Friday, 15 February 2019

10 Tips for Growing your Instagram Account (followers and engagement)


Over the years I've had such a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I just didn't get it the way that I did Facebook and Twitter. Both of those platforms come naturally to me but Instagram felt like a different ball game.


10 Tips for Growing your Instagram Account (followers and engagement)


I've slowly grown to 7k over the past few years and decided to set myself a target of reaching the much-coveted 10k this year.  Reaching 10k followers will definitely help my business (there are more opportunities for those with 10k followers and the ability to 'swipe up' in stories) so I decided to just go for it, read up on lots of theories on how to grow my Instagram and implement them. For the past 4 weeks I've really enjoyed using the platform and have started to see what all of the fuss is about.

At the moment, I am growing at a rate of 80-220 new followers per week and spending around 2 hours on Instagram per day. The following methods are just what works for me - I bet there are loads of other methods out there so experiment and find out what works for you.


1 - You need time

If you're serious about growing your Instagram account, the number one thing you need is time. At least 2 hours per day to see a decent amount of growth (I spend around this and grow by an average of 100 followers per week). There are no quick fixes unfortunately and it takes hard work and dedication.

If you use comment pods I would honestly urge you to ditch them if you're serious about growing your account. Then dedicate the time you are spending commenting and liking on the same accounts every day researching and engaging with new accounts every single day. It's not rocket science to see that over time this is going to massively increase the number of accounts that see your name pop up. In my opinion, comment pods massively restrict growth rather than the opposite. Ditching pods will allow you to feel freer, in control and over time your account will have a much higher (organic) engagement rate.

I tend to spend 30 minutes in the morning engaging with accounts, 30 minutes - 1 hour in the evening and do 10 minute stints throughout the day when I need a little break from 'work'.


2 - Hashtag research is key

There are loads of different theories on this so this is what works for me. Hashtags are a way that new people can find (and hopefully engage with and follow) your account. You want to make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to find you.

First of all, don't copy and paste a list of hashtags - you want to be using different hashtags on every single photo which maximises your chance of being discovered. Say I post a photo of Alnwick Castle, I'll start with #AlnwickCastle and #Alnwick. Then I want to be looking for hashtags that have between 5k-50k uses ideally (I try to look for ones around the 20k mark). Going over this (or under) is fine for a few but you want the majority of your hashtags to fall into this range. The reason being, if you're using a popular hashtag with say 100k+ uses, when somebody searches that hashtag, your photo is quickly going to be buried by newer photos also using the hashtag and making it less likely to be discovered. Equally, if you use a hashtag that's not popular enough, not many people are going to be searching for it so it's a bit of a waste.

I search for hashtags in a number of ways. First I log into Instagram and then search the geolocation of the photo I've taken and then go through the popular and recent photos, look at their hashtags and see if any would fit in with my photos and fit within the 5-50k uses.

Then I search for the place in my photo's official account (so in this case, I would look at the Alnwick Castle Instagram account) and repeat the process - going through their photos and seeing if any fit the bill.

Next, I search #Alnwick in the Instagram search bar and see what other hashtags come up (eg #alnwickgardens has 22k uses so I'd probably use this one). Then I widen my search and use a few key terms and type them in the search bar. I could try #castle which brings up #castlesofinstagram and #castlesoftheworld within my range which I think would work well. I might also use a few Harry Potter hashtags and a quick search shows that #harrypotterfilms might be good. Alnwick Castle is in Northumberland so if I search #Northumberland , I can see that #Northumberland_pics and #explorenorthumberland are both good options with around 25k uses each. I repeat this process until my photo has 20-30 unique hashtags.

I use buffer to schedule my Instagram posts and tend to do a week's worth in bulk. It is time-consuming but well worth researching hashtags. Once I've posted a photo, my first 30 minutes on Instagram is spent commenting on photos which have used the same hashtag as I have.



3 - Post decent photos your audience wants to engage with and get into a routine

I'm not the world's best photographer and I certainly don't have a theme to my feed but if you'd like to grow your account I do think you need to learn to take a half decent photo. Look at what the accounts you love are doing, think about composition, look at which photos on your feed have received the most engagement and work from that. I tend to find that clear and crisp outdoor photos without us in them featuring recognisable landmarks work well.

Routine works for me too. I schedule my photos to post at 7am each day. Just like blogging, I think your core audience get to know when you're posting a photo and will pop over to your account specifically to see it and engage after a while. Consistency has really worked for me (plus I'm a planner so it fits in with my life). I tend to post one photo each day.

It's important your account looks good and that it's easy to see what it's all about when someone new visits. Make sure your bio is super clear and your photos represent what you're about well.


4 - Reply to comments on your own posts

It's a pet hate of mine when I see an Insta account with comments on photos and no replies. ALWAYS make sure you reply to photos. This helps to keep the conversation going, ensures it's a two-way thing, is more personable AND keeps you front of mind too. It's good to chat and really helps to build a community/rapport!

I like to go through my previous days photo and check out the accounts that have commented on my photos and leave a comment back on their most recent photo. Then I go through my photo likes from the previous day and try and comment on as many photos from the people who have liked mine too. This kind of builds up a routine and over time, you build up a natural tribe around your account.

5 - Spend 30 minutes-1 hour commenting on photos from accounts you're following

This sounds harsh, but be picky with who you follow - you want a small community who you are going to organically grow into a routine of commenting on each other's accounts every day without resorting to pods. I split this into 5-10 minute sessions across the day when I'm taking a break from other work and it's easy to get in a routine - I start with photos from the top of my feed and work my way down. Follow hashtags you regularly use so these photos appear in your feed too. I tend to follow accounts I've regularly engaged with for a week or so and who I'm building a rapport with (and like their photos). These are the accounts I want to spend time commenting on as I know they're already interested in and engaged with what I post. I just tend to start at the top of my feed and scroll down commenting on every photos until 10 minutes is up and then repeat throughout the day.

