I want to start this post by stating, obviously, I don’t know everything about instagram growth or I’d be way above the almost 10k I’m at now.
I’ve failed over and over at trying to grow my following for the longest time. It sucked. But, through the sucking I’ve slowly, painfully slowly, learned a few things that have helped along the way. While I’m not saying “do these things I’m about to share and you’re guaranteed to grow your following”, I’ll bet that a few of the nuggets below will benefit you if you find a way to customize it with your niche.
Instagram Growth Tips & Tricks
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Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first shall we?
You can’t take okay-ish photos and expect people to follow and interact with your content. I don’t care how authentic you are and how much you “don’t want to seem fake”, we are visual people, and a good photo always gets noticed and engaged with more. Period. It’s not harsh, it’s fact. Take a crappy photo, it’s going to tank.
There are SO many resources on Pinterest and online about how to take great photos (with your phone and/or camera) and what apps to edit them with. (I use Snapseed and PicTapGo) The bottom line is, no app will help make your photo great if it’s bad to start with. Take a little time to learn how to take great photos. It shows care, pride, and professionalism. Let me tell you, the self timer on my phone and my canon are my very best friends!
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I was surfing the internet today looking for inspiration and read this quote. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. . I’ve been feeling so “used up” lately in the inspiration department. Not sure what to do next, every idea seemingly just “not good enough.” . No one tells you that once your audience starts to grow (which I’m MORE than grateful for) what also starts to grown is the fear of losing what you’ve worked so hard to gain. Of doing something wrong and ending up back at square one. . I’ve been so afraid to alienate my new followers and disappoint that I’ve been frozen. Just standing here, staring at the next next step, afraid to move. . Thank goodness God created us with amazing capabilities to create over and over and never get used up. Fear tried to dampen my spirit this past week, but I’m ready to step forward in faith and do my thing. It’s gotten me this far, I’m trusting it will continue to do so! . After I read that quote, I took my felt board off the wall, wrote it out so I could be reminded of my creative capabilities every time I walk into my office, and pumpkin’d it up for all of you! Let’s create beautiful things without fear of failure!
A few photo tips I’ve learned from others with larger accounts:
- Plan ahead: Sure, I still take photos on the fly, but more often than not my photos are taken before hand and planned into my feed. Flying by the seat of your pants often times means you need to post but you’ve got no back content, so you have to take a photo now. If that “now” is dark and gloomy that will make for a grainy, unprofessional photo. Believe me, when you reach that point, no photo is better than ruining your feed with a bad quality one. Skip posting or, if it works with your feed, find a quote you think will resonate with your audience and use that instead.
- Take lengthwise photos: The more space you take up with your photo on the app the better.
- Be in the photos: Obviously this doesn’t apply to all accounts, like home decor, food accounts, and the like. But, for anyone fitness, lifestyle, etc., you’ve got to be in your photos often. And not simply smiling at the camera. People like action. They want to see you hiking up a hill, baking in the kitchen with your kids. They want to see you decorating your Christmas tree and I’m sure you get the idea. You don’t have to look at the camera to get a great shot.
- Good lighting: If you take away one thing from this, let it be that good lighting is imperative. Heck, I’ll wake up some days and realize that it’s a great day for photos and cancel things I had planned just to get some shots that I can use on the blog and IG throughout the month.
Photo taking essentials:
These are what I consider the very basic necessities for taking great photos.
- Tripod (this is the one I have and love)
- Tripod phone mount (I’ve gone through more of these than I care to admit)
- Phone tripod (easier to take on-the-go)
- Bluetooth photo remote
- Light ring
- Selfie/phone light ring
The “me too!” factor
A great photo isn’t enough, you also need to have engaging content. A lot of people talk about themselves below their photos and fail to relate to their audience. You want the reader to think “me too!” when reading your post. You want them to say, “this girl gets me”, and click that follow button. One of the ladies I know that does this best is Erin from CottenStem. She is a great example of relating to her readers and making them say “Yes, I totally get that!”
