Instagram is kind of a double-edged sword. It’s an incredible tool for meeting people in your community, following others who inspire you, growing your personal blog or brand, and staying connected with friends and family. On the other hand, as an influencer, it can be extremely intimidating and feel like a constant battle to “have more followers”.
Let me just begin this post by saying this – no amount of followers will ever satisfy you. If you’re only seeking a higher follower count, you will never be satisfied. You might have 1000 followers right now and you want 10,000… But when you hit 10,000 followers, you will want 100K. By only seeking a larger following, you will never be satisfied.
“So what’s the point of this post?”, you may ask. I strongly believe in sharing content (whether on Instagram or your blog, etc) that is meaningful to YOU. If you’re only sharing content to gain followers, the satisfaction will be temporary and your audience growth will be futile.
However, if you’re sharing content that truly means something to you, it’s a lot easier to preach the message that’s in your heart, regardless of if you have 1 loyal follower or 10 million loyal followers.
So my word of encouragement to you is this: Share content that is meaningful to you. After all, your blog is supposed to be YOUR journey, and you’re sharing it with others who are interested. If you have 1 follower or a million followers, it shouldn’t change the quality of content you share. Your value does NOT depend on how many followers you have.
No amount of followers will ever satisfy you.”
Okay, I’m done preaching now. Onto the Tips!
5 Tips to Grow Your Instagram
With all of the above having been said, once you have a brand that you’re trying to grow, there are several key factors that will help you grow a lot faster, gain loyal followers, and have more brands reach out to you for collaborations. These are tips that have worked for me personally and continue to work, so I’m confident in sharing them with you.
1. Post Photos Consistently
This one is first on the list because it is the most important, AND the biggest challenge. The reason this is the most important, in my opinion, is because each of your followers are probably following anywhere from 100-1000 + OTHER people. Not that it’s a competition, but that’s A LOT of people to remember and keep up with. When you post photos daily, even multiple times a day, it helps your followers remember WHO you are and what you’re about. There are so many times someone will post a photo and I think to myself, “I literally have no idea who you are” and then I look at their profile, don’t recognize them, and unfollow them. Other people do the same.
- The more you post, the more memorable you will be to your followers
- The more you post, the more you have opportunity to relate and connect with your followers
- The more your followers relate and connect with you, the more loyal they become
- Loyal followers trust what you have to say, and will likely recommend their friends to you (This is organic growth!)
I confess this is my weakest point. I work full time, at home, in a dark apartment with horrible lighting which translates to: no one can take a photo of me during the day. I currently don’t have it in my budget to hire a photographer, so I have to wait until Saturdays when my Husband can take my photos… But alas, Saturdays are usually spent serving at Church and house-hunting. When weekends get busy, I have zero time to create content for Instagram and my blog. This is an issue I have to work on because this is the biggest growth prevention I’m currently facing.
2. Show Your Face
Don’t be afraid to show your face! This goes for photos you post on your main feed, and talking face-to-face on your Instagram stories! I notice a HUGE difference in engagement when I post a photo including my face, versus when I post a photo of a product, scenery, or graphics. The same goes for my Instagram stories. When I post still life shots of random stuff, a lot of people skip or completely swipe away, versus when I show my face and I’m talking TO my followers. Yeah, people still skip, but that’s okay because we all do it (don’t let the stats get you down – it’s nothing personal)
3. Hashtag Your Photos
I cannot stress this enough. If you want others to find your content, you must be using hashtags. If you’re familiar at all with the online world, hashtagging is the equivalent of SEO for Instagram.
If you want people who like good vegan food to find your account and follow you, use the hashtag “#goodveganfood“. That is just one example, and you can get as creative as you want with your hashtags.
A few important notes about hashtags:
Try to use hashtags that have somewhere between 10,000 – 250,000 existing posts. You want to use these hashtags because it means others are using them and searching them, which means your photo has a higher chance of getting found. If you use a hashtag that only has 300 existing tags, it’s not likely that many people will find your photo through that hashtag.
Use specific hashtags. If you’re a blogger in Austin, use “#austinblogger” etc. Likewise, use location-specific hashtags. This helps others in your area find your page. For example, since I’m based in Austin, I frequently use the hashtags “#Austinblogger” “#Austinbusiness” “#Austinphotographer” “#ATXblogger“. This has not only helped other Austinites find my blog, it’s helped me connect with others in my area and meet some great people!
4. Geotag Your Photos
This goes along with hashtagging your local area (#austinblogger), geotagging your photos helps others in your city find your photos. You know the little “search” area in IG? You may notice a lot of people that pop up in your search queue are in your city or have mutual followers. IG knows this because of where they tag their photos, who is engaging with them and photos that IG thinks you might like (based on algorithms, etc).
Another benefit of geotagging your photos is that when people search that specific spot or location, your photos will be pulled up in that search query. You can be as vague as the city you’re in, or as specific as the cafe you’re drinking coffee at. Using both methods works great!
5. Engage with Others
Last but definitely not least, engage with others! Engaging with others is equally as important as the first 4 tips! When you take time to connect and engage with your followers, it makes them feel welcomed and valued as part of your following. This could look like you commenting on some of their photos, corresponding to DM’s, asking questions, etc. Be genuinely interested in them, as much as they are interested in you. Yes, that part can take time, but it’s worth it.
Every time I get a new follower, I make every effort to creep on their page, check out several of their photos, and try to remember them.
Some engagement tips are as follows:
- Reply to every “real” comment: I put “real” because you can tell when comments aren’t genuine (“Wow!”, “<3” “:)” “Check out my page” are a few examples of insincere comments)
- When responding to comments, look for opportunities to ask a question in response. Make each response as unique as possible.
- Search for other accounts who are in a similar niche as you and start engaging with them. (For example, I frequently seek out other ethical fashion bloggers, sustainability bloggers, etc)
- Post polls in your story! In my experience, followers love answering polls. It’s a great way to give them a role in your blogging game. I frequently ask my followers what they want to see from me, which is great for two reasons: 1) I know what my followers want to see from me and, 2) they’re anticipating the post which they just voted they wanted to see. Polls are really a win-win situation and it’s fun for all!
“When you take time to connect and engage with your followers, it makes them feel welcomed and valued as part of your following.”
- Post Photos as often as 2-3 times a day!
- Show your face (in photos on your feed & in your stories!)
- Hashtag and geotag!
- Engage with others!