mac, that would be Notes), and then open the app on your phone to copy and paste the text into Instagram. Much easier than typing a long text with your thumbs!

3.    Get serious with hashtags.

Hashtags are extremely important and are worth a bit of strategic work. Don’t forget that:

-    People look for new content and new accounts to follow using hashtags

-    Users can now follow hashtags rather than accounts, so you want to perform well within hashtags related to your industry.

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags, and you should take advantage of them. 

But how to find the right hashtags when you don’t know where to start? We usually do analysis to determine which ones we should use. Guess what: there’s an app for that. Two apps, even.

Displaypurposes.com will allows us to find 30 relevant hashtags related to one hashtag you give them. And for each, they give a relevancy score and a popularity score. 

This is not the most complete tool, but it is free, and great to get suggestions to get started but it helps us get a long list of all hashtags that might be relevant.


Then we use a tool like flick.tech (paid tool) to analyze the numbers and categorize hashtags. We want to classify our hashtags in 6 sub-categories, and for each sub-category, we’ll pick the 5 best hashtags.

-    Hashtags with under 50.000 posts

-    Hashtags with 50.000 to 200.000 posts

-    Hashtags with 200.000 to 500.000 posts

-    Hashtags with 500.000 to 1 million posts

-    Other hashtags that are very relevant to your brand, no matter how many posts they have.

-    And finally, the mega-popular hashtags with millions of posts.

Why do we use those sub-categories? Because this way we will get a good mix of very good visibility with hashtags that are relevant but maybe not the most popular, and we will still be searchable in very popular hashtags where competition is intense. The combination of all the sub-groups ensures the best visibility.

Of course, all of the hashtags you use need to be relevant to the picture and to the brand. Never use an irrelevant hashtag to get views, you’ll be quickly flagged as a spammer.

4.    Now, let’s post!

You have your picture, your caption, and your hashtags: now it’s time to post.

But your work isn’t done yet. While posting, there are more elements you need to add:

-    Always add a location: either pick a pre-existing one or create one, like your brand HQ location for example. 

-    Tag relevant people or brands who are shown in the photo, and also tag yourself. Again, don’t tag accounts that have nothing to do with the picture to get views, you’ll be quickly flagged as a spammer. 

-    Fill in the ALT-TEXT for your picture. It’s a short description of it that will be read to visually impaired people using the app if they choose to use the feature. 

5.    Let’s move to the Stories.

Stories are extremely popular, and some of your audience spends more time there than they do in their feed. That’s why you want to let them know that you have a new post!

Use the “send” button to add your post to your story.

posting to Instagram stories

Once you are there, you want to use a few hashtags. You’ll want to pick the ones from the “mega-popular” category. Make them small: they don’t need to be on display, they are only there for search purposes.

IG stories - add hashtags

Then add a “new post” tag and cover the hashtags with it and add a “tap here” tag on the picture, so people know where to tap to see your post.

Instagram Stories cover hashtags

Finally, hide part of your picture with an emoji, so that people really need to tap and go on the feed to see the whole post. Once they are there, they can read your caption.

instagram stories hide picture

6.    And now, engage!

If you created a great post and used a call to action at the end, you are going to get comments. You want to take the time to answer each comment and interact with your followers. This takes time but is really key to growing your Instagram account.

Want more Instagram tips and tricks ? Get our free Practical Guide to Instagram Marketing or contact our team for a consultation.