Last year was the year I really fell in love with Instagram. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had a soft spot for it because I’m a very visual person, but I worked SO hard on my Instagram throughout 2016 and completely fell in love with it.
At the beginning of 2016, I had 1.5k followers and at the beginning of 2017 I had 7.5k. I think a growth of 6,000 followers in a year (especially for someone who started off fairly small) is pretty good going. To be honest, I went through a bit of a “I hate my Instagram” phase for a couple of months (damn, I wish I hadn’t) so if that wasn’t the case, I’d have probably managed to hit 10k, but that’s purely guessing at this point.
Basically, I think I managed to grow my Instagram fairly well in the space of a year, all things considered. *cough* algorithm changes making it 10x harder *cough*.
After talking about how proud I was about my Instagram growth on Twitter a few weeks ago, a LOT of you asked for tips. A LOT. From little old me. I did a thread of all the tips I could think of, but I was short on time because I was on my way to stuff my face with a big New Year’s Day curry, so I decided to compile all my ‘growing your Instagram’ tips into a blog post for y’all. You. Are. WELCOME.
(P.S. Plz follow me.)
1. Make sure your photos are actually good
For me, good quality content is ESSENTIAL if you want a lot of people to follow you. If you post rubbish, blurry, grainy photos then nobody is going to be interested. That doesn’t mean all your photos have to be taken on a DSLR and have to have a stark, white background just FYI. It just means that they should be clear, easy to see the subject and generally pleasing to the eye. (If you want to post bright white photos then that’s fine and dandy, but don’t feel like you have to in order to see growth!)
I use my iPhone 6S for about half of my Instagram photos and my Olympus EPL-7 for the rest, it totally depends on the photo, where I am when I’m taking it and what it’s a photo of.
Top tip: If you want to take your ~aesthetically pleasing feed~ up a notch, use an app like UNUM to pre-plan your feed. I don’t use it religiously but I do sometimes when I have a photo I’m not certain on.
2. Post regularly
I consistently see a direct correlation between how much I post and how many followers I gain. At the beginning of the year, I planned out my Instagram in terms of what pictures I needed to take and when I’d post them. About half were pre-taken on the weekend and the other half were a case of “I know I’m doing this on that day, so I’ll make sure I take and post a photo of this”. I posted three times a day RELIGIOUSLY and I saw my followers double in a couple of months.
But, at the end of the day, it was hard. I was running out of ideas for 3-times-a-day content and I was massively burning out. Now I post once – twice a day, depending on what I’m doing and how many “back up photos” I have. (More on that later). It works much better for me and although my growth rate has decreased a little bit, it’s easier to balance and I’m gaining followers at a pretty decent rate.
3. Interact with other accounts (insightfully)
Like people’s photos, comment on people’s photos, follow people you like – just INTERACT! But please make sure it’s insightful. Actually read photo captions, actually look at the photo and comment something relevent. None of this “Great pic!” “Awesome!” “Cool feed!” nonsense pleaseeeeee.
Also, interact with other people on your own photos! I make sure I reply to all of my comments and make conversations with people. (Except for the aforementioned “100!” “Great!” comments – they get ignored.)
Top tip: Try interacting with other accounts just before and just after you’ve posted. Especially accounts that are recent in the hashtags you’ve used on your photo! Think of it as like a “hello I’m here!” signal!
Can you tell I like space? 🌚🌙🌗💫 Today is the first day I've felt semi-human for what feels like forever. I've got more done today than I've done in the last week! (Although all I managed to achieve last week was keeping down a piece of dry toast and binge watching all of Designated Survivor in a day) 😂 . . . I'm considering last week a write off. This week is when 2017 really begins! Gonna be a super girl boss all week and GET SHIT DONE 💪🏻💪🏻💪🏻
4. Change your account to a business account
Did you know you can turn your Instagram into a business account? All you need is an active Facebook page and you can access TONNES of helpful information like how many impressions you’re receiving, how many followers you’re gaining and at what rate, when you’re followers are most active (AKA when is the best time to post) and which of your photos are the most popular.
To change your account to a business account, go to your Instgram profile and click on settings in the top right corner. Scroll down and click the “Switch to business account” option. All you need to do is have a Facebook page for it to hook up to – I used my blog Facebook page.
5. Post at the same time every day (or, every day you post)
Using the new fabulous information you can access from your swanky business account, check when your followers are most active and decide on times to post. STICK TO THOSE TIMES. Obviously not to the second, but if your followers are most active at 6pm, post between 5:30pm and 6pm every day (or at least every day you post) to try get the most engagement possible on your photos. People will start to get into a routine and expect posts from you and I can guarantee your engagement will be better than if you were to just post randomly.
