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Boost Your Instagram Following in 5 Steps
Here’s the thing: Instagram is a tough game to win.
Publishing constant content, engaging with followers, creating that unobtainable “aesthetic,” connecting with brands…it’s painful at times.
As the head of digital marketing for a global company at 23 — while growing my own business/blog/brand on the side — I feel ya. I spend 10+ hours a day developing social strategy for organizations to drive sales, brand awareness, and community.
There’s a lot of talk out there about how to succeed on Instagram. But very few of those people grew an organic following (meaning they didn’t advertise their content or pay for followers) with little to no budget. Don’t worry, I’ve got you! Here’s five easy-to-implement strategies to start seeing organic growth right now.
1. Learn how to leverage your Instagram Post Hashtags
If you’ve only been on Instagram for a hot second, you know that hashtags change the game. But how do you find the right ones and make them look clean on your feed? I research other ‘gramers in my field — for example, if you’re a travel blogger, find some other people in your space — to see what hashtags they use that are effective. The Focalmark app is also a great place to find specific hashtags for a specific scene (your dog with a Colorado mountain in the background? They’ve got tags for that!)
Got your hashtags? Now make a list by category and number of tags in your Notes app on your phone. Copy and paste them into your photo. And the best way to hide your tags? Put them in the first comment. Remember: you only get 30 per post so use them wisely.
2. Keep your photos authentic by editing— not filtering
For actual Instagram posts, I always edit my photos (A Color Story is my favorite for quick mobile edits.) Upping the brightness and vibrance always helps a photo pop, especially because Instagram favors the lighter aesthetic. However, I almost never use Instagram’s filters, as they often make the photo look too oversaturated and unnatural. You’ll experiment with different editing tools and features until you find one you like.
3. Engage your Instagram followers by thanking them individually for joining your audience
Yes, individually. It’s a lot of work (trust me, I know), but I promise it’s worth it. The majority of your followers will find your page, click follow, and expect you to follow back. After about 3 days, you’ll see them magically vanish. They’re just in this to make you follow them! DMing new followers with an authentic, customized welcome message will help them stick around and feel like a valued member of your community. After all, social media is about connecting with new people!
THE FREE TOOL I USE TO MASTER MY SOCIAL MEDIA
4. Have fun by promoting giveaways for your products
One of the biggest ways I’ve grown my following, partnering with people in the same space for a giveaway (maybe those people whose tags you “borrowed” earlier!) can open up your audience and put you in front of new users. Giving away items (it’s back to school time, so journals and stationery are good choices right now!), money/gift cards (a bunch of us chipped in $20 for a $200 Instagram giveaway at the beginning of the summer!), or free sessions with you (if you’re a coach or offer other services) are perfect ways to gain followers. I’ve always found requiring people to like the post, follow you, and tag others are all good options (I usually do all three!) When a person wins, make sure you highlight them and thank them for being an active member of your community!
5. Make your “feel” work for you
Everyone says this about Instagram: to get an engaged following, you need to develop a consistent “feel.” And when people only scroll an average of 5 rows down before they chose to follow you (or leave), it’s so important. But here’s the thing: if you’re a real person, it’s seriously difficult to develop an aesthetic that will stay consistent with every piece of content you post. So here’s what I did: I developed a consistent grid with similar posts per column. One column is all blog posts, one is graphics, and one is whatever I please (usually photos of my travels, coffee, or my face.) I’ve found this keeps me organized (“oh, today is graphic day!”) and it also lends to an organized feel, without the stress of being “on brand.” Is it as pretty as it could be? Heck no. But am I a person with different interests, colors, textures, and adventures? Yes I am. Find what works for you.
Got any other tips that work for you? Questions about Instagram or other social media tools? Let’s chat in the comments below!
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