Hi all! Currently sitting in my pajamas with an “I-work-night-shift” hangover. Two weeks until day shift and I can’t wait. Recently, I have been getting a lot of questions about how to grow your Instagram account. Like so many that I put out a poll in my Insta stories to see if you guys wanted to see a blog post about it. And the overwhelming answer was a YES. Now, I don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers and I just started really doing thing Instagram thing in October, but I will definitely share with y’all what I have found that works and what I have found that did not work! Keep in mind, what works for me might not work for you 100%, but I sure hope it does and that you are able to walk away from this blog post with a little bit of insight into how to grow!
How do you do that? Post high-quality photos and edit them all similar. High-quality does not mean go out and buy a DSLR Canon digital camera. 99% of my photos are taken on an iPhone 7. Smartphones these days take amaaazing pictures! So what do I mean by high-quality? I mean wipe of your camera lens, tap to focus, and take pictures you are proud of and that you like! If you are unhappy with the picture, don’t post it just to post it. You can lose followers that way. In my experience, you are better off not posting than posting a picture that you don’t think is very good. And as far as editing things similar, I mean keep it consistent. If you use a filter, edit and adjust each picture with that same filter so that when people click your profile, it looks uniform and is appealing to the eye. As editing goes, I use a mobile Lightroom preset. Specifically, I use the Instagram blogger @marinamcavoy “dream” preset & adjust and edit from there. Lightroom is a free app and there are all kinds of presets out there you can download for it, both free and paid.
And I’m not talking about random #instalove or #home or #mom or #blogger or #interiordesign, I’m talking about hashtags with an engaged audience. It takes time to figure out which ones will work, but if you search different hashtags in your Instagram app, you can see how many people that you follow also follow the hashtag. For example, if I go to tags and search #farmhousekitchen, I see that it has 281k posts and I have 44 friends that follow that specific hashtag. Which is a lot. So do a little hashtag research and see what hashtags your audience likes. I would shoot for up to 10 popular hashtags, and then the remaining should be smaller hashtags with an engaged group of people who follow them. For example, the hashtag #doingneutralright only has 50k posts to it, which is relatively small in the Insta world, but 20 people I follow also follow that hashtag, which is decent. That tells me it has a lot of engagement. I usually use 20-25 hashtags per post.
You keep hearing that word engage (and you will keep hearing it from me) because it is so important! If you are a lifestyle Instagram, follow and comment and like fellow lifestyle Instagrams. If you are a home decor Instagram, like and comment and follow other fellow home decor Instagrams. I try to comment thoughtful things, too. And if people comment on your Instagram, comment back! Try not to just “like” their comment or send back an emoji.
There is a fine line, in my opinion, on using them appropriately to help you grow and being a little obnoxious about it. If you post too many, your loyal and engaged followers might unfollow you. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have done a total of four big giveaways in these five months and they definitely did help me gain followers! But if all you do is post giveaways, you may get a lot of followers, but some of them will unfollow when they don’t win. And many of them are not following you because they like your page, they are following you to win something, which means they won’t engage with your posts. And as far as follow trains go, I have not found them to be helpful overall. I have done three, and only one of them helped me to gain engaged followers, so I don’t do them anymore. I do not do follow for follows either. I don’t think they help build an engaged following. *Quick note on why I keep mentioning the word “engage.” If you are trying to monetize your Instagram, many brands will look at your engagement to see how your audience likes your posts and will want AT LEAST 2% engagement per post. You can calculate your engagement by taking your total likes and comments on a post, dividing it by how many followers you have, and then multiplying by 100 to get the engagement percent. My average engagement is 6% which is considered very very high. I always aim for at least 4% engagement on a post.
It’s free and it provides you “insights.” Instagram Insights contain all the information you need to know about your account and how your posts perform. Essentially, it shows you what content works and what doesn’t. It offers you information about your followers to help you build a picture of those who take an interest in you and what you post. It shows you your weekly Instagram stats (change in followers, number of posts, impressions, reach, profile views, website clicks, and email clicks). It then gives you detailed demographics of your followers – male, female, age, where they live, and what times they are most active. And why do you care about all that stuff? You can use all this information to guide when and what you should post.
You guys, I cannot stress this enough. Authenticity, I feel like, is literally the most important part. Why do people follow @cottonstem? She shares little bits of her life, posts pretty pictures, and she just gives off such a real vibe. Same with @lizmariegalvan and @thesisterstudioig and @jennakutcher. All of the best Instagrammers out there are super genuine and you feel like they are your actual friend as opposed to some squares you see on app. Do not try to be like someone else or play the comparison game. The world needs what YOU have. Let your followers get to know you a little bit!
That’s it, guys! That’s the honest + simple truth on how I gained an engaged group of people following me. Any questions, leave them in the comments & I will answer! I hope you are able to use these five things to help you organically grow those engaged followers! Have a super freakin’ awesome day, guys.