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Family pajama night + and a Christmas movie! 🎄 My four little women have been helping me get ready for the holidays this week, and we were glad to take a snuggle break. 😉 We decided to team up as a family with @thecompanystore for #NationalFamilyPajamaNight on November 17th, and for each pair of PJ's purchased, they will donate to the #RonaldMcDonaldHouse to help improve the health and wellbeing of families and children. LOVE THIS. Plus…cute family photo opp, amiright?! 🙌🏼 What are some of your favorite family traditions going into the holidays? #sponsored #companycapture . . . . #cottonstem #holidaydecor #holidaytraditions #familymovienight #snugglesesh #mydaughters #familytime #garlands #shiplap #farmhousedecor
Connect with other Instagram Influencers
This one has helped me SO much!!!! I’d say it’s one of the ways I’ve grow my following the most. It’s also one of the most scary because you’ve gotta reach out and connect with others. There’s always that fear of rejection.
Believe me, I’ve been rejected and ignored so many times it’s almost laughable, except for the moments I wanted to cry because someone didn’t see me as “good enough” to respond to. It hurts, there’s no denying that. But, for every few times I was ignored there was that other time that I’ve really been able to connect and befriend someone. From being brave and reaching out I’ve been able to guest post on blogs and have my content shared on others instagram accounts. When you guest post you essentially open yourself up to another influencers following. If they like what they see they’ll hit that follow button.
Sharing others content is also another way to connect. If I see a post that resonates with me and I feel my audience would enjoy I usually give them a shout out in my stories. Sometimes they’ll give a shout out back and again, you are exposed to another persons audience. I don’t do this just to try and get in front of another audience. I do it because to me, sharing is another way to befriend someone and help another IGer out! It’s the nice thing to do. Plus, my audience genuinely enjoy when I share who I follow. It’s something they’ve grown accustom to me doing.
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If there is a #womencrushmonday then my crush is most certainly Noelle from @runningwithbubbas! I am SO excited to feature a guest post by her: "Top 10 Best Places To Run In Spokane!" live on the blog now. Noelle is one of the kindest, fastest, (she's even ran Boston!) most generous runners I know! If you're local and a runner then you've gotta hit up these trails! (Link in bio) Make sure to follow her (@runningwithbubbas) on IG as today marks the beginning of training for her next marathon! Go Noelle!
This goes hand in hand with connecting. For instagram growth, you need to make sure you are active on the platform, liking and commenting on posts relevant to your niche for at least 30 minutes to an hour a day. Show IG you’re an active user. Comment on 20+ posts a day if possible. And not just “This is awesome” and “I love that!” Work hard to share purposeful and encouraging or witty comments.
Make sure to respond back to as many comments and messages on your content as possible. Show your followers you appreciate their engagement and answer questions whenever possible. You better believe they share their favorite IGers with their friends. Be one of the people that pops into mind by being kind and a great resource.
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A good cup of coffee is an instant mood booster! Bad day: drink coffee. Good day: coffee. Tired: coffee. Happy: coffee. No mater my mood I’m going to be even more of a joy to hang with after a caffein kick. Want me to love you: bring me coffee. But with almond milk please. That’s my only special request. 😉 Today was @christinesmithfit and my inaugural visit to @f1rst_avenue_coffee, and it will be the beginning of many more I can assure you. When we walked in and saw all the goodies we knew we’d have to try several along with our coffee to really get an idea of how great the place was. We wanted to make sure the food was quality too, before sharing. 😉 Recommendation: try their home made pop tarts and also the coffee cake and pumpkin bars. Trust me on this one. . As far as atmosphere goes, F1rst Avenue is on the larger side for a coffee shop, yet still quaint. Good music drifts up to the second floor where you can find a free little library to donate or take a book, along with plenty more seating. Downstairs there are long tables for meetings, along with little corners of oversized chairs and sofas perfect for talks with good friends. The baristas were kind and bonus, it’s right next to my favorite hair salon @lavishspokane. Pretty sure you can’t go wrong here. Its the perfect place to bring my laptop and write while sipping a hot latte.
This is another huge instagram growth tip that boosted my following significantly. This summer I met up with Chandler, who is a Spokane influencer with a great background in marketing and is super social media savvy. What she shared with me was truly eye opening. If you’re local I’d highly recommend her services. The girl knows what she’s talking about!
Chandler said I was missing a big opportunity to gain a local audience by not stating where I lived. My bio said I was from the Pacific Northwest, but she encouraged me to get even more specific with my city, Spokane. She advised me to follow other local accounts and share more of my daily life, where I shopped, ate, and went with my followers. This was excellent advice and I soon noticed a larger local audience engaging with me.
