Okay, this post has been a long time coming! It has quite literally been in the works for more than a year now (eek) ever since I first started growing on Instagram and getting the inevitable “tips and tricks please” requests. Click here for more about my Instagram experience. I’m definitely no expert (and am still very much in the early stages of growing my own account), but I thought it might be handy to share a few of the things that have really helped me so far. And if you’re one of the lovely people that messaged me about this a year ago, I am truly sorry (and also a world-class procrastinator).
1. Post regularly.
This seems to be an essential part of growing an Instagram following, especially when you’re first starting out. Once I started posting every day, I saw immediate growth and have been growing steadily ever since (even though I don’t always find the time to post daily anymore). I’ve found that most of the big accounts I follow make a post almost every day, and at a similar time of the day (e.g., I generally post in the evenings between 8 and 10pm as this seems to be when I get the most engagement).
2. Plan your posts.
Using an app like Planoly or Preview allows you to plan your posts in advance (a real time-saver when you’re posting regularly), and gives you a chance to figure out exactly how each photo will look with the rest of your feed. I give quite a lot of attention to how my feed looks as a whole because (a) it’s who I am, and (b) I know that’s what people see when they visit my profile and are deciding whether or not they want to follow me.
P.S. I use Planoly (which I love) but it does cost $$. Preview is a free version but very similar.
3. Edit cohesively.
Regardless of your content, editing your photos in the same way will give your feed a cohesive look (groundbreaking, yes!?) and gives people a sense of the kind of content they can expect from you. It “brands” you in a way. I use the same filter on all of my photos, and pay careful attention to things like temperature, saturation, brightness, and grain to make sure they all tie in with each other (and then check this using Planoly before actually posting).
I am working on another blog post outlining exactly how I edit my photos, but for now you can find these details (the short version) in my “FAQ” Instagram highlight.
4. Use your hashtags.
You can use up to 30 hashtags per post, and I would highly recommend you use them all. The vast majority of people who see my posts have found them via hashtags, always!! It’s such a helpful way for people with similar interests to find you and your content. I regularly find myself scrolling through hashtags I love (a few of my faves at the moment are #ApartmentTherapy #MyBeigeLife #DarlingDaily), though I also use hashtags to find specific content I’m looking for (e.g., #DriedFlowers #KitchenInspo #BlushTones) sooooooo I assume this is what everyone else is doing too. Hashtags are such an effective way of getting your content seen and by the right kind of people.
If you’re a hashtag rookie (we’ve all been there), I would suggest starting a list of all the tags you come across that you love and that suit your content so that you always have a bunch on hand. The easiest way to do this is to find photos you love (from the accounts you love) and see which tags they’re using. In my experience, it’s best to use a mix of super popular tags (e.g., with around 1 million photos) and less popular tags (e.g., somewhere in the vicinity of 50k to 300k photos). I feel like I could talk about hashtags all day long, but I think I’ll leave it here for now. If you have any questions (or if you want more detail) let me know!
5. Add a location.
Adding a location to your post just opens up another avenue for people to find you (i.e., when they’re browsing posts by location) and it’s quite possibly the easiest thing in the world, so why not!?
6. Tag products.
Tagging the products / brands featured in your posts (a) helps people to find them and (b) helps people (and brands) to find you. Most of the questions I get are about where to find certain items, so it really helps if these can be pre-tagged whenever possible (rather than answering the same question over and over again in your DMs). I am constantly tapping other people’s photos to check where things are from, so I know how it feels!!!!
Tagging also means that your photos come up in the brand’s “tagged posts” section, and creates an opportunity for a regram. Getting a regram from a brand with a decent Instagram following can be a super effective way of getting your account seen by like-minded people (and can result in an influx of new followers).
7. Follow accounts you love.
Not in the hope that they follow you back or anything like that, but to genuinely ENJOY and for your own inspiration. I personally think an important part of being a creator on Instagram is to also be a consumer: to be an active participant of the wider Instagram community. This also connects you to these accounts which, again, helps people with similar interests find you.
8. Interact regularly with other accounts.
Not only with the ones you follow (although this is important), but also with the ones you don’t. You can’t necessarily follow every single account that interests you (I would never be able to keep up with all the new posts!!) but you can check in on your favourite hashtags every now and then. Remember: the more posts you interact with, the more your account will be seen. So when you’re scrolling through the prettiness that is #DriedFlowers, be loose with those likes!
It’s also important to be responsive to the lovely people who are interacting with YOUR account. If someone takes the time to comment on your post, don’t leave them hanging if you can help it. Instead, take the opportunity to connect with them, and to show them just how much you appreciate their support.
9. Avoid dirty tactics.
This includes buying followers (people can always tell anyway, as your engagement will be disproportionately low) and following-unfollowing accounts en masse. It feels weird to have to say it, but tricking people into following you is not the way to go. Quality over quantity, always!
10. Use your stories.
Not only are stories another great way to get your account seen by new people, they also provide a super effective way for you to connect with all the lovely people that are already a part of your Instagram community. There are so many tools available in stories (e.g., polls, questions, quizzes) that can help you do this, and it’s actually a lot of fun. Stories are the perfect place to share all the things that don’t quite make it to your feed: more of the every day stuff that might not be as aesthetically pleasing (but that people still want to see).
It’s also a v helpful way to add links (once you hit the 10k mark), and other fun content like movie suggestions or where to find the best whatever. And let’s be honest, some people simply prefer stories!