Before we dive in, I need to clarify that I am not an Instagram guru and I surely don’t know everything. There is actually a lot that I don’t know. However, what I am sharing today is what has worked for me personally in regards to growing an organic following on Instagram.
BUILD A BLOG/INSTA TRIBE
Yes, I’m saying you need to make friends with other bloggers. Otherwise, you won’t make it out alive. That may sound dramatic, but it’s true. So much self-doubt comes along with blogging and technology and trends are always changing so having other blogger friends to discuss ideas with, to learn from, to attend events with, and so on, makes ALL the difference! And, just like with any other job, it’s so nice having co-workers and that’s how I see my blog tribe. We’re friends and co-workers, all trying to accomplish the same thing. If you don’t know anyone that blogs and you’re looking to make friends with some, I would suggest attending some blogging events, blogger Facebook groups and/or start connecting with other bloggers via DM on Instagram or Email. I promise those relationships will be so rewarding, incredibly helpful, and ensure that you’re on the right track to success. Also, if you can find a fellow blogger that you can meet up with to take pictures, that helps a ton. My best friend (BlondeTwinMom) and I meet up regularly and take pictures of each other. We still edit our own images to our personal liking, but it’s so nice having someone willing to take pictures and this helps reduce the amount of money we spend on photographers.
ENGAGE WITH YOUR READERS + POTENTIAL READERS
This is a HUGE component to building a social media following. I spend at least an hour a day interacting with my followers, responding to comments and direct messages and, aside from that, I also seek potential followers and interact with people who I feel would also enjoy my page + blog (following, liking, and commenting on their photos). In addition, ask your followers questions in your captions or in your insta stories; get their opinions and build a community. Not to get side-tracked, but I’d like to add that there are so many bloggers that follow/unfollow accounts just to get new followers; i.e. they will go follow around 500 new people and then typically a few hundred will follow them back and then in a day or so, said blogger will go un-follow all of those people. I do not recommend this! Do I follow new people? Yes. Will I un-follow people who haven’t followed me back? Sometimes. However, don’t hook people into following you and then un-follow them as soon as they do. Sure, you’re instagram followers may increase very rapidly, but that’s not how you create a loyal audience and, if you’re trying to build a business, it’s a LOYAL audience that will get you there. It may take longer, but it’s the best way to grow. I truly feel like I have a friendship with so many of my followers; I follow them back, I engage with them and I let them know how much I appreciate them. Side Note: Other great growth avenues include doing Giveaways, Follow Friday’s, brand collaborations, using hashtags, tag feature accounts in every post, etc….and I recommend doing ALL of those things!
Post on Instagram at least once per day! I try to post twice a day and, if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll post a third time. It’s not easy coming up with all of that content, but you’re followers/readers want to see new things and will soon expect it or they’ll lose interest. If a post does really well, then wait a week or two and post it again. Or, as a blogger, I will share two (or sometimes three) pics of each blog post. This helps give you content. Also, while we’re talking about consistency, you’re filters need to be consistent, too. Find a filter/editing style that you like (and that your followers like) and try to use it on every post so your feed looks clean and cohesive. Remember, when someone comes across your account, they will probably decide in a matter of seconds if they want to follow so make sure your feed is appealing. Go study some of your favorite accounts; look at the filters, lighting, angles, and shots they share and try to incorporate what you like into your own feed. When I first started my account, I spent lots of time studying other accounts to see what I liked and didn’t like. Make your feed and your personality recognizable. Remember, you are building a brand.
Let your personality shine through every caption and insta-story. People will connect with you quicker if they feel like they know who you are. Sure, not everyone is going to like you or find you relatable, but like I mentioned above, if you want to build a loyal following, you need to be Y O U. I am over the top, unfiltered, incredibly silly, I cuss a little too much and so on, but that’s who I am in real life so that’s who I am on social media…and I think that’s what makes me relatable. I think a lot of my followers know me and feel like we’re friends and I feel the same. I can’t imagine how hard and boring instagram would be if I was constantly trying to be someone I’m not. And, honestly, people can see through the bullshit. If you’re trying to be someone your not, your followers will notice and they will quickly unfollow. With that, I should say, you will ALWAYS lose followers. I lose at least 15 a day and there have been days when I’ve lost 50+. It’s part of it, but you can better manage the losses if you have a loyal following…people who follow you for being you. I know for a fact that some of the most successful women on Instagram do not have a gazillion followers, but they do have loyal followers who trust them, their opinions and their brand. This is my goal; I’m not trying to win the follower race, I’m trying to build a business + community and a trusted brand. If you’re trying to do the same then be authentic, be relatable, and just be you! Also, find your niche and stick to it…whatever that may be. Whether it be sharing dresses, bold prints, bright colors, neutrals, building a capsule wardrobe, sharing bargains, motherhood, recipes, beauty tips, or home décor; the more you stick to your niche, the more your followers will begin to look to you for that particular thing and see you as a trusted resource.
STUDY YOUR ANALYTICS
This is a big one because, unfortunately, timing is everything. Study your analytics to see what post times perform well. I use Iconosquare, but there are several others. You can also keep track of this by keeping a tally of when you’re posting and then review it to see which times had more success. Now, let’s dig deeper. Do certain photos within your ideal timeframe perform better than others? Review what angles and types of photos perform really well and continue to share similar photos.
CREATE PRETTY CONTENT
Make sure you use filters and editing tools that really highlight what you’re trying to share. I would personally avoid filters that wash out the colors of something…especially if you’re trying to sell it to your audience because then it isn’t an accurate description. If you’re a fashion blogger, iPhone pictures, mirror selfies, and pictures without your head will typically perform better than high-quality DSLR images. Sometimes people can relate better to those types of images rather than something that looks like it belongs in a magazine. This doesn’t’ mean you shouldn’t use your professional images for your Instagram feed (brands loving seeing these), but I definitely recommend mixing in the others as well. The goal is finding balance and figuring out what performs well. Just be sure to take your time with your content and make sure your feed is appealing and cohesive. Never just post something just to post it. Also, I review my own feed once a month and remove images that I feel don’t blend with the rest of my feed. Filter/editing apps that I like to use are A Color Story, VSCO, and FaceTune.
I hope you found this post helpful! Again, I’m not expert, but I promise you that all of the tips I have mentioned in this post have helped me tremendously! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email.
SHOP THIS LOOK
Off Should Top (I’m wearing an XS, on SALE for $16) also available in blue HERE // Distressed Denim Shorts (size up one) // Mirrored Sunglasses // Cognac Gladiator Wedges (on SALE for $40, also available in black) // Neck Scarf // Similar Crossbody bag // Michael Kors Watch