As unqualified as I feel when it comes to addressing this topic, I get asked a lot! It’s such a loaded question, so I find myself constantly sending multiple voice messages over Instagram DM to answer everything I possibly can! So I figured it’d be easier to write everything out, in depth, and make it easier for you to refer back to!
I currently have a little over 5500 followers. It’s a lot to some and nothing to others. I’m just not in any rush to grow, as I give most of my time to my family and spend the remainder of my time pursuing other dreams. However, I was actively trying to grow my account a while back and was doing really well! I have figured out some of what does and doesn’t work [in my experience], and I wanna share that with you! I’ll also include things I’ve heard that help but have yet to try.
But growing your Instagram is more than just getting followers. You can have a ton of followers, but if none of them are engaging, it’s gonna be a lot more difficult to get collaborations. A high engagement rate ranges from 3.5-6%. But these are some ways that can help you DOUBLE, even TRIPLE that [when done consistently]! So let’s start with step one:
Everywhere. But specifically using your profile photo, bio, and username.
Use a clear, close-up image of yourself as your profile photo! You want people to see you right off the bat, and an image that’s shot from too far away, or one that you’re not in at all, can make that really difficult!
Keep your bio simple, but at the same time, let people know who you are and what you’re about!
As for your username, I wouldn’t think too deeply about it. I personally think it’s best to just use your name. No extra letters or symbols! Just some variation of your name, even a nickname! Why? You wanna make it easy to remember, find, and share, and therefore, grow. And if you’re wanting to use this platform as a business, I think it’s even more important to conduct it as one and immediately introduce yourself by name. I also personally love being able to see who someone is just through their username and photo when they comment on a post of mine so I can immediately connect with them!
CREATE A COHESIVE FEED
Work on getting your first 9-12 photos looking cohesive [or at least semi-cohesive]. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but try to keep the same general tones in your images. The best way to do this — presets. I have some mobile presets available here, but there are a ton of other options out there if mine aren’t your style! If you are interested though, be sure to enter your email here to get a 20% off code! You are always welcome to email me some photos to test the presets out on them first; just include which pack in the subject line! I have been using my Vibe Pack for a while on my mobile and DSLR photos.
You will need Lightroom to use presets. If you’re not already using Lightroom to edit your photos, now is the time to start! It can be intimidating at first, but it will change your world [your editing world at least]. If you’re planning to use your phone to take the majority of your photos, I would use the free Lightroom app. But if you plan on using your DSLR more, the desktop version is definitely worth investing in. However, you can always edit those in the free app as well!
*Please note that keeping the same color palette in your images will help keep a cohesive look as well. If you notice, I rarely have any bright, distracting colors in my photos. I keep everything earth-toned, which is easy for me personally because that’s all we really have in real life. You don’t HAVE to do this. It just helps.*
GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA
It’s super easy to take a photo of a pretty scenery or your food or your kids [sort of], but something that is so so so so SO important is to get in front of the camera yourself [beyond just your profile photo].
Kind of going along with my first tip of introducing yourself… People want to know who they’re potentially going to be following and talking to or working with! If I go to someone’s profile and I don’t see a photo of them in those first several photos, there’s a very big chance I won’t follow that person. It’s nothing personal; I just can’t create a connection to YOU when all I see is your babes, home decor and flatlays. I mean, I love kids. They’re way cute. I love sharing mine when they let me. But most people I know [including myself] aren’t just on Insta to see cute babies; they’re here to connect with other adults/moms/humans that understand them!
I get that it’s difficult. I never got in front of the camera when I first joined the Instaworld. We all struggle with insecurities from time to time [or all the time]. It’s way too easy to compare ourselves to each other. But one, we are all uniquely beautiful; two, it’s not a beauty contest; and three, I can honestly say I’ve never followed someone just because I thought they were pretty. Oh, and four, posts that include your face in the photo get at least 2-3x better engagement than ones without!
If you don’t have someone to take photos for you, FEAR NOT. Check out this tripod and remote I use for my DSLR; or if you’re using your phone, a friend of mine recommends this one! Even just a basic selfie with a preset slapped on it every now and then is better than nothing!
This is a game-changer. I see people complain about the algorithm on Instagram all the time and how easy it is for their engagement to plummet. You can wipe off the guilty look on your face. I 100% used to be one of those people too until I figured out what works. And it wasn’t an engagement pod. [Jenna Kutcher has a GREAT podcast on why pods might actually be hurting you. I also really love how Jessie Martin touches on that topic on her podcast How to Grow Your Instagram & What No One is Telling You!]
How can you expect people to engage on your page if you’re not engaging on theirs? How can you expect GENUINE engagement if you’re not giving genuine engagement?
Don’t just scroll through your feed liking and commenting emojis on everything. Go to hashtags that relate to your niche. Go to your Explore tab. Engage on posts and stories that you genuinely like. Read the captions. Give them real, authentic comments. Invest in other people and others will invest in you. Maybe not all of them will, but a lot will. When I am more active on Instagram, I like to set a timer for 20-30 minutes as many days as I can to solely focus on engaging with content I love. The best time to do this in my opinion is right after you make a post! This was bringing in followers and engagement more than anything else.
You don’t have to just share your post on Instagram and call it a day. You can cross-share it to any other social media platforms you’re on to try and bring more attention to it! Just click the three little dots in the top right corner of your post and you can share it to Facebook, Twitter, or copy the link to share on other platforms.
