How to Grow Your Instagram – Part Three



Good morning, beauties!

I am SO sorry that I missed Monday’s post. 🙁 I never ever miss posting but I was very sick over the weekend and needed a day of rest. But…I’m back today with the third installment on how to grow your Instagram! So far, we have covered how to brand yourself and discussed a few different ways on how to grow your following. Today, I will be giving you a peak into my daily Instagram life and discussing exactly what I do in detail. I will also be answering a few specific questions that some of you had asked during the previous two installments.

Let’s begin!

When to Post:

I usually post twice a day during the week with varying times. The time you should post depends greatly on when your following is most active so this will differ for everyone. I believe that Iconosquare can give you this data, but I actually use the business account on Instagram. According to my analytics, my best days to post are Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with optimal timing between 7am and 1pm. My top locations are New York, London, and Los Angeles so I also keep this in mind when posting. My best time seems to be noon to 1pm so I always try to have one of my posts up then. The second post either goes up at 9am or around 7pm. At this time, I don’t pre-schedule posts.

What to Post: (5 minutes)

Since I post on the blog Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will always post an outfit shot from that post to Instagram enticing my followers to check out the new blog post. I do have an Instagram schedule that I follow to keep of track of what I should be posting and when. For filler photos, I use various detail shots, flatlays and previous (archived) outfit posts to be sure that my content is ever-changing and interesting. I am keen on having my content flow well so sometimes it takes a while to find the right photo. For filler photos, I look at my top 12 and decide what colors I need more of and what will look good aesthetically with the photo next to it, below it and diagonal to it as well as the overall look in the top 12 photos. These photos are vital because this is the first impression you give your followers. It is from this content that they decide whether or not they are going to click the follow button…and you only have 5 seconds to convince them so make every photo count. As stated previously, make sure you are only posting photos that make you proud instead of random photos just for the sake of posting. If you don’t feel good about it, don’t post it. Anyway, once I’ve found my photo, I move on to editing.

Editing the Post: (15-20 minutes)

Editing is SUPER important. It’s vital to have a cohesive feed that is visually stimulating. It’s the easiest way to transport your audience elsewhere and will add so much to your photos if done right. This might sound silly, but I usually edit the one photo I am planning to post two different ways. I will edit one using A Color Story and the other using VSCO (nine times out of ten, I choose the VSCO version). I spend about 10 minutes editing the two versions and upload them to Instagram where I edit both again with Instagram’s editing tools. From there, I will choose which one flows the best with my feed. I am definitely a perfectionist when it comes to this part so don’t think that you have to spend an insane amount of time on edits lol!

Writing the Caption: (5 minutes)

I don’t usually have a pre-written caption so it does take me a few minutes to think of something. Most of the time, I say whatever is on my mind or talk about the photo. If I do think of a great caption that I’d like to use *someday,* then I save it in my notes on my phone to refer to later.

Pre- Posting: (5 minutes-ish)

After I’ve edited my photo and written the caption, there are still a few things to do. If it needs product links, I will save it as a draft in Instagram and insert those. Once everything is taken care of, I proceed to tag brands in the photo (every single brand that I am wearing). They get a notification of this and I’ve gotten a ton of reposts this way. If I am away on a trip, I will also include the location.

Time to Post!
 Hashtags & Engagement (30-45 minutes)

The first minutes after you post are VITAL to getting your photo shown due to the new algorithm. Immediately after posting, I include very specific, targeted hashtags. The most you can use is 30, so I  use 29 just in case a brand asks for consent via hashtag to repost an image. I know that including hashtags can look “spammy” and a lot of people think they don’t need to use them but they are SO important! I cannot tell you how many times a brand or follower has found me through hashtags. Also, I always post them in a comment, not in my caption. After I post my hashtags, I start engaging like crazy! This is where comment pods come in handy. I engage with other bloggers and my followers for about 30 minutes. Then I reply to my comments on the photo I just posted. If I have any additional time left after I finish responding to comments, I engage once again for about 15 minutes. And when I say engage, I mean that I write meaningful comments (not just emojis).

*IMPORTANT* If you decide to try out a new engagement strategy, don’t go too crazy on the comments or likes right away. Continue with your normal engagement activity and slowly build it up a bit every few days (or week if you want to play it safe). If you go from a normal engagement time of 15 minutes (or not at all) to a full hour with in a short amount of time or even start commenting too fast, Instagram might see this as irregular for your account and may block you from liking and/or commenting for a period of time thinking that you are spam or a bot. It will normally give you some kind of warning so if you see something pop up, stop.



