Growing your presence on Instagram can feel like an uphill battle that never gets easier. You can put months and months of effort into your account, and never gain anything from it. I certainly felt this at the start, much like the majority of users. Around two years ago, I made the decision to try to expand my Instagram, before this I just used my page to upload random, pointless and plain terrible photos for no apparent reason. Around July 2015 I was hovering around 800 followers, nothing special but certainly not terrible either. By December 2016, I had finally reached my goal of 10,000 followers, before rapidly extending this to 26,000 six months later – now I’m just along for the ride and I’m not really sure where I want to go with Instagram. Moving this to one side though, there are definitely ways to improve your Instagram faster, so I’ve made the following list for you:
Stick to a theme
If you want to gain a strong audience, you should decide on a theme and stick to it. That’s not to say you can’t sometimes post fitness/food photos on your beauty-based page, but if you’ve gained your followers through posting beauty products and make-up tutorials, chances are that your followers are more interested in seeing this. Personally, I always like to break my photos up. My instagram primarily focuses on travel or shots of the surrounding landscape which can easily become very monotonous, like most themes, when posted about daily. Likewise, I love beauty accounts and I wish I was talented enough at make-up to run my own. But I can’t count how many accounts I’ve come across where the last fifty images have been a product on a backdrop. Every five(ish) posts, I’ll change it up and throw in a fashion photo, or perhaps an dog pic because who can resist them! This can be both an advantage and disadvantage in itself. I’ll gain some followers from audiences that I normally wouldn’t have, but I’ll also forfeit likes, as my regular followers aren’t overly-interested in what outfit I decided to wear that day.
Keeping on top of daily posts
This is probably the most important tip – posting daily is so so important if you want to retain your followers. There have been far too many times where I’ve been lazy and haven’t posted in week or two and suddenly my follower count has dropped by 100. Posting daily not only keeps your current followers interested, but it means you’ll appear across other feeds more often. Quite simply, the more active you are, the faster you’ll grow (although how quickly depends on if you follow the other tips here). Now, this is one of the most difficult tips to stay on top of, because unless your full-time job is photography, or you live somewhere exciting that has photo opportunities every day, you’re going to struggle. I’ve recently found myself running out of content to post, so have turned to shoutouts. Shoutouts are a great way to not only help yourself, but help others too. Find users with content you like and offer them the opportunity to feature on your page – it keeps your account active, but also helps your instagram community grow themselves.
Hashtags might seem desperate, but I can’t express how important they are
Is it just me who thinks hashtags are like a desparate plea for likes? Probably. I used to be so ashamed of hashtags that I’d post an image, and then quickly delete the hashtags five minutes later (just long enough to get some likes, but not so that everybody saw). Now I’ve learnt to embrace the hashtags. Honestly, they work, and there is no better outcome than clicking the hashtag you just posted, and seeing your image sitting there in the ‘top posts’ section. Hashtags allow other users with similar interests to find your profile. Most of the time this just correlates to an increase in likes – but get enough likes and your photo can be in ‘top posts’ for days. So hashtag away, as many as you can think of – the more the better, but make sure they’re relevant, and avoid the overcrowded hashtags like ‘likeforlike’ because they get posted so often, that your image will just drown in the thousands of other images sitting in that feed.
Search hashtags to find similar users
The easiest way to find other users with similar interests to yourself is by searching a hashtag. For example, I love landscape photography, so I might search #landscape #sunsets #nature etc. and there we go, hundreds of images posted within the last five minutes that I can like to my hearts content. The best part about this is that it means all the users posting are active. You can click and view profiles, like as you please and give them a follow if you’re really interested. There is absolutely no point in running down the list and hitting follow on every user. Gone are the days where everybody would just follow you back because it’s no longer just a numbers game, but an engagement game too (the next tip don’t worry). If you want people to follow you back, you need to show your worthwhile their follow. I almost always ignore people that follow me on Instagram that don’t leave likes and comments on my images. There are usually the people that un-follow you a day later anyway. On the flip side, somebody that showers me with love and makes out that my profile is the best they’ve ever seen will always be worth a profile view as a minimum.
Download an engagement app
This isn’t necessarily a tip to grow your followers, but will make your profile much more appealing to brands. Engagement on Instagram is so important. As a minimum, for a brand to work with you, you’ll need a 10% engagement rate. In simple terms, this means if you have 10,000 followers, you need to be achieving 1,000 likes per photo. Engagement apps will allow you to banish them pesky ghost followers, make your engagement rate increase and allow you to market yourself better. Not only this, they’re also a great way for you to determine how well your posts are doing. I personally found this great for when I was just starting Instagram for a few reasons. Firstly, they list the followers that do not engage with your images. Is this because you’re ignoring their profile? Go offer some likes and see the outcome. Secondly, the time of day that you post your image can massively alter the engagement. If you aim for a high engagement rate, your image will reach more feeds. Deduce the best time of day for your followers – if the majority of your followers are located across the world from you, they may never see your image to start with. Apps will also allow you to observe other statistics such as average likes per photos, posts per week etc. which can provide insight to whether your account is improving.
Following these tips has allowed me to grow my profile significantly over the last six months. It may seem like hard work at first, but it does get easier. Once you get more followers, it certainly becomes easier to gain them. I wish you all luck with your Instagram journeys, don’t give up too soon x