I’ve become a bit of an Instagram obsessor, not because I’m (completely) vain but because I LOVE story telling through visuals and Instagram has become an amazing platform to showcase your unique voice through visuals. Now, I wouldn’t call myself an absolute expert, nor have I built my account to some crazy over 100K followers (yet). HOWEVER, these tips I’ve found to be very successful if you want to grow your account naturally and authentically (with followers that may actually care about what you post.)
So here are 12 ways to grow your Instagram account!
1 | WRITE A GREAT BIO
Your bio is what people read first when they come on your page. If it’s blank, or doesn’t showcase a snippet of who you are then people may not stick around to look at more. If you want to post about funny pics then say that in the bio, if you are all about traveling then write that, and if you just want to showcase your life then write a line about who you are. We all are different, and even if the pictures you post are seemingly mundane, that still doesn’t take away from your uniqueness.
If you’re stumped about what to write, then start scrolling through accounts you like and take some notes of other people’s bios. Don’t copy their wording or anything, but use them to inspire your own.
2 | DEVELOP A PICTURE STORY/THEME
You can take this to whatever level you want but my general advice would be to create a cohesive style of pictures that when you look at your feed as a whole you can see the cohesiveness either through style of photo (posing the same, close ups, bright color, dark color, etc), type of photo (outfits, nature, landscapes, flatlays, food,etc) photo filter (color and tone of the picture whether it’s dark, bright, black&white, warm toned, cool toned etc.) Now I make my page look a certain way with not only the style of pictures I take but also the editing and color as well, and I plan out my layout and all that. I would say you don’t have to be that intense with your own if you don’t know how or want to spend that much time but definitely keep this rule in mind: develop your feed of photos to look like your own personal magazine. If you are needing some inspiration then watch the video below.
3 | POST GOOD PHOTOS
Now I would say a HUGE yes to this if you are wanting to develop a professional and clean looking account. A good quality picture is key to be taken seriously in that way. However, if you aren’t wanting to go for that kind of feed, then by all means take whatever photos you want. I use a professional DSLR camera, account for proper lighting, and do a good amount of editing on all my photos and if you want to get there for your own then definitely invest in a good camera and lens to do that. You can check out my recent youtube video below on how I edit my Instagram photos to see what I do (using only phone apps).
4 | ASK QUESTIONS IN YOUR POST?
This is a good tip for building engagement (ie. comments) on your posts. I often feel compelled to answer random posts just because of the question that’s asked. It makes you feel (as a follower or viewer) important, like the poster WANTS to know your answer. I would recommend not doing this on every post but every so often throw in a creative or relevant question, something that hopefully relates somehow to the picture or caption of the post.
5 | USE RELEVANT HASHTAGS
When I was first getting into Instagram, hashtags were a joke to me. I made fun of them and thought they were a ridiculous addition to social media. Now, I am their number #1 and here’s why. I have found myself going through hashtags that are relevant to my niche and gaining great friends and brand collaborations because I found their accounts and posts through hashtags. And other people and brands do the same thing. If you use hashtags in your posts, you are letting people see you.
I use a lot of different hashtag ‘batches’ I call them. I gather a bunch of hashtags in a certain category, write them all out in my note pad on my phone, and then copy and paste them on my posts. I have about 15+ that I use and circulate through. I have an ootd batch, a general girl blogger batch, ethical batch, food batch, workout batch, etc.
I don’t post the most obvious and over used hashtags usually like #fitness, #love, #friday anything that’s over 5 million posts because not only will your posts get lost and no one will see them but that usually means the hashtag is too broad and you may not attract the kind of viewer/follower that you are looking for. I want people who are relevant and in my niche to look at and like my pictures. So how I find my lists of hashtags is I start with looking up a hashtag like #flashesofdelight then going to the top posts on that hashtag and finding the hashtags those people used on that post and then clicking on each one and taking a second to scroll down the pictures in the hashtags. If I feel the pics are safe and relevant then I’ll add it to my batches. Just note that Instagram only allows 30 hashtags to be used in each post so make sure to count before posting or else you won’t be allowed to post it.
Some hashtags I like that you could start with for some different categories are:
6 | TAG YOUR PHOTOS
One of the most important tips I can say for Instagram (or social media really) is gaining EXPOSURE. The more you are exposed, the more your pictures are out there, the more people will see your photos and eventually follow. So that works by using hashtags, interacting with other’s accounts and tagging your photos in hopes to either be reposted on that account or have people see your photos when they scroll through pictures that person/brand are tagged in.
There are a lot of pages out there (like OOTD Submit or Dame Traveler) that are repost pages meaning the whole Instagram account is like a magazine of other people’s photos. Many of these accounts have a lot of followers, and being featured on these pages may help boost your page because of exposure. To find these accounts start with looking at the top pictures on the hashtags you like and tapping the picture to see if they’ve tagged the picture. Chances are some will either have brands tagged or accounts that are repost accounts tagged on their picture. Also, brands love to repost pictures of their customer’s/ client’s posts, that’s just good marketing! So if you’re wearing a pair of sneakers from your favorite brand find their account and tag your shoes in the picture.
