Digging Into Instagram


By John Markowski

Warning: What you are about to read may be rendered useless in the near future. Such is the world of social media and its constant evolving.

In the interest of time and real estate on the page, I’ll assume you know the basics of Instagram. If not, I would suggest a quick Google search or maybe play around on the app a bit.

I’ll wait. No rush.

Instagram is the social media platform for plant lovers. Instagram is dominated by pretty. Gardens are pretty. It’s a match made in heaven.

When I post a photo to Insta (what the cool kids call it) I immediately surprise even myself and think, “Is that really my garden? Wow, I’m good.” It’s hard to not make a garden or plant look fantastic on this platform.

There was a time not too long ago where I would take a pic with my phone, apply a cool filter and share it to Instagram fully expecting oodles of likes and a bunch of “gorgeous shot” comments. It was easy. It was uplifting.

But then I wanted more.

I wanted to push people to my blog. I wanted to push people to Amazon to buy my book. Like so many others, I’d add a caption to a photo that encouraged readers to “check out the URL in my profile” where I’d store my blog or book link (Instagram doesn’t allow you to post a link along with a photo).

I figured I’d lure them in with a flower pic, pique their curiosity with a fun fact and then they’d have no choice but to head to my profile where they’d eventually find my blog and my book. I’d have a fan for life.


There were very few clicks and very few books sold.

On top of that, Instagram has changed their timeline algorithm. Photos are no longer displayed chronologically. Insta determines what they think users want to see based on advanced metrics. As a result, we’re all getting fewer views, likes and comments.

But fear not, here are some other ways to make use of the platform:

  • Hashtags still work. A mix of common and not so common hashtags work well. When you use a hashtag, the app will tell you how many times the hashtag has been used by other users. I’ll use #garden and I’ll use #perennialsbook.
  • Giveaways. I gave away plants featured in my book along with a copy of the book. The winners displayed them on their own IG photos upping the exposure.
  • “Instagram Stories” all day. I use this feature to share the “behind the scenes” of projects. This is where you allow users to get to know you on a more personal level. Yes, they disappear after 24 hours, but they are an amazing creative outlet.
  • Be fearless and go live. A tour of your garden live with some commentary will kill. When going live, your followers are notified directly.
  • Play with days and times. Experiment posting on different days and times and study the results.

Meet the Author


John Markowski is the author of the “Obsessive Neurotic Gardener” blog, which includes 1500+ posts since its inception in 2010. He published his first book Perennials Through the Seasons in April 2017.  His second book, a garden memoir, will be coming out this spring.  John’s gardens have been featured a number of times on the Fine Gardening website.

John is also currently a featured writer on Medium where he writes about such non-gardening topics as family, parenting, aging, and baseball. Many of his articles have been featured on other sites including Scary Mommy, Fatherly, The Good Men Project, and Huffington Post.

John currently lives in rural Hunterdon County, New Jersey, with his college sweetheart wife, two children, and their irreplaceable rescue mutt, Mia.


Author: GardenComm

GardenComm, formerly known as GWA: the Association for Garden Communicators, provides leadership and opportunities for education, recognition, career development and a forum for diverse interactions for professionals in the field of gardening communication. GardenComm members includes book authors, bloggers, staff editors, syndicated columnists, free-lance writers, photographers, speakers, landscape designers, television and radio personalities, consultants, publishers, extension service agents and more. No other organization in the industry has as much contact with the buying public as GardenComm members.

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