That’s it! As you can see, it is a layered approach and not just one thing in particular that I am doing but a plethora of things that I do the same way every single day. I do spend quite a bit of time on Instagram…roughly one hour per post and I ensure that I have the time to do this when I post though, otherwise I notice a drop in engagement. I am also engaging outside of posting in various ways. I understand that this may be a lot of time to put into a post and that not everyone has this kind of time so do what works best for you! 🙂 There is SO much more I could write but we’d be here all day. Plus that’s what my e-course is for haha!

Summary:

1.) Plan a time to post (be consistent)

2.) Decide what to post

3.) Edit the photo so that it flows well with the rest of your content

4.) Write your caption, tag brands, location

5.) Post!

6.) Add relevant, specific hashtags

7.) Engage with others!!

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Q&A

I had so many great questions from you guys! I’ve covered some of these in previous installments so I’ll just summarize 🙂

How do you develop a cohesive feed?

Pick a “theme” or style and stick to it! Post the same types of photos and edit them the same way every time. Once you figure out your “brand,” this will be much easier and come more naturally. To learn about branding yourself in more detail, read Part One.

How did you go about growing your network?

It took a long time and a lot of trial and error but I noticed that I started growing a lot quicker when I came up with the Instagram posting structure seen above. I figured out my branding, upped the quality of photos, experimented with editing, tagged brands, used hashtags and engaged like a crazy person. Read Part Two for more growth strategies.

How do you keep up with engagement when you have a lot of people you are following in addition to engaging with those that comment on your posts?

Honestly, I can’t keep up with everyone…I mean, who can? For every person that comments on my photos, I comment back on one of theirs. I usually get over 200 comments per post so this is very time consuming (especially posting twice a day) but it’s extremely important to me to be able to build a relationship with my followers and let them know that I am thankful for them. I do engage with others as well, some are specific people but most of the time, it’s just random.

How do balance your feed’s aesthetic?

I try to only post my best photos. If it’s unflattering or off in some way, I don’t post it. If it’s an off-brand image or color or something that just doesn’t fit in, I don’t post it. For this reason, I always take multiple shots of something from different angles so I have choices when posting. If it’s something that needs to be posted and it didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, I will reshoot for a better shot (I rarely have to do this). I should also note that I only post original content that I’ve created so that it flows better. Sometimes a brand will want you to post their image and for this, I have to kindly decline because usually the image style clashes with my feed and I have worked too hard on perfecting it, as insane as that sounds lol.

What camera/equipment do you use for photos?

I just bought a Canon Rebel t6i and am obsessed with it!! Best investment EVER. I used to use a point and shoot for outfits and my iPhone for flatlays but have started using the Canon for everything so that it’s more cohesive. For blog photo editing, I use Lightroom with various presets.

Do you have a personal account? I feel like I can’t post off brand photos.

I actually don’t have a personal account. I’m a pretty private person so I don’t really like to post a lot about my personal life (although I do need to start doing this a bit, even if it’s not that exciting lol). The blog account fulfills my need to create and curate a body of artwork, essentially, even if it means that I am limited to what I “can” post. If I do post anything personal, it’s on Facebook (so if you want the scoop on my personal, you can friend me there lol).

Back to question. I do feel like it’s important to separate your personal life from your business. Not completely, but enough. Followers are strange….if you post something off-brand, they may leave. If you share too much, they may leave. If you post too many family photos and you blog about fashion, they may leave. You have to think of it in terms of business…they are following your account because it’s inspirational and aspirational in some way to them… they are following you for a specific reason and if you stray from what you normally post, it will confuse them and potentially cause them to unfollow. This isn’t to say that you can’t post vacation photos or family photos. Of course you can! Just post them sparingly and ensure that they match with the aesthetic of your overall feed. I also recommend using Instagram stories as a more personal outlet. That way you can engage with your followers on a more intimate level by sharing personal photos, videos and snaps of your day without affecting your feed.

Do you use a filter on your photos?

I use both VSCO and A Color Story then proceed to edit in Instagram. I will explain how I edit in more detail next week 🙂

Do you edit your Instagram photos different than your blog photos?

I do! I use only Lightroom for the blog photos and a mix of editing tools for Instagram. I am not a professional photographer so I am still trying to find my “editing style” for blog photos.

I hope this post helped you understand what goes into my day to day Instagram posting. 🙂 Be sure to come back next week to see the last installment of the Instagram Growth Series: my photo editing process.

See you Friday for another fun outfit and the link party!

xo

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