Instagram has become increasingly popular recently, and it’s not hard to see why.

Influencers have become a great way to experience photos of the perfect version of “real life”, and Instagram stories practically have their own culture around them that feels apart from any other social media platform. As you would expect, many people are also using Instagram for the online dating life, and it can be a surprisingly powerful alternative to dating apps.

But how does Instagram dating work, and how are you supposed to use it when it’s not technically a dating app? More importantly, how do you approach somebody through their Instagram profile and make it clear that you’re looking for love (or, in some cases, just something physical)?

Why Use Instagram?

Instagram isn’t a dating app, and depending on how you use it, it might not even really be social media in the usual sense. Unlike Facebook or Tinder, it’s a place to share photos and stories, gain followers, and build an audience based around your content using the Instagram app. Since DMs are also an option, it’s clear that you can follow a person and – potentially – get a chance to talk to them directly.

There’s a Larger Market

Unlike Tinder or other dating apps, Instagram dating uses a platform that’s just purely based on the dating life. You’ll run across people who might be interested in a date, but aren’t so desperate that they’re on dating apps sorting through everybody else who uses the same online dating app.

Basically, if you’re using Instagram, you’re going to be meeting a person without the pretense of a date, unlike Tinder. Any connections that happen feel more natural and less expected, which you can use to your advantage.

There’s Fewer Restrictions Than Dating Apps

You also have the benefit of being able to create content that you know people will see. Instead of putting every post into a void on a dating app, you can use hashtags to get people interested in what you make. The right photo can lead to a handful of followers each time, and if you’re lucky, that’ll add to the pool of people you can end up talking in DMs with.

Connectivity is Easier

Instagram gives you more options with your profiles and what you post, which means that you can set up profiles that link to Twitter, Facebook, or other apps and sites. It’s another way to make conversation easier, and can also help you snoop some more information from their other profiles to learn more about the people you meet.

How To Use Instagram As A Dating App

Instagram isn’t a dating site like Tinder, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be used as one. However, that also means that dating with Instagram requires a different mindset and some new techniques, since you can’t just act like you would on Tinder.

Post Normal Social Media Content

One of the best ways to meet people on Instagram is by posting photos or Instagram stories that can draw them in. Unlike matches on Tinder, not everybody is going to be single, willing to date, or even attracted to you, but that also removes the urgency of having to stand out from hundreds of other users.

Sometimes, you can use Instagram and Tinder side-by-side, with Instagram holding content that it’s suited for Tinder profiles. This allows you to entice matches to visit your Instagram, which you can use to show off more about yourself without having to actually say anything in DMs. It’s a useful way to remove the problem of rambling, vague conversations.

Manipulate the Truth

While it’s never a good idea to outright lie to somebody you want to date, especially if they’re following your Instagram to see examples of your real-life activities, you can still embellish the truth a little. Show off your best work: the best meals you make, the best clothes you wear, or even tell the best little stories of your nights out as Instagram stories.

All of this means that you can get “better” content across and show potential dating partners and/or Tinder matches the perfect version of how you live. It gets rid of all the awkward photos you didn’t mean to show or the embarrassing story of how you threw up last night after drinking too much.

Don’t Focus on Dating

Another major benefit of Instagram? It’s not a dating app, so dating isn’t the only focus. Your posts don’t have to be dating-based and you don’t need to make sure that every one of your stories will revolve around your love life, since your followers will be there for whatever content attracted them.

This means that, ironically, dating isn’t as important. If you’re planning on dating somebody you meet through Instagram, there’s no rush to try and attract the person or make it obvious that you’re interested.

Follow Them Back

Want to know more about someone that’s already followed you? Follow them back! You may be able to take details from their posts or account profile to get an understanding of what kind of person they are, which can be one way to understand them better you normally would.

Instagram users are also, generally, much less likely to block or ignore people that aren’t outright hostile or creepy to them. This makes it a little easier to get responses back, and a lot of the people you meet (especially if they follow you) could end up becoming quite easy to contact, even if it’s just through Instagram DMs.

Make The First Move

Instagram isn’t about dating, and that means that it’s fairly easy to make the first move when it comes to DMing someone. There’s not really an expectation for people to think that you’re being weird, so you can engage in normal conversation first without feeling like the idea of dating is already on the table.

