Let’s just get something out of the way right now, before I launch into my tips and tricks for Instagram growth:
THERE IS NO SECRET.
I know, you hate me a little bit right now. You got all excited thinking I finally cracked the code to easy Instagram success and now you kind of want to bop me on the head. I get it. While there is no one, magical secret to Instagram growth, I do have some genuinely tried and true ways to increase your following on Instagram and create a vibrant, engaged community. Five, to be exact! So stick around and keep reading (it’ll be worth it, I promise).
Side note: I’m thinking about putting together a more comprehensive, step-by-step, nitty gritty guide to starting and running a successful Instagram account – if you’d be interested in something like that, please drop a comment below and let me know exactly what mystifies you the most (or what you’d like me to go more in depth on). Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Okay, but seriously though. On to the good stuff: here are 5 real ways you can actually grow your Instagram account and encourage positive community building online. Let’s hit it!
+ Authenticity +
I know this is a total buzz word and has kind of lost its meaning, but it’s still vital. Being honest and real with your Instagram community is so important. If you’re fake, petty or mean to others online, people will smell it from a mile away and steer clear of you. Also, who wants to be that girl? Certainly not me. Stay true to yourself (as hokey as that sounds), post content that you actually want to post, be real with your followers, and most importantly, be kind.
Kindness is free. Sprinkle that stuff everywhere.
*The original quote contains a curse word, which I so badly want to use because emphasis, but my Mom reads my blog (hi Mom) so I feel obligated to keep it kosher. You’re welcome.
+ Consistency +
Some people post every day (or aim to, *cough cough*). Others post once every two weeks. You don’t have to go crazy and post 5x a day (in fact, I’d caution you not to do that), but being able to count on consistent content from someone is a huge positive. My personal rule of thumb is to try and post once a day, usually around 12pm, which is the time my followers are the most active, according to the Wizard of Oz (aka Instagram Insights). If you’re staring at that last line, going “What the heck are Instagram Insights and why is she referencing the Wizard of Oz?!” then bear with me…Instagram Insights are the fun little data points that Instagram collects and displays as analytics for anyone with an Instagram Business account. These analytics tell you how your account is doing, what time your followers tend to be the most active, where they’re from, etc. I’ll talk about how to set up an Instagram Business account in another post very soon, I promise! I can also go more in depth about my personal posting schedule if that’s something you’d be interested in hearing more about – let me know in the comments!
+ Quality vs Quantity +
A note on the quality of your posts: Before you post anything, ask yourself, “Would I want to see this on Instagram? Would I double tap or scroll right past it? Would I follow this person?” If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then do some re-evaluating and figure out if you can take your content in a different direction, approach things more uniquely, revamp your editing style, or try something else! More on some tangible ways to do this coming very soon.
So, the big question: quality or quantity? What’s more important? The answer is tricky, because in my opinion, it’s a little bit of both. Not every single photo you post has to be The Best Photo Ever (though if you somehow have a backlog of incredible photography waiting in the wings, you’re amazing, and we all bow down). However, you should take note of the types of photos you’re posting, try to keep it fresh and high quality, and not just post a photo for the sake of posting. If you find yourself without anything good to post, skip a few days and try to get out there and explore and create some new content! Not all of us are hopping planes to the Maldives every weekend (although if you’re some sort of Sugar Daddy who wants to finance this type of thing, feel free to get in touch). Most of us are at home, working our butts off, counting down the days ’til our next fun trip. Don’t be afraid to show your followers some reality (your morning coffee, your favorite street in town, whatever you can muster)! People enjoy peeking into your daily life – we’re all nosy little humans in the end.
Nutshell version: post as regularly as possible (2x a day maximum would be my recommendation, and preferably 3-5 times a week), but don’t post shoddy photos just to meet that quota. Find your balance and stick with it as consistently as you can in order to build trust with your followers.
+ Engagement +
Have you ever spent some time writing a really thoughtful comment on someone’s photo or gone through and liked a bunch of their content only to have them completely ignore you? (We all have. It’s inevitable.) However, I want to encourage you to not be that person. Not everyone can respond personally to all their comments, but most can. When someone leaves you a nice comment, respond back to them in a personal way! Check out their profile. Leave them some love. If you want engaged followers, you have to engage back. There are quite a few big accounts over 100k that I see still engaging with their followers on a regular basis, and it only makes me love them more. This all goes back to point #1, be authentic. When people sense authenticity and genuine reciprocation from you, they’ll be encouraged to engage with you even more frequently.
+ Be A Turtle +
I know, now I’ve really lost you. “Be a flipping TURTLE? I just want to get more Instagram followers.” Bear with me. You know the old adage, “slow and steady wins the race?” Well, guess what? It’s still true. At least in my book. Be a turtle. Be patient. Go slow, don’t rush and try to find shortcuts (like buying followers or using automated bots to leave lame, generic comments for you). Short-term success = long term failure. Some people get away with being shady and buying their way to the top, but in my opinion, it’s just not worth it. Take your time, put in the effort, and do the work. It will pay off eventually. If you haven’t hit your stride yet, don’t despair. Instagram can become all-consuming if you let it. But guess what? If you’re always on your phone, stressing and trying to hustle your way to the top, you’re probably A) going to lose all your friends (and possibly your mind, and B) you’ll never be happy, no matter what your follower count may be. Also: it’s just Instagram, y’all. Don’t let an app run your life. Take it easy and enjoy the process as much as possible. It will be so much more satisfying when you succeed (which you will, if you stick with it!)
As always, you can find me on Instagram @passportvoyager. I’d love to connect with you there and see what you’re up to. And let me know your thoughts in the comments below (or tweet me if you want to chat more!) I’d love to hear your reaction to this post, thoughts on Instagram in general, or take requests for future blog posts.
Lastly, do let me know if you’d like to see a a more comprehensive, step-by-step, nitty gritty guide to starting and running a successful Instagram account. I’d be happy to put one together and share more of what I’ve learned so far. I’m no pro, but I’ve been around long enough to learn a thing or two, and I’d love to help you navigate this craziness so it’s not so overwhelming!