6 - How to find new accounts

First of all you need to decide who your target audience is and where they're likely to visit. So if you were a parent blogger with school-age kids, write a list of where you're likely to visit across the year. Places like Legoland,  Zoos, National Trust properties, child-friendly museums, trampoline parks, ice cream/dessert parlours, surf schools....that kind of thing. Write a list and then split the list into days of the week and on each day engage with the accounts who have tagged photos in that location. Comment on their photos, like their content, ask them questions about the place in their photo to start a conversation.

Commenting on other accounts (with something useful rather than 'great pic') is the most important thing you can do I think. After chatting about this with my friend Chloe, we've found that often this results in extra followers by accounts you haven't engaged with but they have noticed your comment which has prompted them to follow you.

Follow events that are of interest to your ideal follower - eg for me, if there's a new exhibition launch or open weekend at a local attraction, I'll use hashtags and geotags to find photos from those events and engage with those accounts.

7 - Use Instagram stories wisely

I used to just story whatever and whenever and this does work for some people but to be honest, I was struggling to increase my views beyond 600 so I switched my tactics and now I plan what I'm going to say in advance. This has worked as my views are now ever-increasing and by quite a bit too.

I use a mix of talking to camera (with captions) or a series of photos which tell a specific story. Adding locations and hashtags increases visibility and I think it's important to keep them short and snappy.

I've read a few articles about how I can improve stories and I'd advise you do the same - it's a continuous learning curve. Using polls and asking questions keeps people engaged and stories are a fab way to show behind the scenes and unfiltered stuff.

Above everything, I think it's important to make sure your stories are either USEFUL or ENTERTAINING. Don't just share something because you're bored.

8 - Share your Instagram account on other platforms

Regularly share your Instagram account on your other platforms and in your blog posts. You could make a temporary highlight and tweet the link (hover over the highlight and press down to get a link). This works really well if you share a set of highlights from a day out or talking about a specific subject. It's easy to tweet a link like, 'Need some new ideas for growing your Instagram account? I'm chatting about this over on Insta. You can watch the highlights here:

I would say don't auto-share photos from Instagram to other platforms as this gives a follower no reason to follow you on Instagram as you're not offering anything unique to what they've already seen. Just share snippets and highlights on other platforms with a strong call to action as to why you should follow on Insta too.

9 - Try and get a shout out

Getting a shout out from other accounts is a fab way to boost your followers. The main way to do this is to just be nice and produce good content that others want to share. If you're visiting a restaurant or attraction, make sure you tag them in your Instagram stories so it's easy for them to share. Try doing your own Follow Fridays and recommending accounts to your followers - some may reciprocate and even if they don't, it's still a nice thing to do. Finally, join in with hashtag communities which give shout outs too and if you're close to a big number, don't be shy in asking your followers to share your account.

10 - Show a little vulnerability and that you're a real person

I like following all sorts on Insta - I love interiors accounts, accounts which share the ups and downs of parenthood, travel accounts and foodies accounts. I definitely like a bit of everything but what I would say all successful accounts have in common is that they aren't afraid to show a little vulnerability now and then. Sharing your lows as well as your highs really does make you a whole lot more relatable so don't be scared to share a little emotion every now and then. Some of the captions I've written straight from the heart and just hit publish straight away have gone on to be some of my best performing posts.

I am definitely not the most successful Instagrammer out there. I only receive 100-200 likes per photo at the moment but my photos are receiving between 20-50 organic comments per photo now and I like seeing my numbers increase. In order to reach my target of 10k followers by the end of the year I need to grow by 64 new followers per week and at the moment, that seems very achievable. I just need to keep at it and remain dedicated but I think the more time you spend on Instagram following and engaging with accounts you love, the more you actually enjoy it and it doesn't feel like a chore.

Let me know if you have any tips for Insta growth too. 

I probably should mention that you can follow me here: www.instagram.com/northeastfamilyfun 


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10 Tips for Growing your Instagram Account (followers and engagement)

9 comments

  1. Well! Despite being an absolute Instagram addict I've learnt something here - I had no idea you could get a link for highlights! MIND BLOWN!

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  2. Why my blog account will NEVER reach 10k as it's a hobby for me and I can't give it the time like this.

    This is spot on though for anyone like you who is a business. I don't think business owners realise what it takes to grow the gram. Off to share, xo

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  3. This is a great post. Time is certainly the big thing for me. I used to do some over breakfast, but now struggle to get that morning time available. Lunchtimes at work are now too busy and I'm trying to get a break out of the office so I can't comment and walk at the same time. And evenings I have to blog as well as IG. I try and dip in through the day and do a lot of these, but my stories are sporadic. I also find that in my niche, there are more real people than bloggers, and they don't really do the whole community and chatting thing. Where I'll respond to comments and visit their profile to check it out and engage, they might like my comment and won't come over to mine. I think a lot of people are wise to it, and don't want to keep following lots of people - so they'll come and like 20 photos but that's it. It's definitely time you need to make it grow, and a lot more time than in the old days. My 1 hour a day isn't doing anything

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  4. Great tips lovely! Instagram definitely is a hard platform to grow, but it's definitely worth it. I have a budget planner for sale and the majority of my sales come from IG, so it is worth it!

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  5. Loved reading this, I spent way too long on Instagram as it is but this is going to help me focus my time @emmafaith_x

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  6. Thankyou, this is really helpful

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  7. I cannot beging to explain how much this post has helped me this evening! Thank you so much for taking the time to share the knowledge you have gained. Sophie

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