Another way to tag your pictures is geotagging which is basically putting a location on the post. I don’t do this as often only because I don’t always want people to know exactly where I am. However, where it does benefit you is if you’re at a cool destination or attraction that may be searched by other people (like Disneyland or the Grand Canyon or even a popular restaurant). If people search that spot to check out pictures, your picture will show up thus exposing your photo to a whole new crowd of people.
7 | LIKE, COMMENT & FOLLOW PEOPLE/BRANDS
It goes without saying, people like people who like them. If you show interest in someones life chances are that interest will be reciprocated. This general social rule applies very well to Instagram engagement. It’s easy, simple and effective the only downside is, it is time consuming. But if you are willing to dedicate 30 mins 2-3 times a day scrolling through those hashtags, liking the pictures, meaningfully commenting (and not just saying ‘cool’ or ‘nice picture’) and even following some new accounts, then you’re bound to see some reciprocity and who knows, maybe you’ll develop some amazing online friendships like I have been able to do! The more you do this, the more you get out of it.
8 | BUILD AN ONLINE COMMUNITY
This goes along with the last tip, but I would say it has been such a vital tip I’ve developed for myself over the past year. Through my scrolling and engagement I’ve developed some seriously great friendships with fellow blogger gals in my niche.
One way you can develop this is forming social media group or in this case a community pod on Instagram of a batch of like minded people in your niche. I have been fortunate enough to be in a couple pods this past year (one in particular) that I’ve made some great friends from. It’s risky to start reaching out to people if this idea is new and scary, but honestly it’s so worth it. You can set the rules or guidelines for what happens in the pods whether they’re for straight encouragement, engagement, growth, etc just make sure to get everyone on the same page when you start inviting them to join.
I was so nervous to reach out and actually DM some of these bloggers at first, especially because some of them were so much more advanced than I was, and I’ve definitely been rejected a couple times and not been responded to but don’t let that stop you! It’s not personal, just keep trying and find a couple guys or gals who you can make a group with and it will be such a reward. I’ve learned a lot from some of these gals, and that’s what this is all about isn’t it, social community!
9 | POST REGULARLY & AT A GOOD TIME
This doesn’t have to be a timed or scheduled thing if you don’t want it to be but I would say generally speaking the more you show up in people’s feeds or on hashtags the more you’re seen, so post often (but don’t go overboard). I post once – twice a day, some people post three times a day but I wouldn’t do more than that.
You can also find some apps out there that help tell you when the best posting time for you is. This is really vital if you want to build your likes and be seen because depending on the area and niche you’re in, some people are online more at certain times than others. For example, my best posting times are usually Sunday or Wednesday around noon PST, but my husband’s best time is at like midnight during the weekdays. If you’re serious about building up your page, find what time is your best time. I like to use Squarelovin or Iconosquare but there’s loads of other free apps and sites, just google it.
10 | POST ON INSTASTORY ( and use hashtags)
I’m really loving this new instastory option. I know it’s a rip off of snapchat and I love snapchat (for creeping others) but for me because I’m always on Instagram, I love the informal nature of instastory and the fact that lots of people end up watching it! I often find myself just scrolling through people’s instastories, people I don’t even know or really follow just because I like to see what people are up to. This can be a great way to showcase new blog posts, cool places you’re going and they’ve added a new feature where you can add haghtags to the story and view specific hashtag stories. That means random people who watch that hashtag’s story will see yours, possibly click on your account and maybe even follow you.
11 | LINK TO A BLOG OR OTHER PLATFORMS/WEBSITE
I’ve received quite a bit of business from Instagram with having my blog linked on my bio. If you don’t have a blog, and are talking about a website, or a friend’s blog in a post, a youtube video you liked or recently posted etc, use the link option in the bio to link to that external website and provide a CALL TO ACTION in a post to click there. That link is the only way to cross reference directly on Instagram (other than the link option some people are gaining access to on their instastory) so make sure to use it and create clear instructions for people to find it.
12 | RUN CONTESTS & PARTNERED PROMOTION
This is something that’s a bit of an extra tip I’d say, only because it’s not really something to do ALL the time, but it is effective.
Contests can be done in collaboration with a brand or you could really put one on yourself (or partner with another couple bloggers) to pitch and buy a product to give away, or if you have access to something unique yourself to give that away. I don’t like to offer anything under $50 value because the higher the value of the prize the more engagement you’ll receive.
Partnered promotion could look like a Follow Friday kind of deal where you and either one other person or a few others in your niche promote each other on their pages. This usually is a post saying go follow so and so, and that post usually lasts for 24hrs on that person’s page. I see it done now on instastory now too so it’s not as disruptive on your actual feed. It can look spammy depending on how you present it but I would say, there can be creative ways if you think outside the box like doing mini interviews with someone who you actually would want to promote (and vice versa) and finding people who you mutually admire to share about. People have developed a Follow Friday thing on Instagram so that’s a good and less spammy day to do something like this on, but there’s really no rule to it.
Well that’s it, that’s basically everything I do. Hopefully these help and if you have any questions or other tips you have yourself I’d love to hear about them below and make sure to follow along with me & Luke on our Instagram accounts.