Hey guys! I’m so excited to share this post with you, because this is the type of post I was looking for when I was growing my Instagram. There are plenty of posts out there that will tell you things like “create great content” and “engage your audience” and “find your niche” but don’t tell you HOW to do that, or what to do once you’ve done it.
The single most important thing is making sure people see your content. It doesn’t matter how great your editing skills are and what super cool, exotic location you’ve got a photo in if no one sees it. It’s important to have a bit of an understanding of how Instagram’s algorithm works and how you can rank higher in it so more people see your posts and hopefully follow you!
Engage, engage and engage some more! Instagram wants you to be active on their platform (without being spammy) and they will reward you for it by moving you up in the algorithm. Also, when you like and comment on people’s post, they tend to return the favor, which increases engage and moves you even higher in the algorithm. However, Instagram doesn’t want you to be TOO active or inauthentic. Be careful of following too many people too quickly or sending out the exact same comment or message too many times or Instagram will think you’re a bot and block you.
Engagement groups and follow groups I feel like this is a topic that can be a bit controversial for influencers and bloggers, however almost every influencer I know participates in them because again, the engagement ranks you higher in the algorithm and your posts are more likely to be seen. Are you sensing a theme here? The idea behind an engagement group is that you like and / or comment on other people’s post, drop your link and they will do the same for you. Most engagement groups have moved to the app Telegram because Instagram was shutting down engagement groups. They’re pretty easy to find if you download the app and search “engagement.”
Start your own engagement or follow group. If you can’t find the type of community you’re looking for, start your own! While I think it’s a lot of work to take the time to individually reach out to people and recruit them, if you’re in the early days of trying to grow your account and you’re kind of stuck, I think it’s a great way to meet other people in the industry and grow followers. An added bonus is usually as an “admin” to a group, people are required to follow you but you are not required to follow them. It’s important to note that most people that recruit for these types of groups send out invites from secondary accounts so they don’t risk getting their primary account banned.
Participate in a follow train or follow event. Similarly there are many accounts that host “follow trains” or “follow events”. The way it usually works is you sign up with the page and you’re added to a group chat with instructions that usually includes posting a pictures and caption provided to you at a specific time, inviting others to join the event. The caption will tell people the page to go to to participate. Once you post, you are followed by the page, participates are instructed to follow everyone the page is following and everyone (excepts admins and ghosts) are required to follow back. Ghosts are people who pay a fee to the page to be exempt from following back. While this sounds like a great way to gain followers in theory, be prepared for a VERY large number of people to either not follow you back at all, or follow you only to unfollow you the very next day.
Giveaways. While I can’t speak from personal experience because I have never hosted a giveaway, I have friends who have and have had great results. The way it usually works is you buy into the giveaway and contribute a specified amount along with other influencers and everyone posts instructions that include following everyone that is participating for a chance to win. I know people have gained over 500 followers with one giveaway that probably cost them around $20. I have studied some account that do them often and notice that they have pretty rapid growth. It definitely seems effective.
Understand the “secret language” of Instagram. Here’s something I’ve noticed but never seen anyone else talk about before…There seems to be a bit of a “secret language” among influencers on social media. Remember when I talked about engagement in the beginning and said that if you like and comment on someone’s post, they will likely return the favor? Well, it goes a little deeper than that. You might start to notice people “spam liking” your posts (liking 5 or more of your photos at once) and they’re usually testing the waters to see if you’ll return the favor. If you return the favor, then they often follow you hoping you will return that favor as well.
Post consistently– This is my biggest downfall but it seems like pages that have more posts and more consistent posts have more followers and I hear that Instagram likes consistency. I always strive to post more often, my current goal is every other day, but you know, #momlife. It doesn’t always happen. I think everyone’s personal goal is different, some people strive to post daily, and while I think that is probably beneficial for connecting with your audience and being ranked by Instagram, I know that it isn’t realistic for me at the moment and there is some value in time between posts. For example, when new people come to your page, they often like your most recent photo. The longer a photo is in your top spot, the more “likes” it gets. I am especially mindful of this when I’m working with a brand that wants to see my insights after I post their product.
Pin your posts on Pinterest– I felt like I had such a light bulb moment when I thought to do this! I’ve never put much effort into growing my Pinterest, it was always just something I did for fun way before Pinterest was cool, and since I’ve had it for so long, I’ve gained a decent amount of followers that probably don’t follow me on Instagram, so pinning your Instagram posts to Pinterest (or sharing on Facebook) can expose your post to a whole new audience.
Carefully select hashtags and engage with other posts from those hashtags– Ideally you should spend sometime researching hashtags that are relevant to your post but not so large that your post is going to disappear off the search page in 5 seconds. While I usually throw in some larger hashtags, I try to find some that are smaller. I’ve also heard that if you like a few photos in the hashtags that you post to, you’re more likely to be bumped up in the algorithm in that hashtag search.
Tag brands and feature pages. Tagging brands and stores has helped me grow my Instagram a few times! I was fortunate enough that some of the places reposted my picture and I saw a significant increase in followers when they did. There are also plenty of feature account with hundreds of thousands of followers that put “tag or dm to be featured” in their bio. You can type things like “fashion tag feature” in the Instagram search box to find these accounts. While I feel like they probably aren’t going to feature you unless you pay them (because they will sometimes message you their prices for this) I still think it helps and people scroll through their tagged section to discover new accounts.
Learn from your insights– Make a diary of what time you posted, hashtags and methods you used on each post. When you have a post that does really well, refer back to what you did. I’ve been kicking myself for not doing this because I have one post that unexpectedly performed extremely well and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why and how to have that level of success again.
Create conversation on your posts and ask you audience for advice– I feel like this concept has been talked about by other bloggers to a degree. Plenty of people have explored the idea of “ask your audience what kind of content they’d like to see next” and while there is value in that, it isn’t exactly what I’m talking about. I remember in a psychology class that I took in college we learned about a study that concluded if you ask an acquaintance what time it is, they will like you more because people like to feel helpful and providing you with that information makes them feel helpful and those positive feels are attributed to you. So when I’m struggling with a real life problem, instead of turning to google to research “how to get my baby to sleep through the night”, I know that many of my followers are young moms as well and I ask them for tips. It serves a dual purpose. I get valuable information and it creates conversation and engagement.
Consider using the paid add feature in Instagram– If you have a business account you can tell Instagram how much you’re willing to spend on an add and how long you want it to run and your target audience and they will put your post in front of people accordingly. I did this once a long time ago. I didn’t put much money in because it was more of an experiment but that post did get significantly more engagement and I gained new followers.
Respond to your comments and return the favor– building relationships with other influencers and bloggers is so valuable! So much of your audience is likely made up of fellow influencers. When they comment on your post and you respond to the comment on that thread, it increases the number on comments of your post which is a number that brands look at. I then often go to their page and comment on their most recent post and we often fall into this back and forth comment exchange on every post and build a relationship. It builds a sense of community and you have people that you feel like you can rely on not only for engagement but advice within the industry.
I hope this post was helpful and if you need anything clarified further, reach out to me! I may not be an expert but these are some of the tips I used to get my account to 10K in less than a year and has allowed me to monetize my account and start making an income. I want to help everyone that strives to do the same achieve their goal!