Of course, there are many people who are open to dating on Instagram as well, regardless of whether it’s mentioned on their profile. Each time you see your follower number increase, at least one or two of them may be open to what you can offer. Some will openly state that they’re users looking for a date on their profile, which is a much better sign.

Like Their Posts

A Facebook like doesn’t mean a whole lot, but Instagram likes are like digital gold. They can help you seem more popular if your posts consistently get plenty of likes, but they can also be a tool to establish a small connection with somebody new.

If your profile stands out and you’re among the first to like somebody’s posts (or view their story posts), then they might be more aware of you. This can be the first step you need to have a decent starting point if you eventually DM them.

Sneakier Tricks

Your Instagram profile and posts aren’t just meant to show off your life, but can also distort the truth or be valuable ways to tell stories that show you in a positive light. If you’re feeling a bit sneaky, you can do some great things with the social value of your Instagram profile, as well as the things you post on Instagram every now and then.

Use Thirst Traps

Thirst traps are a simple concept: it’s a picture posted on Instagram that’s meant to boost your self-esteem, usually by sexually enticing each person that sees it. In simple terms, it’s a hot selfie, but the kind of hot selfie that’s engineered to make people thirsty for you.

Some people think that thirst traps are a bad sign, but they can be a great option for getting attention online. A decent thirst trap will show off attractive parts of the body, like a man’s muscles and/or trouser bulge and a woman’s chest, but not be completely explicit.

These are one of the best uses of the app, if you can pull it off right. Unlike Facebook, anybody can see your photo, and that means that anybody can like it. Also unlike Facebook, if one or two people want to contact you, they have a way to through the social media app itself.

The most important part of a thirst trap photo is the actual photo itself. You need to understand how to make something enticing to the kind of users you want – this could be as simple as a photo taken in your current location to get the attention of users nearby, or a post-workout photo that makes it obvious that you’ve just finished lifting.

Be Vague

On the other end of the spectrum, you can make a post or story that’s vague. Unlike Facebook, where users are generally people that know more information about what you do and how you think, Instagram users are often complete strangers. This may give you a way to be vague and draw their attention, sometimes to the point that they’ll DM you asking about something you posted.

For example, say you have two pets, but you haven’t made their breeds obvious. This could make users message you to ask about them, which can flow into a larger conversation over time.

Exchange Instagrams, Not Numbers

Rather than exchanging a number (something that obviously hints at you wanting something fairly personal), you can exchange Instagram account details. This has less of an immediate weirdness behind it, especially if you’ve actually asked them about what they post and said that you’d love to take a look when you have time.

A number exchange can be intrusive, but Instagram is much more manageable for both users. Plus, if you can get someone to give you an Instagram name, it gives you a way to know more about them. Basically, it’s a win/win: a lot easier to get than a phone number, but also a full profile that contains much more information about them as a person.

Try Follower Bots

If you don’t care about doing the “right thing” when it comes to your profile, take a look at bots that inflate your follower count. Unlike Facebook, where your number of Facebook friends isn’t going to change much, you can buy Instagram followers to bump up your status a little. 1,000 followers for as little as $10 is a pretty good deal if you really need the help.

More followers can cause many people to clock you as a bigger presence, and you’re more likely to draw in someone who’s attracted to that fame. It doesn’t really matter if that fame doesn’t actually exist, because you’re just using it as a way to meet new people that might eventually like you back.

Track Down Ghosts

Not all ghosting is intentional, but when it is, people can still change. If you made a mistake when talking to somebody on Tinder and got yourself ghosted or blocked, you might still have a chance to meet them again on Instagram if you wait long enough. This is especially true if the ghosting was because of something minor, or just because you eventually stopped talking.

“Accidentally” running into somebody on Instagram isn’t like stalking their Facebook: with Facebook, you basically have to be trying to seek them out, but Instagram makes it a lot easier to say that you’ve wandered onto their posts. This also removes the Facebook weirdness of accounts mostly being contained to friends and family.

Should I Try Instagram for Dating?

If you’re interested in trying to find new dates but don’t like the idea of a dedicated dating app, then Instagram is an excellent option. Not only can you meet new people without a lot of the awkwardness and expectations, but you can meet new people and learn more about them compared to sites like Tinder.

Since the audience isn’t actually all based around dating, everything is more natural, too. The market might not be as wide, but it’s much more deep, which gives you more time to talk to people without fear of them ghosting you completely or getting snapped up by somebody else. Even if you don’t end up dating straight away, you can become friends with them in the long-term.