Happy Wednesday, darlings!
I hope that you enjoyed part one of the How to Grow Your Instagram series. If you haven't read it yet, be sure to do so before reading this post as branding yourself is crucial to setting you up for success when trying to grow your account. For this post, we will discuss different tactics used to grow your Instagram following. Enjoy! :-)
Firstly, why do people want to grow their Instagram accounts in the first place?
*If you are a blogger, having more followers means that you are more likely to have brands reach out to you...which could also mean potential paid sponsorships and other exciting opportunities.
*If you are a business, having more followers means that you could potentially make more money. And when those customers get excited about your product, they tell other people who could possibly be future customers.
There is no one right way to grow your Instagram account, but instead consists of many little things that you should be doing....a layered approach, if you will. You definitely want to gain targeted followers that are interested in your brand (or blog). Also engagement is huge...probably more so than follower count so it is important to attract those that will interact with you.
Yes, there are "popular" Instagram hashtags to use, but if they aren't relevant to the content you post, don't use them. You may gain likes in the short term, but you won't get very many followers that are interested in your feed since the hashtag is so broad and generic.
Instead, narrow it down. What is your account about? What do you post? Who is your ideal customer/follower?
By relevant, I mean targeted. For example, since I'm a fashion blogger, I use mostly fashion related hashtags. I will use the bigger ones like #instafashion or #styleblogger but also use more targeted ones relating to that specific photo. I will hashtag exactly what is in my photo: #springfashion #tulleskirt...etc, but will also hashtag the brands that I am showcasing in my photo: #lclaurenconrad, #Nordstrom, #anthropologie, etc. You can also hashtag your area: #californiablogger or if you at an event, hashtag that as well.
By having more specific hashtags, you will target a more specific audience. People search what they are interested in and if they come across your gorgeous photo from that hashtag, they may check out your account to see what else you have to offer...then BOOM. New follower. :-)
I know there has been some talk about how many hashtags to use....you are allowed 30 and I usually use them all. This is definitely a personal preference. If you do use a lot of hashtags, be sure to place them in a separate comment below your caption. Otherwise, it looks too spammy and may deter a few potential followers.
Search for Others to Follow
Search hashtags that you frequently use (or that interest you) and start finding some like minded individuals! You can also look through followers of brands that you like or bloggers that you admire.
I use both of these tactics. I love looking through hashtags to discover new and inspiring bloggers that I wouldn't have found otherwise. Sometimes they follow back and sometimes they don't, but I really only follow them for the inspiration anyway. Another thing I like to do is connect with those that leave comments on my favorite bloggers photos. I have made so many new blogger friends this way. A few likes and nice comment will go a long way!
When using this approach, you can be very targeted. If you are a shop, it would be ideal to connect with those that you think would like your product whether it be customers or bloggers. If you are blogger, it would be ideal to connect with those that share the same aesthetic, a brand you would interesting in collaborating with or just finding accounts that offer you some sort of inspiration that could be beneficial to you.
A sure fire way to gain a lot of followers in a short amount of time is to do a giveaway loop.
How it works:
A giveaway loop is where bloggers and/or shops come together to give a prize to one lucky follower. Everyone involved in the loop contributes a certain monetary amount to go toward to prize. Once the giveaway is posted, people will need to follow each blogger/shop in order to be entered for the prize. You will get followers from the other bloggers/shops as well as those that happened to find the giveaway through a hashtag.
There are a few cons though:
*Loops can be expensive: between $15 to $250+
*You also never know how many followers you will gain. You can gain 200 from one and 1,500 from another, but there is no way to tell.
*You may gain followers that are not interested in your blog, but only interested in winning the prize which leads to a surge of unfollowing once the loop has commenced.
I think that loops are good for those that are just starting out, but I don't think that they are beneficial for long term growth for many reasons.
You can team up with other bloggers to do a #followfriday shoutout.
Follow Friday is when you exchange photos and post about one another on your Instagram pages in an attempt to gain followers from one another's account.
I have done very few of these and they haven't been as effective as I would have thought. Keep in mind, that they do work for some people so don't let my experience deter you!
I also wouldn't use this for long term growth, but it's more of just a fun collaboration with another blogger...and hoping that some of their followers might be interested in your content.
Every now and then, you will be lucky enough to be featured on a brand's Instagram page. YAY! After a shoutout from a brand, you can expect to gain some followers...the amount largely depending on the size of their account and how enagaged their followers are.
How do you do this, you ask?
Well, there is no set formula and you can't just plan for this to happen...it's completely random.