6. Have a back-up log of photos
Joe and I have what we call an Instagram bank. It’s a collection of photos we’ve taken, maybe on a day out, maybe generic “hey look here’s a cup of tea” photos we’ve taken on a weekend. They’re basically photos that can be used at any time of day in any situation with the right caption. I use them when I want to post, but aren’t doing anything photograph-able or if the lighting is too rubbish to get a decent photo, or if I just can’t be bothered snapping a pic. It’s GREAT to have some just in case you can’t post but want to.
7. Ask questions in captions to engage your audience
I feel like captions are becoming more and more important the more Instagram messes with the algorithm. Engagement is becoming increasingly important when it comes to growing your following, so the more comments and likes you can get (and leave for other people) is crucial.
A few months ago I tried to mix up my captions by treating Instagram more like a ‘microblogging’ platform. I didn’t just caption my photo, I also gave a little insight into my life, what I was doing with my day etc. I also started asking more questions in my captions, inviting more of my followers to comment and I saw a big increase in the amount of comments I was getting – massively upping my engagement. Try it!
Happy 1st January! I'm currently sat in bed watching Harry Potter (The Prisoner of Azkaban AKA the best HP film) and drinking tea in my PJs, so this year is getting off to a fab start so far ✌🏻✨ . . . How are you spending the first day of 2017? 🎉 . . . Photo by @northernblood_ 📸 All brands tagged 🛍 . @katvondbeauty Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in 'Lolita' on my lips 💋
8. Which style of photos do best on your feed? Post them more!
Also using your swanky new ability to check your Instagram analytics, take notice of which photos are in your “top photos” section. This section will show you which photos get the most engagement and from there, you can easily see what type of photos do best on your feed. For me, it’s flatlays (specifically the ones I do with the laptop in, crossed legged, holding a cuppa) and photos of me (selfies or fashion shots) that always do the best, so I try to post them frequently! Get to know what your followers like to see and use that as inspiration on what to post!
9. For the love of god HASHTAG
HASHTAG, HASHTAG, HASHTAG. You’re allowed up to 30 hashtags on an Instagram post and you should use all 30 if you ask me. It’s like being told you have 30 lottery tickets but only using 10 of them – why not just use them all? (I put mine in a comment after my caption, only because I don’t like the way they clog up my caption!)
The key is to mix up what type of hashtags you use. Don’t solely use over-saturated hashtags with millions of photos in them, use smaller ones too! I use a mixture of large, well known hashtags and smaller, more community led ones to really make sure I’m making the most of my 30.
As far as finding hashtags goes – take a look at your favourite accounts and see which ones they use. Research into which are the best and do a bit of trial and error into which get you the best engagement. You can also search related hashtags for inspiration! When you search a hashtag from the app, there’s a ‘related’ section right at the top! Make sure you’re mixing it up per photo – you ain’t gonna get many likes on a food photo using only fashion based hashtags.
Top tip: Want to hashtag but hate how time consuming writing 30 hashtags at a time is? iPhones have this nifty feature in the settings where you can set up what’s called a text replacement. For example, when I type ‘instahash’ on my phone, it auto-corrects to 30 generic hashtags for me to use on Instagram instantly. I have a bunch of different presets for different photos e.g. instahashfashion, instahashflatlay and instahashfood to make my life easier. It’s also easier to have 30 hashtags instantly written out where you can just go in and swap out one or two afterwards. Trust me, this has saved me SO MUCH TIME. (I go through them every few months and add new hashtags I’ve found/like.)
To set up a text replacement, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement. From there, click the + sign and add as many as you like! The hashtags you wish to use would go in the ‘phrase’ section and the shortcut text you want to assign to them (e.g. instahash) would go in the ‘shortcut’ section. You’re welcome.
I've heard that it's forecast snow this weekend and the idea of that excites me so much! I really hope it does so I can wear this hat again, go on a snowy walk with bae and get tonnes of Instagram photos and Costa hot chocolates ☃️❄️💕 . . . There's a new post on RBC today that talks about how fresh air is good for my soul and why long walks are super good for my MH. 🙏🏻☺🌿 Click 👉🏻 @robowecop and follow the link in my bio to give it a read! ✨
GOOD GOD that was a long post. I’m sorry! I hope it helps anyone out there looking to grow their Instagram, though. Remember, you don’t have to do every single thing on this list – it’s just a bit of inspiration for you! Did I miss anything out? Make sure you leave some tips in the comments if I did – it’s great to help each other out!
And on that note, I’m gonna go make a massive cup of tea because I’m exhausted after all that. Rhianna, OUT.