My favorite platform? Pinterest! I don’t have a Twitter, and very rarely do I get on Facebook. But I love using Pinterest! Just remember — Pinterest is NOT a social media platform; it’s a search engine. Which is awesome because that plays to your advantage way more if you learn how to use it as such. I only started doing this recently and am still learning how to utilize it for IG post properly. But the cool thing about Pinterest is that things aren’t just seen and forgotten about. You can post something and it not do well for days, weeks, months, then it just takes off randomly because one person pinned it. It’s amazing.
NONE of my other posts I have shared on Pinterest are like this, so don’t get too impressed. 😂 This may not even be a big deal compared to how others do, but it was a huge deal to me. I shared this Instagram post to Pinterest just randomly a while back without even knowing how to use it. Just shared it and left it alone. Nothing happened for a while, but like I said, it can just randomly take off! So why not try it?
You have to be consistent about creating and posting content, in your feed AND your stories. If you aren’t, your engagement rate can drop, as can your audience. It could be like starting from ground zero sometimes trying to come back from it.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t want Instagram to consume your life, but you also want to be successful with it. Don’t feel like you have to post every day. You can, and it definitely helps you grow more quickly, but that can be a lot of pressure for some people, especially when you have a busy life in the outside world.
Try out a few different routines and see what works best for you! If you wanna post three times a week, post Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Five times a week? Post Monday-Friday. Seven times? Well, you get it. If you want to create all your content for the week in one day, bring some different outfits and drive to different places one morning a week. If you want to create a little each day, do that! It takes some trial and error, but you eventually get into some kind of groove that works for you [or so I’m told].
Pursuing Instagram as a business is a lot of work and will take investing your time! Schedule your week or even month so you don’t get too caught up in the app and forget the more important things in life [i.e. God, your family, your friends, etc…]. You can even use a planning app like Plann to schedule your photos and captions ahead of time!
USE YOUR RESOURCES
Go to your Instagram settings and convert your personal profile to a business one if you haven’t already. This will allow you to see analytics that a personal account doesn’t give you access to. You can see what times are best to post each day based on when the majority of your audience is active on Instagram. Posting during these times will increase your chances of better engagement, which in turn will also lead new followers your way.
In your posts AND your stories. I actually didn’t think about the stories part until recently, but each hashtag has its own story highlight just like your page does, and people watch them. So maximizing your hashtags can be very beneficial to drawing people to your page! You can use a max of 30 in posts and 10 in stories. I know they can look really tacky, so in stories, just make the text soooo small that it disappears. It will still be there, but it won’t be distracting when people are watching. And for your posts, you can actually add your 30 hashtags as a comment! I’ve actually heard they’re more effective when posted in your caption, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. I continue to just comment them (partially because I write really long captions most days), because they show up under the hashtag regardless.
Don’t know which hashtags to use? You can head to Pinterest or Google and search for lists that match your niche, OR you can go check out what your favorite influencers/bloggers are using on theirs. Add groups of 30 to a note in your phone, and then just copy and paste those whenever you post!
You can also tag feature pages in your photos! These are other profiles who literally have a page dedicated to featuring their favorites posts and can be great for exposure if they decide to share yours. You can also go check out your favorite feeds and tap on their photos to see the tags they’re using, and take note of any feature pages you see so you can keep them in mind for next time you post!
USE ALL INSTAGRAM FEATURES
This is something I’m really bad at and have never done. HOWEVER, I’ve heard about all the great results that come from it. Instagram pushes accounts who use all their features. This includes IGTV, Instagram Live, polls, question boxes, the chat feature in your stories, swipe ups if you have that capability, etc… So it’s important to utilize all these things to draw more engagement (and followers) your way!
This is most important. There are a bajillion people on Instagram, but there’s only one you. THAT is what will attract people to your page. THAT is what will get people to want to engage. Because THAT is what sets you apart from all the other people trying to grow their Instagram.
Be true to yourself. Share your heart. Talk about things you’re passionate about. Talk about your experiences. Be vulnerable [yes, it’s terrifying, but it’s also incredibly freeing]! Post things you GENUINELY love, not just things you think will get likes. This even applies to how you edit. I had a friend recently ask me if she should keep editing her current way and that she likes that way, but her old edits are brighter and seemed to be what other people like. I told her she answered her own question. The way she likes is how she should edit. End of story. At the end of the day, this is YOUR space to do what you want with it. And yes, I 100% believe in using this space to serve others, but it’s also important to show up as YOU when you’re doing it.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to people who have thousands of followers and have been doing this a while. It’s easy to think you have to share the same things or edit the same way or take the same photos to be successful, but it’s simply not true. There are so many people with identical feeds that I honestly don’t remember who is who sometimes. The people I enjoy following the most are always the ones who aren’t afraid to stand out and be real. The ones who aren’t afraid to admit and show their lives aren’t even close to perfect.
That’s another thing; we all live imperfect lives. Don’t be fooled.
If you get caught up with what everybody else is doing and you don’t stay true to yourself, Instagram will quickly become an unhealthy place for you. You’re not gonna be happy if you’re constantly searching for the approval of others. Pleasing everyone is an exhausting and impossible task! You need to approve of you.
DUH. Taking on Instagram as a business is NOT for everyone, and that’s OKAY. You having 200 followers doesn’t make you inferior to someone who has 200,000 followers. Don’t take it too seriously. I mean, if you decide to take on work, obviously have integrity and follow through on your word. But it’s also okay if you try it out and decide it isn’t for you. It can still be a great place to connect with people and build a community, as well as just to document your memories or create strictly for yourself!
Have more questions or other helpful tips about the Instagram world? Drop a comment below or contact me here!