I make sure to tag where I am in photos I take throughout the city. I also try to eat and shop locally when possible and share my experiences with my following. Also part of the plan, to start reaching out to other Spokane businesses and see if we can collaborate, really immersing myself in the city and connecting with other local influencers.
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When we were downtown last Friday the kids got to pick: ice cream or donuts. Guess where we ended up? lol . @hellosugarspokane had the most amazing limited edition apple donuts and they were giving me all the fall feels.🍂🍏One thing I’ll add though, these donuts are FRESH with a ooey gooey, delicious glaze so bring your wet wipes moms with kid. #becausekidsaremessy . As if mini circles of frosted, apple heaven weren’t enough, there’s a park literally 20 feet from this donut shop so the kids can run off some of that sugar right away. 😜 You’re welcome mom. I get you. 😉
Following hashtags is a great way to stay active in your niche and attract the attention of others who may appreciate your account. I follow a lot of Spokane hashtags, like #spokanemom #spokane #spoakneisawesome #spoaknelife and so on. I also follow hashtags relevant to my niche like #runningmoms #organicmamas etc. These then appear in my feed and I like them all, making sure I’m leaving a mark on the niche I’m trying to make a name in.
Get your content seen
Instagram growth happens when you get people to interact with your content. If you have a small following however, it’s hard to start the momentum needed to get your post going so it’s seen as relevant and shown to a larger audience. This is where Instagram Like threads or FB group threads come into play. I’m going to throw out another disclaimer here: I DO NOT DO FOLLOW THREADS. No way. These people hitting the follow button in those threads are only following you for your follow. This means when your posts pop up they aren’t going to interact with them. This brings your engagement down.
However, I will, from time to time, participate in like threads. I did this a lot when I was really small, but am trying to wean off of them slowly as my engagement rises. It’s a great way for beginner and small accounts to get their photo exposed. You can find Like Threads in blogging groups on Facebook. Use these with caution as you don’t want to grow a fake following. Find blogging groups easily by searching “Instagram groups” or “Blogging groups” on FB.
Add it to all your other forms of social media.
Make sure you’re easy to find! Add “follow me on Instagram” clickables at the bottom of every blog post and email, if you use those platforms. I’m very vocal that it’s my most frequented platform and the one I interact on the most. And, in the form of shameless self promotion, if you aren’t already, make sure you’re following me on IG! 😉
Stay true to you
At the end of the day, if you don’t enjoy what you’re posting why bother? Instagram growth without a love for the game is pointless. Keep in mind everything I mentioned above, but most importantly, make sure your heart is tangible and felt throughout your feed. Keep it real, honest, and filled with you. More than pretty photos and doing all the right things, people want to connect on a deeper level, and that only happens when you truly open yourself up and keep it real. Be you, do you, and stay true to your core values. Don’t sell out for the social media gods. If you’re not proud of your content when it’s all said and done, well then it’s not really worth it.
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Sometimes I think we pride ourselves on how busy we are. We have so much going on and yet we still feel obligated to do more. We often wear our “Busyness” like a badge of honor. So many people “need” our help and it’s flattering. We say “yes, count on me.” and “Sure, I’ll be there for that”. We keep piling it all on until slowly, little by little, we begin to think our value is based on how well we can do everything. News flash: it’s not. Breath a deep sigh of relief and release the guilt. It’s okay not to register your child for every sport available, it’s okay to say no to that bake sale you really don’t have time for. It’s okay to say “not this time” so you can go home and be present with your family. Dinner together. A game night. A hike. Quiet time with those you love. Time to be close and gain true perspective. What is it really all about? I’ve felt the guilt of over committing to things that are amazing, but simply arent the right time for me. It could be a worthy cause, but if it’s pulling me away from the one night of the week that the family can all be together, well then it’s just not worth it. In this day and age we have to fight harder than ever for our family, for our kids, for our marriages. We need offer no explanation to those we say no to. It’s okay to be picky about what pulls you away from your family. It’s okay to be still, to be un-busy. It’s okay to not be going 100 miles an hour. Let’s not fall into the trap of comparing how worthy we are to others based on how busy we are. If we do that, well we’re missing the point entirely aren’t we?
Have more questions? Drop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!
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