Instagram is a massive part of the digital business era, but the age old question is how do you grow your Instagram…organically? Personally, we steer clear of the ‘bot’ software and the whole follow/unfollow game. We don’t think it’s the best marketing strategy out there (that and we find it incredibly annoying) and there are plenty of other ways to find your target audience.
You also need to be a bit cautious when dealing with these third party sites that claim they can increase your following exponentially. The popular ‘bot’ user app Instagress for example, has recently been forced to shut down due to a request via Instagram. You can read more about that on The Verge’s website here. You can also read more on ‘bot’ automation software here – an article written by Instagram Marketer Alex Tooby. We don’t know about you, but we’d rather steer clear of automation apps that aren’t approved by Instagram themselves.
Not only this, but when you start using bots, your comments may eventually appear to look like spam. You then run the risk of people reporting your account and if your account is reported too many times, your account may get shut down. If you are thinking about using a third party app to manage your IG account, do your research first, find out everything you can about the company, and proceed with caution. The last thing you’d want to happen is lose all your hard work. But you know what? There’s nothing wrong with actually doing it all yourself.
Ok, now to the good stuff!
Grow Your Instagram
#1 You’ve Got 5 Seconds
…to make a REALLY good impression. This is where your bio has to come in strong. You’ve got 150 characters to tell people who you are and actually make them want to know more. Want to know how to write a killer Insta bio? We’ve got a little freebie on this where we breakdown the nuts and bolts of a bio and how you can make a solid impact on your audience. Just click the button below to gain instant access!
#2 Quality, Quality, Quality
Quality photos and quality CAPTION. When you scroll through Instagram, what kind of picture quality catches your eye? If you can’t afford to invest in a good camera, your smartphone is going to do just the trick! We’ve been shooting majority of our photos on a Samsung S5 (Amanda has yet to catch up to the latest phone trends) and it’s working perfectly fine for us. Don’t post a blurry photo, or one that is not attractive to your own eye. If you’d scroll past your photo…chances are others will too.
These days your caption is super important as well. You want to pull people in with your first line (as this is all that will show when people scroll through their feed). Think of it like your headline for your blog. Whether it’s a story you want to tell, you’re selling a product, or want someone to check out your blog post, pack some value into that caption! People either want information, or they want you to make them feel something, like they’re connected to you. Put as much effort into your caption as you do your photo and you’ve got a winning combination.
If you’ve got heaps of content, write out your caption in the Notes app on your phone. Here you can easily create space between your paragraphs and make it easy to read. You can add spaces by doing the following:
After writing your first paragraph, press ‘enter’
Type a full stop
Type a full stop
Press ‘enter’ and start your second line
*Make sure there are no spaces (space bar) at the end of your paragraph.
It’s kind of like writing a blog post. An article is easier to read when it has headings, with short paragraphs used to separate your content. It’s the same deal with your caption.
#3 Focus On Your Feed
A cohesive feed that looks aesthetically pleasing as a whole is pretty important now to grow your Instagram. BRAND your feed. What are your brand’s colours? What kind of photos represent your brand the best? Focus on your feed and give it a theme. For example, we have a colour palette we use on our graphics we post across all our channels, and our theme is kind of like a washed white, with medium saturation colour. Basically, if you looked at our theme, you’d know we’re putting a pretty heavy focus into how we want it to look.
Not only that but it’s also handy to PLAN your feed and ensure that there is a strong cohesiveness between your photos. We currently use Planoly to plan our feed (Previews is great as well) and it allows us to see how our pictures mould together. If we feel one photo doesn’t quite fit, we’ll move it up in the schedule or wait for the perfect moment to release it.
#4 Ask Questions
Want to promote engagement on your posts? Ask questions! Keep it simple though. You might ask them to name ONE thing they did that day they accomplished, or ask them to tag someone who would like the picture you’ve posted. We try to put a call to action on every single post we do. If you’re worried about no one responding (don’t worry, the bots will), don’t be! Even if one person responds with a meaningful comment, that’s a great start. Baby steps. If you don’t try, you’ll never get the response you’re looking for. Not only this, but it’s great for building a network between yourself and your community.
