If there’s a social media platform people want to gain followers on in 2018, it’s Instagram. With more than 800 million active monthly users it’s certainly the place to be growing your brand and business.
I’ve had my account for five years now and struggled for more than half of that to see any real growth. Apart from the odd person I’d become friends with at college and uni, or people I’d meet on nights out or at gigs, who’d end up following me, my numbers barely budged.
Since I finished my first year at uni in 2016, I’ve gone from having just over 1,000 followers to 10,400 in two years.
Here are a few techniques working for me, so hopefully you can adopt them and see similar results.
Interact with everyone
Instagram’s current algorithm is big on engagement. And how do you get people to engage with you? You have to interact with them. Every time someone leaves me a comment on one of my photos I’ll make sure I reply.
Instagram doesn’t currently show your photo to all your followers when you upload it. In fact, my photos with the highest engagement have been shown at most to 3,000 people and a lot of those people won’t be followers, but may have stumbled across my photo on the explore page.
The more interaction and engagement your photo gets, the more people Instagram will show your post to, including both your current followers and other people who follow similar accounts to yours.
Interacting with your current followers shows them that you’re actually a real person and the more you respond, the more people will want to talk with you and leave comments.
Post good quality photos, regularly
The key is not quality over quantity, but quality and consistency. No one wants to see dark, blurry photos shot on a poor quality camera, but at the same time posting more than two or three times a day can really get on peoples nerves and make them want to unfollow you, even if the photos are amazing.
When I’m having a productive week, ideally I have a photo or video to post everyday but if not, I make sure I post at least twice a week.
Your photos don’t need to be taken on a super expensive camera. I take most of mine on my iPhone and recently I’ve been using a small Nikon digital camera to take some of my better quality photos. As long as your photos are shot in good lighting, aren’t blurry and fit the frame well (by that I mean don’t take a photo and chop off half of someone’s head) then you’re good to go.
Poorly lit, blurry and photos that ordinarily wouldn’t look great, can work if that’s the vibe you’re going for. It just depends how everything fits together and looks on your page.
Have a theme
There are two ways to theme your Instagram and ideally you’ll want to do both of these things:
- Theme photos in terms of their colour and overall vibe/appearance.
- Theme photos in terms of their actual content – so what’s going on in the photo, who or what is the subject?
My Instagram has warm, orange and brown tones to it, giving it a vintage vibe and my photos have a running theme of mainly rock ‘n’ roll, vintage things and vegan food. Having a theme helps followers and potential followers know what to expect from you and eventually it means people will associate you with your theme. This essentially becomes part of your brand.
I’ve personally found that photos with myself in, particularly just my face, tend to get double the amount of likes, if not more, than any of my other photos. Even something as simple as a selfie can still be themed when you’re editing. I change the colours in mine to match my warm toned theme and as my style is a bit of a mix and match with rock ‘n’ roll and vintage clothing, that automatically fits in with my whole theme as well.
Use hashtags and your location
Instagram allows users to add up to 30 separate hashtags under each photo. Recent statistics show that posts captioned with at least one hashtag get 12.6% more engagement than those without, so for anyone that thinks adding hashtags to posts is too much effort or cringy as I’ve heard people call them, they’re definitely worth using. Just make sure the hashtags you use are relevant to your post and account, so no ‘#followforfollow’ and #picoftheday’ nonsense. Those hashtags are oversaturated with posts and aren’t specific enough and the likelihood of your photos being seen and engaged with is very minimal.
Adding your location above each post is another great way to get your account noticed. Statistics show that posts tagged with a location receive 79% more engagement than those without. If I’m ever visiting somewhere new or just out of my local town, I’ll always look at the photos people have uploaded to Instagram from wherever I am to find places to eat and things to do. If your photo gets a lot of likes in comparison to other peoples pictures from the same place, then it’ll show up in the ‘top posts’, making your account even more discoverable.
Tagging brands using their Instagram handle is a great way to gain followers. If you’re going to tag a brand in a photo, make sure the photo is of high quality and looks like something you’d almost expect to see on their page. If a brand comes across your photo after seeing they’ve been tagged and they like it, they may repost it. Not only does this then mean the brand are now aware of who you are and may potentially consider working with you in the future, but you’ve just gained exposure to an entirely new set of people following that brand.
This is something you don’t want to go overboard on. If all you’re doing is uploading photos of yourself for example, wearing different outfits and tagging brands and offering discount codes etc, people are just going to assume you don’t enjoy what you do and that you’re just on Instagram to get freebies and money. That’s going to put them off from wanting to follow you. Be yourself and be genuine.
Post at the busiest times
If you have a business account you’ll be able to see your analytics. One of these shows you which days and what times your followers are most active. This will differ for everyone but I’ve screenshot my analytics to show you below:
There’s no specific day that my followers are most active on so I choose to post on whatever day I feel like.
Today is Tuesday so here are my stats for today. Most days tend to follow a similar pattern when it comes to how active users are at specific times. Here you can see most of my followers are active around 6pm and 9pm, so I tend to post photos in the evenings. I’ve tried posting between 9am and 12pm before and the lack of engagement compared to the evenings is really noticeable.
Everyone’s analytics will be different, so make sure you check yours out and use them to your advantage by posting when your followers are most active.
I hope that this post has helped some of you out. Let me know if you manage to grow your account by using some of these tips and be sure to follow me on Instagram, amylilithlou if you aren’t already.