A Simple Tip for Better Engagement on Instagram

One of my biggest tips for better Instagram engagement is to take advantage of the portrait format for posting photos. Since Instagram introduced support for portrait and landscape orientation in August of 2015, most of you should know exactly what I’m referring to here. If not, read about it here.

While I personally format photos based on the image content, I know many people using the popular photo-sharing platform care about getting better Instagram engagement. So if you’re are struggling to get the likes and comments you desire, give this a try.

The idea is simple. Not only does the portrait orientation allow you to fit more into the frame, it is also looks much sexier in the Instagram feed. When a portrait photo shows up in the feed, it takes up more screen space. Why is this important? Well, it removes distractions and puts your photo front and center.

If you post a square or landscape photo, the top of the next post might be visible in the feed. If the following post is a real “eye-catcher,” the user might keep scrolling right past your post to see the rest of the next one. It wouldn’t matter if your photo is amazing or the caption is clever, the next post might have you beat!

Example of one of my posts in the portrait format:

Now, let’s jump into the details.

To get better Instagram engagement with portrait orientation photos, you’ll need to use a 4 x 5 aspect ratio. I work primarily with Lightroom at the moment, so I’ll use it as an example for cropping to the correct size. However, your go-to image editing software should have the ability to crop to various aspect ratios. This is my personal method, so take it, leave it, or remix it as you see fit!

  1. Single click the photo you want to edit in your library. Once it is selected, press “D” on your keyboard to open the “Develop” module.
  2. Open the “Crop Overlay” tool by pressing “R” on your keyboard.
  3. Click the drop-down menu for “Aspect” in the module and select “4 x 5 / 8 x 10.”
  4. Look to the right of the ratio you just set and double check that the lock is in the “locked” position. This locks the aspect ratio as you scale and move your overlay.
  5. If you took the photo portrait-orientated, your crop overlay should remain in portrait and is ready for you to scale and move. However, if you took the photo landscape-oriented, you’ll notice that the crop overlay is in landscape too. You can switch the orientation by grabbing one of the overlay corners and dragging it left or right towards the center of the image. Once you reach a certain point, the orientation of the crop overlay will switch to portrait and you’ll be ready to scale and move it.
  6. There is one thing I like to check before I finalize my crop. When Instagram displays your photos in a grid, it will use a center-cropped square from your photo. You can easily preview what that would look like by changing the aspect ratio temporarily to “1 x 1” in the drop-down menu we used earlier. Sometimes I’ve hated where the square cropped out the top or bottom of a key feature and went back to make adjustments in the “4 x 5 / 8 x 10” overlay. To get out of the “1 x 1,” you’ll have to undo the menu change (cntrl + z / ⌘ + z). If you try to change the drop-down menu option back to “4 x 5 / 8 x 10” manually, you’ll see that it will try to change the aspect ratio of the square instead of reverting back to your first adjustments.
  7. Once you’ve got your overlay where you want it, you can press “Enter” and carry on with the rest of your editing.

If you’re using Lightroom, my Instagram-Ready Lightroom Export Preset will take care of getting your photo exported at the correct size for Instagram, even if you’ve used this tip.

I realize that none of this post really reveals any mind-blowing information, but knowing the exact aspect ratio for the portrait format has proved useful for me. For example, now I don’t have to worry about my vignettes being chopped off if my edit was too large for Instagram.

So there you have it — a simple tip for better Instagram engagment. Be sure to stop by the shop to check out my latest paid and premium Lightroom and Luminar presets here.

Feel free to post your comments, questions, and concerns in the comment section below or on my Instagram @thecreativv.