I *love* Instagram. I do, I really, really do. Instagram is my happy place, whereas Facebook is my where my business head sits (and I make money!). Instagram is also where I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with some supremely talented and wonderful bloggers who I am now proud to call friends. These bloggers have helped me on my journey growing Instagram and one of these wonderful bloggers is Harriet from Toby & Roo, otherwise known as the Instagram Queen (by me anyway). Sharing her top tips on growing your instagram following by sharing what worked for her along the way. And seeing as right now she’s sat at over 50k followers I’d say she knows what she’s on about.
Over to Harriet, Instagram Queen
Instagram is, by far, my favourite social media platform. It’s vibrant, it’s fun and it’s a great way to connect with people.
So how did I go from 2k to 50k followers in just under 12 months? Honestly? With a lot of hard work and focus on defining my brand and really connecting with an audience that I wanted to connect with. I’m now at a point where Instagram has become my method of putting the grub on the table, the heating on (hello chilly Yorkshire) and the toys in the playroom. In light of the fact that Laura isn’t going to be able to make it to BlogOn MSI in May where I will be speaking on how to grow and monetise IG, she’s asked me to guest post for her and share my core Instagram building tips with her audience… so buckle up and prepare to pixelate:
Content is Queen
Instagram is all about the pretty. Developing your content is everything. Pick a niche and figure out how to work it for your brand. I work to the principal of finding 2-3 things that define my brand. These are emojis (every post is littered with em, I just can’t help it – I’m a slave to the emoji life), humour and I always struggle with the 3rd but we could go with a wrinkly dog, a cute baby or just a sweaty affirmation that it’s okay to not feel like parent of the year.
Guess what? My niche is parenting/lifestyle… but can I post a photo of nail polish? YES but only if I do it in a way that appeals to my reader… in fact, one of my highest paying collaborations was with Nails Inc for a single sponsored post featuring their nail set. A flat lay would not fit with my niche, or with my followers expectations so I applied it to taking 10mins while the kids are napping, in this photo (see below). It was hugely popular and both my followers and the brand got what they expected and liked (literally).
If content is Queen, engagement is her King
Engagement is everything. The Instagram algorithm is a cruel mistress, especially as you can have thousands of genuine followers who would love to double tap or send you a friendly “Love this!” But they don’t see your feed. Ever. The algorithm is built on speed, so the more comments/likes you get in a shorter period, the more people will see you. So how can you help the algorithm and become engaged?
- hashtags: use your max allowance of 30 in each post. Think of it as a free advertising slot in a magazine… are you going to pass up one of those babies? Hell no. Put them in the first comment after your post. Another tip? Don’t use tags with over 100k posts in their gallery until you are over 10-15k you won’t get into the top 9 and that is your goal.
- Join a comment/like group (sometimes called a comment pod) – these are a group of like minded people (it won’t work if you’re all different niches) who will like and comment on each other’s photos as quickly as they can.
- After every post, go into the hashtags that you use and like/comment on the photos of the top 9, then comment/like on the most recent 5-10. Do this in several tags and you will see people really interacting – which is what you want as (get your tags right) and they will be your niche.
- Reply to comments on your own photo: it’s polite and a booster to boot.
- Follow people in your niche – you will read this on every “how to grow” guide. Just note; other bloggers are NOT your niche. Your niche are people who would engage with your stuff, if they don’t engage and you don’t have them in your feed to like/comment, unfollowing is fine. Sometime bloggers act like following someone is a commitment, it’s not. Instagram is ratio heavy, so you shouldn’t be following more than 2-3k people (in fact you physically can’t follow more than 7.5k) otherwise it just looks like you are following people to be followed and that is the worse thing for engagement.
Utilise IG stories
Lots of people have said to me that they don’t use IG stories at all, but you should! Stick to the same principal as above (2-3 things that define your brand) and you will be able to provide a “behind the scenes” sort of vibe that can genuinely help followers get to know you. It’s one of my favourite ways to engage. It’s been suggested that a minimum of 5-30 stories is best, but I think that’s utter rubbish. In my experience 3-10 a day is FINE any more and it becomes a drain.
Final note on what NOT to do
There are a few things you should NEVER do on IG.
- Never buy followers – firstly, it is painfully obvious and makes you look like a total wally, secondly it is one of the fastest ways to get banned. Buying followers can be spotted by a total lack of engagement, but Instagram bots can also tell by the fact that there has been a sudden surge of followers (usually 1K+ in minutes).
- Never follow for follow with other bloggers – I’m always amazed at this one. It is such a common blogger practice and the WORST thing for engagement because it’s done purely to bolster numbers, will no intention of engaging (the opposite of what you want). Eventually one of you will no doubt unfollow the other, inspiring a raging Facebook tirade, or you will just be dead weight on each other’s accounts. It isn’t polite or supportive. Also, if you don’t practice follow4follow you won’t get annoyed by follow/unfollow. It is such a bad practice that’s brands even refuse to work with people using the hashtag, so it’s better left to wannabe music.ly stars. Same goes for following bloggers with the intention to unfollow them an hour later – having tried it, I can tell you it genuinely just annoys people. Stick to following people in your niche, not your industry.
- Never buy likes. Likes shoot in from a singular random IP address. It’s obvious as a photo will suddenly have 200+ likes after 2 seconds. No. It is the fastest way to get banned on Instagram and both this and buying followers could hold legal ramifications if you are working with brands.
Good luck on Instagram, once you get the hang of it it can be a network that is inspiring and absolutely a way to take your brand to new heights!
Now I really, really wish I was in the country in May to come to BlogOn – those of you going you’re in for a treat, now maybe someone will film for me hmmm
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