A while back, I collaborated with a group of amazing bloggers to bring you all the most amazing photography tips! This week, we are sharing a topic that a lotttt of people ask about… Instagram growth tips. I did a similar collaborative post last year that touched on Instagram growth tips, but today we’re going much more in depth and getting the perspective of 8 different bloggers on the best AND worst ways to grow a following!
Before we jump into it, I have to talk about this dress! I have never really been a fan of light yellow because I always thought that it looked bad on my skin tone. But THIS dress completely changed my mind! Maybe it’s the millions of ruffles..or the metallic stripes..or the gorgeous floral print.. or all of thee above – but seriously I cannot STAND how cute it is! I love it so much! The Super Bloom just passed it’s peak so I knew I had to photograph it amongst the wildflowers before they’re gone for good. We drove quite a while for these and I honestly could not believe my eyes when we pulled in and saw the bright green mountains blanketed with yellow, orange, blue and purple flowers (almost like they were painted on)! It was the most incredibly sight! If you look closely at the mountains behind me, you’ll see not only the reflection of the pink from the pastel sunset (which is 100% unedited, by the way!) but also splashes of color from the flowers. I wish spring would stay forever! <3
What is/are your best Instagram growth tip(s)?
Believe it or not, Instagram is not only about the numbers… it’s about the relationships. Building a loyal, engaged audience is key to successful longterm growth. And by engage, I mean leaving genuine, meaningful comments on other people’s posts. Support them like they support you. Leaving a thoughtful comment not only makes you feel good about connecting but it also means a lot to those on the receiving end as it shows that you actually care and are grateful for their ongoing support. In short, start conversations, make friends and have fun!!
This is another big one for me. If you have followed me on Instagram for a while (or even on the blog), then you are already well aware of my branding. It’s very specific and unique to me – everything from my outfits, beauty products and that brands that I use and promote to my photo editing, color story and the way my posts are laid out have been carefully and thoughtfully considered. Everything is done for a reason and every choice I make reflects on my brand… not just right now but in the future as well. For a more in depth look at branding, make sure to check this post!
With the plethora of new bloggers and influencers emerging everyday, it’s more important than ever to stand out. You can do a lot of this through branding, photography, and style but I do think that it a vital step for longterm growth. People always tell me that they like to follow me because my feed makes them feel happy and transports them to another world. This gives me so much joy and makes me feel like I’m fulfilling a purpose. It was completely unintentional on my part but after a while, I realized that every aspect of my feed naturally gravitated toward certain things because I was being myself and not trying to be someone else. You don’t have to do something completely off the wall to be different, you just have to be yourself and embrace what makes you unique. That’s how you stand out 😉
It’s Not About You
This goes hand in hand with engagement. There has a to be a reason for people to follow you and there has to be purpose that you serve. How are you helping others? How can you stand out and be different than everyone else? WHY should people care about what you have to say? Whether you are inspiring someone with your beautiful photos, helping them find the perfect little black dress or encouraging them through your words, there absolutely has to be a purpose and you have to give people a genuine reason to follow (and you have to do it for the right reasons). I promise you that if you do this, the RIGHT people will follow.
— Me <3 / @lizzieinlace
1. Create a consistent brand aesthetic
This is my #1 tip for any entrepreneur, but I feel that this is especially important on Instagram because it is such a visual platform. If you are not clearly defining who and what your brand is, the chances of truly connecting with your audience and growing a strong community are slim. Instagram is an extremely saturated platform, so if your feed looks like everyone else's or is all over the place creating confusion, why would someone choose to follow you? This could mean doing something as simple as choosing a preset and sticking to it, or as thoughtful as creating a mood board that defines your brand’s voice, color scheme, and purpose. When I rebranded 3 years ago, I spent about a month curating a secret Pinterest board with everything from fonts to fabric swatches to food, clothing, and more. Now, everytime that I have a crossroads in my business, I head back to that mood board and make sure that whatever decision I’m making aligns with that. I personally place a higher value on having a specific brand niche (mine is blush pink, feminine, and petite) that attracts a smaller community rather than attempting to reach and please everyone.
2. Dedicate your time to true engagement
One mistake that I see influencers and brands making every single day is not replying to their comments. I know that it takes time to reply to all of your comments but, remember that your audience took time out of their day to connect with you for a reason. Make sure you are giving them the same respect by responding and, at the very least, saying a simple “thank you!” My rule of thumb: I only post to my Instagram feed when I know that I have 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after to engage with my audience and respond to comments or questions. I also think that a huge factor in growing on Instagram has to do with dedicating time every day to commenting, liking, messaging, and engaging with your followers, those you are following, and your target audience.
If you are unsure about how to find your target audience on Instagram, take a moment to search through the hashtags that you use most often, look at the brands that you wear and see who is tagging them in photos, check the feed of location tags in your city, and places you visit often. Once you scroll through those categories and find your target audience, start connecting!