#5 Comment, Like, & Follow
Don’t wait for people to come to you. Go out and find your tribe to grow your Instagram! People love receiving comments, and comments that ACTUALLY indicate you’ve read the caption. If you want to stand out from the rest of the crowd, leave a few sentences, tell them something personal, share something you did that day. Resonating with the poster allows them to resonate with you right back, and may result in a follow.
If you want to follow someone, give their account some love at the same time. Leave them a few comments (2-3), give them some likes, and THEN follow. It will tell them you’re an engaged follower and aren’t just in it for the numbers; that you’re actually interested in their feed.
Remember though, follow accounts you WANT to follow because you genuinely like their feed or what they stand for. If they don’t follow you back straight away, DO NOT UNFOLLOW. A lot of people are careful about who they follow back now (especially in the blogging world) so show them you’re a fan. Stay engaged with them, and show them you’re interested in their content. Eventually, they may follow you back.
This world of Instagram is about community and spreading the love…so do your part.
#6 Look At Your Follower’s Followers
Find someone in your niche and look at their followers. Usually these are people who are probably going to be interested in your content as well. Give them some love, and give them a follow to grow your Instagram.
#7 Look at Who Is Engaging In Comments
Find an account who is in the same niche as you and look at the posts’ comments. Completely ignoring the bots (and usually they’ll say something like ‘great pic’, ‘love’ or give an emoji), look for those who are commenting meaningful words and it’s usually these peeps on Insta who will engage with content, meaning they may engage with your content as well. You can also take a peak at a post’s likes and and try to find your tribe through there. This is probably one of the quickest ways to find your community.
#8 Up Your Hashtag Game
Ok, hashtags are SUPER important to grow your Instagram and we rely on them pretty heavily. But there is definitely an art to them. Now, you’ll hear some people say that using any more than 11 hashtags looks spammy and people will not look upon it fondly. Personally, we disagree with this and while we’re still growing our account, hell yes we’re going to take advantage of all 30 hashtags.
But in an effort to avoid looking spammy, write out your hashtags in the Notes app on your phone. Make your 1st character a full stop, press enter, enter full stop again, press enter, then start your hashtags. Copy paste this into the first comment on your post so it hides your hashtags. It will make your post look a lot cleaner.
Choose relevant hashtags that align with your brand and that will attract the RIGHT people to your account. We used to use #instagood, #love etc – the main hashtags on IG that have millions of posts, and our posts were getting totally lost. Now, we usually have a set amount of ‘blogging’ hashtags so we can network with the blogging community, and the rest are related to our post.
When choosing hashtags look at how many public posts are showing. It’s good to mix up your hashtags that have public posts consisting of thousands, to hundreds of thousands to gain more exposure. Put effort into choosing your hashtags and you’ll start seeing a bit of a difference in the kinds of people who follow and engage with you.
#9 Engage Using Your Hashtags to Grow Your Instagram
If you’re trying to attract the right people and grow your Instagram, what better way than to look up a hashtag you regularly use and start liking and commenting on people who are using that too. It’s all about community and finding your peeps, and this is definitely an easy way to find more followers.
#10 Your Follow to Following Ratio
Ok, so we think this is actually kinda important when you’re just starting out. When someone follows you, do you assess their follow to follower ratio to assess whether or not they’ll unfollow if you follow back? We’ve found it to be a pretty good indicator of those people who play the ‘follow/unfollow’ game. Say someone follows you and they have 5k followers, but they only follow 200 people. What do you think is going to happen once you follow their account? Now, if you’re genuinely interested in their content, give them a follow, engage! But if not, use their follower to follow ratio to help you decide.
We’ve kept our ratio pretty consistent with both our follower and follow numbers in the 2k mark. We like supporting other people and their content, so we’ll usually follow back if you’re within our niche, we love your pics, or love what you stand for.
What struggles are you guys having when it comes to growing your Instagram or what do you find is working for you right now? Let us know in the comment below!
And don’t forget to join our millennial tribe and get the deets on how to create a killer Insta bio! Just click that pink button.
Amanda & Julia xx