What I do advise you to do is to tag all the brands that you are showcasing in your instagram photos.
For example, if my blog photos consists of me wearing a Free People dress, Anthropologie boots, and Kendra Scott jewelry, then you can bet that I will tag all of those brands IN MY PHOTO. I will also hashtag those same brands in a comment. When you tag them, the brands are notified and when you use the hashtags, they can go back through and find your photo that way as well. If they like your photo enough, they may repost which will then potentially send some followers your way.
Follow for Follow Threads
In some Facebook Groups, they have follow threads. Some are follow for follow and others are more laid back, allowing you to follow whomever you want. While I don't advise always doing this to build your account, it can be useful at the beginning when you are stuck at the same follower number.
How it works:
In Follow for Follow threads, you MUST follow all in the thread, which means that you will most likely follow a lot of accounts that don't interest you. In the latter, you can follow whomever, but it does not guarantee a follow back.
While you do gain followers, remember that you are also following them. If you didn't already know, Instagram has a limit on how many people you can follow. When you do follow for follow, you are losing those spots and getting closer to your limit. If you are following people that you don't want to follow just for the number, then you may see things that don't interest you pop up in your feed. If they are uninterested in your account, then you will not have any intereaction from that follower.
At the beginning, it can be hard to get followers so this method could be beneficial to get the ball rolling but I definitely don't recommend it for the long run.
In some facebook groups, you have the option to join a comment pod, which is essentially a group of bloggers (or shops) in your niche that comment on each other's photos.
How it works:
Once you post a photo, you notify the group via emoji or by sending a photo and they comment. What this does is boost your engagement, which is very beneficial to your account especially right after a photo is posted. Aside from a high rate of engagement, you can also gain more friends (and followers). I have become very close to those in my comment pods and think of it as a blogger sisterhood. I definitely recommend doing this!
Engage, Engage, Engage!
Perhaps, the most fool proof way of growing your account is the old fashioned way: engage with your audience. Engage with those that already follow you and engage with those that you would like to follow you. Search through those relevant hashtags and befriend those bloggers commenting on other's photos. Like, comment, follow. Repeat. Aside from using relevant hashtags and searching for others to follow, this is the way that I have grown my following the most! I put in SO many hours each day to engage with other bloggers, brands and followers. Not only are you building a community, but you are creating meaningful relationships. If you only choose one thing to grow your account, let this be it. It makes the biggest difference!
I Do Not Recommend:
NEVER EVER EVER BUY FOLLOWERS!
It is such a waste of money to buy fake accounts to follow you. Since these accounts are essentially fake, they will not engage with you or your posts. Having 60k followers and only 100 likes does not look good to brands. Although some brands look for high follower counts, most are looking for high engagement....which means that even if you don't have the biggest following, but have an insane engagement rate (let's say 1,000 followers and 350 like average) brands will likely extend an invitation to sponsor you. More engagement means more potential customers and from what I've through the grapevine is that brands are onto this tactic and may be checking accounts for fake followers in the future.
Paying for a Shoutout
I don't know about you, but I've been contacted more times than I can count by people that want to "feature" me on their Instagram account for a price. For example, one says that they have 100k followers and for $60, they will feature me on their page for 24 hours. They "guarantee" a certain amount of followers, but I'm just not sure about this one. DO at your own risk.
Letting Someone Else be in Charge of Your Account
Every now and then, I will also get emails about people wanting to "manage" my account. In their pitch, they promise a specific amount of likes and followers for a certain price. I don't trust these and absolutely will not give out my account information for this.
*Keep in mind that this is completely different than paying someone to manage your social media accounts as your brand grows.
I do know that a lot of people use this tactic to grow their accounts and I think that it's just a personal preference. I've heard horror stories about "bots" leaving unnecessary comments on photos. For example, "love your outfit!" on a photo of a cat...or worse haha. Even it's much more time consuming, I would much rather engage with my own audience and build relationships that mean something. Also, I have heard of accounts getting shut down by using bots and for someone that has worked countless hours and YEARS to build a following and business from the ground up, that is completely terrifying. Again, it's a personal choice that I don't believe it to be right or wrong, but use at your own risk.
I hope these tips have been helpful in your quest to grow your Instagram account. In the coming weeks, I'll be doing an Instagram Q&A, showing you how I edit my photos and walking you through what I do for my Instagram account on a daily basis. If you have any questions you'd like answered for the Q&A, leave them in a comment below! :-) I'd also love to know how you liking this series so far!
Have a great day!