The struggle to grow is something e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. is dealing with since the change from chronological order happened. It doesn’t matter if you have 100k followers are 1k followers, everyone struggles with growth, so first of all, just know that you are not alone! For my account, I’ve noticed the most growth has probably come from engaging with accounts that are similar to mine. When I like and comment on other work wear & female empowerment type posts I find a lot of reciprocation and new followers.
Instagram is a community, and it should be treated as such. You get rewarded for genuine interactions with other users. Be active, like, comment, watch stories. It’s also important to post consistently – about once per day is best! If you’re going to spend marketing dollars on Instagram, boost posts through Facebook and really target your audience to who you want to reach. Facebook gives you more options to narrow down your audience and you’ll get more bang for your buck.
What are the worst ways to grow on Instagram?
Although, numbers are becoming less and less important in the Instagram world, this still seems to be a source of growth but to be honest, it really just doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t feel that it’s sustainable for longterm growth. How can you form a genuine connection with your audience and create a loyal following if it’s not real? And how would you ever be able to expand your brand into anything but an Instagram account Not only that, but it’s just unethical on so many levels since you’re taking away opportunities from others that have worked years to build an authentic following anddd are de-frauding brands, which can cause a lot of problems later on. Not worth it!
I don’t really know too much about automated services, but I do know that automated comments are not the way to go. As stated before, genuine engagement and relationship building is sooo important for longterm growth and this is impossible with automated comments. Plus it doesn’t look good if you comment “omg so cute!” on a photo of someone’s pet that just passed away :-/ Yikes!
— Me <3 / @lizzieinlace
I’m afraid this will sound quite repetitive but it’s true… DO NOT BUY YOUR FOLLOWERS. It’s not a good look for your brand nor it is a recipe for sustainable growth. I also hate noticing people using services that like and comment on their behalf. It’s not genuine and it can seriously burn some bridges for you. I’ve seen accounts commenting something really shallow like “you’re so cute” under serious posts talking about grief and struggle. You see my point?
Because I started off so badly on my original account, I feel so strongly about what NOT to do. The reason why everything basically blew up in my face, was GIVEAWAYS! Goodness gracious, they really got me good. A couple years ago the big loop giveaways were first starting to pop up and were very popular. A lot of them were with about 25 girls and you would have to go through and follow all of the accounts to enter. Sure they were effective and I think I even gained nearly 10k on one of the giveaways, I even followed a girl who gained 60k. Yes, you heard me… But trust me, they don’t come without a price, in more ways than one. Not only did the pricing for them start between $700-$1500 (crazy right?) but most of the followers you gain either unfollow you, or are ghost followers. I noticed as my follower count was going up, my engagement was not just staying the same but DECREASING. So between spending thousands of these followers and getting temporary satisfaction from a follower count going up, my engagement tanked, no one cared and I felt like a lie! I wish I had some big blogger come to me and tell me it wasn’t a good idea, but Every. Big. Blogger. I know was doing them! So if you are sitting there and are contemplating doing a giveaway, I would highly recommend you don’t do it! Also don’t get so stuck on the follower count. I have had more satisfaction with my 7k followers on this new account, more than I ever did on my original. It’s not about the number, but about the community of people who care and leave meaningful comments.
1. Buying followers
This should just be a given, right? Please do not do this, my friends. This is my #1 pet peeve on Instagram. In my opinion, it is completely obvious when someone has bought followers and it immediately turns me off to their entire brand. It comes across as inauthentic, untrustworthy, and is not a ticket to long-term success or partnerships. In my opinion, buying followers is like creating a fake diploma saying that you graduated from Harvard when you really didn’t. People are going to catch on sooner or later, and it’s difficult to come back from that once you’ve tarnished your reputation with other influencers or brands. Thankfully, after years of this, brands are finally catching on and valuing engagement and quality of content over follower count. But, many of them still fall into this trap and are disappointed when a collaboration doesn’t reflect the results that the “following” should.
2. Paying bots to engage for you
Oh, gosh. This seems like a big one lately, even with well-known influencers and brands. I have been seeing more and more spammy comments from girls that I love following. It’s obvious when the comment has absolutely nothing to do with the photo, or is something along the lines of “This is great content! *emoji*” I know that these accounts are doing it to spike their own engagement and gain a following quick without investing time into the app themselves, but it definitely rubs me the wrong way. It is very similar to my first tip in that it tends to come across as inauthentic and isn’t creating a true connection or building a community.
Huge, massive giveaways. I’ve done them when they were new and I didn’t know any better and now I have a ton of ghost followers, which really hurts reach and engagement. If you’re set on doing giveaways, either partner with a brand for one, or go with a group of bloggers you are familiar with and are in your niche!
I hope you all loved this post in Instagram growth tips! 🙂 Special thanks to all of these incredible ladies for generously sharing their knowledge with us – feel free to check out their blogs and Instagram! <3 For a more in depth look at growing an instagram, check out these posts! Anddd tomorrow I leave for my very first cruise (yay!) but the link up will still be live on Friday as always so feel free to stop by! <3
Do you have any other Instagram growth tips you’d like to add?
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